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What I learned talking to 🌽⭐️ Sophia Locke
Sophia Locke talks about returning to adult entertainment, building community as a cam model, TikTok, strange fan requests, consent, step mom content, and singing
Back when I covered Porn Valley full-time, one of my colleagues had this idea for a recurring column. Each month, he wanted to profile a performer who had left the industry to find out what life was like after porn.
“People love to read ‘where are they now’ stuff,” he used to say.
Sadly, the column never got off the ground. Looking back, I blame inertia, the relentless onslaught of porn news, and the fact that writing about a retired performer is of little value for a trade publication audience. Also, our editorial team put the fun in dysfunction, so new initiatives weren’t really our jam.
But a related genre of story—the return to the industry—was typical for us. Unlike “where are they now” stories, a story about a performer returning to porn was of interest to a trade publication audience. If you’re a pornographer, this is news you can use, after all.
Those stories always included the same professional details: a recap of the performer’s previous time in adult, the name of the performer’s booking agency, and a few words about their upcoming projects. Sometimes, those stories would also include a quote explaining why the performer had decided to leave the industry in the first place, and why they had chosen to return.
People are complicated, and it’s always dangerous to make generalizations about a group of people, but more often than not returning performers would tell me stories about shame. Usually, their decision to leave the industry was because their family or a romantic partner (or both) gave them shit for being a sex worker. Often times, their decision to return was driven by a falling out with the people who had shamed them, as well as a personal realization that living your life to please others is a recipe for disaster.
I found these stories fascinating. But as a trade reporter, there was only so much space I could devote to the “human angle.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but reducing my subjects to a few professional details and maybe a quote or two about the personal choices that underpinned their major life/career decisions left me feeling empty and a little sad.
Maybe that’s why I was so excited to speak with Sophia Locke about her return to adult entertainment. For one thing, it gives me a second chance to tell these kinds of stories the way I think they should be told. But more than that, talking with Sophia Locke is an opportunity to add some depth to our understanding of sex work by finding the humanity and humor in her experience.
Sophia Locke joined the adult entertainment industry in 2010. Back then, she mostly performed as a cam model. Cam sites were a thing in 2010, but they weren’t the thing like they are today. As a trade reporter, I wrote far more stories about porn and porn stars than I did about the world of cams. And when I did write about cams, the story would usually be about the platform, as opposed to the performer. We took a tech / business angle, rather than a human angle.
Cam modeling appealed to Locke’s exhibitionist side. It also gave her a chance to explore BDSM. Plus, it paid really well! So Locke decided to quit her hospitality job. For the next few years, her adult career blossomed.
But in 2016, Locke left the industry because her partner at the time was uncomfortable with her doing sex work. As it turned out, the relationship didn’t last and neither did Locke’s hiatus from adult entertainment. At the end of 2021, Locke returned to the industry.
When I caught up with Locke on video chat, one of the first things I asked her about was what changes she’s noticed in the industry and herself.
“In terms of the industry, the big change is OnlyFans,” she said. “Cams have been around for years, but OnlyFans really put cams into the mainstream. It’s night and day. I used to have to explain what a cam site was, but now everyone knows.”
OnlyFans isn’t the only adult cam platform out there, but it’s probably the only one that’s a household name. At this year’s AVN show, several cam models I spoke with told me they preferred other platforms because the payouts were better, or because lesser-known platforms did a better job of serving certain niches. But for Locke, who describes herself in her OnlyFans bio as a “slutty, kinky fuck doll,” OnlyFans is a logical place for her old fans to find her again, and for new fans to discover her.
As for how Locke has changed since her first stint in adult, that can be summed up in one word: confidence.
“My first time around, I was confident in my performance, but I didn’t have the kind of confidence that allowed me to be my whole self, especially in my personal life. I felt like I had to be very careful about how I explained my job to people, especially the people I was dating.”
Locke’s answer resonated with me. When I was a trade reporter, I did a lot of compartmentalizing too, especially when it came to dating.
“How did you tell the women you were dating?” Locke asked me.
“I’d try and get it out there as early as possible,” I said. “Most women didn’t care. A few women seemed more interested my job than they were in me, which was fine, but not a great foundation for a healthy relationship. My wife was a different story.”
