About a year and a half ago, I was in Toronto for the 2013 Feminist Porn Awards. I’d recently interviewed Cindy Gallop about the launch of her site MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, and she’d told me about the many hurdles she and her team had faced while dealing with finances for the project. I’d been flabbergasted and how difficult they had found it get a great idea like MakeLoveNotPorn off the ground, due mainly to the reticence of financial institutions to go touch adult content with a foot-long… pole. (Heh. See, that was almost a dirty joke. Get it?)
So, at the FPAs, I started talking to some people I know who make indie/feminist/queer porn about their experiences. Not surprisingly, most of them had also experienced discrimination from financial institutions, ranging from banks to credit card companies to payment processors to crowdfudning websites. What did surprise me, however, was the degree of difficulty all these awesome humans were navigating, and the ingenuity they used to overcome the obstacles “mainstream” businesses threw at them. And what depressed me was how normal it seemed to all of them, from the way they spoke about it. 15% transaction fees? Meh. Holding companies and flying under the radar? Just the way it is. Having assets frozen, bank accounts closed, and financiers treat you like garbage? Just part of the deal.
So I started interviewing people in earnest about this. I wanted to get to the bottom of how on earth anybody like Courtney Trouble or Shine Louise Houston actually makes a profit–much less a living–on adult content under these circumstances. And why those circumstances exist at all. I talked to pornographers from the world of indie smut, to financiers at payment processing companies (off the record), to anybody who would talk to me about this stuff. I researched this topic for at least six months.
And then I tried to get that article published.
Well. It was just about as difficult to do that as it was to get an indie porn company funded, as it turned out. I don’t know why, exactly, but my suspicion is that, given the banks pretty much run the entire show from the top down and that most publications of any kind have ties to the banks, most places weren’t too eager to piss off the People In Charge. Or the payment processors who handle their subscriptions.
At long last the long-standing pinnacle of feminist magazines, that paragon of awesome, Bitch, accepted my article early this spring! I did a dance and then I edited, and re-edited, my article.
And now, at long last, after over a year of toiling… that article is available, in print only, in the Love/Lust issue of Bitch Magazine! It’s out on newsstands and via the Bitch website, and I am so extremely proud of it! Please get a copy if you can–I’m still searching newsstands in my area for one–and let me know what you think! I promise that unless you’re an indie pornographer yourself, you will probably learn something from that article. You’ll also be privy to tidbits of interviews (the article was heavily edited down from my original 5,000-word draft) with Cindy Gallop, Tobi Hill-Meyer, Jiz Lee, Courtney Trouble, Shine Louise Houston, and several anonymous sources worldwide.
PS – HUGE apologies for some incorrect pronouns in the article! Most notably with regard to Courtney Trouble, whose pronouns were announced as “they” (to my knowledge, at least) after I’d already begun the article. I tried to make changes in the edits, but not all of them went through, and the finished version of the article wasn’t 100% vetted by me before it went to print. I have alerted Bitch to the errors, and hope for a correction in their next issue.