Demon Time: Instagram Live’s Virtual Strip Club

Photographed by Michael Beckert.
Earlier this week, Beyoncé dropped a remix of Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage," and in doing so, brought to light a heretofore hidden corner of Instagram that has arisen out of the coronavirus pandemic. It's called Demon Time, so named for the smiling purple devil emoji often associated with it, and it refers to the virtual strip clubs popping up across late-night Instagram Live. The lyric in question? "Hips Tik Tok when I dance/On that Demon Time/She might star and OnlyFans."
With strip clubs closed, along with all other non-essential businesses, strippers and exotic dancers have been forced to pursue other income streams, which, for some, has meant turning to Instagram. Hosted by Justin LaBoy, a former professor basketball player, and Justin Dior Comb, the son of P. Diddy, these virtual strip clubs provide a way for strippers and other people who have found themselves out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic to perform, mostly wearing masks to remain anonymous, for money via Cash App.
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And celebrities like The Weeknd, Kevin Durant, Meek Mill, and Jake Paul are tuning in. Each stream has its own Instagram handle and begins with a glass of red wine, an indication that the show is about to start. Then, while each dancer is on screen, LaBoy pins their CashApp info to the Live so that patrons can tip them directly. In many cases, it's more lucrative than IRL stripping as well as sites that require performers to pay a fee to use their platform. A dancer named Alexis told the New York Times that she has made around $18,000 on CashApp by dancing on Instagram Live since strip clubs have been closed. Another dancer named Arielle told The Daily Beast that she made $5,000 in one night. Many dancers have also used this newfound platform to direct viewers to their personal accounts on OnlyFans, an adult entertainment platform where users can pay for videos and photos from content creators.
Since Instagram caught wind of this new trend — which exists in violation of its terms — the platform has been seriously cracking down. Most recently, LaBoy was banned from Instagram, and is encouraging fans of Demon Time to petition Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri to reinstate his account. But the popularity of LaBoy's streams has only inspired more virtual strip clubs to crop up — and with Beyoncé canonising the virtual event in her newest single, it seems like Demon Time isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

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