Editor’s Note: The following story contains details which may offend sensibilities. This is not to glorify or justify the actions of the protagonists. This is an attempt to call the attention of the government and the society on this social media phenomenon.
MEET Troy Javier, 23 years old, your loud and proud porn star on Twitter. Yes, you saw that right. Twitter. The social media platform where K-Pop fans, journalists, royalty, presidents, prime ministers and Pope Francis, are very active.
Troy’s photo and video tweets are not the suggestive, half-naked kind. What you see in porn sites which are normally restricted from minors, you can already see in his Twitter account – completely naked, doing sexual live shows by himself, with another man, sometimes with a woman, or with a group of other young men and women he met in the digital world. For a fee, you would have it–or him–in all his naked glory.
Troy thrives in the world of “alter” – short for “alternate.” As if cyberspace is not an alternate world in itself.
Welcome to the “alter” – the world where Troy and hundreds, or probably thousands, of other Troys, including their female counterparts, move around.
“Alter” is a space, an identification, usually a second account, created on Twitter and on other social media platforms to provide an avenue for individuals “yearning to express” themselves without having to reveal their real names, among others.
It started out as the platform of people who would simply like to pretend they are showbiz celebrities, athletes, commercial models, soldiers, security guards, students, even priests, professionals or practically anyone else. “Alter” soldiers wear military uniforms and show videos of their encounters with other soldiers. Videos of showbiz personalities in sexy flicks are posted on alter accounts.
Some indeed look familiar. One’s curiosity to find out would lead to more accounts. What is most common to them? They want to express themselves, a kind of escapism from the real world, all its stress and aberrations, and they want to make money, easy money.
But people venturing into the alter world have different reasons for doing so. Some are there to express, others feast on steamy stuff. There are those who look for easy sex, even love, though some milk the space for some personal, private reasons. So many of them have been making money out of it.
Troy’s exploits, whatever you call it, are all there in cyberspace, captured in photos, videos, all well documented, revealing his mood, like another person on his Facebook account, or his encounters with other people.
He was introduced to the idea of doing “alter” – or whatever is it you see posted on his account.
Troy was then on the lookout for easy money. And as if he was heard by Lady Luck, a friend came to his rescue and fed him the idea to try alter on Twitter. And the rest is history, well pornography.
There are basically two kinds of alter porn stars: Those who show their faces and those who hide. Accordingly, those who reveal a full identity tend to earn more.
Troy is among the fearless. His face and body are all over the place.
“No regrets because I am enjoying what I do,” he told republicasia in an interview. “ I’m free to express myself .”
Before his “stardom,” Troy was a normal young, vibrant and energetic Gen Z eager to make it big for himself and his family.
He was working as an image stylist and a talent artist for a television network which he still does to this day.
Like other alter boys before him, Troy had some degree of skepticism to dive into the industry, but the lure of easy money and potential online stardom surpassed whatever uncertainty he had and helped seal his decision.
Being an alter porn star, in a lot of ways, is akin to being a television and movie star. Money comes easy.
They likewise use screen names. Rule of thumb: The younger, the better.
Porn stars also need to grow their engagements and subscriptions just like regular vloggers. Troy’s Twitter profile boasts of over 57,000 followers which, by alter standards, is already considered quite a superstar.
Now surely you are asking, how are the live scenes done? Is there a process? Yes, there is, and no scene is faked.
“It takes patience and humility,” Troy said.
“It takes a long time. Starting from making a Twitter account, to posting masturbation videos, to posting live sex act and finally earning followers. For me it came easy mainly because of good looks and connections. And also because one of my videos became trending on social media.”
A typical alter porn star subscription sells for P500, some for P400, while others even go for as low as P200 or P150. Troy sells his content for P1,200.
However a lifetime or premium subscription can also be purchased to enjoy unlimited access, ranging anywhere from P150 or higher.
“I earn selling content, or collaboration videos via Telegram Channel,” he said.
“In a week I could earn from P8,000 to P10,000 solely on subscriptions. Escort services range from P18,000 to P20,000 weekly but escort services are usually seasonal.”
Because there are too many Troys in alter world, it has become a trade, all making up an industry, a cottage industry, an open-secret society, a different world, an alter world, nevertheless openly using banking institutions for their transactions.
Like several other equally life-supporting industries, virtual porn can also sustain life especially if one makes it big, he said.
Alter World: Lots of Buyers
However, Troy doesn’t rely on virtual porn as a sole means of earning. He advises others in the industry to venture into other disciplines as well.
“Usually some alters have a main job and they just use it as a part time or hobby that pays,” he said.
He said the majority of virtual porn customers are professionals, followed by students. Some are celebrities. There are a number of businessmen, too.
In an industry like virtual porn, humiliation is always the biggest issue. In the past, accidental sex video leaks, whether of famous persons or commoners, were usually a death sentence to the person. But things indeed are different now because a good majority get unbelievably comfortable with displaying flesh publicly.
Troy had worried about it at some point but chose to switch his focus from shame to confidence.
No turning back
“At first I was afraid,” he said. “But since it’s my body and ever since I was a child, I like to go out of my comfort zone. Reaching the stage wherein there is no turning back, I decided to face my fears and it built my confidence to not be afraid of who and what I am. I love my body and my followers also love it.’’
He is also better prepared now against any sexually transmitted disease, he said.
“Before, I was careless, but since I was educated on safe sex, I’m confident about my health,” he said. “Having sex is great but having a healthy sex life is the best. So I would like to raise awareness on certain topics like HIV and AIDS. Prevention is better than cure.”
A few months into the industry, his face and body had been practically all over the internet. A career like this cannot go on unnoticed by his intimate community let alone his family forever. Luckily enough, his family is still oblivious to his adventures.
“They know that I am an image stylist and talent artist,” he said.
“And it’s a good thing that they don’t focus on social media so there is no chance of getting caught,” he said. “I will cross the bridge when I get there.”
Even 10 years on, Troy is sure he would never regret that he was once upon a time living the life a porn star.