Longform

4chan Camgirl Loli-chan Grows Up

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He first came across Loli-chan images while serving in the National Guard as a chemical warfare defense instructor. Immediately, he was captivated. Shortly thereafter, someone posted a photo of the then-13-year-old's house with the threat, "Here's where I'm gonna kidnap her."

So Zach started the site LoliChanArmy, which gathered dozens of computer-savvy fans who were dedicated to finding and erasing personal information about Loli's real-life identity before predators could find it.

Now he regularly sends her books and wishes she would put more "practical" items, such as lock picks, on her Amazon Wishlist. Most recently, he sent Loli an ax so she could defend herself against stalkers. ("He thinks I'm like a comic book character or something," Loli explains. "I'm like WTF do I need an ax for?")

"I have an overwhelming urge to protect her and make sure she's OK so nobody harms her," he explains. "My instruction to her was to put that ax into an attacker as fast as she can, as many times as she can, and as hard as possible."

Zach's primary interests are collecting Nazi paraphernalia and talking to Loli every day on Skype. When he has extra cash, he pays her to read aloud from Carl Sagan books and the Bible, $2.50 per page.

He's doled out about a grand this year to Loli and has no obsessive feelings toward any other Chan.

"[Cracky] posts all this info on a place like 4chan trying to get popular and then freaks out when she accomplishes that goal," he says. "At least [Loli] isn't afraid to own the consequences of her own actions."


Loli lives with the consequences of her youthful folly every day. When most people see a small child with an older man, they likely assume it's a kid hanging out with her grandfather. Not Loli — she carries both pepper spray and pink polymer knuckles on her key chain in case such kids need a rescuer. She still cringes when she remembers classmates in high school who would confront her by saying, "Hey, don't I recognize you from online?"

Her paranoia peaked when she attended college in North Florida. She began hearing voices that alternately asked her to post more photos of herself and told her she was worthless.

Loli withdrew right before finals week of her freshman year, moved back home, and was involuntarily committed to Jackson Memorial Hospital's psych ward for nearly a month. After racking up a $31,000 bill, she was placed on a strict regimen of lithium, which she now takes three times a day.

To pay off her huge hospital bill, Loli began modeling on MyFreeCams from her messy home. On her computer desk sits a webcam and a letter opener inscribed with the saying, "When you're right, no one remembers, and when you're wrong, no one forgets." She's become a kind of internet welfare queen — subsisting on money and gifts sent by her former fan base. "I didn't think anybody would recognize me on there, but within a day, people were posting about it on 4chan," she says.

There's one fan who likes to tip her for making her bed and another who pays to see her unmake it. She doesn't mind those requests, but she freaked out when one anonymous viewer asked if she would pretend to be his 14-year-old daughter and cry. (She banked about $1,500 in her first two days on MyFreeCams, but business has slowed, and overall she has earned $4,000 in eight months.)

She also vacillates between fear and anger. Two months ago, she posted her learner's permit with her home address on a message board as if to say, "All right, fuckers, if you're going to get me, do it already!"

Perhaps most telling: For the past four years, she's been dating Lucien, who keeps a Glock in their bedroom and hopes to become a cop by December.

Still, it's difficult for Loli to accept her descent into relative obscurity. She wishes she could monetize her minor celebrity and become self-sufficient. That aspiration is complicated by the fact that her resumé is basically empty, excepting a seasonal job she held at a grocery store a couple of years ago. But while Loli is sort of stuck in a state of arrested development, other camgirls have successfully moved on.

There's Loli's friend Niki, a former wannabe Chan, who is working on a series of Cracky and Loli etchings as her art school thesis. The project will tell the story of the two camgirls' rise to fame and the ways technology can lead to psychological disorder. "I ultimately felt more comfortable being recognized for works on paper rather than photos featuring myself," Niki says.

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.