Virtual content creation exploded when VTubing became more prevalent and accessible. That trend continued to more adult content. However, lewdtubers still face prejudice and stigma in various circles online — despite the fact they say they are no different to their ‘seiso’ counterparts.
For Vexoria the Sun Eater, VTubing started out as a fun activity she could share with her husband Zolon. After their anniversary plans were snuffed out in 2020, they wanted to share their gaming experiences with the world.
Sure, there were all the conscious choices about whether it would be a full-time thing — she was still studying Psychology at the time — or if they would both be comfortable in the long term.
But there was one fact set out early on: “I knew right off the bat that I could not be seiso,” she laughed. “I swear way too much, I make too many innuendos and too many sexual jokes.
“I figured being a lewdtuber would probably be more up my alley. I wouldn’t have to put on a full mask. If a lewd comment came to my head as a joke, I wouldn’t feel like I’d have to bite my tongue about it. I can just say it and have people laugh at it.”
If you thought VTubing was a new phenomenon, lewdtubing is much more recent. While animated adult content has been around the internet for eons, it wasn’t until Projekt Melody came into the limelight in 2020 that people started seeing this as not just an idea grounded in fiction, but something they could do themselves.
Twitch: Vexoria the Sun EaterVexoria the Sun Eater is one of many VTubers doing adult content.
Lewdtubing has taken off much more in the 3D VTubing space, where full-body animated models can play out scenarios. But it’s not limited to those with full-body rigs. Nowadays, lewdtuber is used as a catch-all term for all adult content creators who happen to be VTubers.
As Projekt Melody opened the world’s eyes to this form of content creation, others followed suit. CottontailVA is one of the most popular lewdtubers, with hundreds of thousands of followers. It’s not her entire brand, but it is a big part of the content she makes.
“I think it’s every kid’s dream, at my age range, to be a YouTuber,” she told Dexerto. “I grew up in the era of PewDiePie. I would watch him and I was like this is the dream.”
She got into voice acting work through a fan Danganronpa project that ended up falling through. However soon after an opportunity for more spicy work turned up, and from there she found her niche.
“You know what’s crazy? I would always say I would be a hentai voice actor because I used to join Overwatch lobbies, adults only, and I would moan into the microphone and it would help our team,” she laughed. “We would turn around and win.”
However, despite her wild popularity and the lucrative nature of VTubing, there is still a stigma against adult content creators. And that doesn’t change the moment you do it with a model.
Empowering nature of an avatar
VTubing as an adult creator, in the same way it does for regular streaming, can help bring anonymity and comfort to those who may not otherwise think of doing it.
“You could do OnlyFans and you could show your name and face, but that’s very scary to me,” Cotton said. “I am an acupuncturist, so if I want to someday work at a fancy clinic, they would do some research. I think I’ve covered my trail pretty good, but if they found out I did NSFW stuff, they wouldn’t let me into that establishment.
“The carefreeness of having the safety net of still getting a job and not being blacklisted because I just did p*rn for a bit is nice. I wish it wasn’t like that, but you have to play the game.”
It lets people explore a different side of their creativity. Lewdtubing is more than explicit video. They aren’t limited to their VTuber selves if they’re comfortable, and there’s so many opportunities to make adult content — if that’s what you want to do.
“I find that a lot of people who like my regular Twitch content flocked over to see the adult content to be like ‘oh what does Vex look like,’” Vex said. “Then they’re like ‘oh well I’m going to stick around for this’ or they’re like ‘maybe this isn’t for me and I don’t want the real-life pictures but I’ll go buy the ASMR every month.’ I think it gives people a choice.
“I’ve seen people offer Discord calls, like sex calls,” Cotton added. “You’ve got people selling clothes. Aside from the voice stuff, you can do roleplay. If you’re an artist, you can do NSFW art. If you’re good at silicon molds, you can make custom [toys].
“You can do whatever you want. As long as it’s not hurting anyone or illegal, it’s all fun. It’s freeing, after spending a lot of my adolescence being ashamed for being sexually open. It’s great to be proud of it.”
Having an avatar is empowering for more than the creators. It can also be a good ice breaker for viewers, who may not be comfortable talking about sexual topics.
