logo
Beyond HumanBig PictureCatalystsConnected WorldExchangeMarketing MixNew MoneyNew SchoolPeople SciencePulse

Can Make Love Not Porn take real life sex viral?

Make Love Not Porn Make Love Not Porn
Photo credit:

janwillemsen

Would you post a video online of you and your partner having sex? Cindy Gallop thinks that will become the norm and wants to change our attitude towards porn.

Meet Brad and Dorothy, they are a twenty something young married couple. They have a one-year- old kid and live in California. They are from deeply religious, Christian backgrounds.  Last year they decided to upload videos of themselves having sex onto a gated video sharing platform that earns them money every time someone watches it. Having never even filmed themselves having sex before, they now call themselves ‘Make Love Not Porn Stars’.

The woman behind Make Love Not PornCindy Gallop, formerly a senior executive at advertising giant BBH, wants to invent a new kind of attitude towards sex online. Not just by opening a conversation but by creating an alternative to porn itself: real world people, having real world sex. Her dream is to socialize sex.

“I decided to take every dynamic that exists in social media currently and apply them to a network or platform focused on sex. We think real world sex, and the discussion around it, is just as socially shareable as anything we currently share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. That’s why we say: we’re not porn, we’re not amateur, we’re real world sex. Our competition is not porn, our competition is Facebook and Twitter, or it would be if Facebook and Twitter allowed sexual self expression, which they don’t.”

In a world where a masculine view of sex, despite many efforts, still pervades, Gallop is making a stance. She wants Make Love Not Porn to be a platform where people not only see another view of sex, they masturbate to it. She wants to provide people with an alternative to the billion dollar porn industry which is  becoming more violent in its content, and more accessible than ever.

“One of the reasons that we are doing this is that we want to reassure people that the same shit happens to all of us, we just don’t talk about it. There is nothing to be ashamed of. We want a category on Make Love Not Porn that is the sexual equivalent of America’s funniest videos. When people film themselves having sex, we never see the outtakes. But there’s a market for that. Imagine the sex equivalent of Charlie bit my finger.”

The objection she most commonly receives is that sex is, you know, a private act. Something you wouldn’t necessarily want everyone to see you doing, never mind socially share. Should we be encouraging this kind of attitude?

Her reply is simple.

“Google the word porn, like millions of children do across the world every day. Take a look at the first ten sites you see when you do that and see what they are seeing. Look at that homepage. And then tell me Make Love Not Porn shouldn’t exist”.

And in a world where the average age a child is first exposed to porn is 8, Cindy Gallop’s potential audience, she believes, include teachers and even parents.

“Children watching porn has become inevitable, you can’t stop that happening. Yet, at the same time, parents and teachers still find it enormously difficult to have a conversation about sex. The conversation is normally about the birds and the bees: purely logistical. It needs to graduate to something like this: ‘Darling, we know you’re online, we know you’ve seen porn. Through Make Love Not Porn we’d like to explain to you that not all women like to be tied up, bound, gang banged, raped, choked and have men ejaculate all over their faces. And actually, not all men like doing that either’.”

Teachers, she claimed, are using the site in schools because they have no materials to steer the conversation. She wants to curate resources for them, segment them by age appropriateness, and allow parents to purchase them online.

Yet, the question remains, will the quantity of people willing to share videos of themselves having sex make it economically viable? Has Cindy Gallop filmed herself having sex and uploaded it online?

The answer was no. She and her team felt that considering how controversial the venture was, it would not help us at at this stage for its employees to be on the platform.

And here is the crux of the matter. Is the cultural shift she needs too large for Make Love Not Porn to graduate from worthwhile campaign to a fully functioning business model? The campaign was launched six years ago and the video platform is still in beta.

The shift in mindset required, she claimed, was not so much finding the video content (she claimed that you’d be surprised how many people jump at the chance), but changing attitudes within tech business culture, particularly that of investors.

“I had no idea that my team would be fighting a battle every single day to build Make Love Not Porn. Every piece of business infrastructure that any other startup can at least take for granted, we can’t because the small print says “no adult content”.”

To get Make Love Not Porn to where it is today, they have had to build the entire platform, including the payment infrastructure from scratch. Even finding an email partner was a challenge. They also have to have a revenue model where the content is both gated and not free: this is to protect the rights of those who share their videos. They can remove it whenever they chose, if for example, their relationship status or circumstances change.

And then there is the question of funding.

“Fear of what other people think, out rule two of the three usual funding streams for tech startups. Institutional investors are ruled out because there are too many stakeholders. A well known partner at a VC reached out to me last year. He said ‘this idea is genius’ but he said it’s not about what I think, it’s about what every other partner in my firm will think.”

What about crowdfunding?

“Kickstarter is no adult content. Crowdfunding requires people to very publicly crowd around something and very publicly invite other people into it. People will not publicly crowd around anything to do with sex. The third route, which we are going to use, are angel investors. Our challenge there is that any other startup can do it’s research and target. Nobody has publicly said “bring me sex tech”. Sex is one of those things that you can’t tell from the outside what people think on the inside.”

Silicon Valley, she thinks, is missing out not just in an area for innovation but investment as well.

“Silicon Valley accepts innovation in every other area of our lives except this one. The one that needs it most. The three huge disruption opportunities are sex, cannabis and bitcoin and investors are flocking into the latter two, but ironically not sex. There is so much money to be made that they are missing out on. The market never goes away. We are all having it or want to have it. The author of 50 Shades of Grey is the highest grossing author of all time. That is the power of socially shareable sex.”

CHANNELS