An interview with Cindy Gallop, the godmother of sextech

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Sexual Health Week just keeps getting more exciting! We’ve interviewed Cindy Gallop, champion of the Social Sex Revolution and founder of MakeLoveNotPorn.

How would you describe what you do?

I’m the founder & CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn, the world’s first social sex user-generated videosharing platform, designed to celebrate #realworldsex as a counterpoint to porn and to socialize sex to make it easier for everyone to talk about, in order to promote good sexual values and behavior. At MakeLoveNotPorn we call ourselves the Social Sex Revolution. The revolutionary part isn’t the sex; it’s the social.

The strapline to Make Love Not Porn is “Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference”. How do you see MLNP’s relationship to the porn industry?

We’re not porn. We’re not ‘amateur’. We’re building a whole new category on the internet – social sex. Social sex videos on MLNP are not about ‘performing for the camera’. They’re simply about doing what you do on every other social platform - capturing what goes on in the real world, as it happens, spontaneously, in all its funny messy beautiful silly glorious wonderful ridiculous humanity.

We’re part of the sharing economy, just like Uber and Airbnb.  Our members pay to rent and stream #realworldsex videos, and half of that income goes to our contributors, or as we call them, our MakeLoveNotPornstars. We’d love our MakeLoveNotPornstars one day to be as famous and celebrated as YouTube stars – for the same reasons: authenticity, realness, individuality. And to make just as much money.

Think about all those celebrations of relationships that crop up in your Facebook timeline every day from your friends – romantic selfies, engagement announcements, wedding photos. We’re providing a platform to celebrate that last area of human relationships that no other platform allows.

The reason ‘amateur’ is the biggest growth sector in porn is because everybody wants to know what everybody else is really doing in bed, and nobody does. Until now, with MLNP.  

Our solo MLNPstars, many of whom had never filmed themselves masturbating before, let alone shared the video, tell us that doing so made them love themselves more – it enhanced their sexual sense of self, their sexual self-esteem. Our coupled MLNPstars tell us it took their relationship to a whole new level. When you decide to film yourselves having sex you have to talk about it. And when you talk about it, the conversation can go places it’s never gone before, no matter how long you’ve been together.

When I launched MLNP 9 years ago some of the many emails I received came from people in the porn industry. I found that twenty-something porn stars and porn directors, male and female, were reaching out saying they loved MLNP and wanted to help. Pornstars have #realworldsex too, and our straight, gay, lesbian, trans pornstar friends are sharing on MLNP the sex they have in their real world relationships with their real world partners, and talking in those videos about how different it is from what they are expected to perform on set.

How do you see your work supporting the future of sextech? 

Three years ago, when I began battling to raise just $2million to scale MakeLoveNotPorn and finding it very challenging, I began defining, pioneering and championing my own category: sextech. I literally wrote the definition of sextech – google ‘what is sextech’ and I’m result one on page one. Sextech is any form of technology or tech venture designed to innovate, disrupt and enhance in any area of human sexuality and sexual experience.

And as I gained a reputation for championing sextech globally, sextech founders began writing to me from around the world, all facing the same challenges, all asking for help, feedback and advice. I realized that I have unique access to amazing sextech dealflow. And that led me to deciding that to get my own startup funded, I would get the entire category funded.

So now I’m still raising $2million to scale MLNP – but I’m also raising $200million to start the world’s first and only sextech fund. Because if nobody else will, then I will.

I named my sextech fund thanks to Chairman Mao, who famously said many years ago in the interests of gender equality, ‘Women hold up half the sky’. I think that’s relatively unambitious. My sextech fund is called AllTheSky Holdings, and the derivation is deliberate, because I want to fund two areas: a) radically innovative sextech ventures with a focus on those founded by women, and b) the infrastructure of sextech – the sextech full stack, ie every business service we sextech founders struggle to access (payment processing, hosting, commerce etc). I want to be able to fund and build the ecosystem to make sextech the next trillion dollar category in tech.

We’re keen to hear what you think the future of the porn industry should look like. In an ideal world, what’s different?

