“I used to be fat. At 5’5” I was 200 pounds. I did drugs and drank and hated myself," Lelu Love says as she shows me around her house in tiny shorts and a skimpy t-shirt. "It’s strange because now I’ll be naked in front of the webcam and think, ‘Wow. I’m cute today.’ It has given me a weird sense of confidence.”
Locked in her room in Myrtle Beach for three days while she sweated out years of drug abuse, Lelu knew she needed a change. She didn't expect that change would involve filming herself having sex with a man she had yet to meet, B.
Posting sex videos of themselves online was not a desperate attempt to make money or fuel a drug habit. It was just fun. Within a few days of posting a masturbation scene of Lelu on a tube site, the video received several thousand views and a number of positive comments. A year later the couple started their own free website, LeluLove.com, to house their videos. Again, this was just for fun. The first year they actually lost money running the site. Then a fan emailed Lelu, asking how he could make a donation.
“As soon as we put the billing in place we had a few members that first week,” B says. “It blew me away because I’ve been building sites and Internet businesses for years and this one grew ten times faster than anything I’ve done.”
The transition to working on LeluLove.com full-time was gradual. When money started to come in, the pair realized they needed to make sure what they were doing was legal. Living in Virginia at the time, they drove down to Tampa to attend an adult business seminar hosted by their future lawyer, A.J. Comparetto, at FetishCon. There they met Paul and Tracy Allen of NightMoves magazine. While Tracy interviewed Lelu for a web-show on AllAdultNetwork.tv, B met a local porn producer.
“One of his first questions was, ‘How big are you’?” B says. “I thought he was just some random guy who wanted to take our picture, but he ended up booking us for two shoots with Bang Brothers.”
The next weekend, they flew down to shoot in Miami. The first scene was a POV (point of view), which brought a third party into their sex lives in a new way.
“The cameraman was leaning over me the whole time,” B says, smiling, “and he kept rubbing his goatee on my shoulder. He was a funny guy.”
They realized that if they were going to get serious about working in adult entertainment they had to move to Florida where they had more connections and a better grasp of the obscenity laws.
In the couple's north Tampa home, their pit bull and white German shepherd have their own room and the run of a large backyard with a saltwater pool. Other than the dogs' accommodations and the couple's bedroom, the house is more of a set than a house. The living room has a couch with a rolling computer desk so Lelu can cart her webcam fans around with her. Instead of a table, a stripper pole occupies the dining room. Another room is devoted to recording equipment, lighting gear, and a green screen.
Lelu has redirected her addictive personality into the site. They have both gradually invested more time and money on LeluLove.com. Lelu has also been doing a number of live appearances around Tampa with NightMoves and AllAdultNetwork.tv.
While large porn companies are being crippled by pirate torrent and tube sites, these have benefited amateur sex stars in the same way illegal music sharing sites once gave an audience to lesser-known performers.
“We’ve never paid for advertising,” B says. “We're getting to the point now where we want to start an advertising budget, but up until now, we have just offered a lot of free content and posted videos on free tube sites.”
“Others think we're crazy,” Lelu says. “But, the people who are never going to buy anything, are never going to buy anything regardless of what you do.”
“People are so scared to give content away, but that has been our strategy,” B says. “One free video will get a couple thousand views. Even if that attracts one new member, that is a member we would have never had without that content.”
With so much free porn online, the adult industry has had to become more personalized. Almost every porn star now offers private webcam shows. Mainstream porn shoots are increasingly becoming vehicles to attract members to their websites in the same way a stripper’s stage show entices men to buy private dances.
Lelu is an attractive woman, but her main selling point is how much she interacts with members. Each day she responds to hundreds of emails and texts, and at night she performs live on her webcam. Fans can also buy private Skype sessions, phone conversations, and personalized fetish videos.
Custom videos are one of the main revenue streams for sex stars. However, custom videos tend to come with peculiar requests for things that can't be found on mainstream videos.
