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Saving Ukraine with nudes: Ukrainians raise $700,000 for military selling erotic photos
Nude photos are an art form with the power to raise money for the military. At least that is the philosophy behind the movement Teronlyfans, founded by Ukrainian artist Anastasiya Kuchmenko, 26, and Belarusian native Nastya Nasko, 23.
Teronlyfans is a combination of two words – Ukraine’s territorial defense force, a branch of the Ukrainian Armed Forces created in the months leading up to Russia’s invasion, and Onlyfans – an online platform where subscribers pay to see risqué content.
Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, nearly 40 volunteers, both male and female, have joined the movement, raising about $700,000 for the Ukrainian military.
Its founders want to be very clear about one thing: Teronlyfans is not pornography. Apart from nude pictures, some volunteers send photos of their collarbones, legs, or arms.
There are people, including Russians, who are critical of Teronlyfans’ fundraising efforts, but its members don't care. They say they are helping Ukraine’s military.
“Teronlyfans proves that nudes can be beautiful and useful and that shaming people for their photos makes no sense,” said Oleksandra, who has raised more than $14,000 with her nudes since she joined Teronlyfans.
How it started
Nasko moved to Ukraine from Belarus three years ago to work at a local gaming company. Before the full-scale war started, she went on vacation to Croatia and hasn’t been able to return to Ukraine since. Many Belarusian immigrants living in Ukraine have been kicked out or refused visa extensions over new restrictions related to Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s war.
Nasko cannot return to her native Belarus either. “The Belarusian KGB has probably opened a case against me, so I do not plan to return there for the next 10 years,” Nasko told the Kyiv Independent. Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has threatened what he calls “regime traitors” with imprisonment or even the death penalty.
Nasko and her Ukrainian friend Kuchmenko found refuge in Poland and launched Teronlyfans in early March to help Ukraine from abroad. “We created this movement on the verge of a joke and despair,” said Kuchmenko in an interview with Ukrainian dev.ua.
Ukrainian artist Anastasiya Kuchmenko (L) and Belarusian native Nastya Nasko (R), founders of Teronlyfans movement, which raises funds for the Ukrainian army by selling nude photos. (Courtesy)
At first, the girls only sent their own photos, but then other Ukrainians joined them.
Read also: Missile mail. Ukrainian volunteers write deadly greetings to Russia to raise money
“I was sending nude photos to raise money for the 72nd Mechanized Brigade before joining Teronlyfans, but later I decided to team up with the girls,” said Oleksandra, photographer, and copywriter from Ukraine.
“My boyfriend was skeptical at first and my mom was worried it could be dangerous, but they are fine with it now,” she told the Kyiv Independent.
Another volunteer, Ilona, said that she didn’t have spare cash to donate to the army and was surprised that her photos could bring in so many donations. Since March, she has raised over $18,800 for the Ukrainian military.
“I love my nude pictures and I’m happy that they can help someone,” she told the Kyiv Independent.
How it works
Teronlyfans’ volunteers usually find “donors” on Twitter or Instagram. They are not allowed to accept money into their own bank accounts – donations have to be sent directly to a verified Ukrainian fundraising campaign or organization, including Come Back Alive, Azov Regiment, International humanitarian fund, or the Mena Zoo.
Before sending erotic photos, volunteers require a confirmation of the money transfer. At first, they checked each donation receipt manually, which was necessary because some donors sent one receipt to different girls to get more photos. Now Teronlyfans has its own bot that does this automatically.
Another rule is to set boundaries. Donors cannot dictate to girls how to pose or what parts of their bodies to show, according to Kuchmenko.
“We are not sex workers who fulfill people’s wishes. When you buy cookies at a charity fair, you don't make any additional demands. You take what is being offered and help the country,” Nasko said in an interview.
Those willing to join Teronlyfans also need to meet several requirements: have a large audience on social networks and experience in taking nude photos. Currently, the organization is not actively recruiting volunteers, according to Nasko.
“They understand how our movement works and can be trusted,” she told the Kyiv Independent. Besides, with a small team, it is easier to make sure that all members are following the rules, and not using Teronlyfans’ brand to make money.
Read also: Ukraine’s crypto fundraisers undeterred by crypto market crash
Apart from fraudsters and profiteers, Teronlyfans’ founders were also worried that they may have problems with Ukrainian law enforcement. Erotic content and porn are illegal in Ukraine and their distribution is punishable by fine or imprisonment.
In July, almost 25,000 Ukrainians signed a petition for the legalization of erotica and porn in the country. “The average person perceives erotica similarly to the beauty of nature. This is art,” the petition says.
Teronlyfans’ volunteers haven’t had any problems with Ukraine’s cyber police as of yet, but by asking donors to transfer the money directly to charities, rather than the organization's own account, they believe they’ll be in the clear.
As with all charitable initiatives, the number of donations for Teronlyfans has decreased in recent months. At first, the average donation was $135, but now it's about $30.
However, Kuchmenko and Nasko have have no plans to stop raising money. “The project will end when Putin dies,” Nasko said.
Note from the author:
Hi, this is Daryna Antoniuk, I hope you enjoyed reading my story.
I cover tech for the Kyiv Independent during one of the most difficult times for my country. We need stories like these because the fight on the digital front is just as important as the fight on the ground. I really want to write again about investment in Ukraine’s hi-tech, cool startups and the booming Ukrainian IT market.
But first, Ukraine needs to win the war. Our part in it is keeping the world informed. Consider donating to the Kyiv Independent and becoming our patron so you can read more stories about tech and business in the future.