We first met the businesswoman Cindy Gallop last year in her ‘black apartment’, in NYC. At this time, MakeLoveNotPorn.TV was a secret project under construction. Now it is a video platform with a noble goal: showing the ‘real sex’, liberated from porn influence, more human, more opened to women… The approach may seem naive, it is nevertheless alternative.
Your motto is: “MLNP.TV is not porn, not ‘amateur’, but #realworldsex”. Can you remind us briefly what does that mean?
99.9% of all porn on the internet billed as ‘amateur’, isn’t. It’s made by professional production companies masquerading as ‘amateur’, because people want to see what they think is real people having sex. Where it is genuinely ‘amateur’, the amateurs tend to replicate the professionals. I have a huge issue with this term, by the way. It implies that the only people doing it right are the professionals, and the rest of us are bumbling idiots. I couldn’t disagree more. What we mean by #realworldsex vs #pornworldsex at mlnp.tv is the funnyglorioussillyridiculousbeautifulmessyhumanawkwardwonderful sex we all have in the real world. We explain that in detail here.
A lot of internet users are looking for fantasies and eccentricities, as the cinephiles who do not necessarily want to find a “copy and paste” of their daily when they are going to the movie. Are they open to that idea of real sex? How do you communicate about it?
We’re not looking to compete with porn. If what you want is ‘fantasies and eccentricities’, then by all means find those in porn. We just offer something different. One of our members is a man in his 40s, who has obviously watched a lot of porn in his life. He is a very big fan of mlnp.tv, and he told us: “When I watch your videos, I feel I’ve never seen people have sex before.”. That’s how ‘real’ #realworldsex really is. We’re not simply masturbatory material; we are a fascinating glimpse into the real, raw, intimate sex lives of real people. Our core value proposition lies in the fact that everyone wants to know what everyone else is really doing in bed, and nobody does. Now we’re showing them, and we’re doing it with a platform that we designed to be what we call ‘sexual social currency’ – to get people to talk more openly and healthily about sex in the real world, publicly and with each other in their intimate relationships.
How do you choose the videos?
We invite #realworldsex submissions from everyone, everywhere. We explain what we are looking for on the site. We regularly have to remind people that with #realworldsex videos, we want them to start the camera as early as possible, and leave it running as long as possible. #realworldsex has context; it has relationships; it has a backstory. We want to see how you begin interacting, what turns you on, the way you get into it and then the aftermath: the conversation, the cuddling, what you do afterwards. Often people will only turn the camera on the minute they hit the sheets, and they turn it off the minute they’ve come, as per the tube sites. That’s not what we’re looking for.
What is the profile of the contributors?
Our MakeLoveNotPornstars cover a broad range of age – from early twenties to in their fifties and sixties. They’re singles, couples, married; straight, gay, lesbian. They come from different countries around the world.
How much do they earn? Why do they engage in this experience, what do they gain (beyond the money)?
We have a revenue-sharing business model; you pay to rent #realworldsex videos, and 50% of that income, net a small amount to cover hosting and transaction fees, goes to the MakeLoveNotPornstar. The important thing to emphasize is that money is not the main motivator for our contributors. Some of our MakeLoveNotPornstars have video-ed themselves for each other before; the majority had never even filmed themselves having sex before – they’re doing it for us because they believe in our mission, of opening up a more healthy, honest dialogue around sex in the real world. We invite them to make intro videos and write guest posts on our blog that explain why they’re doing this and what they gain from it. What all our MLNPstars tell us is that the experience of doing this has transformed them and their relationships in various beneficial ways… The money may be a nice side effect for our MLNPstars – but it’s a substantial one. We’re only 8 months old in public beta, but a number of our contributors are regularly making four figures at each payout – we pay out every 90 days. We encourage our contributors to share what they do with their earnings.
What about the customers? 5 dollars per video, it is expensive compared to free tubes. You’re talking to an audience that has the desire and the means to pay for the porn.
I designed our business model around my personal philosophy that the future of business is about doing good and making money simultaneously. My belief is that the business model of the future is Shared Values + Shared Action = Shared Profit (Financial & Social). I also designed it for us to be able to build a self-sustaining business. I knew the Silicon Valley venture capitalists who fall over themselves to throw millions of dollars at startups with no business model to enable them to give their services for free, would never want to fund us. I knew no bank would ever give us a business loan. I and my team cannot build MakeLoveNotPorn and make it happen unless we build it as a business that can operate under its own financial steam. We’re not comparable to ‘free tubes’; we’re delivering a very different experience, and one that our paying members agree is of value.