I told Locke a little bit about my first date with Christina. I had left my trade reporter job the year before I met Christina, but I was still writing freelance stories about the industry and working on a novel about a reporter at Porn Valley’s second best trade publication. What can I say? Art imitates life, especially if you write what you know.
“How did she react?” Locke asked.
“Christina was positive. She was curious about my old job, but she was a lot more curious about me and my passion for telling stories, and right away she understood that porn was part of that passion, but it wasn’t the defining thing about me.”
“It’s a great filter!” Locke said. “Some people see anyone who works in this industry as one-dimensional. They can’t see the whole person. That’s too bad for them, but I’m not one-dimensional.”
We bonded over our shared filter, but our common experience had its limits because I am a man, and Sophia Locke is a woman, and for reasons that are incredibly complicated and very sad, our society embraces gendered double-standards when it comes to sex and sex work. If my job was a dealbreaker for a woman I was romantically involved with, she’d simply say so, and often times her reaction would be a variation of the classic dating rejection: “it’s not you, it’s me.” For Locke, and many female sex workers, it’s much more common to experience judgment, shame, and hostility from romantic partners who have a problem with their career.
That kind of negative pushback creates a lot of emotional scar tissue. But rather than asking Locke to dwell on some of the negative things she’s experienced because of her career, I asked her to expand on how she had grown into her confidence.
“I think I just became more mature,” she said. “I’ve always been passionate about this industry and what I do. But I used to worry about what people in my life thought, and that worrying undermined my confidence. At some point, probably because I’m not in my twenties anymore, and also because you hopefully learn as you grow, I just came to a place in my life where I had to say, fuck it, this is who I am.”
A 🌽 ⭐️ is reborn on TikTok
Soon after returning to the industry, Locke joined TikTok, where her bio is: “I’m too old for this 👵🏻👋.” I’m too old for TikTok too, but I’m on it, just like a billion other people (and counting).
TikTok is where I first saw Sophia Locke. Her videos about some the strangest requests she’s encountered as a cam model caught my eye, perhaps because I’m the sort of person who will pull up a chair and happily listen to the strangest stories the internet has to offer, but also because Locke has a knack for telling these kinds of stories.
“My original idea for TikTok was to tell stories about all the unusual requests I’ve either performed or heard about from other performers over the years. But there are a lot of things that can get you banned from TikTok, and TikTok doesn’t really say where the line is.”
This is a common challenge for sex workers and the adult industry more broadly on social media. Each social media platform has different rules governing adult content, but the rules are often opaque and arbitrary. On TikTok, where Locke has more than 180,000 followers, she can’t say the word “porn” without running the risk that her content will be taken down and her account suspended. But porn stars on TikTok have found a clever workaround by referring to themselves as “corn stars,” or simply letting the appropriate emojis—🌽⭐️—do the talking.
While I could describe Locke’s TikTok videos, I’d rather share a few of them instead. I hope you’ll take a few extra minutes to watch Locke tell her stories because I think that’s the best way to understand who she is and where she’s coming from.
[PLEASE NOTE: You have to double click on the TikTok to play the video, but you don’t need to install the TikTok app. Also, these videos have SOUND, so plan accordingly].
Meet Vase Dude!
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The legend of Cheese Guy🧀
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Push-up Man is problematic
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As I prepared for our conversation, I wrote down several questions to ask Locke about “vase guy,” who gets his kicks watching a cam model struggle to remove her hand from a tiny vase.
Have you ever encountered this kind of kink before or since?
Does it have to be a vase, or could you get your hand stuck in, say, a Pringles tube and give him the same thrill?
Given some of the sex scenes depicted on ancient Roman and Greek vases, do you think this kink dates back to antiquities?
I also had questions about the legend that is “cheese guy,” even though Locke’s knowledge of him was secondhand.
How many cheese singles does it take to cover your body?
How much does all that cheese cost?
How do you get the cheese singles to stick your body?
Unfortunately, I forgot to ask about “vase guy,” so that kinky mystery will have to wait for another time. As for “cheese guy,” Locke said she couldn’t perform for him because she thinks processed cheese slices are “gross.” I assured her that all of the cheese in our fridge is sourced from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and local cheese mongers—no processed cheese slices here! That seemed to put Locke at ease, so I asked about the story that made me uncomfortable: Push-up Man.
“Can I ask about the guy who wanted you to do push-ups, but then made fun of how you did them? It just seems so… mean. What was his deal?”
