If there’s any Real Housewife that would be a cheerleader for another housewife starting an OnlyFans account, it’s Lisa Rinna.
Known for posting racy photos and videos of her dancing on her Instagram, how could she not be supportive of actress and former model Denise Richards deciding to post some of her own racy photos up on the exclusive, members-only platform?
On Wednesday’s episode of Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live, Rinna was asked what she thought of her former castmate joining the site.
“Make money, baby!” Rinna replied. “Make the cash! She’s going to make more money than she did on the show,” referring to the Bravo installment following the lives of Beverly Hills’ rich and elite.
OnlyFans works like this – you set up an account by going through an identity verification process where you submit government-issued identification so that the platform can verify your name and age. You decide your monthly subscription price, of which 80% you pocket and 20% goes to the platform (Sarah: A WAY better deal than Youtube!). You call the shots about the type of content you want to put out, and then you get paid.
The common misconception is that OnlyFans is a site strictly for posting pictures and videos that are NSFW, but really, some people have used it to monetize everything from cooking tutorials to virtual personal training and exercise videos.
On July 4, weeks after Richards’ 18-year-old daughter Sami, whom she shares with actor Charlie Sheen, created her own OnlyFans account, Richards debuted a racy bikini pic. The caption pushed her 1.4 million followers to the link in her bio, which now holds the URL to her OnlyFans site. Her monthly subscription cost? $25 U.S., a number that can really add up considering her reach.
Richards and her daughter are the latest celebrities to join the site, following in the footsteps of stars like Cardi B, Blac Chyna, Amber Rose and Carmen Electra. And despite some backlash from the public over her teenager being on the site, Richards says it was important to not be in judgement of her daughter, considering some of the work she herself has done in the past.
"I can't be judgmental of her choices. I did Wild Things & Playboy, quite frankly her father shouldn't be either," she said.
She’s referring to the fact that initially, Charlie Sheen had a harsh response that differed from how supportive Richards was, saying, he doesn’t “condone this," through his publicist.
“Since I'm unable to prevent it, I urged her to keep it classy, creative and not sacrifice her integrity," the star added. "She is 18 years old now and living with her mother. This did not occur under my roof."
Ah, the good old “not under my roof” spiel from the dad who reportedly didn’t enforce any rules and let Sami skip school after moving into his house during her strained relationship with her mom. Not to mention his very public history about his involvement with drugs, alcohol and women. Classic.
Sheen has since then changed his stance, saying “Denise has illuminated a variety of salient points, that in my haste, I overlooked and dismissed,” he said in June.
It was in Richards’ same Instagram statement that she hinted she might just start her own account, praising the platform for allowing users to “control and monetize” their content.
"Is it so bad to control it & monetize it, too? I'm sorry, but s— if I can get paid and at my age? To see me in a bikini?!? God bless you. Perhaps I should open my own account." she continued.
If Rinna is correct in asserting that Richards will make more on OnlyFans than she did on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, that would certainly be a spectacle, considering Richards made some impressive earnings during her short two-season stint. She initially signed on for a four-year run, slotted to earn $1 million U.S. each season. It’s rare that housewives make that much in their debut seasons. That kind of money is most often reserved for long-time show stars like Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice, and Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kandi Burruss, who have both been with Bravo for more than a decade. Porsha Williams, Nene Leakes and Bethenny Frankel were also reportedly earning 7 figures in the seasons leading up to their ultimate departures. But this is Denise Richards – and as she’s proving, she’s serious about her money.
Not only has she remained open and supportive with her daughter’s choice to join OnlyFans, despite admitting to not knowing much about it at first, but she says her research has led her to have quite a positive impression of how it operates.
“Once I started to learn about it, I really think that the creators of the site really took the best of every platform of social media and put it into one site,” she said in an interview with KTLA. “You own your content. The other sites, they can sell your content."
She makes an interesting point about what we’re willing to do on other platforms that we’d get judged for on OnlyFans.
"We all post pictures with ourselves with bathing suits on Instagram and some of the other sites. There’s no difference other than you actually own the content," she continued on during the interview.
Richards and her daughter are no different than stars who have had to get creative to keep their earnings up and maintain their lifestyles. It’s a point recently made by Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney, which Lainey wrote about here.
“If I wanted to take a six-month break, I don’t have income to cover that,” Sweeney said during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I don’t have someone supporting me, I don’t have anyone I can turn to, to pay my bills or call for help. They don’t pay actors like they used to, and with streamers, you no longer get residuals…I take deals because I have to.”
That context really illuminates so much of what is unseen when we see our favourite celebrities partnering with makeup companies, clothing lines and even diet plans (James Corden, anyone?) becoming brand ambassadors, spokespeople and the like. It also provides some insight into why so many celebrities are going on to establish their own brands and businesses. Once you’ve got the reach and the money for the initial investment, it’s quite possible to succeed. We’ve seen Jessica Alba go from actress to entrepreneur with her billion dollar brand, The Honest Company. We’ve seen Kelly Clarkson go from American Idol contestant to talk show host and owner of a Wayfair home furnishing line. Stud of all studs George Clooney co-founded Casamigos tequila in 2013, and the list goes on.
It would appear that the gig economy, or at least the economy in which you must have a side hustle, is not just reserved for everyday people, like me, (I spend my evenings and weekends making candles to sell at craft markets for extra income, also because I really love candles). Celebrities, too, have to juggle multiple jobs and partnerships to keep the money coming in.
And while Sweeney seems to attribute this to being a younger, less-established actress despite all of her success so far, I think a lot of Hollywood is feeling the pinch, particularly after the pandemic.
“The established stars still get paid, but I have to give 5 percent to my lawyer, 10 percent to my agents, 3 percent or something like that to my business manager. I have to pay my publicist every month, and that’s more than my mortgage,” she said to The Hollywood Reporter.
The pandemic hit all types of entertainers in the jugular. Musicians who had to axe scheduled world tours were no longer earning what they needed to in order to stay afloat. And while the virtual concerts and performances were, okay, I guess, considering the circumstances, there’s no energy like performing in a sold-out arena. And there’s no money like it, either.
I think Denise Richards starting an OnlyFans account, especially at age 51, is badass. But more importantly, I think it’s a smart business decision. She’s been a sex icon for decades, and not only is she proving that she’s still got it, she’s charging a pretty penny for it, too.