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This Erotic Artist Rose To The Top 2.5% On OnlyFans While Saving Nearly Five Figures

Sage The Flame is living her "hoe truths freely" and dispelling negative connotations against sex workers.

Money Talks

Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they get it.

In this installment of Money Talks, xoNecole chats with Kayla Robinson - who also goes by the name of Sage The Flame - a 21-year-old full time adult content creator and erotic artist who is on track to saving five figures this year and breaking the negative stigmas against sex work and sexuality. Amid the pandemic, Kayla pivoted by taking her OnlyFans side hustle to full-time status following strip clubs closing. The adult content-friendly website has allowed her to take her financial destiny in her own hands and monetize her work as an erotic content creator.

"I've always been comfortable with nudity and interested in sexual expression so I had been selling my own nude content since I was 18 and decided to sign up on the platform after consulting with another sex worker and realizing it could optimize my ability to monetize my content in a more organized way," she explained.

Here's what the Baltimore-bred badass had to say about her life as a top erotic artist on OnlyFans, gifting her mother with nearly $40,000 cash, and what we should do to learn more about the sex industry.

On OnlyFans:

"OnlyFans is a platform where you can monetize any type of content (similar to Patreon) but it's adult content friendly.

"People pay a monthly subscription fee and they can also pay to see additional content that is sent via DMs. OnlyFans takes 20% of all revenue including tips, which can be sent from any subscriber at any given time for any reason."

On multiple streams of income:

"At the moment, online adult content is my primary focus. Once I feel like I've really solidified that foundation, I'll be branching out. Stay tuned to see what's next."

On financial stability:

"Since I started in April 2019, it has always been a nice financial safety net to have. Now that I'm realizing how enjoyable the whole process is, I'm working on making it my main stream of income. It's currently allowing me to increase my financial stability by granting me the time to learn more about financial organization/literacy and also plant seeds for other streams of income to grow.

"For example, I can record enough content to last me 30 days. While that content is earning residual income within those 30 days, I can then start researching and upgrading my photography and videography skills and increase my knowledge and personal assets."

On being a spender or a saver:

"I'm on track to saving five figures this year, [so] I would say I'm a saver. I just thoroughly enjoy seeing money grow. What has helped me keep my savings plan on track is having an Excel spreadsheet with savings milestones. I list out everything I want to save for (short-term and long-term) and I'll include something fun and rewarding at the end of each milestone so that I greatly reduce the urge to get sidetracked and splurge. For example, once I reach the current milestone I'm working towards, I get to treat myself to new tattoos."

Courtesy of Kayla Robinson

"I just thoroughly enjoy seeing money grow. What has helped me keep my savings plan on track is having an Excel spreadsheet with savings milestones. I list out everything I want to save for (short-term and long-term) and I'll include something fun and rewarding at the end of each milestone so that I greatly reduce the urge to get sidetracked and splurge."

On the worst money-related decision she’s ever made:

"Ignoring my own intuition and over-valuing the opinions of others when it came to the vision of my business and execution of my ideas because I assumed that since I'm so young I probably don't know any better. Always trust your gut."

On overcoming financial lows:

"Right before I started stripping, my finances were actually a big stressor on me. My paycheck was very inconsistent. There was a period of time where I wasn't able to pay myself, outside of my OnlyFans side hustle, for nearly three weeks.

"For a period of time, I just tried to push through and really tried to make things improve. Then, I really analyzed the situation, did my best to release all the worst case scenarios that were floating around in my head, and ultimately realized I needed to make a big shift if I wanted my situation to change. I proceeded to consult a well-known stripper in Miami, weighed all my options, and eventually decided to buy my first pair of pleasers and execute."

On budget must-haves:

"Honestly I'm not a budget guru, I have a pretty simple Excel spreadsheet where I make sure to list everything (monthly and irregular expenses) and that works pretty well for me. But whatever you do, the absolute most important step is actually sticking to your plan as best as you possibly can!"

On her biggest splurge:

"So far in life, my biggest splurge has been gifting my beautiful mother $35,000 cash. My original plan was to buy her a baby Tesla but I figured she would appreciate having the agency over how to spend the money more so than a car and luckily, she allocated it wisely."

On unhealthy money mindsets and habits she had to let go of in order to prosper:

"Mapping out my goals is what really allowed me to finally start saving. Without having anything solid to work towards, I kept spending my money as quickly as I was making it. Also, I definitely had to unlearn the ideas that money was hard to get [or that] I was incapable of achieving financial abundance. And I had to learn that it's OK to reach out for help or advice whenever I need it. I would come up with ideas and execute things that would put me in positions of abundance. Circumstances started to align for the better."

Courtesy of Kayla Robinson

"I definitely had to unlearn the ideas that money was hard to get [or that] I was incapable of achieving financial abundance."

On promoting body positivity and increasing confidence:

"People who are paying for your content are usually always going to have a positive interest in you and will most likely positively affirm you if your content is good. OnlyFans has been helpful for me in that it affirms my work and my efforts. It makes it easier for me to express myself to paying supporters and it gives me an outlet and a safe space to document my sexual journey and showcase my erotic art which I really love. I don't think that OnlyFans is inherently helpful or harmful when it comes to confidence and body positivity though. It all depends on the person who is using it and how they are using it. When it comes to confidence, you could compare it to the strip club. On one hand, it can definitely make you feel sexy, powerful, and confident, while on the other hand you could get into the mental loop of comparing yourself to other girls and thinking about what you could be lacking and what you need to 'fix' about your appearance or you could end up relying too heavily on external validation.

"When it comes to body positivity, I think it has carved out a lane and created easier access to success and monetization for women of all body types and appearances. The success that these women are having as independent OnlyFans creators seems to be a manifestation of [sex worker inclusive] feminists and the body positive movement that was started by fat black women and their efforts to boost the conversation surrounding fatphobia. I am a conventionally attractive, light skinned, able bodied woman whose body type is already pretty well-affirmed through the lens of society so I don't think OnlyFans has done anything to change body positivity for people who look like me, although it seems to be boosting the conversation about sex work for the entire community as a whole which I'm happy to see."

On living her "hoe truths freely", as mentioned on Instagram:

"It's truly fantastic and freeing. Ever since becoming sexually active I've always had an interest and curiosity in sexuality but for a long time I kind of convinced myself that this was a background interest due to internalized whorepobia and fear of how I might be perceived if I intentionally pursued and expressed my interests out loud. I've allowed that interest and outward expression to organically grow over the years but ever since spending time reflecting in quarantine I've come to the realization that I am truly fascinated with sex. I am fascinated with the history of sex, the alchemy of sexual energy, the science of sex, sexual education, sexual pleasure, the expression of sexual energy, erotic art, etc. It's actually more of a foreground interest of mine and I'm happy to be able to align with my truths and grow from there."

For more of Kayla, follow her on Instagram.

Courtesy of Kayla Robinson

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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