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PiggyBankGirls is a crowdfunding platform looking to facilitate fair trade porn

The idea of paying for porn went out of fashion around the same time as the idea of paying for music and movies. There’s still money in the industry, which was worth around $90 billion in 2013, but with young always better and fresh blood constantly coming through, performers have had to work harder to stay in the industry.

Berlin startup PiggyBankGirls, founded by 24 year old Sascha Schoonen, wants to both change the way people consume porn and give power back to the women in porn. It’s part crowdfunding platform and part porn site: it allows women who want to raise some money to create campaigns where the rewards are of an ‘erotic’ nature – anything from photos through to porn videos and sexy Skype sessions.

There have been 78 campaigns funded through the platform so far, raising almost $60,000 from almost 10,000 members to help women pay for things like overseas trips, new laptops, plastic surgery, and vet bills.

On the surface, PiggyBankGirls seems like it’s just another way for women in the adult industry to make money. But for the team behind the platform, there’s much more to it: it’s about enabling the young women to make their own choices and trying to turn viewers into better porn consumers.

As PiggyBankGirls’ Johannes Schleicher explains it, the platform is about putting personality back into porn and, through that, getting people used to the idea of paying for porn again.

“Everybody knows porn and everybody watches it. What isn’t known and watched are the people behind it. We realized that by adding personality to porn, there’d be two benefits,” he said.

“First, it would bring some depth into the perception of pornography. Second, by realizing that real human beings, not a superficial image of sexuality, are involved in the production of erotic content, people are more likely to pay for what they want to watch – pornography will be perceived more as a piece of work than something that you just find on tube sites for free. And work has to be paid.”

This is part of what PiggyBankGirls is calling ‘Fair Trade Porn’, with another key aspect the fair distribution of revenue: the women get 80 percent of the money raised through their campaigns, with a 20 percent fee going to the platform for billing, servers, and advertising.

The startup, which has been funded by Translease International, only allows campaigns from the women themselves, not from agencies – who would take a percentage of the earnings – which gives the women the freedom to determine the type of campaign they want to run. The majority of the campaigns on the platform have been created by women who were already working in the industry in some way, usually as camgirls in their own homes, and who therefore already have content they can offer as rewards. PiggyBankGirls is also strict about the type of content allowed on the platform, with videos including or promoting violence among those banned.

There are a lot of problems with the adult entertainment industry, but as the documentary Hot Girls Wanted showed, young women are not likely to stop turning to it any time soon. The film followed a number of 18 year old girls who left their small towns to make it in the porn industry in Miami, with porn a way of escaping the banality of small town life, seeing something new and, hopefully, finding greater fame. But the industry is extremely fickle and difficult; for every Sasha Grey making millions and crossing over into the mainstream entertainment industry, there are thousands of nameless girls going back home after a six month stint in the game.

Of course, PiggyBankGirls is not going to replace the mainstream porn industry any time soon; as it is, it’s for making some extra cash rather than sustaining a career in the industry, but it could develop into a serious alternative. It does well to ensure the women on the platform have control, and its ethos is admirable.

As Schleicher said, “Our vision and long term goal is a fair and friendly erotic industry.”

The startup is also currently looking into adding a feature that will allow the women and donors to contribute a percentage of their earnings or their donations to charitable causes, though it must still determine which organisations will accept donations from adult entertainment companies.

Image: PiggyBankGirls CEO Sascha Schoonen. Source: Provided.





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