“Yeah, I never performed for him again,” Locke said. “The issue came down to consent. I would’ve been down for a fitness kink, which is what I thought he was requesting. But I also I would’ve been happy to do a humiliation video. The issue, for me, was the way he presented the request. It felt like a bait and switch, like he wanted something I hadn’t consented to give him.”
Locke’s point about consent is a really important one that all too frequently gets lost in discussions about sex and sex work. Locke didn’t say this, but I have no trouble believing that Push-Up Man thinks he obtained consent, assuming he thinks about consent at all, when he booked the show.
But that’s not how consent works, of course. If Push-up Man had thought about consent—and he really should have thought about it because every person, regardless of their gender or profession has the right to grant or withhold consent—he might’ve opened the door to a wider conversation about his sexual fantasies. Who knows? Maybe that conversation would’ve led to lots of great Sophia Locke performances.
Consider another Sophia Locke story that made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. A client requested a very specific role play that sounds like an X-rated episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. The story, among other things, is a good example of why consent is the prerequisite to fulfilling any fantasy.
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In the first part of the client’s fantasy, Locke plays an “angry reporter lady” character covering a proposed law that will force all women to become sex slaves. Then comes the plot twist. In the second part of the fantasy, the law goes into effect, and Locke’s “angry reporter lady” character is forced to become a sex slave. Naked, except for mittens, Locke licks a giant dildo while looking blankly at the camera. It’s an elaborate, very specific, and to some people, disturbing fantasy. But to Locke, her client’s fantasy was fun to perform and talking about it is instructive in terms of understanding the importance of consent.
“Can we talk about the difference between the Push-Up Man experience and the Angry Reporter Lady client?” I asked. “On the surface, Push-Up Man seems like he has something in common with the man who wanted you to role play a very specific dystopian sex slave fantasy.”
Locke said she had never really thought about comparing the two men, but she was up for the conversation. The gist of what I was getting at was this: you don’t have to read in feminist theory to see the misogyny behind Push-up Man’s real life behavior and the misogynistic themes of the Angry Reporter Lady fantasy. But when I asked Locke if she saw similarities between the two requests, she said no.
“It’s a matter of intention,” she said. “I don’t really know what Push-Up Man’s intent was because he didn’t ask for my consent, and when he started trying to humiliate me, I ended the session.”
“But the dystopian sex slave guy was different?” I asked.
“Totally! He was great. He was open about what turned him on. We talked about it. I consented. Making his fantasy happen was fun. That’s my job. I love my job!”
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Jenga + Godzilla + Justin Bieber = Community?!
A good cam show is always about more than just sex. It’s an interactive experience where performers and fans can share anything and everything.
“You have to love talking to people,” Locke told me. “But you also have to be able to manage all the other stuff that goes into putting on a show.”
At a minimum, all the other stuff includes lighting, camera, sound, costumes, make-up, props, and making time to chat with the audience. But that’s the minimum. The real trick to making a living as a cam model is to build a community that supports your sex work.
Early in her adult career, Locke built an epic community by coming up with a novel way to start her shows. Rather than doing something typical like a striptease, Locke hit upon the idea of playing Jenga for her fans. Each time someone tipped $4, she’d seductively remove a Jenga block. When the tower fell, the show would begin.
The idea was a hit. Even better, what grew out of Locke’s gamified warm-up act evolved into something so silly, so transgressive, and ultimately, so idiosyncratic that all these years later Locke can’t fully explain it. But then again, how do you explain a show where Locke, dressed in a Godzilla suit, amped up by her cheering fans, strobe lights, and a soundtrack of sirens and cheap horror film screams, destroys a miniature city built out of Jenga blocks, before grabbing a life-size Justin Bieber cardboard cut-out and “railing him” from behind? Answer: you can’t really explain it, but if you’re Locke, you can try to make sense of it on TikTok.
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When I asked Locke about the “Jenga-Godzilla-Bieber” finale, she told me the idea grew organically out of the community’s input and her own “weird” passion for Godzilla.
“It was the kind of thing that happens in online communities where there’s one inside joke on top of another, and it just builds [over several years] as new people join the community, and things take on a life of their own.”
