If you look through Cami Strella’s various internet profiles, you’ll note that her posts range from sharing sultry images in tasteful lingerie to explaining interesting developments in neuroscience and debunking stereotypes about sex workers.
But where most service members will recognize her is from a viral 2020 Veterans Month TikTok post.
Working her way through a neuroscience graduate degree, Strella found herself inspired to invest some time in military appreciation after being personally impacted by the death of a close friend and Army officer who suffered from a traumatic brain injury and later took his own life.
By the the time the pandemic hit in early 2020, she was looking for a way that she could both pay her way through school and give back to the troops. What she found was OnlyFans, the platform where she uploads and streams adult content for her subscribers — with some of them even seeking personalized videos and photos.
Observation Post caught up with Strella to learn more about her OnlyFans hustle, her plans to help others and how she’s hoping to shatter stigmas surrounding sex workers.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m 27. I’m in graduate school for an allied health program, and I’ll be specializing in neurological rehabilitation. I was born and raised in the Southeast U.S. and am the child of two immigrant parents, one of whom is a veteran. My family is aware of what I do, and they are actually very supportive.
What inspired you to join OnlyFans?
I’ve been in the adult industry for the last three years, including other online adult work. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, as you may know, OnlyFans became the platform of choice for all types of sex workers to use as venues shut down nationwide.
I worked in a gentlemen’s club previously, and I became increasingly worried about paying for my graduate school tuition as my program started in May 2020, so I joined the site as a creator.
Tell me about your connection to the military. Do you create specialized content for service members? If so, what made you decide to pursue that?
Many in the military and veteran community who follow me originally found me when a TikTok I posted went viral in November 2020. For Veteran’s Day this past year, I posted two videos, both of which have received a lot of attention.
The first video, I offered a free trial to my OnlyFans site for all military and veterans. I anticipated perhaps 200 to 300 people would take up the offer but it ended up bringing in over 3,000 in one day.
The second video was a little more somber in that I shared my experience of losing someone (an Army officer) to suicide after surviving a traumatic brain injury after three deployments. This is what sparked my interest to want to go into the neuroscience field to begin with — to study TBIs and SCIs. He is still my “why.”
If anything, I just want service members to know that I care, and that although it may be in an unusual way, I’m fighting to help them. I also donate 10 percent of my monthly earnings to a military charity and I typically have subscribers vote for which one they want me to donate to.
I wouldn’t say I create anything specific in terms of content for service members, but a lot of my more public content is geared towards this community. I was raised in an area with a large concentration of service members of all branches, as well as federal government and contract workers, so I always felt embedded with the culture from a young age.
Speaking of service members, what are some the most common requests you get from them in terms of content?
In terms of OnlyFans content, I get a lot of requests to use someone’s name if they’re ordering a custom video. That’s what’s so great about OnlyFans — it brings such a personal and intimate experience to someone, and I truly love talking to my subscribers. I have a few that I exchange letters with and it brings such a human touch in the digital age. It’s helped me, too, to stay and feel connected during the pandemic.
What are some of the greatest misconceptions you want people to understand about working through OnlyFans?
People seem to think that you just create an account and you instantly make money, and that’s not how it works at all. If you truly want to be successful with OnlyFans, you need to be ready to invest a significant amount of time, money, and energy, just like any business.
I started in February 2020 and made $11.18. Now, I rank in the top 0.88 percent of all creators worldwide. OnlyFans, unlike other social media platforms, does not have a built-in algorithm where others who don’t know about you can find you. It’s a direct-to-consumer type of model in which a creator has to do all of their own marketing outside of the platform.
Everyone has a different experience and background, but personally, my family is well aware of what I do and are very supportive — I know that is not the norm and I consider myself very fortunate.
There are many who do not agree with me or who dislike what I do. For those who may not know, sex workers and the military are not a new concept — just take a drive around most military bases and you’ll likely see various strip clubs in the surrounding area.
OnlyFans, in my opinion, is just a version of this that has caught up with the times. The ease of accessibility is attractive to creators and subscribers for both long distance reasons and for staying safe during the pandemic.
Sarah Sicard is the Digital Editor of Military Times. She previously served as Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, Defense News, Fast Company, Business Insider and AdWeek.