A very long time ago, when I was just getting started as an online entrepreneur, I set up an erotic website. It was mobile optimized and served more as a demo of what was possible with phones at the time than a serious business. But since we were invited to pitch it at a networking event, we decided to make a serious effort, and we made it look good. We designed and printed three t-shirts with the logo, wrote a one-page executive summary and I hacked together a demo that I could demonstrate on my mobile phone.
We figured we would get a few laughs out of the audience and that would be that. It turned out very differently, though. The audience loved it, investors and journalists were lining up to talk to us and we left the event with pockets filled with business cards. The next day, we were ready to get back to work when someone came in with a newspaper. There was a huge article — half a page! — about our little project. The title was something like “Sex doctor saves mobile technology with erotic content”. They even had a huge photo of me holding my mobile phone up to the audience. Awkward.
Still, we shrugged it off, laughed about it and went on with our business. Until our bank manager called us. He demanded that we come to his offices that same day, as there was something very important to discuss. We drove over and in the presence of the bank’s lawyer we were told we had 48 hours to move all our accounts to another bank. We were stupefied. What had happened?
“Well,” explained our bank manager, “you are now porn hustlers, and this bank doesn’t do business with porn hustlers.” He presented us with the newspaper article like it was Exhibit A.
It took many promises that we wouldn’t pursue the idea and a fair bit of reasoning before they agreed to keep our accounts. We abandoned the ‘mobile erotica’ idea to focus on our other, more legitimate plans. Since then I have met several young entrepreneurs who figured that erotica and the Web might be a potent and valuable combination. I don’t have any moral issues with people wanting to sell adult content online but I do warn them that they are going down a one way street from which it is hard to come back. The stigma associated with porn and erotica is not something to be taken lightly.
Still, the subject interest me. Seriously. Erotica, porn and other NSFW content is a huge part of technology. It drives innovation, provides hours and hours of entertainment and lots of revenue for a lot of companies. Of course, nobody really talks about it or admits it. Ask anyone “Hey, do you ever watch porn online?” and chances are slim you will get a straight answer.
In this issue of TNW Magazine we looked into the adult entertainment world and what it means to be involved with that sort of content. We also looked at apps, movies and books related to the subject. But we shied away from just showing NSFW content and went beyond nudity for the sake of nudity. This issue is an in-depth look at how technology and the Internet interact with porn and erotica.
Read next: Issue v0.8: The Rise of Alt Porn