Listening to Locke speak about the community she built reminded me of the advice online platforms regularly share with content creators. Creating great content is important, the advice goes, but fostering a community around that content is the key to success. That’s easer said than done, of course. But nailing the best practices for community building is the easy part. The really hard part, for most of us anyway, is finding the confidence to be so vulnerable. Locke didn’t put it this way, but her confident vulnerability is her superpower. Well, that and a Godzilla suit.
Your step mom shoots porn
These days, Locke is more likely to be shooting porn scenes for studios than performing for fans on a webcam. Just like cam modeling, you have to be comfortable having sex in front of strangers, but porn shoots are a different animal.
On the one hand, working for a studio means that Locke doesn’t have to manage a community or do the work of producing a show. As she put it, “I just have to show up ready to work.” But on the other hand, working for studios means that Locke’s opportunities are a function of how the industry views her and what producers think their customers want to see. In Locke’s case, that often means filming “step mom” scenes.
“It’s not something I would’ve felt comfortable doing five years ago,” Locke told me. “But I’m into it now.”
For Locke, the taboo of playing a step mom who has sex with her step son became a lot more accessible when she thought about her own fantasies.
“Calling a man daddy and role playing along those lines is something I’ve done in my personal life. It’s not quite the same thing as playing a step mom, but it’s similar enough. Once I made that connection, it clicked.”
According to Pornhub’s 2022 year in review, “step mom” content ranked as the seventh most popular search term on the tube site.Meanwhile searches for MILF (Mom I'd Like to Fuck) ranked third on the Pornhub platform. I asked Locke what the difference was between step mom and MILF content.
“To me, MILF is about wanting to see a woman who is over a certain age. It’s about the woman in the scene. Step mom content is a very specific kink. The performer is someone who could play a MILF, but it’s the scenario that really turns fans on.”
Before getting to the sex, the performer playing the step mom needs to hit certain beats: shock, embarrassment, reluctance, acceptance. For legal reasons, it’s also important to emphasize the word “step” early and often in the scene.
“I don’t consider myself an actor, so that part of the performance is a challenge for me,” Locke said. “You have to strike a balance. The scenario is absurd, but inside the scenario you need to play it as realistically as possible.”
When I asked what it meant to do realism inside of an absurd scenario, Locke told me about a Reddit thread where fans of step mom content critiqued a scene she did with Olivia Jayy called The Best Mother’s Day Ever. Spoiler alert: the fan consensus was that Locke “carried the scene.” But the fans had plenty of constructive criticism too.
A Reddit user who goes by the handle jackknife00 explained what worked in the scene and what didn’t:
I thought the initial premise of the moms reluctantly modeling the “inappropriate” mothers day gifts was brilliant. And very sexy. I did not care for the the “dick in the box” stunt.
IMO, [it] would have been much better if they had left out the “dick in the box” stunt and just let the foot massages escalate to an “inappropriate” level. That would have provided justification for the swap. That and a couple of accidental interactions during the “69” would have made this an easy 5.
A different Reddit user who goes by the handle hoochimamaya rated the scene a 2 out of 5. Here’s why:
[I] couldn’t get a taboo kick out of it and it simply boiled down to right out of the gate the guys not looking their parts (no significant age contrast, not looking the family type) so they were never going to sell the illusion, even if they tried their best (I doubt they did). I just fast forwarded through it.
+ Sophia Locke’s funny faces when confronted with the dubious breakfast in bed food. The humorous bits/sketches in swap scenes frequently stand out.
+ Sophia Locke seemed like she might have the acting chops to sell her role in a future better scene with a better plot and pairing. Her expressions leading up to the kissing action during the 69 position were pretty hot.
- Most everything else. The setup sequences where ideally you’d try [to] establish the family relationships by showing family body language, family life, etc. were over in the blink of an eye (breakfast in bed). By the time we got dicks in a box it may as well have been a pizza delivery porn plot.
Reading the Reddit thread was a perfect window into the absurdist realism Locke was talking about. On the one hand, the idea that anyone who isn’t part of a Saturday Night Live sketch would put their dick in a box is as absurd as the premise of two dudes banging their step moms for Mother’s Day. But on the other hand, leaning into realism—what comedians call committing to the bit—is often the difference between a scene that works and one that doesn’t.
Maybe it sounds funny to put so much thought into a porn scene, and maybe it really is funny to take porn so seriously. But that’s Locke’s job, and it’s her thoughtful approach that drives her performance and carries the scene.