Well, first of all, people would stop using the word ‘porn’ to generalize as if it was all one big homogeneous mass. That’s like using the word ‘literature’ as if it was all the same. The landscape of porn is like the landscape of literature – as full of genres and subgenres, as rich and infinitely varied.

The solution’s very simple: don’t censor, clamp down, block, repress. Instead, open up. Open up the dialogue around all of this.

In an ideal world, people would understand that today’s porn output is influenced by its business problems as an industry (like the music industry, free content online has decimated its ability to make money). The growth of extreme violent porn is the result, prosaically, of a bunch of guys terrified they’re no longer making money, doing what guys in any sector terrified about not making money do – playing it safe. Looking at what everybody else does and doing that.

The solution’s very simple: don’t censor, clamp down, block, repress. Instead, open up. Open up the dialogue around all of this. Open up to welcoming, supporting and funding the entrepreneurs who want to disrupt all of this for the better; and open to allowing them to do business on the same terms as everyone else.

That’s especially our opportunity as women – as I like to say, women challenge the status quo because we are never it. The day we have a porn industry that is driven, designed, managed and led from the top by women just as much as men; that targets 50% of its output at women just as much as men, and that therefore – importantly – makes 50% of its money out of women just as much as men, is the day we have porn and a porn industry that looks completely different: more creative, innovative, disruptive, lucrative, and a better, healthier industry overall.

My friends in the porn industry have brilliant ideas; they’re creating their own content; they’re experimenting with VR; but there is no one in that world to mentor, coach, advise and finance. There are no porn incubators and accelerators to bring forth savvy and supported porn entrepreneurs – which is why one of my future ambitions, as I’ve been saying for years, is to start the YCombinator of porn. I gave a talk at the New York City Porn Film Festival two years ago on ‘How To Make Money Out Of Porn; Redesigning The Industry Business Model.’ Change that, and you change EVERYTHING.

The future of the porn industry that I want to see is gender-equal and diverse at every single level of the industry

So in an ideal world the future of the porn industry that I want to see is gender-equal and diverse at every single level of the industry;  well-funded as an industry where innovation and disruption is welcomed, championed and financed, and well-supported with every piece of business infrastructure because the business world understands that when you stop forcing an entire industry into the shadows and underground, you make it a lot easier for good things to happen, and you make it a lot harder for bad things to happen. And then it really will be the biggest and most lucrative industry in the world.

A study by the Sex Education Forum in the UK found that 53% of boys think that porn is realistic. What would you say to young people who are watching mainstream porn?

I would say that they should be watching social sex on MakeLoveNotPorn.

You can write sex education till you’re blue in the face; you can lecture; you can draw analogies; you can make cute little animated videos. In a world where virtually everyone’s first encounter with sex in any form is online porn, nothing teaches you about #realworldsex like watching people actually having it.

MLNP’s single-minded mission is to socialize sex to make it easier for everyone to talk about, because not talking about it means it’s an area of rampant insecurity for every one of us. We all get vulnerable when we get naked. Sexual egos are very fragile. We therefore find it bizarrely difficult to talk about sex, with the people we’re actually having it with, while we’re actually having it. We seize cues from anywhere we can, and if the only cues we’ve ever seen are in porn – because our parents didn’t talk to us about sex, our school didn’t teach us, our friends aren’t honest – those are the cues we’ll take, to not good effect.

So MLNP is reassuring – because our videos showcase and celebrate real world bodies: real world hair, real world curves, real world penis size, real world breast size.  And because we celebrate the messiness, the accidents, the ridiculousness, the humor, the laughter, the things that go wrong. our view is, if you can’t laugh at yourselves when you’re having sex, when can you?

MLNP is moving. Our videos celebrate real world emotion, feelings, intimacy, love.

MLNP and social sex is what everybody should be seeing to see the difference between porn and the fabulous, messy, funny, beautiful, ridiculous, awkward, wonderful sex we all have in the real world, and if I can ever raise the funding to scale as we need to, one day everybody will.

If you’re as excited as we are by Cindy’s vision for the future of the industry you can support MakeLoveNotPorn by donating to their crowdfunder, sharing it with your friends, or by hopping over to the website and streaming some of their videos.