LOS ANGELES—The MyFreeCams model known as “WhoreNickels” is used to criticism for her unconventional shows, but some are saying one of her latest went too far.
WhoreNickels, aka Maggie Nickels, on July 7 performed a show on MyFreeCams.com she titled “InternetPopo” that entailed her dressing up as a police officer. Standing in front of a computer-generated background that simulated a squad car and yellow police tape, WhoreNickels during one sequence solicited tips for “Don’t Beat People of Color vs. Beat People of Color.”
A screenshot of the show circulated on social media in the hours and days following, sparking outrage in the cam community and prompting some models to call for WhoreNickels to be banned by MFC, citing violations of the site’s posted “Rules and Guidelines” prohibiting “abusive, inflammatory, or racist language.”
“Yes, I am definitely aware of it,” Nickels told AVN Friday. “It was unexpected because I had actually planned for it to be a show where I dressed up as the internet police and the entire point of the show initially to me was to satirize people who were overly sensitive on the internet.
“I had this whole plan to dress up as a police person and I was actually looking for a fugitive going by the name of WhoreNickels, talking about all the horrible things this fugitive had done and I was looking for her.
“So I started the show and a lot of people reacted. They got really outraged about it. That was the whole point of the show was that people get really easily offended on the internet.”
No one was actually beaten during the show. But the swift and strong negative reaction to the overtly racial themes she was using struck a chord.
The show happened on the same night that five Dallas police officers were fatally shot during a protest over recent police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. But Nickels said she was on cam at the time the news in Dallas was breaking and didn’t know about the tragedy unfolding.
“At the beginning the show had nothing to do with people of color,” Nickels said. “It had nothing to do with police brutality. One of my members said, “don’t you know these police officers were shot in Dallas?’ I had no idea because I was on cam.”
Once Nickels was informed of what was happening in Dallas, she said she “pivoted toward it” in her live show.
“I think it’s really important to push the boundaries of discussions. I’m a satire artist. Whether or not I’m actually racist is irrelevant to the argument. I exist on MyFreeCams in order to challenge people and engage people on a real level,” Nickels said.
“Judging by how much of a reaction I got it’s a very important thing. People want to have these difficult conversations.”
But many models have taken issue with Nickels and MyFreeCams, one of the largest live-cam sites in the world. One of the most vocal models was Norma Chomsky, whose tweet about the WhoreNickels show on July 8 received 271 retweets and more than 500 favorites.
Chomsky (@normachomsky2) tweeted, “Unfortunately, I’m relying on my income from MFC until the end of this month, but consider this my notice,” attaching an additional screen-cap describing her disgust.
She said she brought the matter to the attention of two MFC execs, including the owner Leo, at a model meet-up event at Exxxotica in Chicago.
“This show violated the rules of MFC which prohibit, ‘…abusive, inflammatory, or racist language,” Chomsky wrote.
She added, “These high profile incidents DEFINE the community of MFC and overshadow the less visible, under compensated, incredible work of other models. Permitting hate shows draws a specific audience and we can see the effects of that clearly-top models are white, skinny, cis, het girls and lower ranking models are abused by trolls seeking to destroy fat, dark skinned, alternative, and queer girls. MFC is owned by a white man that profits off the backs of women and his staff gleefully and conveniently turn a blind eye to profitable, racist shows. This is not a community I can continue to be a part of.”
Chomsky at post time had not responded to a request for additional comment.
But many others have taken to social media to state their objections to WhoreNickels’ show and their dissatisfaction with MFC for permitting it.
MFC model Georgie Sparks (@GeorgieSparksss) on July 7 tweeted, “if you think anything about what whorenickels does in her shows is okay, unfollow me. idgaf if it's not against the rules. she's vile.”
Sadie Marie (@thesadiemarie) on July 7 tweeted a clip of WhoreNickels’ show with the message, “Can MFC step up and perma ban this cunt? Whore Nickels is the Trump of MFC.”
MFC member SugarHi (@PosterOfAGirrl) posted a Tumblr about her thoughts.
“There is no doubt that Maggie is a creative and talented cam model, she uses technology in her room that has never been seen on cam sites before,” SugarHi wrote on Tumblr. “She is able to create characters and entertains people to such an extent that participation in her room is huge. I was a fan of hers.
“However it seems that simply being entertaining wasn’t enough for her. Maybe she felt she wasn’t making enough money, I don’t know. Regardless of her intent, her actions have consequences…consequences which she doesn’t seem to care about.”
SugarHi later continues, “When she performs as a police officer and accepts tips to either beat a person of color or not beat a person of color; whether she is racist or not she attracts racists to her room and gives them a platform to express their opinion. She calls it satire, but it’s not. Satire uses humor to expose truths or revelations, her shows don’t do that. Her shows are about creating shock, creating shock to make money. I’m not against making money, in fact in the past I’ve tipped Maggie, however…making money at someone else’s expense is just wrong. Making money in an offensive and racist way is wrong.
“Having said all this, I’m having trouble blaming Maggie for ALL of this. I actually put a lot of the blame on MyFreeCams. MFC has rules in place that specifically say no harassment of members/models and no racism. Yet Maggie (and others) has broken these rules multiple times and MFC has allowed it to happen. They’ve set a precedent that they are ok with this type of behavior from its models.”
In an exclusive statement Friday in response to the controversy, a spokesperson for MyFreeCams said:
“On July 7, 2016, the model ‘WhoreNickels’ broadcasted a controversial performance on MyFreeCams.com in which she dressed in a police officer costume and asked her audience to help decide whether she should or should not ‘Beat a Person of Color.’
“There is no question that her performance contained racist and inflammatory content.
