Seven years ago I encountered intimately, and not in a good way, what happens when total freedom of access to hardcore porn online meets society’s equally total reluctance to talk honestly about sex and results in porn becoming – by default – the sex education of today.
MakeLoveNotPorn.com was something I launched six years ago. We are pro-sex, pro-porn, and pro knowing the difference. Our message is simply "talk about sex," because as the comms industry knows, everything great is borne out of great communication, and terrific sex is no exception.
I launched the site at TED with a talk that went viral. We saw huge traffic and I was bombarded with emails. I saw an opportunity for a business solution to a huge, untapped global social need. I decided to pursue our mission to "talk about it" by deploying social media dynamics that socialize sex to make #realworldsex and the discussion around it socially acceptable and socially shareable.
My team launched MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a user-generated, crowdsourced videosharing platform where anyone can submit their own #realworldsex videos, which we curate to our criteria, which is just one thing: real. We’re not porn. We’re not amateur.
We are building a new category. Our videos aren’t about performing for the camera, but simply doing what you do on every other social platform – capture what goes on in the real world in all its messy, beautiful, ridiculous, and amazing humanness.
We operate a revenue-sharing business model: You pay to rent and stream your videos and half of that income goes to our MakeLoveNotPorn stars. One day, we want them to be as famous as YouTube stars for the same reasons – their authenticity, individuality, and realness. We want to build the website to the critical mass where your #realworldsex video could hit a million rentals at $5 per rental – and you get half of that for doing something that helps change the way the world has sex for the better.
And yet, my team and I fight a battle every day to build our company. Every piece of business infrastructure any other startup can take for granted, we can’t, because the small print always says, "No adult content." Our biggest operational challenge has been payment processing. PayPal and mainstream credit card processors won’t work with adult content. We had to build our videosharing/streaming platform from scratch.
I’m fighting this battle publicly because the answer to everything that worries people about porn and sex is not to shut down and censor. It’s to open up and welcome and support entrepreneurs who want to disrupt for the better, and open up to enabling us to do business on the same terms as everyone else. But especially, open up to understanding that social sex is the future.
Despite these obstacles, the site has more than 400,000 members and began generating revenue on day one. Some stars are making four figures at each payout.
Social sex is powerful for all the same reasons social sharing is. It’s reassuring. Our site proves the same shit happens to everyone. It’s funny. If you can’t laugh at yourself when you’re having sex, when can you? It’s empowering. We celebrate real-world bodies, hair, penis size, breast size, everything.
What does this mean for brand building, marketing, advertising, and PR? Opportunities. We pride ourselves on our consumer insight, understanding of psychology, and ability to leverage fundamental human truths to create emotional connections for brands to build strong businesses. And yet we skirt around any acknowledgement of the most important part of our humanity, something that unites and drives us all: our sexuality. Who we are sexually informs how we feel about ourselves, other people, relationships, our lives, and happiness.
That old saying "sex sells" refers only to a superficial, male-centric salaciousness. I’m talking about something profound – the ability for brands to do good and make money by embracing and normalizing a huge area of insecurity, shame, and embarrassment for consumers globally, and the ability to sell any product or service, not just the ones directly related to sexual purposes.
Just as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Tumblr leverage social sharing for commercial benefit, MakeLoveNotPorn is here to do the same for social sex because, trust me, the social sex movement is here to stay.
Cindy Gallop is the founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn.tv (nsfw).