Brittany Halford owned her own lounge in Edmonton, Canada for 10 years before recently closing it down – but before that she was one of the world’s first webcam girls. Editor-in-Chief Amanda Van Slyke chatted with the adventurous Brittany over email to see how much the industry has changed over the years, how she dealt with stigma back then and advice she’d give to younger women trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.
Amanda: How long did you run Brittany’s Lounge?
Brittany: I began the process of opening the first location, which was simply called Brittany’s, on Rice Howard Way in the original Kelly Ramsey Bldg on my 33rd birthday (Feb 25, 2007), and after losing the first [location] to fire in March 2009, I came back with Brittany’s Lounge, the second location, on 97st. We opened Sept 30, 2011 and closed July 31, 2017.
A: What did you love about those years?
B: I loved the people I met. The conversations. The artistry. Exposing people to events/art that they never would have given a chance to. The element of surprise. Seeing the sparkle in the eye that indicates a happy/amused/surprised soul. The creativity that ignites when artists of differing genres are brought together ‘at play.’ I was the only person that got to see it all.
A: Now that chapter is closed, do you have any future plans?
B: Although I’m open to the unexpected, I feel my next adventure will take place on board luxury cruise lines as Cruise Director. It provides the variety I had created at the land-locked venue in Edmonton, and utilizes the skills I honed running two art venues. I’ve always possessed a wander-lust and feel I’ve been able to spend 22 years in Edmonton because I was able to create the variety I find essential to my own happiness.
A: You clearly love adventure. Can you talk a bit about how you got into camming work years ago?
B: In 1995 I was 22 and in college and my mum gave me a computer. Internet was just becoming accessible to the public. Upon gaining access to the internet I soon began to explore. Quite quickly I discovered a woman in California that was selling sets of nude photos from a website. This was before e-commerce had been established, so I would send her a set of 20-30 pictures of me doing striptease which she would sell and then mail me a cheque. It was fun, easy money for a confident college student and I jumped on the now exploding medium.
By the next year I had started my own amateur website and in doing so became the second woman in Canada to have my own site. E-commerce was just beginning and members would pay $30 USD for access to regularly updated sets of photos.
Very quickly I needed to branch out and began hiring local women who wanted to explore this new anonymous method of exploring their sexuality. It was safe, and unlike stripping/escort/massage, didn’t expose them to being found out by family or friends. I photographed over 100 local women and started another site to augment my own.
Around this time webcams were just beginning to be developed. In 1999 I added a weekly webcam to my site for members to chat live with me. The internet was so slow a picture would be taken every 25 seconds. I’d pose, run for a snack/drink and be back in time for the next photo!
Development of the internet moved very quickly in those days, and very soon streaming was possible. With that innovation soon came webcam sites. Ifriends was one of the first, where cam girls could sign up and charge per minute. Having already been doing members shows for quite awhile, I jumped on board. When I started, I was one of less than 200. That didn’t last long… Very quickly studios were started, where girls were hired to work the cams. It was mainly Eastern Europe at that time, but North America soon jumped on board.
Very quickly there were thousands of women online at any hour of the day, and striptease became passé. It was at this time that I was interviewed for a new book being written called Obscene Profits (still in print!), in it I talked about how solo, independent women such as myself were being replaced by men wanting to control and profit from online porn. I chose to remove myself at that point. My own comfort zone was ill suited to compete with hardcore porn from other ‘amateurs.’
“I became the second woman in Canada to have my own site.”
A: Did you have any support from other cam performers then?
B: Not really, it was always fairly hidden. I did mentor a few local women that started their own sites. But no one was really out in the open about it. It was a different time. Things have changed, but it’s still typically something kept private. People are judgmental and jealousy is always a factor.
A: What was the stigma like?
B: It was something that I kept to myself for the most part. It was going online which first prompted me to go by the name Brittany years ago. Two decades and a few businesses later it was apparent that Brittany wasn’t just a stage-name, it was a permanent choice. I’ve legally changed my name now, but the origin had to with avoiding stigma. When I left the internet world and started exotic dancing, I remained Brittany. When I opened my first lounge, I chose to call it Brittany’s. I felt the name represented the idea I was carrying on with shadow dancing.
A: Would you ever do camming again?
B: Never say never, but it’s unlikely that I’d re-enter the world. I have however been considering the possibility of doing a video blog of the conversations and people I meet. Brittany’s Lounge the website would be a place to share the best of the conversations I have.
A: What advice would you give young women about figuring out what they want to do in life?
B: Be courageous and true to what makes you happy. Don’t do things in an attempt to please anyone else. Be yourself. Always have reasoning behind every attempt…whether it’s a success or failure. Maybe you’ll find something that worked, but then find it wasn’t for you after all. Have courage to change. Don’t be afraid to try – or to walk away.
Published in the Fall 2017 issue. Read the rest of the issue and buy a print copy here.