she describes her single-bedroom apartment in a Capitol Hill high-rise
as a "virtual ant farm." Other times she calls it a "virtual Habitrail,"
with her as the hamster running around in it. But that's okay by this
33-year-old Internet novice known to her growing legion of online
visitors simply as "Candi." By casting herself as the star of her
own real-life--and real-time--soap opera, Candi is paying the rent.
never have to punch another time clock and never have to work for
anyone again," she says. "It's a good feeling. It's empowering." Later
she asks, "If you were getting money to stay home and masturbate,
with twenty other women around the country, Candi is part of the Louisville-based
AmateurCam network (http://www.amateurcam.com/). The women
of AmateurCam agree to set up digital cameras in their homes and Netcast
their daily activities to a worldwide audience of armchair peeping
Toms. They share a percentage of their income with AmateurCam's founder,
a 41-year-old software developer who wants to remain anonymous in
order to protect the women from stalkers. He takes care of the hardware;
the women handle the software. For a mere $10 a month ("That's just
30 cents a day!" Candi emphasizes), 2,400 men have paid for the privilege
of watching Candi go about the daily business of living via still
photos, which are updated every ninety seconds on the site.
an eighteen-foot cable connecting a camera to her computer, Candi
can drag the cam from room to room in her modest bachelorette pad.
It provides snapshots of Candi watching television, Candi snuggling
with Bonnie (her cat!), Candi sleeping, Candi vacuuming--sometimes
in the nude. And she certainly doesn't mind if people watch as she
showers or masturbates. "I get a kick out it," she claims.
always been an exhibitionist--and a narcissist," explains Candi, a
Philadelphia native who holds a biology degree from Northern Arizona
University. She moved to Denver in 1992 after she graduated and took
it as "a real slap in the face" when she was unable to find decent
work in her chosen field. One gets the feeling, however, that she
would never have been satisfied feeding lab rats. So instead of polishing
test tubes, she waitressed in local strip clubs--something she had
done to work her way through school. She also did freelance marketing
and research. Last summer Candi answered an AmateurCam advertisement
seeking models and became the first to go online. Just seven months
later she considers herself one of the "grandmoms" of this particular
variety of Net voyeurism (the original for-profit amateur-camera site,
Jennicam, had a several-month jump on her). "I figured it would just
be gas money," she says. Today she earns enough from AmateurCam to
consider it a major source of income.
are going to stare at me anyway," says Candi as she strides barefoot
across her apartment, her long legs disappearing (eventually) into
super-short denim cutoffs. "I like mooning people, flashing a nipple.
I like to have sex in public places."
cameras are nothing new to the Net, nor is online porn. This particular
variety, however, differs from typical porn sites, which charge by
the minute and guarantee the kind of "hot, hardcore action" as seen
on videotapes. Candi, who has average looks but possesses a lithe,
sensual body that's not been enhanced by surgery, thinks it's her
genuine, everyday appeal that's the real turn-on. Like the lurker
who sneaks around a coed dorm window, a visitor to Candi's Web site
may wait hours, even days, before something even mildly lurid occurs.
But she tries not to let them wait too long.
already gained a devoted international audience, culminating with
a story in the British magazine Arena, and she says Penthouse is interested
in doing a story on her. Last September she did an on-air interview
with the morning DJs at a Detroit radio station, but her real goal
is to talk to Denver DJs Lewis and Floorwax.
glory, however, does not come without a price. Recently she ended
an on-again, off-again relationship with a boyfriend because of the
site. "He didn't like the fact that I was showing parts that were
exclusively his," she explains. "It's not like I was a virgin before
he met me. And I got a quarter of a million hits the first month.
Hel-lo!" Her ex, she adds, wasn't so averse to her occupation when
he donned a Bill Clinton mask and played commander-in-chief to Candi's
Monica Lewinsky for the online audience.
don't get the wrong idea, says Candi. This site isn't about pornography--at
least not entirely. She contends that there's a real community created
through the members-only chat room she's set up on the site. She's
on a first-name basis with the men--and women--who visit her regularly.
Visitors send in photos of themselves, some of them nude (she keeps
a special file of the numerous penis pics fans have e-mailed to her).
She even has the telephone numbers of a few of her "little friends."
But when they're "guests" in her home, she expects a certain level
is not a sex site," she insists. "I am not a puppet, although I do
have puppets." She brings out a Punch-and-Judy-style puppet that she
once used as a sex toy to the delight of viewers.
says that her cam pals include a lot of doctors and professors, but
a quick scan of the book titles in the background of the pictures
sent to the members' gallery reveals that a high number of viewers
are likely just computer nerds. "Then you get the guys," she says,
"that are 'pussy, pussy, pussy.'"
these horndogs in their place doesn't seem to be a problem for her.
"I've got a tongue like a flamethrower," says Candi. "A lot of guys
come in and say, 'Show me your pussy.' And I'm like, 'How about a
hello?' And then they get the flamethrower."
worse. While talking to some guests in her chat room, Candi encounters
someone who crosses the line: a visitor with the gall to enter the
room using the screen name "Candi." "Hey, who wants to see me suck
this guy's cock?" inquires the imposter, referring to the male reporter
sitting next to Candi (and visible on camera). While Candi approves
of "sexual, sarcastic banter" during chat sessions, this is just too
much. Within seconds, Candi cross-references the ID numbers and passwords
of her members in order to find the vulgarian and boot him from the
chat. "Poof!" she says, proud of her ability to show who's boss on
her site. "He's gone."
not over yet, however. Candi wants to track down the e-mail address
of the offender. She turns to the folks in the chat room to trace
the electronic trail he left behind. "These are like my doormen,"
she says, referring to the other guests in the chat. "If someone fucks
with me, he'll never do it again."
after that disturbing experience, Candi is on the phone with T.K.,
a Hawaii-based regular visitor who just witnessed the brouhaha. T.K.,
a self-employed professional, apologizes to the reporter for the incident.
"I'm sorry you had to see that," he says. Then he explains his own
interest in Candi's site, saying it isn't her joyous self-abuse or
explicit sex talk that keeps him coming back. T.K., who's been visiting
for the past three or four months, says Candi's site is "just a lot
of fun," and he keeps her Web page running in the background of his
computer while he goes about his daily work, checking in periodically
to see what she's up to.
despite Candi's concern about ensuring her personal safety by keeping
her true identity secret from stalkers and weirdos, she doesn't mind
letting T.K. have her personal phone number. "He can't screw me from
Hawaii, that's for sure," she says.
more Candi, visit www.westword.com.