#09 Prejudice
Maren Zeidler / Cindy Gallop

Make Love, Not Porn!

Cindy Gallop is the founder of makelovenotporn.com and makelovenotporn.tv. The two platforms seek to do away with common sexual stereotypes and show what sex in the real world looks like – outside of mainstream porn.

Cindy, you launched makelovenotporn.com a couple years ago and brought out makelovenotporn.tv this summer. Why did you see a need for these platforms?

Makelovenotporn (mlnp) was born out of direct personal experience. I am an action-orientated person. I date younger men, mostly men in their twenties. While dating those younger men, I encountered what happens when the total mass ubiquity of and freedom of access to hardcore porn online meets the total reluctance in our society to talk openly and honestly about sex in the real world: porn becomes sex education by default.

"I date younger men, mostly in their twenties."

Essentially, with mlnp, I am simply taking the dynamics of social media and applying them to the one area that no other social media network or platform has ever gone – or will ever dare go – into. I'm socializing sex – I want to make real-world sex socially acceptable and therefore as socially shareable as anything else people are currently sharing on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

Right now the videos on mlnp.tv are not free – doesn't that make it difficult?

No. I need to make what I want to do massively scalable, so I had to turn mlnp.tv into a business. All the businesses of the future are about doing good and making money simultaneously. I believe that the business model of the future is shared values + shared action = shared profit – both social and financial. My two startups are built around my own personal philosophies, beliefs, and values. I designed the business model for mlnp.tv the way that I did because I believe very strongly that everybody should realize the value of what they create. I feel this particularly strongly in a world where a lot of things are moving free on the internet. My background is in theatre and advertising, two industries where ideas and creativity are massively undervalued even by their own creators. I believe that if you create something that gives people pleasure, there should be a financial return on it. The more pleasure you create, and for the greater number of people, the greater your financial return should be.

How does mlnp's business model work?

Mlnp's business model is quite simple. First, when you submit a real-world sex video, we ask you to pay a small curation fee of five US dollars. All the content on mlnp.tv is curated. My team and I watch everything and decide whether to publish it or not. The five dollars also serve as quality control and screen out trolls, spammers, and so on.

Secondly, we only stream videos. The first time you click on the link for any video you want to view, you pay 5 dollars as well. You can then view it as often as you like within a three-week time period.

"This is sex we are talking about."

And thirdly, we share the revenue. The contributor gets fifty percent of the revenue that his or her content generates. This is an incentive for the creator to promote his or her own video and the platform as well. And, of course, there is another financial benefit for the contributor as well: one day the creator's content could potentially hit the Youtube 'holy grail' of one million first-time views, and then we are talking about a lot of money. And by the way – there is no reason why this shouldn't happen, because this is sex we are talking about.

What exactly is the problem with watching porn?

Mlnp.tv is not anti-porn. The issue I am tackling is not porn itself. I'm tackling the complete lack in our society of an open healthy discussion about sex and about porn. If you bring down mlnp's target to one thing, it would be purely and simply: talk about it!

The entire process of making mlnp.tv happen has demonstrated why this is so important. It has been unbelievably difficult. It has taken me two years to get mlnp.tv funded, which is ironic, because in theory I should be every investor's wet dream.

I can imagine that you have had to cope with tons of prejudice...

Yes, you are right. The sector we're talking about is porn and the social benefit is sexuality, so no investor wanted to have anything to do with mlnp. Normally the tech world is very innovative. Nevertheless, when you say the word "sex", even in Silicon Valley and silicon alley, the shutters come down.

"I could not find a single bank here in America that would allow me to open a banking account for a business with the word 'porn' in the name."

When I finally found an investor, I couldn't touch the money for two months, because I could not find a single bank here in America that would allow me to open a banking account for a business with the word 'porn' in the name - even though the name is 'make love not porn', and we have a social mission. But the biggest challenge was to set up a payment infrastructure. Because we are adult content, we can't work with Paypal, Amazon, Google Trackout, or any of the big companies.

I then talked to my technology officer and told him: "We are inventing the future of porn; I want to talk to anybody who is inventing the future of money. I want to find the people who are as frustrated with the old system of banks, money and finance as I am. Let's research every financial tech startup, because those are the partners we want to work with." This was the key and we are working with Dwalla now.

You could have changed the name to something that didn't have the word 'porn' in it...

Well, a number of very well-meaning people suggested that to me, but I refused to do it.

When you cater to existing biases and prejudices when designing a venture, all you do is reinforce them. I will not compromise and modify my venture to bow to what society currently thinks – I'm going to change what society thinks. This is the advice I give to other entrepreneurs who have the same problems.

You said that you receive emails from all over the world – do the questions and stories people send you differ depending on the country they live in?

Let me say one thing first: traffic to mlnp.com and mlnp.tv is very interesting. A couple of weeks ago a country overtook the US as the highest source of traffic for the first time: Indonesia. We have traffic from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Myanmar, and so on.

"Go to mlnp, especially if you are about to get married, this site could save your life."

I will give you one example that shows why mlnp.tv is especially relevant for societies that are not so liberal: a man from Bangalore, India tweeted about mlnp: "Go to mlnp, especially if you are about to get married, this site could save your life". At first I was puzzled, but then I thought about his tweet. In India boys and girls are segregated from birth. Boys grow up watching a lot of porn, as they do in every country in the world. Girls probably don't. Marriages are often arranged, so the very first time that a bride and groom see each other properly is on their wedding night. I don't even want to think about that wedding night.

Mlnp is desperately needed in every country – in developed just as much as in developing countries. In developing countries the need is probably even higher, because there is zero conversation about sex and zero sex education. But that is also precisely why huge amounts of porn are being watched.

Are you planning to launch mlnp in other languages to increase its reach?

I would love to do that, but I don't have the money. This is a venture no one believed in and still nobody wants to fund it. Part of the prejudice against what I am doing is that while people throw millions of dollars at trivial games and apps every day, I have enormous trouble getting funded, although the fundamental objective of mlnp is to change the world through sex and improve sexuality for all of us.

Since nobody wants to fund me, I have to fund myself. This is why I state very clearly: I want to hear from everybody out there who believes in what we are doing because we need help.

What comes next?

I have been lining up people who want to help as on-the-ground, in-country market ambassadors. I have asked them to reach out to their networks and encouraged them to contribute content to mlnp.tv.

The reason I am doing this is best demonstrated by a conversation I had with Thomas from Greece. Thomas is a twenty-something man who wrote to me on FB and offered help, so we skyped. Thomas talked to me about the Greek porn industry – in his words Greek porn used to be very romantic and emotional. Then about five years ago, he began noticing the impact of the US porn industry on the Greek porn industry.

"Today the Greek porn industry imitates American porn. It is the same in other countries."

We never talk about it, but one of the biggest exports from the US to the rest of the world is the standardized porn that comes out of the San Fernando Valley. Today the Greek porn industry imitates American porn. It is the same in other countries.

What do you plan to do about it?

I want mlnp.tv to help people reclaim their national sexual identities. National stereotypes exist for sex just like they do for cooking or other forms of behavior. It's just that we don't talk about them. But anyone who has travelled throughout the world can testify to this. I want to instill a sense of national pride and I wouldn't mind instilling a sense of national competitiveness – the Olympics of real-world sex playing out on mlnp.tv.

I would like to put a call out to all countries: show us the way you have real-world sex!

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