"I'm a cool loser not a lame loser but there's nothing wrong with a lame loser." Belanger, of Plantation, has pleaded not guilty. But in the early years, the adult entertainment industry was dominated by large production companies like Vivid Entertainment and Wicked Pictures that signed up stars, shot their films and promoted them at industry events and strip clubs.
But the same economic downtown that shrank the 401Ks of America's office workers a decade ago also gutted large porn production companies.
About 2,000 people signed up to attend Cam Con, a 40 percent increase from the previous year, according to organizers.
At the SLS Hotel on South Beach, Cam Con has rented out the entire property, and is being joined for the first time by Inked Con and Cannabis Con, which promote tattoos and weed — two other industries that have been in the process of burnishing once-seedy reputations.
It's not a category that shows up in labor statistics, and streaming companies don't make their stats public, although at any given time on numerous internet sites, hundreds of models appear live. Last week, two cam sites ranked among the top 50 most visited in the United States: Live Jasmin at No.
40, ahead of sites such as Zillow, Apple and Bank of America, and Chaturbate at No. That's according to the Amazon-owned website Alexa, which tracks web traffic.
"Of course, people come for the porn, but for the most part, it's people who want to actually get to know you." Offering more personal interaction in the sex business can raise risks for some models — bullying is common, but some customers also can be downright scary.
This month, Miami prosecutors charged a wannabe rapper named Michael Belanger, 39, with stalking after he allegedly terrorized a cam model he met through Chatstar, a service that allows adult entertainers to exchange messages and calls with fans without revealing their real contact info.
At just 20 years old, Kandie Monaee earns good money, works a few days a week from home and even gets gifts mailed to her by adoring clients.
She is a success in a Florida industry that is consistently on the cutting edge of technology, generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year and aspires to move into the mainstream. Her on-line sessions run up to six hours, mixing small talk and teasing with sex acts.
Couple that with cheaper everything — internet connections, smart phones, web camera equipment — and a proliferation of streaming websites, and many web cam "stars" were born.
One model might even be your neighbor, though you wouldn't know it unless you were trolling for sex services online.
Hundreds of viewers log onto a free website called Chaturbate and type her messages, awarding her virtual "tokens" as tips that she redeems for money.