Cindy Gallop On Starting, A Porn Site With A Different Mission

One Woman's Quest To Start A Unique Type Of Porn Site

Cindy Gallop's site has been in open beta since January, but as it becomes more popular, Gallop wants visitors to know that it's not like most porn sites.

The site's modus operandi is to record "what goes on in the real world in all its funny, silly, glory, messy, ridiculous human-ness," Gallop said. The focus of the site, she added, is "real world sex" and "the things you won't see in porn."

Gallop said she launched the site because kids today get a lot of their sex education from porn, and she wants to change the messaging they're exposed to. "Sexual egos are very fragile. People find it bizarrely difficult to talk about sex, with the people they’re having it with, when they’re having it," she told The Huffington Post. "If the only cues you’ve ever been shown are from porn, inevitably, those are the ones you’ll take. To not very good effect."

The site comes a few years after Gallop launched the successful, which "posts the myths of hardcore porn and balances them with the reality," she said in a 2009 TED speech unveiling the site. The new site has already been used for educational purposes by college professors and sex ed administrators.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Gallop explained the difficulties of getting funding, the mission of her site, and what it's like to launch a site in the male-dominated tech industry.

How do you start a porn site as a woman in 2012? I can’t imagine venture capitalists just want to hand money to you.

It took me two years to get funded. Which is ironic, because I should be every VC’s wet dream, literally. I have an idea enabled by technology that’s designed to disrupt a sector worth billions of dollars, that’s both socially beneficial and potentially very, very financially lucrative. But because that sector is porn, and the social benefit is sexuality, no VC wanted to come near me. The moment you utter the word “sex,” the shutters come down.

What would you call your social mission?

When I launched, I explained in my talk at TED that MakeLoveNotPorn isn’t anti-porn. The issue I’m tackling isn’t porn. I’m tackling the total absence in our society of an open, honest, truthful conversation about sex in the real world, which among other benefits meant that people thought critically about the viewing of what is essentially artificial entertainment. My entire message with MakeLoveNotPorn boils down to one thing: talk about it. Talk about sex. Talk about it generally, openly, publicly, but also personally, intimately.

Do you consider what you're doing feminist?

When I talk about MakeLoveNotPorn at conferences and events publicly, I will usually end my talk by saying to the audience, particularly in the tech world where it’s a male-dominated audience, “If you find my venture interesting and intriguing, here’s what I want you to take away from this: Here’s a venture that was conceived of by a woman, that was founded by two women and a man, and that was built by a tech team that was mostly female.”

The reason I highlight that is we live in a world where the default setting is always male. What I say to men is, “Men, you have no idea how much more you will enjoy living and working in a world that was 50/50, equally designed, informed, managed and led.”

There’s an enormous amount of porn on the Internet for free, and subscribers have to pay for MakeLoveNotPorn. Are people paying?

At the time we went into open beta, we had 130,000 people sign up for our closed beta. We’ve already taken in thousands of dollars of revenue in a world where the received wisdom is “nobody pays.” So we’re cold, hard, cash proof of concept.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to clarify that the focus of the site is "real world sex."

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