Really Kinky: 2
Adherence to certain standards and guidelines, Acworth believes, leads to the unique quality of Kink's content, as well as a better working environment.
"In fact, we try to achieve the best model experience possible," says Reena Patel, vice president of marketing. "A lot of models come to us by choice, repeatedly."
Models earn between $600-$1,200 per shoot, depending on what is performed. There is a strict condoms-only policy, standard industry HIV-testing requirements and no behavior considered too extreme (e.g. ties around the neck, pissing, extreme tit torture). Limitations are discussed prior to each scene and a "safe word" is agreed upon for the model to use, to immediately stop the action. Video interviews are conducted with each model, before and after the shoot, which become part of the behind-the-scenes footage that appears online.
Professional talent that appears regularly includes many recognizable L.A.- based names — Katja Kassin, Sativa Rose, Annie Cruz, Justine Jolie, Satine Phoenix, Nadia Styles, Jada Fire, Dana DeArmond, Julie Night, Rita Faltoyano, Mika Tan, Sandra Romain and Gia Paloma are just a few.
And, Patel points out, many repeat performers enjoy working with Kink because they're actually getting off. With authenticity as an important part of the company's branding, Acworth actively discourages fake orgasms.
No Fake Orgasms
"If I suspect that the model was faking as orgasm — that she wasn't really into it — I'll tell the webmaster, 'Look, she's not enjoying it,'" he says.
Acworth also prefers a natural look.
"In fact," he says, "I'm having a meeting with the webmasters this week about make-up. I think they're using too much make-up." Most of the models used are diverse, in terms of physical appearance and ethnicity — from goth to exotic to girl-next-door.
"We are the only heterosexual company producing this kind of content, on such a grand scale," says Patel. "I think there's interest in companies, like us, that are established."
An industry veteran with stints at Girls Gone Wild and NakedSword.com, Patel joined Kink in June 2006 to help spearhead the expansion.
Cautiously protective of its brand, the company is reluctant to license its product. But, according to Acworth and Patel, Kink has been contacted by several major studios for joint projects to produce fetish content and also recently started approaching LA-based companies for potential partnerships.
In a move that would facilitate cross-pollination with the LA-based adult film industry, Kink also is looking at opening offices with studio space in Los Angeles. Locations are being scouted with several estate-sized properties being considered.
At a technology-savvy advantage with its impressive Web presence, Kink also has decided to branch out into the DVD arena with a compilation disc in time for January's AEE show in Las Vegas.
"I'm really determined to launch our DVD line in the right manner," Patel said. "A lot of people approach us on how they would like us to do it, but I would really like to get out there and gauge what kind of distribution outlets we have. So, each of the individual directors for the sites has selected what they think are their best individual scenes, and we're going to compile them into a sampler for distributors and consumers to really get a good feel for our content."
Two more websites will be added to the Kink roster this year, as well.
TS Seduction will combine bondage, TS women and straight men. My First Time Bound will feature 18- to 21- year-old models in beginner rope bondage scenarios but with no hardcore sex.
And two more sites are in the works. Device Bondage is being developed, similar to Fucking Machines, but featuring a wider variety of objects for sex play. Also, the Training of O will show models, over the course of a week, while they undergo a course of submissive training.
Both My First Time Bound and The Training of O are aimed at a larger demographic: fetish-curious consumers that might be intimidated by Kink's more extreme content.
Kinky Ones Get An Outlet
"It's a matter of really getting out there to the wide masses," Patel said. "Letting them know what this is really about, for people who might not have the opportunity to explore kink and the kinky lifestyle on their own and sort of giving them an outlet."
That outreach will also include an educational component. Supportive of various Bay Area and national safe sex charities and BDSM organizations, Kink will continue to sponsor events in its licensed entertainment space adjacent to the dungeon.
"Peter's vision is to open it up to various promoters who want to promote kinky lifestyle events," explains Patel. "As well as doing our own events, which would involve instructional seminars and screenings. For example, one of our riggers would be able to have a class for people who have no idea what rigging and rope-tying is all about."
At the 23rd annual 2006 Folsom Street Fair, a one-day event that is the culmination of Gay Leather Pride week and was attended by nearly 400,000 people, the Kink booth was one of the most popular.
Out of the dungeon darkness and in the broad light of an unusually sunny San Francisco day, the Kink crew entertained the crowd with demonstrations of rigging and suspension and displayed sex machines. Models in their Kink T-shirts looked like fresh-faced college coeds and were as pink from lack of sunscreen as they were from being spanked. Spectators eagerly volunteered to be flogged.
Acworth wasn't much surprised by the reaction.
"It's sort of a community feeling — like you're joining a club and that you're hanging out with people that are all into this thing," he explains. "It's OK to play with these fetishes — I think it's more interesting than normal sex."