Nikki Night shimmies a pair of tattered blue jeans up the leg of a tripod and belts them tight. Once steady, she pushes a honking rubber dildo through the opening until it’s flopping out the zipper. Voila, now her students needn’t a penis on hand to simulate oral sex for their devoted fans. Night, who touts herself as the world’s first and foremost adult webcamming coach, today instructs a private room full of nearly two-dozen aspiring male and female cam performers on the online mega-network Cam4. During the primer—entitled, “New Cam Show Ideas”—she touches on other nuts and bolts of her craft: how to direct the viewers’ eyes to your “tip” button, the sexual power of the color red (“It makes you more desirable to males by tapping their primal instinct,” she suggests) and strategies to foster brand loyalty. However, she repeatedly pounds home one point: Have fun. If you’re not enjoying yourself, nobody’s going to enjoy watching you.
Given that philosophy, Night counsels her charges to set up a comfortable space reflective of their personality; she adorns her bedroom soundstage with pink and white wallpaper, a lava lamp and a hula-hoop. A vintage movie poster for the 1958 film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman hangs on the wall. The poster fits, functioning almost as a commentary on the character Night has created—a buxom sage with long, dark hair slicked up into a pompadour and a commanding yet warm presence. The poster is relevant for another, more distressing reason. Ever since the film’s starlet Yvette Vickers was found dead at age 82 in her Los Angeles apartment in 2011, her body having languished there “in a mummified state,” according to People magazine. Vickers, and the film, have become symbolic of the internet age’s epidemic of loneliness.