Up close and very personal with Becca.
By Herschel Pollard
JUNE 21, 1999: Becca, an attractive 26-year-old brunette with a slim body and a charming smile, pulls into the Barnes and Noble parking lot and parks her SUV. She tugs the sunshade mirror down to check her makeup and tousle her dark hair before entering the bookstore. On this warm afternoon, Becca looks like any other well-dressed businesswoman out for a late lunch.
She sits at a table in the center of the bookstore's café, away from a pair of coffee-drinking women, and sips a café-mocha. She speaks, in a Midwestern accent tinged with a slight East Tennessee drawl, about her occupation with ease. Which is surprising only because that occupation is anything but typical: Becca runs her own sex website right out of her Knoxville area home.
She is not embarrassed about what she does for a living and explains the ins and outs of her business the way Dr. Ruth explains sex to a teenager. And why should she be embarrassed? Perhaps Becca should be envied for her foresighther website generates enough income to keep her and her husband from working regular nine to five jobs.
Her website uses words, pictures, and video to present viewers with an in-depth look at her sexual life. She performs shows, usually lasting two hours, Monday through Friday for a live computer audience. During her shows she typically strips, masturbates, and, sometimes, has sex with her husband or one of her girlfriends.
Becca moved to Knoxville from Ohio when she was 14. She considers herself an East Tennessee native since she has "been here long enough to say y'all" and to love UT football. Becca and her husband Ed have been married for six years and live in a freshly built house with their two German shepherds, Spock and Dax.
"I've been on the net for a little over four years," she explains. "When my husband and I got our first Internet service account they offered us a free home page. We didn't know what to do with it. That was back when the Internet was mostly Bulletin Boards. We had a Packard Bell 486 that we bought from Sears. I think we still owe them our first child."
They started their webpage while Ed was in school and Becca was working for Hooters. Becca learned what she calls "some really bad HTML" while playing around with the page. "We also put up some pictures but they were crooked because we had to borrow a friend's hand-held scanner. The page was a basic 'Hey, I'm Becca and this is my dog.'" Their site started to get scads of traffic because of the two images of Becca in a bikini at the lake.
"I guess at the time there wasn't really anything else for people to look at on the net. Because of the amount of traffic our site was generating, our Internet service provider said, 'You're killing us,' and they shut us down."
After Becca found a new Internet server, she decided to "put something interesting on the page." As the site grew, so did the cost to maintain it. Becca and Ed started charging visitors to the site in order to cover their costs.
"Initially it was a picture site. We charged by the year. Money started coming in, but not a lot. We just weren't very successful in the beginning." Then Becca lost her server for the second time. The site was off-line for seven months. In that short time, the Internet exploded. "It was just phenomenal," she says. "We found a server that allowed nude pictures. I figured that if I was going to charge people to look at my site then I should give them something interesting to look at."
Soon after, Becca's husband graduated from school and the couple moved to Dallas so that Ed could work for Texas Instruments. "I started really working on the site again when we moved to Dallas. Ed was working which meant that I had more time to dedicate to the site." Eventually, the site started doing well enough that Ed no longer had to work for Texas Instruments and the couple moved back to East Tennessee. "This area is home for me. Dallas was fun, but that whole big city thing freaked me out. I knew three girls who were either mugged or car-jacked. I like the fact that I can go to Weigel's and leave my keys in the car."
Soon after the page's transformation to a pay site, Becca stumbled across a website that had a webcam. She picked the website owner's brain for information via email. She liked the concept of the camera but wasn't happy with the technology. Instead of buying a purpose-built webcam, she bought a video camera and a video capture card. She started sending out still pictures that refreshed every 20 seconds. Then she added chat capabilities to her site.
"The site took off for me when I added the chat room. I actually got to interact with my customers and I loved it. I wasn't just sitting there scanning in pictures all day."
Becca started her chat as a way for her customers to talk to her without having to email messages back and forth. "It made communicating with my customers much easier. I didn't want it to be a 'talk dirty to Becca' sort of thing, though. That would have gotten out of hand. We talk about weather, football, and politics, except we stay away from politics now, since I got into an argument with one of my female members who is a spin-doctor."
