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With her wide, disarming gaze and friendly demeanour, Alice Levine has a way of posing the most direct questions about people’s sex lives without causing offence. I don’t mean the “How many dildoes do you possess?” or “Were you lying about your penis size?” variety so much as the blunt query “How much money do you guys make?”
Geordie couple Jack, 27, and Kayla, 21, have given up their jobs (decorator and sandwich-maker) to explore, as Levine puts it, “the newest frontier in Britain’s gig economy”. They are part of an apparently growing trend of “couples who cam”, live-streaming their intimate encounters for the benefit of paying customers. The giggling pair usher Levine into their bedroom, where a cat sleeps next to a row of sex toys, and allow her to sit in on their next session (thankfully it doesn’t involve the cat). “I was not prepared for the reality of watching two people have sex just two metres away from my face,” she reflects afterwards.
If nothing else, Levine has learnt from her previous Channel 4 documentary about the extremist attitudes of the far right to focus on charming participants. Bournemouth-based biker-chic couple Nikita and Sam, 24 and 29, have a whiteboard setting out their strict sex schedule. They each have an OnlyFans account to service (a subscription-based platform), as well as their couples’ sessions. Sam is the size of a chintz-covered sofa and patterned like one too, with tattoos swarming up his arms and neck and into his hair. “90 per cent of my fans are men,” he reveals. Nikita meanwhile can earn a pony merely for calling someone a “filthy whore”.
Softly spoken Scottish couple Cole and Callum are big earners on Chaturbate, the adult webcam site, averaging 15m monthly views of their energetic content. Followers pay in tokens, choosing from a large menu of sex acts. Levine: “That is quite the page of options.” Clad in unassuming hoodies and tracksuit bottoms, the pair leap on to the bed to demonstrate the positions that look “really good” on camera: The price goes up to 280 tokens for . . . a very explicit act (I’m not spelling that one out.)
Despite the frankness, this first episode in the three-part series, on which Louis Theroux was an executive producer, is not really about sex at all, but love. The way these couples gaze at each other is, frankly, adorable. Jack’s on-screen porn patter might be hilariously corny but afterwards, he assures Levine, “I do say sorry.”
On Channel 4 from September 22 at 10pm
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