Is Porn Darling Kink.com Ripping Off Its Webcam Girls?

mal13.jpg
Maxine Holloway (holding the camera)
For connoisseurs of BDSM porn, San Francisco's Kink.com has built up a reputation that makes them the sadomasochistic equivalent of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Fans of the company's sites look to them not only for high-quality porn that caters to a wide variety of fetishes, but for an explicit ethical code. As cultural messages directly equating "sex work" with "trafficking" become stronger, Kink.com has established itself as the Good Guy of porn, where the models are there because they want to be and are able to stay safely within their personal limits.

These are not vague promises on Kink.com's part: On its website, there's a nine-point list of model's rights that includes the right to safewords, sanitized toys, condoms, and STD tests. An even more detailed list of rules for shooting includes strict guidelines that prohibit directors from pressuring performers to go beyond their stated limits and outlines safety measures for specific kinds of scenes. Thanks to policies like this, many in the local BDSM and fetish communities regard Kink.com as one of their own, a remarkable achievement in a town as anti-corporate as San Francisco.

But now, as a labor dispute heats up at the company's cam site, KinkLive, some people are taking a second look at that reputation. Maxine Holloway, a local artist, activist, and adult performer, is alleging that she was fired from KinkLive last month when she tried to organize her fellow performers in opposition to changes in the payment policy that would eliminate minimum payments for each shift in favor of a commission-only plan. The new plan, according to Holloway and her supporters, would amount to a drastic reduction in wages for most of KinkLive's performers.

According to Holloway, she was fired from Kink.com immediately after she started trying to get KinkLive models to sign a letter protesting the new system of payment. Peter Acworth, CEO of Kink.com, denies that she was fired at all, instead saying that she was asked to take a temporary leave. "It was only a temporary thing," Acworth says. "We asked her to take a break because her shows had turned nonprofitable. If she's no longer on the site for a while, then she comes back, maybe it'll be a different story." According to Acworth, Holloway has already been invited to perform on KinkLive at the end of June. She acknowledges the invitation, but says she received it only last week, after the situation had gone public.

"I really enjoyed my job working there," she says. "But I've seen things and heard a lot of things that make me really uncomfortable. And then, having this whole payment policy thing go down and then being let go ... illustrates the fact that they consider us to be disposable. I think it is unfortunate that they are going to publicly say that they don't treat their models that way at Kink.com, but in actuality, they do."

If Kink.com was, in fact, trying to shut Holloway up by giving her the boot, they failed miserably. The letter was ultimately delivered via the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) without individual names. It was then posted and re-posted online via Twitter, Tumblr, and sex blogs. For a few days, the headline "New Kink.com Policy Disrespects Models" seemed to have become a mantra of every pervy Twitter feed in the country. The news of Holloway's firing just gave the letter an extra signal boost.

mal.jpg
Maxine Holloway

What's happening at KinkLive allegedly goes much deeper than whether Holloway was or wasn't fired, or whether or not it was done for legitimate business reasons. Holloway and three other cam models -- Coral Aorta, Wendy Fairfax, and Siren Wolf -- plan to file a class-action lawsuit representing the models against Kink.com, alleging that the new payment policy violates labor law. While reluctant to discuss the specifics of the case, the models' personal concerns range from being able to make a living wage to being able to enforce their boundaries without pressure. 

 Already, Fairfax says, policies allowing models to set and maintain personal limits are largely theoretical. "I know that when I started there, there was no discussion of boundaries. It was like, 'You have boundaries, I'm sure, and you will follow them,' and that was it. There were no examples of how to deal with pushy customers or anything like that."


My Voice Nation Help
22 comments
Pussy_Kitten
Pussy_Kitten

Losing $30,000 a month??? At 720 hours in a month, that's roughly losing $41 an hour.  Paying models a $150 minimum for 4 hours, is $37.50 an hour.  It costs $5.00 a minute to take a model private on kink.com. I would say there are on average two models working at a time. So between them, on average, they only pull 7 minutes of private time per hour??? (= $35/hr) Really?? Go there and see how often they go private with a customer.  ... I mean there is overhead, but really how much can that be? to stream two webcams? for a company that is completely web based in the first place?... In the case of kink.com losing $50,000 it would be as if no customer is paying anything - ever. Those kinds of losses would indicate that it's impossible for them to earn money no matter what they do. - What ever kink.com does is what kink.com does, that's up to kink.com. But Peter Acworth's explanation seems like a lie to me.

kaciemarie
kaciemarie

hey Kink.com referred good beautiful models its show real sex fantastic performance to your models see some models for our site  girls on webcam

E.J.
E.J.

I think, purely from a financial perspective, that it must be unsustainable to pay a minimum of $150 for every four hour cam show.  The performers, who are indeed very smart, should know this. No other cam company in that industry....such as flirt4free...pays a minimum.  With that said, I think the women should definitely be making an hourly wage in addition to commissions, somewhere in excess of minimum wage.  And, if KINK.com re-packages their shows for sale on dvd or future membership archives, the ladies should get a cut of all that too, or a higher upfront fee.  Having been in that business for some time, I really don't believe any company could sustain minimums of $150 for every cam show, but there is probably a more equitable solution to be negotiated.

