Serial entrepreneur Cindy Gallop dreams of a future with Internet porn. However, she hopes you won’t have to smack your laptop shut to hide that explicit web content. She’s aiming to redefine the selection of sex films available online.
In 2009, Gallop gave a TED Talk explaining a phenomenon she’s experienced dating men in their twenties. Gallop, now 52, says Internet porn has become de-facto sex education, teaching young men that “real sex” should look like the sex they see performed by professional actors (her TED Talk includes graphic examples of the behaviors she’s encountered). Gallop isn’t anti-pornography, admitting to Mashable that she “loves porn” and “thinks it’s great,” but she believes there’s a fundamental issue with porn as default sex education. Though porn existed before the Internet, Gallop says porn has achieved unprecedented accessibility through the Internet.
“It used to be that maybe a kid found his dad’s Playboy magazine,” Gallop told Mashable. “Now, it’s 8-year-olds who don’t go looking for porn; they’re shown a picture on somebody’s cellphone in the playground, or they Google ‘penis’ and they’re one or two clicks away from something they never expected to find — it’s really innocent.”
During her TED Talk, Gallop launched MakeLoveNotPorn.com, which was not intended to be the start of a business — Gallop already had her hands dirty with another startup, If We Ran the World, and seriously advises against working on two startups at once.
Gallop began receiving daily emails from men and women “pouring their hearts out.” MakeLoveNotPorn.com received some 3,000 daily hits, coming from more than 180 countries, with zero promotion from Gallop besides her TED Talk. Over time, she realized she’d opened an important conversation she cared deeply about, and that to nurture it, she needed to make some serious changes.
Gallop charged herself with taking down porn as default sex education by turning MakeLoveNotPorn into a highly scalable, sustainable business.
“I believe all businesses of the future should be about doing good and making money simultaneously,” Gallop says. “I want to socialize sex. I want to make real world sex socially acceptable and, therefore, socially sharable.”
Gallop says she’d like to accomplish what Hugh Hefner did to legitimize porn in the 20th century, by redefining exactly what constitutes porn in the future. Her concern is that 99% of sex on the Internet consists of professional performances.
Enter Gallop’s solution: MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a user generated site of real people having real sex. For $5, users can upload a video; other users pay $5 to rent that content for three weeks. Half of the rental costs go back to the creators, incentivizing people to upload their own content. The cost to upload maintains for quality control, to ensure people are not spamming the site. All of the chosen videos are curated by the MakeLoveNotPorn.tv team.
If you’re wondering whether there’s a market of people to volunteer their home movies, rest assured Gallop has no shortage of volunteers.
“Social media has lowered the barrier for shame and embarrassment everywhere,” she says. “MakeLoveNotPorn.tv is about creativity, and porn is about homogenizing real world sex. I want to put creativity back into sex.”
The site, which launched in private beta a few weeks ago, has also been flooded with invitation requests. Currently about 11,000 people have received access from more than 36,000 requests.
Like porn sites, MakeLoveNotPorn.tv labels videos with the types of performances you’re going to see. Unlike porn sites, these labels are meant to capture the spirit of what Gallop calls real sex, such as “Brooklyn,” “longdistance” and, Gallop’s favorite, “owowowheynow.”
“Real world sex is funny; porn world sex is not funny,” she explains, “I want to reassure people that embarrassing things happen to all of us.”
Several traditional porn stars and directors are very excited about MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, and the site features videos uploaded by porn stars, sharing their “real life” sex, including couple Lily Labeau and Danny Wylde.
To further engage Gen Y, MakeLoveNotPorn.tv incorporates many of the social networking staples that make people love Facebook, Tumblr or Foursquare. The site includes stickers and a sexual social currency. You can put together playlists of videos, which you can also gift to another person.
There’s also a real-time rating system, which lets users give a “yes” — the equivalent of a Facebook like — by pressing the space bar while watching videos. Gallop hypothesizes this feature could lead to a breakthrough on human sexuality on the scale of Alfred Kinsey‘s works.
Getting MakeLoveNotPorn.tv off the ground was full of hurdles. Gallop struggled for months to find funding, explaining that, though the site’s profitability was not questioned, venture capitalists didn’t want to associate with sex or porn. “This should be a VC’s wet dream,” she laments. Banks wouldn’t let her open an account for a business with the word “porn” in its name. PayPal and Google Checkout didn’t want to be the MakeLoveNotPorn.tv billing system.
“Every obstacle I’ve encountered is exactly why I’m doing this,” Gallop says.
Though it may be awhile before looking at porn on your laptop in public is considered socially acceptable, the site’s early buzz suggests she may be onto something big.
Want do you think of this crowdsourcing startup? Do you think MakeLoveNotPorn.tv can change the de-facto sex education the Internet has created?
Image courtesy of Flickr, EmmyEcstasy