Calif. Drops Kink.com Gov’t Funding for Employee Training

Anne Winter
SAN FRANCISCO — Fetish content network Kink.com has gotten word its employee training funding, granted by the state of California by the California Employment Training Panel (CETP), has been axed after the organization got word Kink made porn.

Kink.com, listed with the state under parent company Cybernet Entertainment, received up to $46,791 in the three years it has been registered to receive employee training funding, but received abrupt word April 8 that the company will no longer be able to rely on the subsidized financial support.

“We were informed by [nonprofit media services organization] the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) that funding would be cut off for training, and that any classes already in session would have to end at the end of the week,” Kink.com Director of Communications Ilana Rothman told XBIZ. “We were upfront during the application process and did not hide [the fact that Cybernet was an adult company]. We’ve never been discriminated against by any means until now.”

Rothman said Cybernet Entertainment used annual training funds for onsite training in its production and technology departments, including graphic design, programming, animation and editing — “All of the technology skills that allow us to be a successful film production and online company.”

“We are researching options,” Rothman said, “but unfortunately we have become kind of dependent on this training and very appreciative of it, and if now we must allocate funds to pay for it ourselves, that means we have less resources to spend in other departments. It could mean as much as not being able to maintain the same size workforce.”

Rothman said she and the Kink team are researching their options and, via BAVC, (through which Kink originally applied for the subsidized funding) is planning to appeal the board’s decision. If the board denies the appeal, however, Rothman said Kink is not positive what the next step will be.

“We’re taken aback but we’re just trying to be calm and do research and not overreact,” Rothman said. “There are a lot of good things happening [at Kink], new sites have been approved, new live technology and projects being developed.”

It appears CETP was prompted to cancel Kink.com’s annual funding after a reporter from a local news organization contacted the organization inquiring why the state was funding employee training for a company that, “was in the business of narrowcasting videos depicting sexualized torture.”

CETP general counsel Maureen Reilly wrote to the reporter, who then quoted her in his article, "Since learning about Kink.com through your Public Records Act request, [C]ETP has informed BAVC that it will no longer reimburse the cost of training the employees of Cybernet."

“[The article] is attacking Kink,” Rothman said. “Its implication is that we [depict sexualized torture] maliciously and non-consensually, which couldn’t be further from the truth and what we communicated to him during the interview. We are known all over country and in the industry as extremely respectful and responsible, and never give people reason to question our business practices. [The reporter] heard us but chose to spin it.”

Rothman said several Kink.com models and other industry members have expressed desire to defend the company and the models themselves, who feel the article made it appear as if they perform for Kink’s hardcore websites — including HogTied.com, FuckingMachines.com and Pissing.com — out of desperation for employment, and not because they actually enjoy the acts.

As for other feedback as a result of the article, Rothman said she has not seen one negative response, and that even local residents have responded in support of Kink.com.

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