On Wednesday night in the packed basement of the Ace Hotel in Manhattan, there was no room for modesty.
Wearing bejeweled shoes and a black jumpsuit, ad industry veteran Cindy Gallop introduced a new documentary about MakeLoveNotPorn.tv (MLNP), her video platform that ditches fake porn productions and celebrates real world sex with user-generated, curated films.
The 15-minute documentary, "MakeLoveNotPorn: The Social Sex Revolution," was created by Chandelier Creative and describes the catalyst behind Gallop’s creation of the platform—to take society’s fear of discussing sex and rebrand it to make it social.
"When you take the shame and embarrassment out of sex, when you normalize it, when you introduce great sexual values," said Gallop in the film, "you strike at the heart of sexual abuse, sexual violence, and you also solve many unhappy relationships."
The documentary works to gain more funding for the startup. Gallop has already envisioned the day when MLNP will host conventions like YouTube does and partner with schools for sex education content and publishers for erotica. There might also be an opportunity for MLNP to have its own in-house TV channel at the Ace Hotel. But, no matter the intensions behind the platform, it is difficult to crowdsource money because it deals with sex, and MLNP does not have a marketing budget.
Ironically, Gallop—who has spent decades working in advertising herself—has an arduous time bringing in investors, or even finding support within her own industry.
"I have many friends in the industry at an individual level who toast what we're doing and have been very helpful, but nothing at the corporate level," said Gallop on Wednesday night. I hate to say this because I love my industry, I've tried to prepare it for the future. It's not a brave industry in many sorts of ways and this is just one of those ways. We bloody love Chandelier for having been the only agency in the advertising industry to reach out as a corporate entity to support us."
In fact, the entire idea for the documentary came from Chandelier Creative’s "Summer of Sex and Love" artists’ residency this past summer. The agency invited MLNP to the agency’s summer house in the Hamptons, nicknamed the "Chandelier Mermaid Ranch," to create creative work in exchange for a week of residency. Sarah Beall, community manager at MLNP, came up with documenting the mission and stars, dubbed "MakeLoveNotPornstars," of the platform. It just so happens to be the first documentary Chandelier Creative has ever produced.
"Today, more than ever, we believe brands need a partner to help them make sense of the world at large," said Lauren Prine, CEO of Chandelier Creative. "We’re looking to partner with these risk-takers to shine a line on their innovations, their brand and most importantly, their cause. We want to push ourselves, as an agency, to be storytellers and our unique spaces to program incredible content to help further their mission and to keep our people inspired."
In "The Social Sex Revolution," viewers are introduced to Christina, a woman who works at a sex toy shop, and Eli, a woman who struggles with accepting her body. Both women discuss why they have decided to create and share social sex videos for MLNP. There is no actual sex in the documentary itself, which is why on Wednesday night, a 40-minute film of the platform’s not-safe-for-work content was shown after the film.
Chandelier Creative’s summer ranch was also used for the setting of the documentary and Thalia Mavros, a director and founder of media agency The Front, was chosen by the agency to lead the project. Gallop specifically requested a female director. "People in the advertising industry know how very rarely people use female directors for commercials because they are subject to that very difficult cycle of 'you don’t get hired if you don’t have that spectacular showreel, but you can’t get a spectacular showreal if nobody one hires you,'" said Gallop.
Through the documentary, Gallop wants people to understand that MLNP is not porn. In fact, the message is part of the platform’s tagline: "Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference."
"Social sex is something very different than porn. Porn is fundamentally masturbation material," said Gallop. "We are that too, happy to be that, but we are many more things. Social sex is very reassuring because we celebrate real world everything—real world bodies, real world messiness and real world emotions."
Gallop began MakeLoveNotPorn.com five years ago. Today, the platform has 400,000 members who have uploaded more than 1,500 videos. These videos act as sneak peeks to films that vary in length. If viewers like them, the idea is that they will purchase films for five dollars each. MLNP then gives half of the revenue to the film stars. Visitors can also choose to submit their own videos for five dollars and curators will deem whether they represent real world sex, cutting out films in which the stars act too much for the camera. Already, MLNP has over 200 MakeLoveNotPornstars.
"The motivation behind the social dynamics are exactly the same as sharing anything else on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram," said Gallop, "except this is the place where you can post the stuff that gets you kicked off the others."