Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.

We porn in public: a weekend at CineKink and NYC Porn Film Festival / The Verge

Written by Lux Alptraum for The Verge.  Originally published March 2nd, 2015

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“For over half a decade, I have devoted my life to tracking and analyzing virtually everything that could be considered sexy. As editor, and then publisher, of Fleshbot.com, I watched as the industry swelled with the promise of the internet, liberated as consumers were finally free to directly connect with the smut of their choice — and then began to collapse as the internet transformed into a playground for porn piracy, where consumers could easily download whatever fantasies they desired without having to spend a single cent.

One of the biggest tells of the state of the industry has long been the annual Adult Entertainment Expo and AVN Awards, an event which became smaller and sadder every time that I went, until I finally skipped it this year because you can only watch an industry collapse for so long before it starts to feel depressing. But a month and a half after playing hookie from the Oscars of the adult industry, I was presented with another chance to assess the state of the industry, or at least of sex on film, as New York played host to not one, but two, erotic film festivals over the course of the same weekend.

On Saturday morning I swing by the apartment of Cindy Gallop, the ad exec turned sex tech mogul behind MakeLoveNotPorn.TV. Cindy and her site were featured during the Friday programming block of NYC Porn Film Festival, and I’m curious to hear about her experience before I see it for myself. She speaks glowingly of the festival: the crowd was positive, the room was packed, everyone really got what she was doing. “There’s something enormously validating about sitting in a real world audience who is watching a sampler of the kind of thing you do and responding so brilliantly,” she tells me.

The next day I return to NYCPFF and am impressed to see that, despite the snow that’s blanketing the city, the crowd is still standing room only. I ask a few attendees what’s inspired them to take part in the festivities. Scarlet Fox Letterpress founder Meena Ziabari tells me she was drawn to the festival “because it’s celebrating human sexuality, and not afraid of turning people on. It seems like there’s substance, and they’re making statements … It seems really thoughtful, which you’d think would be difficult to achieve.”

When I talked to Cindy Gallop, she’d told me that she wholeheartedly believes that people will always pay for “individual creative vision” — the same kind of creative vision that’s made Ziabari and her friends to brave the elements to watch indie sex cinema in a Brooklyn art space. As I watch the Bushwick crowd applaud the offbeat celebrations of sexuality screening that day, I start to think that Gallop might be onto something.

I don’t know if CineKink or NYC Porn Film Festival are the “future” of porn, or if either really has a lock on what kind of sex films people want to see. But after this weekend, I do know that there is a future for sex-themed media, and for an industry that’s long felt like it was dying, that may be enough for now.”


 Check out the rest of Alptraum’s thoughts on CineKink and the NYC PFF here.

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