Cindy Gallop Discusses MakeLoveNotPorn.tv
LOS ANGELES — MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a website founded by advertising executive Cindy Gallop to showcase “real-world sex” between lovers, is currently in its beta-testing phase. When the site launches, it will give everyday folks an opportunity to make money from their homemade sex videos.
For a five-dollar non-refundable submission fee, people will be able to send their tapes to Gallop for review and, if accepted, collect up to half of the profits made from the online rentals of their video, priced at five dollars for a three-week period.
The site is an expansion of Gallop’s 2009 endeavor MakeLoveNotPorn.com, an online forum on which people discuss sex openly and dispel sexual misinformation.
The 52-year-old entrepreneur conceived the concept after observing that many of the young men she dated had gotten their moves from hardcore male-driven pornography, and sought to provide a more balanced and sex-positive alternative.
XBIZ made a date with Gallop to learn more about her new business, which has already accumulated 100,000 sign-ups in its beta stage, and to get her thoughts on the current state of pornography.
You’ve said that you were inspired to create MLNP.com when you noticed that some of the younger men you dated were strongly influenced by the porn they watch and expected you to enjoy the kind of sex depicted in those movies. How much of that is true and how much is pure marketing genius?
I’m flattered by the fact that retrospectively you consider MakeLoveNotPorn.com “pure marketing genius,” but I can tell you that none of what that website was built to address was my invention. I’m a very action-oriented person. When I come across something I feel strongly about, I do something about it.
Back in 2008, through dating younger men, I realized I was encountering an issue that would simply never have crossed my mind if I had not experienced it very directly and personally: that when you combine total freedom of access to porn online, with society’s total reluctance to talk openly and honestly about sex, what you get is porn as default sex education, in not a good way.
I thought I can’t be the only person encountering this, and so I put MakeLoveNotPorn.com up on no money. Each one of its 10 “Porn World’/’Real World” sexual behavioral memes happened to me. I had no idea when I launched it of the extraordinary response it would get, and that as a result I would end up doing what I’m doing today — launching MakeLoveNotPorn.tv as a crowd-sourced, user-generated real-world-sex platform.
I do want to stress what people sometimes lose sight of: MLNP is a gender-equal proposition. Porn as default sex-ed influences young women just as much as young men. Twenty-something men tell me, “My girlfriends are doing everything they see in porn. Its performance — I don’t know whether it’s because they really like me, or because it’s what they think they should be doing, and it gets in the way of a real connection.” Everything I and my team are doing is designed to help men, women, everyone.
How did you feel when you first realized these young men were getting their sex-ed from porn?
MLNP was inspired only by some of the younger men I date, not all of them. I’m happy to say that I regularly meet younger men who have no need of it whatsoever. And there was no one moment. It was simply a gradual realization that I was encountering a number of sexual behavioral “memes” where I thought, whoa, I know where that’s coming from! That realization was and continues to be both entertaining and depressing.
Do you think some of the young men that court you grew up watching MILF porn?
I know some of them did because they tell me. I also know some of them did because of how they behave in bed. On the one hand, I like the fact that MILF porn has done the world a service by making it OK to find older women sexually desirable; on the other hand, a lot of MILF porn fetishizes older women rather than celebrating them. I see first-hand how that plays out in less than enthralling ways in real world sex. Every so often someone refers to me as a MILF and I have to point out that actually I’m a BILF, as a young admirer once christened me: “Businesswoman...”
MLNP.tv promises real sex from real couples. But most couples wouldn’t put their sexual escapades online for all to see unless they’re exhibitionists, and exhibitionists aren’t representative of “regular” people. What criteria do you use in selecting who will be featured on the site?
I find your question very entertaining. People regularly jump to ill-informed conclusions about MLNPTV, one of which is that the people who contribute videos must be exhibitionists, swingers, and “not regular people.”
I created MLNPTV to socialize sex; to build a platform and tools to be what I call “sexual social currency,” to make real-world-sex socially acceptable, and therefore as socially shareable and discussable, as anything else we currently share on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Our target audience is everyone, “Regular people” if you like.
When we were looking for volunteer contributors to seed MLNPTV with content pre-launch, we specifically sought out people who had never done this before. While some of our [MLNPTV] stars had videoed themselves for each other, the majority had never even filmed themselves having sex before.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past year asking complete strangers to video themselves having real-world-sex for us. Whenever I talk about MLNPTV, I always end the conversation with the question, “So would you be interested in contributing content?” I always ask regardless of whether I personally think the person I’m talking to will or won’t. 99.9% of the time the answer is “Yes.”
Think of all those celebrations of relationships that crop up regularly in your Facebook Timeline: the engagement announcements, the wedding pics, the lovey-dovey couple moments. We’re simply providing a platform to celebrate that one final dimension of relationships that no other social media network or platform will allow. And we’re building in all the same social features: the ability to rate content with our own unit of appreciation. Our version of the Facebook “Like” is the MLNPTV “Yes;” badges that reward talents, skills and achievements; followers, which we call “Admirers” — that make it fun to do so.
