Tim Rogers/ Fusion

MEDELLIN, Colombia— As Latin America enters fully into the internet age, the adult webcam revolution could follow close behind.

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Over the past five years Colombia has experienced a groundswell in its adult livecam industry, where mostly amateur models strip and perform sexual acts for online viewers. Studio owners say the industry now employs some 30,000 models in Colombia alone. Most of them work in agency studios, more than 1,000 of which that have popped up in inconspicuous-looking apartment buildings across Medellin, Bogota, and Cali. Thousands of other models work from home. Colombia represents an estimated 98 percent of all "latin" models in the adult webcam business, while the other 2 percent are in Mexico and Brazil.

Now Colombia's livecam industry wants to export its model to the rest of Latin America. And the $10 billion business could find fertile ground in a region with improving internet bandwidth, increasing connectivity, a lack of government regulation, and a huge population of unemployed and underpaid youth.

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"This market is still underexploited in Latin America," says Ricardo Bedoya, a studio operator who claims to manages 2,300 camgirl models in Colombia. "There is huge potential for growth in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile."

LiveJasmin, the biggest adult livecam site, is spearheading the Latin America expansion
Tim Rogers/ Fusion

The Latin American expansion effort is being spearheaded by Colombia's largest studio operator, AJ Studios, and the world's largest camgirl platform, LiveJasmin. The goal is to franchise the studio model in other countries to create the conditions for a massive scale-up that could turn Latin America into the new camgirl capital of the world — a title currently held by Romania.

Inside the command center at AJ Studios, in Cali

"Latin America is an undiscovered talent, and not only Colombia but lots of other countries," LiveJasmin executive Ricardo Morales told me. "My dream is for Latin America to one day surpass Romania."

Ricardo Morales, left, and his team at LiveJasmin

That's a tall order. Romanian models currently represent some 60 percent of the adult livecam market. An executive for Romania's top webcam site told me there are an estimated 500,000 Romanian women working in adult livecam — a claim that seems a touch preposterous for a country with a total population just north of 20 million. But it's one more fuzzy statistic in an industry marked by wild figures and large, evenly rounded numbers.

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While it's difficult to get a baseline on the camgirl industry, the numbers that are available suggest it's a behemoth that's expanding at an ever-quickening rate. Brad Mitchell, owner of Mojo Host, the porn industry's leading web hosting company, told me his firm alone hosts more than 100,000 porn sites. And he's got competitors.

Industry guys who specialize in web numbers estimate that porn already harnesses 30 percent of all internet traffic. And there's plenty of room to grow, they insist.

LiveJasmin.com, which claims to get 1.8 billion clicks per month, says it's shooting for five-fold growth in the years ahead. The company, which recently launched a cable TV station in Europe, says it wants to increase its daily offering of camgirls from 2,000 to 10,000. And Latin America will play a big role in that scale-up, Morales says.

Studios are sets designed to look like the model's home, so viewers don't realize that part of their tips are going towards the studio

The thinking, he explained, is that the camgirl industry needs to diversity its assets in more countries, because right now it's leaning too heavily on Romania, Ukraine and Colombia.

"What will happen if one of those three pillars crumbles?" Morales said. "I don't want my company to crumble, so I need more service-providers. If I stick to one or two nations, we aren't evolving. And we are the company that tries to lead in every area."

Latin Americans like porn too

Industry leaders say Latin America, with a combined population nearly twice that of the United States, also represents a huge potential market for online viewers.

Latin Americans are consumers, too

That's especially true as the mobile market explodes across the region, with hundreds of millions of new cellphone users from Mexico to Argentina.

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Latin America's mobile market is a huge deal to the camming industry because in several of the biggest-market countries consumers can actually buy cam porn and have it charged directly to their cellphone bill, rather than having to input credit card information. Mobile service providers refuse to promote hardcore porn, but they do allow direct purchase of camming services, according to Alex Lecomte, of Juicy Ads. That's a huge impetus for impulse porn purchases, which is exactly why that billing practice is banned in the U.S.

At the end of the day, Latin America and camming are a good fit, insists Ramon Janga, head of Dutch company XLove.com, one of the top 5 camming sites in the world.

"We are a product that is really about entertainment," says Janga, who was raised on the Caribbean island of Curacao.  "And I think that here in Latin America, they have that already in their culture — they love to dance, they love to party. And that's very good for the cam business."

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RELATED:  Fusion explores the increasingly diverse ways people are consuming – and producing –porn, from GIFs to live “camming” to teledildonics. Watch our original investigative documentary, Miami Porn: Sex Work in the Sunshine State, a look inside the world of South Florida’s booming adult entertainment industry:

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