Cotton and Vex have gone to conventions together to talk about adult content creation. They are also hosts of a regular sex education stream, where viewers can submit questions about topics they’re curious about but never got the answer to.
“I’ve had a lot of people say through the sex ed streams, they’ve discovered a lot about themselves,” Cotton continued. “They’ve confided that they haven’t been treated well in intimate events, and they appreciate us giving them self-worth back to their ability to consent and say no.
“It breaks my heart to hear that, but it makes me glad to hear people notice their word is important and they are surrounding themselves with better people.”
The stigmatization of sex work
Ask any content creator and the story of getting into streaming is pretty similar. Most see it as a great opportunity to flex their creativity, or connect with others. But when you throw ‘adult’ into the label, all of a sudden the tone of the ‘why?’ changes.
There is a stigma around adult content creation, in the same way there is a stigma about sex in society. Lewdtubing is a way for VTubers to subvert those norms and express themselves freely — while also remaining somewhat anonymous.
“My family grew up very religious,” Cotton said. “You couldn’t talk about sex. I was very interested in it.”
“The appeal of doing NSFW content creation is the acceptance and freedom of being judged. Especially in the VTubing sphere where it’s more anonymous than your regular content creation. My face isn’t out there, my name isn’t out there. I do have more freedom to not worry about what those judgmental people in my real life say or think.”
VTubers are in many ways treated the same as their flesh counterparts when it comes to adult content creation. Platform policing is very erratic. It’s hard to grow and gain traction for those who split content between Twitch or YouTube and other sites like Fansly or OnlyFans. The former do not typically allow cross-promotion of the latter.
“People will bring up stuff on Twitch and I’ll be like ‘guys? Are you trying to get me banned,’” Vex laughed. “Or they’ll use the TTS bot to say something really sexual and I’ll be like ‘guys you can’t do that, I won’t be able to stream for you! You’ve got to be careful!’
“I don’t call it Fansly on Twitch because Twitch doesn’t allow you to solicit that kind of stuff. You can’t say ‘hey I’m streaming on Fansly and all my adult content is here.’ So we call it the Blue Twitch, or there’s codewords.”
That talking in code is a hindrance. It perpetuates the stigma that ‘sex’ is dirty, and that adult content creation is taboo. For Twitch’s part, it aims to “maintain the health of our community”, and so bans the promotion of sexual content through links or cross-promotion.
VTubers also feel unfairly policed by platforms on sexual content. There have been numerous instances of VTubers getting banned just as they debut a new model because it doesn’t cover the right amount of skin. Some feel like their bans aren’t justified compared to what others do on the same platforms, just with their human selves. Even between VTubers there’s no clear line of enforcement.
“What someone gets banned for over here, someone may not over there,” Vex continued. “It’s the wild west when it comes to that kind of stuff, because god forbid you show underboob!”
It can cost lewdtubers opportunities: both Vexoria and Cotton have shared stories of lost sponsorships and deals because of one side of their content. It doesn’t matter about what else they do — Vex is also known for her charity work — it all comes back to the lewds.
Some adult brands support VTubers, but often they cannot get the same sponsorship benefits as mentioning said services on Twitch or YouTube is banworthy. This makes the money less lucrative than what they could be earning for their brand worth.
On top of that, there is the stigma that adult content creation is ‘dirty money’. If you have a family to support on that income, like in the case of Vex, fingers get pointed.
“I send my children away every time I do something adult, but people are still out there saying ‘how are you going to explain to your children that you do this?’ They don’t know that I do adult content because they’re young and I would never tell them that.
“The money I make from that kind of content? It pays for their clothes, their school supplies. I’m a parent and I’m of the mindset that I’m going to do what I have to do to take care of my kids and make sure they have everything they need to be successful in what they want to do with their life.
“If the money I make from lewdtubing lets them go to college and pursue their dreams, go and take all that money.”
Twitch: Projekt MelodyProjekt Melody (pictured) pioneered the lewdtubing space after going viral in 2020.
While women make up the majority of lewdtubers online, men are not excluded from the same criticisms. They sometimes face prejudice for the audiences who consume their content — content ‘made for women’ often leads to female fans being harassed. But they also face the same arguments of dirty money, having to talk in code, and being policed.
