Your private porn star: Carmen Valentina and Vicky Vette at home in Tampa

Carmen Valentina and Vicky Vette sit in comfy clothes sipping hot tea and coffee. Giant studio lights and a tiny digital camera duct taped to a tripod remain fixed on the couch where these women just had sex. Valentina, a short 20-something Latina, just joined Vette's online team of adult performers, The Vette Nation Army (VNA). Tonight was Valentina's first webcam show on the VNA. To help build Valentina's following, the Norwegian-born MILF porn star hosted the younger starlet on her couch.

With the camera off, the two women talk strategy for cultivating fans. Vette laughs about how Dutch VNA model Bobbi Eden grew her Twitter following by tens of thousands in days after announcing that the VNA team would give blow jobs to their Twitter fans if the Netherlands won the World Cup. I suddenly realized why I was surprised to discover that I was already following Vette on Twitter before arriving at her Tampa area beach house.

* * *

An hour before, Valentina poses on Vette's couch in a bikini dotted with hearts that a fan bought her. Across from her, the naked windows open to a screened-in pool and the sun easing into the Gulf. Just off camera, Vette clears eyelash glue from her vision before joining Valentina on the couch chatting with online fans. The set is stripped down to the bare minimum — simple, because turning men on is simple. While the internet may have facilitated the downfall of big-budget porns, it has allowed porn stars to capitalize on an aspect of erotica that has largely been ignored: a personal connection.

"Can you guys hear me?" Valentina asks. "Hi Jared. Hi Dom..."

She greets a long list of fans, many of whom are logging on at twilight hours from around the globe. One of Vette's German fans has never missed a single webcam show.

The scene of the women taking off each other's clothes plays on a laptop I'm watching that is logged onto Valentina's site. The website also features a long list of screen names for other logged-on members as well as video feeds of a handful of fans.

"How come no one's dick is out yet?" Vette asks.

Valentina bends over in front of the camera. One fan immediately tilts his webcam lower, revealing his lack of pants.

"The old, 'two handed stroke'," Vette says of the eager fan. "You must love Carmen's ass because the moment it came out your pants came off."

I find myself watching the fans' webcams more than the scene of these women having sex. I've seen pornstars have sex, but I've never witnessed the live reactions of fans viewing porn from the privacy of their homes. At first I think they all look a little creepy, but then I consider how I would look if filmed in the dim glow of my computer while watching porn. On the users' webcams, some are proud to broadcast their dicks while others just grin and type with one hand. One guy sips a slurpy then suddenly turns to his door as if a visitor just knocked. These fans fill the chat box with confessions of unyielding lust for various parts of Vette's and Valentina's anatomies while others respond to the performers' questions — like what is the Norwegian word for vagina: fitte. But a surprising number of these guys chat with each other like old buddies in a global circle jerk.

* * *

After the show, the two women sit sipping from mugs and chatting about their recent trip to the Adult Video News (AVN) awards show in Las Vegas where members of their global family came to see them, many bearing gifts.

"A few years ago people in the industry looked down their noses at you if you said you shot mostly for your online site," Vette says. "Now they're all doing it."

While the major porn studios began to crumble from pirate tube sites made possible by the internet, Vette was discovering the importance of fostering fan loyalty through online interactions. Her site, which she designed and runs, is consciously not the type of airbrushed and polished website favored by most big-name stars. It feels raw and unrefined, which perhaps adds to its appeal for fans who want to make a personal connection.

"For some of them, we're like their surrogate girlfriends," Vette says.

By developing a relationship with fans, performers like Vette and Valentina create a layer of intimacy that appeals to their members' fantasies in ways that traditional porn videos, which are now available for free all over the internet, no longer can.

While Tampa may seem like an unlikely focal point for the Vette Nation Army, Vette prefers it to the San Fernando porn scene.

"We keep to ourselves here," Vette says. "We like to stay drama-free."

While Valentina describes herself more as a full-time graphic design student than a porn star, she spent the summer working in Californian with the adult talent agency, LA Direct Models.

"There were girls out there already doing anal on their first shoots," Valentina says. "It's like, what are you going to do after that?"

The two women discuss the notion that every porn star has an average of 300 sex scenes in her. After that, a model risks becoming overexposed, leading producers to search out the next pretty face who thinks she will be Jenna Jameson.

Back in Florida, Valentina has become more selective about who she works with and how many scenes she shoots. While some of the larger adult companies in Miami may pay her well for individual shoots, they post the videos all over the web and even leak clips to free tube sites. In effect, Valentina must make the choice between quick payouts or investing in her online fans.

The question of gaining followers leads to a discussion of publicity stunts. Recently Vette was offered a part in an Indonesian horror film after gaining notoriety for using her Twitter account to mock Indonesia’s Minister for Information and Communications, Tifatul Sembiring; the foreign leader was captured on Youtube eagerly shaking Michelle Obama's hand despite his insistence that he would never shake a woman's hand. Vette tweeted, “Hmmm, I wanna get ‘handy’ with Indo’s Information Minister too! Come to the USA and shake anything you want...”

While Vette does want to do the horror movie, she is fearful of traveling to a country that recently sentenced Indonesian pop star, Nazril Irham, to 3½ years in prison after sex tapes of the singer were leaked online. I suggest she go anyhow and become the first political porn-star prisoner. If the Clinton administration worked to pardon an American who was sentenced to be caned for auto theft and vandalism in Singapore, surely Americans would riot if one of our beloved porn stars was jailed without a webcam. Vette smiles and shakes her head. While she has faith in the Vette Nation Army to keep her in her beach house and Corvette, she doesn't necessarily trust her global army of fans to liberate her from a foreign prison.

See explicit content of both women at CarmenValentina.com and VickyAtHome.com. Following them on Twitter at Twitter.com/ClubCarmenXXX and Twitter.com/vickyvette.

Follow Alfie on Twitter, Facebook, or at shawnalff.com


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