For a company that creates some of the Internet’s hardest porn, Kink.com’s commitment to its community might seem a bit paradoxical.
With about 130 people on staff, “and many, many more contractors and performers,” Kink is shooting constantly. So you’d think they’d keep the doors shut and try to remain invisible. But founder and CEO Peter Acworth has taken the opposite route, opening the doors of the Armory, in the heart of San Francisco, for regular tours. People from around the world, wide-eyed and curious, are guided through the Victorian-inspired Upper Floor, the Roman Baths, the dungeons.
We’re working on expanding the old Armory Drill Court into a community center that can be used for bigger productions, as well as special events — live theater, book fairs, conventions, fundraisers, a farmer’s market.
The controversy that erupted in 2005 when Kink.com took over the huge landmark building on Mission St. has dissipated in the wake of the company’s forthrightness. Initial opposition turned into support.
“Right now,” said Acworth, “we’re working on expanding the old Armory Drill Court into a community center that can be used for bigger productions, as well as special events — live theater, book fairs, conventions, fundraisers, a farmer’s market. With a building like this — or a business like this — you’re never finished.”
Acworth’s decision to purchase the “highly visible and controversial” Armory building “went hand in hand with his larger vision to demystify fetish material and BDSM. The purchase, together with the subsequent openness and transparency, has all been part of this longer term vision.”
Not only is Kink.com a pillar of the community, it’s also a progressive employer. According to the company’s publicist, “Part of Kink’s success has been its commitment to ethical production — they have a bill of rights for models, strict shooting guidelines, generous worker’s comp,” as well as community outreach.
In the past year, they’ve launched a series of sexed workshops, partnered with sex worker outreach organizations and continued with their mission to “help educate the community about BDSM.”
Acworth stressed that Kink’s essential mission is about “supporting the BDSM community at large at events and through resources. It’s about supporting the adult industry through the FSC. It’s about helping the mainstream media discuss sex in a way that informs rather than scares people. It’s important that people realize what we do is safe, pleasurable and consensual.
“All of us — and by this I mean adult companies — should be thinking about ourselves as part of a rich ecosystem. We need to make sure that all aspects of it, from model health to production practices to legal defense, are strong.”