Authenticity in Porn

Kink.com’s mission statement reads “To demystify and celebrate alternative sexualities by providing the most authentic kinky experiences”.  The word ‘authentic’ has been included in this statement since it was originally conceived.

From when I started the company, I have have always known what I didn’t want.  I didn’t want lousy ropework that was clearly escapable, Hollywood style duct-tape gags that could obviously be removed, lots of plastic surgery, fake reactions to pain or – worst of all – obviously fake orgasms.  I wanted to see attractive, natural looking people genuinely tied up and reacting to BDSM scenarios as authentically and naturally as possible.

I converted the second bedroom of my San Francisco Marina apartment into a dungeon and put an ad on craigslist offering $100/hour to anyone willing to be properly tied up.  With the camera on a tripod operated via remote control, and slightly sweaty palms, I went about the business of producing what appealed to my emerging sexuality.

As the company grew and I hired others to direct, keeping things authentic meant finding directors who had a genuine passion and personal interest in the activities they were portraying, as well as continuing to find models willing to go through real experiences.

Having come at this from a very different angle and with different motivations, it is interesting now, 15 years later, to see how the BDSM we produce compares to what is practiced by the general BDSM community. The fact that we are a for-profit company has an effect on the nature of the scenes.  While the scenarios are still real – the models are genuinely tied up and are giving authentic reactions to real scenarios – there is a theatrical element that plays specifically to the camera.  Some might say the machinery has unnecessarily large and noisy pistons; metal weights that look heavy are actually hollow, hardwood floors that models kneel on are actually spongy, and the scenarios are often more elaborate than some might feel is necessary to achieve the desired result.  Walk into a typical BDSM club and you’ll mostly see crosses with people tied to them – it’s straightforward, it’s quick, and it gets the job done.

In addition, the for-profit nature informs the choice of participants towards that which sells – and that means featuring conventionally good looking people groomed in a way that the public currently considers sexy.  The fact that the participants are paid also alters the outcome:  as soon as money is involved, as much as one might try, the dynamic is never completely the same.  Let’s face it, whether they are enjoying the activity or not, the participants are there mostly to get paid. Putting on a good performance enhances sales for a performer’s work, and hence the chance of future gigs.

I have often thought about whether the above distinctions between what kink.com produces and what is practiced by the wider BDSM community represents a betrayal of the company mission statement.  In my mind, the answer is “no”.  It is not my mission to necessarily portray these same activities, nor to make everyone feel good about their bodies, but rather to get basic themes from BDSM in front of as many new eyes as possible.  If this means a little theater and focusing on what customers find attractive, I am OK with that.

It is also interesting to note that the for-profit nature of the business leads to a phenomenal effort towards innovation.  There always has to be something new. New sets, new props, new scenarios.  The human body only bends in so many ways and has a fixed number of orifices, and yet I am amazed by what the directors and prop builders are able to dream up! I get a lot of feedback from customers who tell me how inspired they are by this innovation – some people genuinely get ideas about how to spruce up their sexlife from kink.com.

For example, kink.com did not invent the concept of a ‘fucking machine’. However, we have paid numerous engineers to innovate and develop machines for our popular website, fuckingmachines.com.  Before this site became popular, I scoured the Internet looking for machines to buy – I came up only with a Sybian and a JeTaime.  Now, however, online stores feature entire categories of them. Prototypes of new commercial machines have often been used in collaboration with our staff.

So, in summary, we sometimes hear criticism that a typical BDSM featured at kink.com is more sensational and theatrical as a result of being shot for profit, or that we only shoot a given look. This is an entirely valid critique.  Money does change and complicate authenticity, but it also causes us to innovate.  It is core to kink.com’s mission that our work is seen by new eyes – we hope to demystify activities that are often misunderstood, celebrate and inspire.

2 thoughts on “Authenticity in Porn

  1. Iyiola

    Foot worship.com is indeed a website that has clearly offered a fresh dimension to foot fetishism. I was born with a foot fetish and been participating in all these female (as a kid, boys too) feet for as long as I can remember. What MM brings to this site (despite my annoyance at her last shoot – the dirty nuns shoot) is creativity, innovation and amazing action. I have one beef though, sometimes the models over act and do not look like your normal day to day person- is it possible to have normal bloke like me appear in a shoot?
    Keep doing what you do best and respect all people…

    Reply
  2. Thaddeus Parks

    The shifting public perception of BDSM is one of those seeming overnight changes that was centuries in the making. In the late 18th Century, the Marquis de Sade put his profoundly sick-puppy stamp on kink, firmly establishing it as sex play (sex pain, really) between non-consenting adults. A hundred years later, when psychologists started studying this behavior, they found their subjects in insane asylums. “Criminals were their point of reference,” says Denver-based sex therapist Neil Cannon. No wonder, then, that BDSM meant a brute in a basement with an unwilling woman and a whip.

    Reply

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