Do you think young people are in this scheme?
Obviously, our younger members tell us they have difficulty affording 5 dollars per video. We are planning to bring in monthly subscriptions in due course which will enable more people to rent videos. Because the conventional sources of funding are closed to us, we are looking for brands who will pay to partner with us, particularly youth brands who understand that we are the potentially highest form of youth-engagement platform you could work with, and that we should therefore be their version of youth corporate social responsibility.
What are the advantages of MLNP.tv compared to the other tubes?
It’s interesting that occasionally we’ll get an email from a man or a woman who is very used to watching porn and therefore expects MLNP.tv to work the same way porn does. We have to explain that the whole point about porn is that you know exactly what you’re going to get, and you can choose exactly what you want to get, and the whole point about #realworldsex is that it’s surprising. When you have sex in the real world, you haven’t the faintest idea what you’re going to get, and that is true of our content. It doesn’t work like that. You have to open up your mind and let yourself go into a different kind of place. People are inviting you into their real sex lives in a way that is not the case in performative, porn-trope-ridden ‘amateur’ porn. We’re not about, “I want to masturbate, this is what I want to masturbate to, I want to make quite sure that I get myself off to that.” We’re about, “Wow, this is really real and this so arousing in a way I didn’t realize,” or “This didn’t make me come, but I am utterly fascinated and I feel very touched and moved by what I saw.”
What is the reaction of the porn industry?
The porn industry is very interested in and supportive of what we’re doing. We first took mlnp.tv live as minimum viable product in closed, private, by-invitation-only beta last year; two weeks later we were on the front page of XBiz with a headline that said, ‘Cindy Gallop’s New Website Takes Aim At Porn’s Status Quo‘. I give the porn industry full credit for realizing the disruptive potential of what we were doing before the business and tech world ever did. I have many friends in the industry; you’ll see some of them on mlnp.tv, where we have a category where we invite pornstars to share their own #realworldsex, to demonstrate that what they do off-camera is very different to what they do on-camera. Danny Wylde & Lily LaBeau, lesbian pornstar Lily Cade and her #realworld girlfriends, most of whom also work in porn, and gay pornstars Dale Cooper and Colby Keller have all been kind enough to do so.
And of the public?
The public response has been incredible. At 8 months old in public beta, we have 160,000 members, who write to us all the time to tell us how much they love and support what we are doing, including this email: “I’m a teenager (legal don’t worry) that you’re helping with this. I have to admit, porn was my sex ed, and it leads to struggles in real-world sex. This idea is genius, and I wish I had something like this early-on in place of pornography. Good for you guys!”.
You have a pretty personal tags classification: is it a way to stand out of the tubes?
Actually, while our tagging system is very different from that of tube sites, that’s not why we’re doing it. We have many social agendas with MakeLoveNotPorn. One of them is to do with the fact that because we don’t talk about sex openly, we have no socially acceptable, socially shareable vocabulary for sex in the real world. The language of porn has rushed in to fill that gap, and that is not a good thing – because, as you would expect in a male-dominated/run industry, the language of porn is predominantly generated by men. The person who coined the term ‘fingerblasting’ didn’t have a vagina – because if you have a vagina, ‘fingerblasting’ makes you want to cross your legs! So at mlnp.tv we are building a new language for #realworldsex. We tag our videos with ‘juicy’, ‘succulent’, ‘downtown’… And yes, much of that language is being generated by women, given our team is predominantly female. So our term for ‘anal’ is very much rooted in the female experience: ‘Owowowheynow!’.
What are the changes that you imagine for MLNP.tv?
No changes – just the full realization of our vision! For now, we are tiny, bootstrapping, underfunded, and so we can only build very slowly. What you see is not even half of what we have in the pipeline in terms of social features, capabilities, badges, a whole bunch of things we’ve concepted to make the fully-realized platform highly engaging and shareable. We are frustrated by the fact that Silicon Valley and the tech world welcomes innovation and disruption in every other area of our lives except this one – the one that needs it most. At the same time, every single piece of business infrastructure any other startup can take for granted, we can’t, because the small print always says ‘No adult content’, which also makes it very slow going. We had to explain our difficulties with payment processing to our members in a post entitled ‘Why We Make It So Hard For You To Give Us Your Money’.
Our ultimate end goal for MakeLoveNotPorn, which is a very longterm goal, is that, if we succeed in our social mission, one day nobody should ever have to feel ashamed or embarrassed ever again about having a naked photograph or sex tape of themselves posted on the internet, because it’s simply just a natural human part of who we all are.