On a rented luxury yacht expensed to the tune of $10,000, Thumper, the first female-owned adult entertainment agency in New Zealand, celebrates its launch.
Born out of a need for protection for women in the sex work industry, the company represents ladies providing content on OnlyFans and other porn websites and offers mentoring and opportunities to better their business and “maximise their potential.”
It’s a cut-throat industry – according to Variety, OnlyFans boasts 2.16m content creators with workloads that often lead to burnout, but Thumper’s founder and one of NZ’s most successful OnlyFans content creators, Jasmin, is looking towards the future of sex work with optimism.
She’s planning a “female revolution” away from the typical “male gaze” of the sex work industry, where women can perform their jobs with safety and support and the career path itself can be seen with less stigma.
* The New Zealanders who sell photos of their feet online
* The UK-born OnlyFans founder who built a porn empire
* Government’s pornography awareness ad makes waves around the world
“[Sex work] is such a male dominated industry … it needs a fresh perspective to destigmatise it, to show that it’s a proper job,” Jasmin says.
“Anyone should be able to say ‘I want to be in the adult entertainment industry’ without any shame. It should have the same amount of respect as any other job.”
With a guest list of friends, clients, and collaborators – all Gen Z and barely into their early 20s – the launch party for Thumper is a six-hour island cruise across the Waitemata Harbour, from a particularly posh area of Auckland’s waterfront to Motuihe Island’s beachside, where boat crew set up a water slide and a smaller boat for joyriding through the waves.
There’s also charcuterie boards and dinner service, a seemingly endless supply of free alcohol provided by ready-to-drink hard iced tea company Cheeky, and a DJ setup in the yacht’s living room area.
It’s an extravagant but purposeful affair – Jasmin, 20, has big ambitions of sweeping away the negative connotations placed upon sex workers.
“I feel like people look down at everyone in this industry as dirty and going nowhere, but look where we are, we’re on a super yacht!
“I wanted to make a statement, this isn’t a low-end thing.”
The effort to destigmatise their work also lies in their name – Thumper comes from the Disney character in Bambi, used to present their agency as playful and innocent rather than overtly sexual.
She began creating content on OnlyFans after dropping out of beauty school, and says she has found her purpose by working in the industry.
The job isn’t as simple as creating a profile and taking lingerie or nude photos, and the pressure can “make or break” those looking for their big break in sex work – Jasmin sees Thumper as a gateway for creators to succeed in the industry while also taking care of themselves.
“I’m self-made, I had to learn everything the hard way. I know the industry so well, and it came naturally to me – some creators who do this need a bit of support and a safety net because it’s a very risky industry.
“People say ‘anyone can do it’ – if anyone could do it, a lot more people would be joining. It’s a lot more mental effort than people play off.”
While focusing on women, the agency also works to uplift queer and non-white content creators – of the four Thumper poster girls (excluding Jasmin), one is Filipina and two are mixed-Māori and Pākehā.
Shy (Ngāpuhi) is a mixed Māori and Pākehā member of Thumper who sees her work as more artistic than sexual.
She started modelling when she was 17 and after posing a nearly nude photo on Instagram, she realised there was an audience interested in her body.
“My people used to walk around exposed, and it wasn’t a big deal, it wasn’t a tapu thing, it was just a normal thing.
“The way our body was viewed as more sacred, and I wanted to hone in on that aspect of it and express the body as what it is: just a body in all of its sacredness and all of its beauty.”
“I don’t really sexualise my body… I think everyone has the freedom to view my body how they want as well, but the narrative that I have is ‘this is normal, natural, and what makes me feel free’.”
As the luxury yacht leaves Motuihe to return to Auckland, Jasmin gives a speech to celebrate her “dreams coming true.”
“I feel so much passion for the adult industry, there’s so much more growth that can happen,” Jasmin says.
“This industry has such a bad stigma around it, and it’s not fair. Everyone that works in this industry from the models to photographers put in genuine effort, and we’re really looked down on in society.
“We are just normal people – we’re your daughters, your sisters, your girlfriends, we are amazing, loving, talented people, and we deserve respect.”