Only a small number of Becca's 1,500 members actually chat. Usually the same 30 peoplewith typical chat monikers like DrkChyld, ToddnMissy and TnNitehawkshow up in the chat room during Becca's shows. There is a tight community heretight enough that a few have sent Becca pictures of the wife and kids. It is difficult for new chat members to break the ice. Witty comments from a newcomer meet the same visual silence as stupid comments do. Becca does her best to welcome Becca-chat tenderfoots to the group, but it can be difficult when 30 different people are trying to get her attention at the same time. "My veteran chatters are pretty tough on the newbies," she laughs. "It takes a while before they warm up."
During her performances, Becca chats with her customers, often stopping what she is doing to type a hello to a new arrival or comment on whatever the going topic is. But this is her business and she never feels like she must perform. "When Ed and I went to Cancun for a week I posted on the schedule that I wouldn't be there and that I would be back with a tan.
"If I don't feel good, then I throw on a pair of jean shorts and a T-shirt and I just sit and chat all night. My members have no problem with that. Maybe a newbie will say, 'Do you get naked?' I tell them 'Yeah, but I'm not feeling good tonight. Come back tomorrow night when I'm feeling better' and they're cool with that."
Becca's site receives mostly positive responses. In fact, some of her members love her site so much that they started a drive to buy her a Sybiana $1,400 female masturbation machine. "It started one night when one of my members asked me in the chat room if I had ever seen one of these things and suggested that I get one. Like I have an extra $1,400 for a vibrator. I just bought a new computer and that thing costs more than the computer did." The members suggested that she set up an area of her website for members to donate money for the machine. That was a year and a half ago and she only recently bought the device.
"When members donate $25, I send them a pair of my panties." She blushes. This is the only point of her website that embarrasses her. "If people came to our house and came into my bedroom, they'd see these panties in Ziplock bags. 'Why have you got panties in Ziplock bags?' 'It's a long story, don't even ask.' The problem is, I don't even wear panties. I hate them."
The only real problem she has ever had because of her website was a threat from a supposed hacker. "One guy emailed me and threatened to hack my site," she laughs. "He wanted me to take a picture of myself eating a Ho-Ho while wearing something bizarre. He said that if the picture wasn't posted on my site by a certain date then he would hack my system and shut the whole thing down. I wrote him back and said 'Yeah, right,' and deleted his email. I never heard from him again. I think it was some guy that wanted to see if I would actually take the picture."
Another incentive for her customers is that occasionally Ed or one of Becca's girlfriends joins her on cam.
"Ed is a bit more shy than I am and avoids the camera for the most part." During her Valentine's day show Ed took pictures of Becca. Several chat room users commented on Ed's superhuman ability to resist Becca during a performance. "Ed compares himself to a gynecologist," Becca explains. "He is used to seeing it all. Sometimes though, I'll be sitting in front of the cam by myself and suddenly Ed will join me," she smiles, "and things go from there." Having sex on camera for several hundred computer users to view doesn't sound very shy.
Becca is the second oldest of six children. Her mother and brothers live in the Knoxville area. She says that her family pretty much knows what she does for a living but no one mentions it. "Actually, one of my brothers lived with me for a short time. When it was time for me to go on the cam, he would lock himself in his room. If he needed anything he would yell for Ed to bring it to him." Becca suspects that her mother-in-law also knows what she does, but, as with her family, nothing is mentioned.
Becca sees her site going on "infinitely." The site generates a good income for her and Ed. She wouldn't give an exact amount, but the current membership fee of $4.95 a month multiplied by her estimation of 1,500 members is close to $90,000 a year minus costs. But Becca insists the site isn't about money, it is about her doing something she enjoys.
"It's good that the site makes money, but I did it before it made money. It's a nice perk that it pays for itself and I don't have to work. If I had to work then the only thing that would change is that I would be on cam earlier in the evening so that I could go to bed at night. I have a blast."
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