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

If They Build It, Will We Come? Meet The Tech Entrepreneurs Trying To Take Back The Porn Industry / Buzzfeed

Written by Charlie Warzel for Buzzfeed. Originally published on September 24th, 2015.


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Cindy Gallop has a lot of lines. Here’s one of them: “I’m in the Steve Jobs reality-distortion business.” Her line, like many things Gallop says, is both immediately catchy and mildly perplexing; at first it makes decent sense but upon further inspection seems like it could be nonsense. Or maybe it’s the other way around? The same can be said of Gallop’s current fixation (and the reason for my visit to her eccentric, all-black, modeled-after-a-Shanghai-nightclub apartment): She wants to move porn out from the shadows as a vice industry, alter the way we talk about, think about, and share stories about our most private intimate relationships and, while she’s at it, essentially transform the future of adult entertainment.

That’s a monstrously tall order. But for Gallop it’s personal. Gallop is 55 but now only dates men in their twenties, a policy that has led her to believe that bad sex education combined with unlimited access to free porn has turned millennials into less than tender and attentive lovers. Her solution: Since porn has become a stand-in for sex education for most younger men, Gallop created MakeLoveNotPorn.com, which is essentially a PSA site to dispel myths about the adult industry. The More You Know, but for true facts about facials.

The site’s popularity quickly prompted a spin-off called MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a pay site that features non-porn types filming themselves having sex with real partners and flings. The goal: to illustrate the varied landscape of real-world sex, which Gallop and her team define as fun, silly, embarrassing, messy, and markedly different from the deadly serious sex you’ll find on your average tube site.

“Imagine the sexual equivalent of’ ‘Charlie Bit My Finger,”’ she beams. Most, if not all, contributors on the site are paying members who film their scenes themselves, but Gallop believes there’s a way — through safe-for-work couple “intro videos” — to engineer virality that might get people to shell out the cash to watch the full scene. These “MakeLoveNotPornStars,” as Gallop calls them, lack the extreme proportions, fitness levels, tans, and natural gifts of most traditional porn stars. It’s a wholly different representation of sexuality that draws members with the promise of sex that looks familiar. So far MLNP has brought in 881 submissions, resulting in 333 videos on the site and 100 unique “MakeLoveNotPornstars” (mostly average Joes) and has roughly 350,000 members, according to Gallop.

Gallop hopes that real-world sex in the adult entertainment world will lead to viewers having a healthier relationship with porn. But there are limits to this altruism; there’s also, according to Gallop, substantial money to be made in sex-related startups and porn that makes you feel good about watching people being sexual. Gallop likes to recite the Silicon Valley mantra that the biggest problems deliver the biggest returns, and sees plenty of problems (an unhealthy cultural relationship with sex) and billions of potential users (people who, uh, like sex). And destigmatizing porn would ultimately mean drastically widening the pool of investors willing to back “sex tech,” which Gallop defines as “technology-driven ventures, designed to enhance, innovate, and disrupt every area of human sexuality and human sexual experience.”

“If [Silicon Valley] chose to actively focus on adult and sex as an area of investment, oh my god, the opportunities,” she says, rearing back into her couch with excitement. On the surface, the worlds of porn and tech seem uniquely suited to each other; the adult world needs the money, while venture capitalists, who often self-describe as risk takers, have a potentially massive audience in porn consumers and, consequently, billions to be made (the adult industry alone has been said to be valued at $87 billion in 2015). But even with erotica having its zeitgeist moment (50 Shades, etc.), Gallop struggles. “High-profile VC firms can’t bounce my investor profile back fast enough,” she sighs. “You’d be amazed how many fucks are given when it comes to sex tech.”

At an event Q&A this winter, Gallop confronted PayPal founder and infamous investor Peter Thiel — who recently led an investment in a marijuana tech company — to ask if he thought startups focusing on sex tech, or the future of sex, were as untouchable as the rest of Silicon Valley. Thiel stepped around the question with a sterile non-answer. And for the past nine months Gallop has struggled to bring angel investors on board to fund MLNP.tv. “It goes like this: I meet with somebody who’s interested and captivated by the idea. We have a great conversation, and then talk to spouse or a friend who will say, ‘What the fuck?!’ and all of a sudden the dialogue just disappears,” Gallop says.


Head over to Buzzfeed to check out the rest of this article and learn more about the entrepreneurs innovating the porn industry and #sextech!

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