Cheap London escorts
Cheap London escorts

As per my view Kink is a nice website for watch the porn. I prefer this website many time to watch the porno. The video collection is nice of Kink.

kinky mike
kinky mike

mmmm, if the girls don't like the charges that kink.com make they should take their talents elsewhere. their are plenty of sites around. streammate, adultwork, myfreecams.  of course, if they recognise that being on kink.com is good for business due to traffic, then they have a decision to make. if they go somewhere else with less traffic they may make less than sticking with kink.com the bottom line is that kink.com are not a charity. next thing you know the girls will be requiring employee legal rights.  as for the clients rallying to their cause, i'm sorry, this is the adult entertainment world, and as a recent article about micropayments not working for porn world due to transient and flighty nature of guys, that is not going to work.  i used to work for a large global company many years ago, when i felt that i could no longer put up with the bs of working their (despite having a great salary) i left and did other things with my valuable time. some would prefer to stay and fight, victories such as that are often phyrric in nature i'm afraid.

Federale
Federale

That was referring to things the girls were "pressured" to do.  

Desmond Ravenstone
Desmond Ravenstone

Customers may choose who they want to watch and chat with, but they don't necessarily control how they are paid -- unless they make it clear to the owners of the business what matter to them. Lots of folks show their willingness to pay extra for businesses that reflect their values.  Look how many people are willing to go out of their way to buy food at a co-op, go to a restaurant where the staff are treated and paid better, and pledge to public radio and television.  And they make it clear to those businesses why they're willing to do that. So why not do the same for something like Kink.com?  Especially when the owner says that he's torn between keeping a better reimbursement scheme or making a decent profit? Then again, I don't expect you to understand @Federale, based on how you've been responding across the board here...

Coral Aorta
Coral Aorta

What bad decisions?  Sex work in general?  I'm very happy with making that decision in my life.

Coral Aorta
Coral Aorta

In what way is not getting paid fairly for our time and efforts "kinky"?  I certainly don't have a fetish for being underpaid.

Lorelei Mission
Lorelei Mission

Where did writer Chris Hall get all that blah-blah-blah that's in the first two paragraphs of this article?  From a press release?  Via a hug from Peter?  Non-Kink producers hear all kinds of tales from ex-Kink models (and even some current Kink models who will do what they must to pay rent)... and none of it matches Chris Halls' eerily glowing praise.

Coral Aorta
Coral Aorta

Personally, Lorelei, I have had nothing but positive experiences working for Kink sites aside from this labor issue.  I've shot for Sex & Submission, Public Disgrace, Device Bondage and more, and have never felt that I was being pushed beyond my limits.  I understand Chris Hall's introduction as I have heard from plenty of people that Kink is the best BDSM site to work with. That is not to say that other models and employees have not had bad experiences with Kink.  I've certainly heard negative reactions and stories about Kink as well.  I just wanted to mention that there are many models who really do enjoy working at Kink.

Chris H
Chris H

Whether you think Kink is being fair or not, Elizabeth, your comment is just ugly and misogynist, as if any woman who does sex work deserves whatever she gets. It's no different than saying a woman who puts on a slinky red dress shouldn't be surprised when she gets raped and beaten. The women profiled here are articulate and intelligent, and deserve much better than misogyny masquerading as half-assed feminism.

Desmond Ravenstone
Desmond Ravenstone

How about organizing the clients to back the performers?  Imagine if a significant number of paying customers said: "We'd be willing to pay more for KinkLive, so long as you stick to the original pricing agreement."  And if Ackworth explained that the jump/change in pricing is needed to provide decent wages and working conditions, I'm sure other customers would understand.

Coral Aorta
Coral Aorta

Desmond, there have actually been a number of KinkLive members who have posted on the forums offering up ideas concerning just that.  Some have offered paying a monthly membership fee or other similar plans.

Kiki
Kiki

and Kudos to Maxine and the other models for confronting a huge multi-million dollar well-liked empire, and making them put their "ethical" money where their mouth is.

Kiki
Kiki

Acworth says they're "losing somewhere in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 a month"... REALLY!!?? I find that extremely hard to believe. The only major cost (besides rent?) is the streaming technology.

Sternaris
Sternaris

It's true, this discussion can do without the snide remarks.  The porn industry already suffers from stigma, but there are highly educated models working in the industry!  In fact, one highly educated model wrote about this issue with another pov.   http://www.audreyrosexxx.com/words/?p=101

Coral Aorta
Coral Aorta

Thanks, Courtney.  I'm interested in seeing opinions and debate in response to this article, not angry flaming.

oh.crappy.
oh.crappy.

also that whole situation with the leaked porn names connected to real names and how kink.com did absolutely nothing to get the websites/info removed from the web.

Softpaws Sharpclaws
Softpaws Sharpclaws

to be honest, Elizabeth, these women in the adult industry are far more intelligent than you think.  you obviously don't understand the industry or who is involved in it.  it's ok to disagree, but leave your snide uneducated comments to yourself.  it won't make you look so stupid.

Now Trending

San Francisco Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...