“One guy likes to see blowjobs with condoms while I’m wearing a poncho,” Lelu says. “Now he wants to upgrade to a raincoat… Some people just want to watch me wash my hair or massage my feet. You name it, you can see it.”
“We have done so many crazy things that it all seems normal,” B says. “One guy wants her to wear a Maxi pad. No bleeding or anything, just putting the pad in her underwear and walking around. It’s called a bulging pad fetish.”
For other members Lelu serves as a virtual girlfriend.
“My members get my personal cell phone number," Lelu says. "I send them pictures. I talk to them. One of my members bought me my Christmas tree this year.”
“When we first got here, our washing machine broke,” B says, “and one of the members bought us a new $500 machine. He even had it delivered and installed. Another guy flew us to Italy for a week.”
“Who are these guys?” I ask.
“I have this one member who likes to get personal Skype shows,” Lelu says. “He is good-looking and has a huge penis. I tell him he could meet women easily. He says he has a 4-year-old daughter and works all the time. The last thing he wants is to bring random women around his daughter. With webcamming he can get everything he needs in one sitting.”
Of course the couple also gets requests that make them uneasy, or which are illegal.
B holds up a prop a member sent for Lelu to wear: an enormous diaper.
“At first I was uncomfortable with it,” Lelu says. “If he wanted me to wear it because he fantasizes about sex with kids, I wouldn't have done it. But he just wanted me to walk around in it. Turns out diapers are a pretty common fetish.”
“There are tons of requests for bestiality,” B says, shacking his head. “Especially if they see our dogs.”
“I will be petting them on the webcam sometimes, and if a guy says anything about bestiality then I ban him from the site.”
There are plenty of things the couple will not do, even if it is legal. Unlike many sex stars, Lelu has no delusions about posing in Playboy or being the next Jenna Jameson. She also has little interest in having sex on camera with anyone but B. While Lelu has dated women, she does not want to shoot girl-girl scenes.
“If she went mainstream she could make a few thousand per scene,” B says. “But that money wouldn’t last. We are willing to sacrifice that money for the freedom of working from home, setting our own schedule, and investing in our site.”
By B’s estimates, LeluLove.com pulls in between $2,000 to $3,000 a month, while personalized videos do about the same. With the site still in its infancy, the pair is set to earn roughly $60,000 a year, which is far better than many couples in their early 20s.
Beyond providing her with a comfortable income, Lelu's fans are a kind of support group, motivating her to stay healthy and sober. Being a sex star has also forced her to deal with criticism, but this too has helped boost her confidence.
“The first night we did a webcam show, she cried,” B says. “She was only a few weeks sober, still losing weight, and a guy called her a whale. She started bawling. In this business, the more haters you have, the more successful you are. Now she almost enjoys it, especially if they are paying by the minute to call her names in a private show.”
When I ask about B and Lelu's future, they do not answer in terms of their business.
“She wants five kids,” B says, grinning.
The pair has little fear their profession will have a negative impact on their present or future family.
Lelu was raised in a family of nudists; according to B, Lelu’s grandmother has excellent fake breasts. Her aunt was a swinger who had photo albums of her sex adventures around the house. Lelu’s mother is their accountant.
“Some parents are so overbearing about nudity and sex that I think it creates a lot of problems and some of the more troubling fetishes,” Lelu says. “If you are just more open, and your kids become more comfortable with their body, I think it creates a more healthy and open environment for everyone.”
“So what happens if you break up?” I ask. “Because B is the one who handles all the technical aspects of the site while Lelu is who men pay to interact with.”
“I would chain him to the wall,” Lelu says. “Breaking up is not an option.”
“I tried to see if there was a market for just a solo guy masturbating,” B says. “Where she makes $60 to 80 an hour doing webcam work, I made $5 to 10 an hour. I wouldn’t have much of a chance by myself.”
“So if you break up, you wouldn't know what to do?” I ask.
“Not at all,” they say in unison.
See explicit content of Lelu and B at LeluLove.com and follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/lelulovexo