Remember when your parents used to warn you away from the internet, lest some anonymous creep should become obsessed with you and start stalking you in real life? Well, add in an evil web cam girl and one spiked cocktail, and you've got the plot of Lifetime's latest thriller. A Night To Regret, premieres Sunday, June 24, and according to the official synopsis, the story begins when Chelsea (played by Mollee Gray) meets up with an old friend, Milla, (played by Kirstin Pfeiffer), who's now working as a web cam girl. But Milla's got a serious dark side now, and she drugs Chelsea's drink and secretly films her, broadcasting the footage to a viewer who becomes obsessed with finding Chelsea and having her all to himself. But just how close to reality is this whole ordeal? Is A Night To Regret based on a true story?
Mercifully, A Night To Regret is pure fiction. In fact, the storyline has so many twists and turns (it is a Lifetime movie, after all), I think it's pretty safe to say that this particular situation hasn't happened before. At least I hope not.
Unfortunately, though, for women and cam girls in particular, harassment is often just par for the course of being on the internet. The Mic reported on a study from Pew Research Center, which claimed that 26 percent of young, female internet users have been stalked online.
The Mic also interviewed web cam performer Eliza Jane at Cam Con in Miami, who described herself and other cam girls as "an easy target."
"I'm not sure I've ever done a show where I didn't experience some [harassment]," Jane told the Mic. "I definitely worry about my physical safety. I'm at risk every day... I just hope I'm not the next girl to go through something terrible."
If you're curious to understand the perspective of real cam girls without the melodrama of a Lifetime movie, then you might want to check out Sean Dunne's documentary Cam Girlz. The film, which was released on Jan. 22, 2015, catches up with 37 different cam girls, and details their reasons for getting into the job and the results of their experience in the field.
As part of her Viceland series Slutever, Karley Sciortino, also chronicled the stories of real-life cam girls. Season 1 Episode 6, titled "Cam Girls," premiered on March 7, 2018 and features Sciortino, meeting up with multiple different web cam models and discussing their thoughts on what it means to be part of this growing field of sex work. You can watch the whole episode on Viceland now.
Another real-life cam girl, Sophie X, wrote about her own experiences performing sex acts before an internet audience and how it led her further into the field of sex work than she thought she might go, for LA Weekly. She talks about the guys working at the studio where she first signed up who crossed lines, but other than that, the harassment is hardly the focal point of her story. Instead, it's about her own feelings and experiences, rather than focusing any one horror story, like what happens to Chelsea in A Night To Regret.
While the salacious plot of A Night To Regret does sound like it'll be entertaining, fortunately, it sounds far removed from what most web cam girls experience. Chelsea doesn't even choose to perform online out of her own free will, and having that sense of agency sounds like it is a pretty pivotal part of the job. You can see what becomes of Lifetime's unwitting web cam performer when the movie premieres on June 24.