My team and I are setting out to try and achieve a monumental goal with MLNP: to make real-world-sex socially acceptable and socially shareable. It’s going to take a very long time. But the ultimate corollary of success would be no one would ever need to feel embarrassed about having a naked picture or a sex tape of them posted on the internet ever again. Because it’s just a completely natural part of whom we all are.
Will the site carry videos that include facials, shaved vaginas and other acts commonly found in what you’ve identified as male-dominated porn?
Of course it will. Our criteria is that all user-submitted videos must be of real-world-sex, which we define as not performing for the camera, but simply recording what goes on in the real world. We specify “no porn tropes,” by which we simply mean no very obvious recreations of porn performance. Sarah Beall, our community manager/curator, and I view every video that’s submitted, and all we’re looking for is “real.” As [MLNP.com] makes clear, everything you see in porn is enjoyed by someone somewhere, but not by everyone, and some of it is enjoyed by a lot less people than you might think. Great sex is born out of great communication. Facials that both partners agree on and thoroughly enjoy are terrific. Just don’t jump to conclusions that something must automatically be the case, like you have done in some of these questions.
Will it disappoint you if MLNP.tv proves to be most popular with men? Will it matter if they just want to see your “hot new chicks?”
That’s another entertaining question because you’re framing it in the context of porn and the way things are currently in the world of porn. First of all, we designed MLNP.tv to be gender-equal, to appeal to both men and women. I would actually be delighted if it proves to be most popular with men, because then we’ll know we’ve succeeded. Part of my brief to our designer Daniel Blackman was, “I don’t want anyone to take one look at this site and immediately dismiss it as ‘for women,’ another conclusion people jump to.
Secondly, we’re not porn. We’re not “amateur.” We’re real-world-sex. ‘Hot new chicks’ is not our audience-getting dynamic. Ways in which real-world-sex is more innovative, more creative, more surprising, more amazing, more imaginative, more mind-bending, more hot and more arousing than porn could ever be —that’s our audience-getting dynamic.
Is it OK to profit off those men while maintaining a feminist slant?
You bet it’s OK. It’s OK to profit off anyone. I believe the future of business is about doing good and making money simultaneously, and that the business model of the future is: Shared Values + Shared Action = Shared Profit (financial and social). That’s MLNP.tv’s business model. Everyone should realize the value of what they create. I feel that strongly because my background is theater and advertising: two industries where ideas and creativity are massively undervalued, even by the creators themselves.
Anyone who creates something that gives other people pleasure (in this case a lot of pleasure!) deserves to see a financial return. So MLNP.tv operates a circular ecosystem. Half of the $5 you pay to rent each video net a small amount to cover hosting, bandwidth and transaction fees and goes to its creator(s). The more a video is enjoyed, the more our MakeLoveNotPornStars stand to make. If you want to watch videos for free, that’s easy: just contribute your own real-world-sex videos, and use what’s paid into your account to rent and enjoy someone else’s videos in turn.
I’m happy to report that at only [a few] weeks in private beta, we have already taken in thousands of dollars in revenue. In a world where the received wisdom is “Nobody pays for porn,” we have cold hard cash proof of concept.
Tell us about the private beta and how you secured financing.
We built the platform to the bare minimum needed to make it operational, and are now real-world testing it in private, invitation-only beta while we continue building all the features that will make up the holistic user experience. We currently have over 80,000 people signed up on our beta waiting list, and we are inviting people in batches of several thousand at a time.
This enables us to address all the user glitches and hiccups that arise on a user report by report basis and make sure they’re fixed before inviting in the next batch. When we have built out all the social features we have planned, and know that we have fixed all the glitches, we’ll open the platform up publicly.
I spent two long, hard years trying to get MakeLoveNotPorn.tv funded, before I eventually found an angel investor who “got it,” and raised the seed funding that enabled me [and] my two co-founders Corey Innis (CTO) and Oonie Chase (User Experience Designer) and our team to build MLNP.tv over the past year and launch it as what the tech world calls “Minimum Viable Product.”
Using the word “porn” in your business name made it difficult for you to acquire bank loans and open accounts. Why were you so strong-willed about not changing the MLNP name?
I refused to do what is obviously a common practice in the porn industry — create a company with an innocuous name, “doing business as” — for two reasons, one pragmatic and one principled.
Pragmatism: sooner or later, despite the innocuous name, the nature of your business surfaces and the bank/financial entity clamps down, freezes your assets, closes your account and kicks you out, sometimes keeping those assets. The whole point of MLNP.tv is to be as public and social as possible, so I couldn’t risk that happening, because it would happen. I wanted to start as we mean to go on — only working with partners who believe in what we’re doing, support it and want to help us make it happen.
Principle: if you concept a venture around existing societal biases and prejudices, all you do is reinforce them. Every obstacle I’ve encountered is precisely why I have to do what I’m doing. I believe that everybody should be open, honest and straightforward about sex. The fact that we’re not is the cause of tremendous human unhappiness. As an entrepreneur I am a pragmatic, hard-headed businesswoman. I will roll with the punches, I will find a way around, over and under barriers, but the one thing I will not do is re-concept my venture to bow to society’s prejudices. I want to blow them apart instead.