Kaiyo is an example of success in the male adult content creation space. While he doesn’t consider himself a ‘lewdtuber’ fully, he produces NSFW voice acting work which draws massive engagement. In fact, that’s the most popular medium for men working in the lewdtubing space.
“It’s something that developed the more I was in the VTubing community,” he explained. “I never thought I would do this.
“I actually just made that other account for posting art I didn’t want to post on main. It started off as purely a NSFW art account, but one day I was like ‘what if I just posted an audio’ because there were so many other people, especially guys, doing it. I went with the flow and now we’re here.
The expansion of lewdtubing into new domains and audiences shows the appeal for this kind of content is there.
“I think a lot of it popped off from TikTok,” he continued. “There’s a lot of people on there, they hear any sound that sounds like a moan or whimper and they go crazy. That hype transferred over to Twitter and made this whole thing about men whimpering.”
Why the “seiso vs lewd” debate helps no one
Every six months or so, a new debate emerges in the VTubing community about who has it harder: seiso (safe) content creators, or their lewd counterparts.
The arguments from both sides have some merit. Seiso creators believe creating adult content is a cheat code to get more engagement and grow. Lewd creators highlight the stigma that comes with doing that, and while the numbers can be higher, the comments can be harsher.
What gets lost in this is, at the end of the day, they’re all creating content. It’s just different strokes for different folks.
“There’s always going to be people who believe in the purity of VTubing,” Vex admitted.
“Seiso VTubers have their own struggles, and I know lewdtubers have their own too. I think it’s important to remember that everyone who does this is a person and you don’t have to be a f**king asshole.”
While it’s more closely tied to Vex and Cotton’s whole brands, Kaiyo’s NSFW content is more cleanly segregated from his usual streams and videos. Having that clearer definition — across accounts — can be more appealing for brands, or even audiences who want one or the other.
“It’s nice to have an audience I can post content for and not have to worry about getting to know them too much. For my main side, it’s important for me to get to know my community and get to know my regulars,” Kaiyo explained.
“I have a lot of viewers from my seiso side that follow my NSFW stuff. In the beginning, I thought it was necessary to let them know about it… it was easy support by letting your current following know. At first, it was awkward, but I’ve gotten used to it now and it’s fun.”
However, he remarked on how ‘wholesome’ creators sometimes are “held in a higher regard.
“I don’t know why it matters so much to people about what other people do if it’s not harmful. It’s very unnecessary and immature. We’re all consenting adults here. There’s no need to be so weird about it.
“There are so many tweets that I see… when people are like ‘if I was being lewd and doing spicy content, I would have grown so much more easily. I’m working harder and not getting anywhere because I’m seiso.’ I see that so often. I got a pretty decent audience before I started doing NSFW content. A lot of people use that as a scapegoat.”
It also plays into consent. Lewdtubers all said they were more careful in the communities they engaged with. They have strict age rules, and also they are more deliberate in the company they foster. In the same way there is consent in sex, there is consent in sexual content.
“You have to consent in everything you do,” Vex said. “If you don’t, that’s grounds for legal issues.
“Having those open, communicative conversations, and having that consent, is extremely important to have a really good time with whatever you’re doing sexually. That doesn’t matter if it’s with a partner you’ve been with for a super long time, or a complete stranger and it’s a one-off.”
No matter what lewdtubers do, there will likely be people abhorred by the fact people make sexual content online. What matters from there is how they react to that energy. Do they step away from creating altogether and giving up their passion, or finding their own community?
“Sometimes they’re almost offended by me being open sexually, but I’m not here to make anyone uncomfortable, so I don’t need to interact with that,” Cotton said. “I don’t like that feeling of rejection, dismissiveness, or shame that I had growing up with sex. I don’t bother with people who can’t let people do their own thing.
And ultimately, the more we talk about it, the more accepting the community will become.
“You have Projekt Melody, who paved the way for the rest of us to go ahead and be ourselves and do what we want to do and have it be acceptable and made it more mainstream for people like myself and Cotton and other lewdtubers to be comfortable with doing that kind of thing,” Vex concluded.
“My hope would be that people would be able to be who they are and not be judged for it. Even if people don’t do lewd content themselves, just be able to appreciate the craft for what it is.”