“There was significant debate within the MyFreeCams community, among our members, models, and employees, about whether her performance constituted a violation of our Community Guidelines. Thank you to everyone that contributed to the conversation with various points of view.
“Many felt that the racist nature of the performance must be taken literally and immediate action should be taken to protect the community, particularly during such a sensitive time in race relations. However, others pointed out that the model had a history of artistic performances and that this particular performance was clearly satire - defined as "the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.”
The MFC statement continued, “Artists have long used satire to bring much-needed attention to controversial issues in an effort to educate and inform the public, often when the issues are too sensitive to be confronted directly.
“Before MyFreeCams launched in 2004, webcam sites were porn sites, and webcam models performed specific sex acts according to specific rules. We have worked tirelessly to change that - by nurturing an environment that empowers models to be independent, to be creative, to be innovative, and to be themselves.
“One of the core principles of our community is that models are artists, and that their expression deserves the same level of respect and protection as the works of a writer or stage actor. Being a webcam model does not disqualify a person from the freedom of artistic expression. Not all art is good or well-understood; nor does one have to agree with it in order to believe it must be protected.
“It is this reasoning that led members of our Community Standards team, who watched the performance as it was happening, to ultimately decide that WhoreNickels was using her artistic performance to bring light to the issue and therefore was not violating the spirit of our Community Guidelines. The team did not take any action against the model, even in the face of complaints and threats. It took courage and level-headedness during what must have been a very stressful time.
“To those that respectfully disagreed with their actions, we would like to thank you and tell you that your voice was heard and you are an integral part of the conversation helping shape the future of our community.”
Nickels, who is a 24-year-old former pre-school teacher from California who cams from Nevada, said the “InternetPopo” show “is probably one of the less offensive shows I’ve done.”
A full-time cam model on MFC since last October, Nickels has also performed shows dressed as Osama bin Laden, Jesus, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Stephen Hawking, among other famous personalities.
“Gone are my days where I can sit as a cam girl and expect money for being pretty. I have to engage my audience,” Nickels said.
“First and foremost I’m an entertainer and I’m an artist. I’m promoting discussion and engagement is my job. Sometimes the engagement is positive and sometimes it’s negative, but it’s really about encouraging participation in whatever form it comes.”
Nickels has dressed up as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Trump “four or five times” since January. She said she reads transcripts from his speeches “trying to convert people” to Trump during these shows; she’s taken similar approaches with Clinton and Sanders skits.
She did three consecutive shows—April 21-23—dressed as Osama bin Laden.
“When I was dressed as Osama, I did a game called 911 Jenga. For 911 tokens, I would knock down two Jenga towers. That got people really upset,” Nickels said, noting that “not all of my shows are political.”
“A lot of them are fairly run-of-the-mill.”
But Nickels said her politically themed shows are “very, very popular.”
“I usually have a lot more people viewing my political shows and my satire shows. For this most recent one on July 7 I got 130,000 impressions on my Twitter that day. So they get a lot of attention. That was definitely the most controversial one in terms of the reaction, but maybe not in terms of what I would consider the most controversial.”
Nickels added, “I’m not afraid to push the envelope. In some cases if you don’t go too far, you’ve not gone far enough.”
Despite the current backlash, she said she doesn’t want to suppress what kind of show she may do in the future.
“I don’t like to put limits on my art or my creative freedom. That’s something I appreciate about the MyFreeCams platform and is they really strive to preserve freedom of speech and creative expression. This is one of the only places on the entire internet where you can have that much creative expression.
“Whether it’s political or satire, I try not to my put any constraints on the possibilities of my shows. I’m not doing anything illegal or violent.”
Nickels said that no one from MyFreeCams has talked to her about her shows.
“A lot of models and some users have laid out their opinions,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me, you get used to it. If you can’t have difficult discussions and can’t be present for that…you need to be able to let people vent. You need to be able to let people have different opinions. You can’t try to silence either side of the argument or the conversation. I’ve become in many ways a straw man for racism and sexism. I’ve been lampooned for both. I’ve been accused of internalizing misogyny. Whatever it is I think it it’s really important to have these discussions.”
Adult industry attorney Marc Randazza, managing partner of the Randazza Legal Group, said cam girls are afforded the same First Amendment rights as porn producers.
“There is no distinction between a cam girl and an adult film producer when it comes to First Amendment protection,” Randazza told AVN Friday. “As far as obscenity goes, I don't think any of this would be considered to be obscene at all. ‘Obscenity’ is content that fails the Miller Test. Obscenity is not ‘content that upsets somebody.’”
Nickels suggested that many who protested her police-themed show didn’t watch it or only saw a portion.
“My members see the whole context. They are much more understanding in general. Most of the feedback in general came from people who only saw a screenshot of the show and they draw their own conclusions from a very limited bit. It’s like the online version of Telephone.”
The screenshot circulating was misleading, she claimed.
“A lot of people said I was beating a black person. I was actually pretending to beat my dog. It was this whole schtick. The dog was WhoreNickels’ accomplice and I was trying to get information out of the dog. Someone said they called SPCA animal services on me. It didn’t really happen. My members and my users understand it’s satire. Most of the reaction came from people who maybe watched five minutes of the show or saw the screenshot of it and heard second-hand information.”
Regarding accusations that she broke the Rules and Guidelines set forth by MFC on July 7, Nickels said, “Ultimately I don’t put much stock in other people’s analysis of the rules. If MyFreeCams tells me to stop, I will.”
She said one of her upcoming shows is going to be a 48-hour cam-athon when she will dress up like a “Venezuelan miner” trapped inside a coal mine.
“Only tips will able get me out and rescue me,” Nickels said.