Sure, OnlyFans allows subscribers to display their real names and upload photos of their real selves, but nearly everyone is absolutely not doing that. We don’t want people to know we jerk off — let alone to them — so we choose mystifying usernames like “HoneyDipMan” and set our avatars to random photos of people like Kurt Russell, pacified by the anonymity this brings.
But is that the right move? After all, what’s wrong with the world knowing you masturbate and pay for your porn? Maybe, then, it’s worth taking a cue from the (very few) bold and brave kings who display their actual names and photos as subscribers on OnlyFans.
Sam, a guy who frequents OnlyFans non-anonymously, says he originally went with his real name and photo because he was “lazy,” but that he quickly realized there was no shame in the subscription game. “I just don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with it per se,” he tells me. “I’m not afraid of who I am. Also, I thought it may be easier to chat [with the creators].” Indeed, he’s found they mention him by name more often than other subscribers in livestreams and chats.
Diego, who no longer uses the platform but used to show his full name as a subscriber, went full-frontal with his identity for a similar reason. “For me, it was just to be an honest person,” he says, explaining that he used to follow women he knew from college or the gym. “You’re already putting your credit card information and billing address, so using your real name shouldn’t matter. Also, OnlyFans is used for other things than sex work, too.”
What’s most commendable about this is that it cuts out the bullshit of hiding the practices we’re all participating in. Maybe some of us are actually masturbating, maybe some of us are simply lurking or maybe it’s a mix of both — these are all natural, human habits that we often try to hide (for no reason really). In that context, being your real self on OnlyFans suggests a refreshing sense of sincerity and directness that most of us aren’t self-aware enough to have.
It’s also a good way to show support for sex workers, something Gabriel takes pride in doing. “I follow people I know,” they say, explaining that they show their real name and photo on OnlyFans as a way to normalize the interaction. “I’m pretty open about supporting sex work. I’ve done advocacy for sex workers in my jobs, and I have partners that are sex workers. So I don’t have a problem with people knowing I support them.”
As for the creators, some of them prefer that their customers identify themselves with their real names and photos. “It’s nice to put a face to the username,” says Gwen Adora, an adult content creator in Canada. “It’s much easier connecting to and remembering a name, whether real or an alias.”
Nebs, another creator, agrees: “I’m vaguely surprised when people use full/legal names on any social media, so I obviously understand folks who don’t. But it’s really nice with the folks who do, or at least have their first name in their username. They stand out more. I always remember, for example, Dave, Daniel and Sammy because it’s like having a conversation with a friend. It’s more intimate with a name, versus reflecting on a conversation with someone named ‘@pussylicc3r9000.’”
This also means that you don’t necessarily have to share your full name, but even a fake-but-real-seeming name — or just a human-sounding first name — can help make you a bit more noticeable to the creators you’re buying from.
It can be a different story, though, when creators see a subscriber who has identified themselves as someone they know IRL. One creator says that while she prefers non-anonymous subscribers, friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances are an exception — she’d rather not know if they follow her, as it would change their social dynamic. Another explains that there was only one occasion in which someone she knew in real life subscribed to her OnlyFans, but she was glad they’d identified themselves: They were an abusive ex, and she was able to block them right away.
That’s why Gabriel recommends asking creators he knows if it’s okay to follow them first — that way, they get a chance to consider whether or not it’s comfortable or conducive to the relationship. “If it’s someone I know, I will explicitly ask them if it’s cool,” he says.
Notably, most of the subscribers I spoke to stated that they didn’t necessarily have a preference for the OnlyFans’ accounts of people they know, but that sometimes they specifically give their money to people they’ve actually met. “It feels good to support people I know because I like supporting the homies,” says Gabriel, who subscribes both to friends and strangers they know from Instagram on OnlyFans. Another user, who is known by his friends and online as “Butterbean,” a name he displays on OnlyFans, tells me that “curiosity supersedes proximity.”
“I’m a benevolent pervert,” he says.
Bottom line, it’s up to you to label yourself however you wish on OnlyFans. Maybe you’ll get blocked, or maybe the creators will appreciate knowing exactly who is looking at them naked. If your hope is to help support your friends, perhaps asking for permission first is the appropriate move. As for the regular consumer, though, there’s at least a solid case for choosing a unique username and an avatar beyond the default. In a sea of @u0383920’s, try to be anything else.