Videochat’s architecture

Kurt Hollander documented the interiors of an erotic videochat studio in Cali, Colombia. When seen in real life, the rooms resemble nothing so much as sets of a (porn) movie. Online, however, the fantasy elements of the pseudo-architecture appear convincingly real.

Erotic videochat’s fantasy architecture by Kurt Hollander
Erotic videochat, informally known as chaturbation, consists of a model or models who enact sexual fantasies in front of a webcam for a paying client’s pleasure. Erotic videochat has become the largest virtual sex economy, raking in more than a billion dollars a year and already surpassing conventional video and Internet porn. It is estimated that there are 100,000 people currently employed in the industry working out of their home or in studios in Colombia, by far mostly women, but also transvestites and men.


AJ Studio, one of the first videochat studios in Colombia, occupies a five floor building in one of the commercial neighborhoods of Cali (the owner also has a beauty salon, clothes store and sex shop, servicing the needs of his models but also open to the public). Each of the dozens of rooms in the studios has an HD camera, the office is equipped with banks of computers that boast 8 gigabytes of memory and solid hard disks (all imported from the US), connected to the Internet by a $10,000 USD per month, 400 mega fiber optic link (only a bank and a university in Cali have such a powerful connection). AJ studio provides content for many of the major erotic video sites, including LiveJasmine, ImLive, Streamate, Cam4, MyFreeCams and the Playboy webpage.

The studio provides the erotic, interactive shows and the global web companies provide the Internet platform and website, monitor site activity, do the paperwork, process payment and deal with credit card fraud (a pervasive problem). The content that AJ Studio sells is video feeds of erotic models who sit (and assume other positions) in front of a webcam for 6 hours a day, six days a week, seducing viewers (almost exclusively men in the USA or Europe) into paying for a private video session in which they act out the sexual fantasies of the clients for a per-minute fee plus tips.
Webcammers work in rooms designed specifically (and inexpensively) to create a sense of sophistication, environments simulated to give the impression the models are lounging in a fancy hotel room, office or home, usually furnished with a bed, pillows, couch, chair, table, lamp, curtains and mirrors, and often with artwork on the wall to add a touch of sophistication. The interior decoration of the rooms increases the fantasy aspect of these encounters and tantalizes clients to enter into a one-on-one erotic chat. Being that only the parts the camera transmits are decorated, and that the bright, soft lighting is off-camera, the rooms, when seen in real life, resemble nothing so much as sets of a (porn) movie. Online, however, the fantasy elements of the pseudo-architecture appear convincingly real, that is, if anyone is paying attention to the surroundings.


Kurt Hollander is a writer and photographer, originally from New York City but has lived in Mexico City since 1989 and, since 2013, divides his time between Mexico City and Cali, Colombia. In 2012 he published his autobiographical book Several Ways to Die in Mexico City. He is currently working on a book entitled The Architecture of Sex. The book is both an autobiography and an analysis of porn, prostitution and photography in Cali, to be richly illustrated with several of his photographic series

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