Still, step mom scenes deal with a fantasy that many people find uncomfortable, in part because that’s the nature of any taboo, but also because people who aren’t fans of that particular role play are likely to assume the worst of the audience. That’s why I asked Locke to tell me what she thinks of the fans of her step mom scenes.
“I try not to make assumptions about the audience because it’s their fantasy, not who they are in real life. I don’t think anyone wants to be judged by their fantasy, and I don’t think anyone should be judged for their fantasy. That’s why I try to think about what the audience wants, rather than who they might be in real life.”
Locke made a fair point, but we don’t live in a fair world. If we did, I probably wouldn’t feel so weird writing about step mom content, and Locke may never have felt reluctant to perform those kinds of scenes in the first place. After all, the fantasy is as at least as old as Sophocles (Oedipus Rex) and popular enough to sustain iconic film characters like Mrs. Robinson (The Graduate), Stifler’s Mom (American Pie), and Maude (Harold and Maude). Then there’s the TLC reality show Milf Manor. Unlike the step mom scenes that are so popular on Pornhub, Milf Manor takes a cringy step into reality by casting real life moms and sons and then documenting the awkwardness when both mother and son are forced to witness their respective budding May-December romances.
What’s striking about this topic, to me anyway, is how this particular taboo manages to be so popular in both mainstream and adult circles, and yet it still remains on the fringe, where all taboos live. But as Locke made clear throughout our conversation, there’s a big difference between fantasy and reality. Trying to reconcile the two, I suppose, is always going to be fraught, and maybe, if you’re not careful, lead you to a place where you judge people by their fantasies, instead of their real life actions.
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Sophia Locke IRL
During our video chat, I never asked who Sophia Locke is in real life. But then again, I didn’t have to ask that question. Throughout our conversation, Locke shared lots of details about the person behind the persona. As Locke explained at the outset, she’s a three-dimensional person who does sex work, not the one-dimensional version of a sex worker some of us hold in our heads.
Case in point: Locke has a passion for singing that dates back to her childhood. When Locke first entered the adult industry, she didn’t share her singing with very many people, and she definitely didn’t share it at all with her fans. As she explained, her identity was wrapped up in her singing, but she lacked confidence in her talent, and so she kept that part of herself hidden. In other words, sharing her voice was just too vulnerable for Locke in those days.
But after returning to the industry and joining TikTok, Locke’s newfound confidence inspired her to take a chance and share her singing with her fans. Here’s Locke signing one of her favorite songs: The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel.
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To be honest, I worried a little about how TikTok might react to Locke’s signing. After all, people can be incredibly nasty in the comments, especially to women, especially to sex workers, and especially to female sex workers who dare to share aspects of their lives that have nothing to do with sex work. But as it turned out, my fears—and maybe Locke’s fears too—were misplaced.
“The funny thing is my singing videos are the only TikTok videos where I haven’t gotten any trolls, or mean comments. People have actually been really kind and supportive of my singing! The worst comment I got was someone who asked in all caps: why so many ballads?”
“That sounds like a fan who just wants to hear you sing something other than a ballad.”
“I know, right? But the all caps thing was jarring for a moment because usually when you see an all caps, the comment is awful.”
“But this one was kind!”
“Very kind. They’re all kind, actually. I’m sort of blown away by the kind reactions to my singing. It’s actually made me feel a lot more confident to share my singing with my community on TikTok.”
I don’t know what the kind comments on Locke’s singing videos say about her singing, or what they say about the community she’s built on TikTok, or if the kindness and generosity she’s experienced on TikTok says anything at all. But I do know that there’s something beautiful about feeling the confidence to share who you really are with the world.
In that sense, Sophia Locke is a good example for anyone striving to live an authentic life. After all, Locke lives in public as a sex worker, singer, storyteller, and so much more. I don’t think many people know how to live so openly and honestly. I know I don’t, anyway, and I write funny stories about my life for thousands of strangers twice a week.
Thank you so much for reading this story! To learn more about Sophia Locke, you can connect with her on the following platforms:
And if you’re curious to learn more about my time as a reporter in Porn Valley, pick up a copy of my novel, Not Safe for Work 👇
Bonus content: Sophia Locke Takes the Smutty Questionnaire👇