Everyone loves to hate Kink.com. It seems that blogger after blogger is always looking for something to point out, some flaw, some platform by which to further their own causes. This type of nit-picking is nothing new. Many big companies get picked on constantly. I read an article recently regarding iHate (that is, hatred of Apple). There are a few things in that article that the author mentioned that really reminded me of the sort of hatred I see focused on Kink.com.
“So where does the hate really come from? Ultimately, it comes from love.
Love and hate are not opposites. The opposite of love and hate is indifference.”
A lot of people love Kink.com. It is nearly impossible to meet someone in the Bay Area BDSM scene that has not had some connection to this company (even if the connection is simply attending the events at the Armory). Considering the notoriety and popularity of this company, it should come as no surprise that a lot of people hate them too.
The most recent hatred has come from a few very vocal models upset about a change in the payout system of the live chat site, Kink Live, that is run through Kink.com. Their opposition has been so pronounced, they have received a lot of support from the local community and the media.
The opposition to this issue is however, simply a viewpoint held by a few. There are others, all with their own opinions on this matter whose voices have not been heard, but whose livelihoods are being affected by this opposition. Maxine Holloway posted a letter sent to Peter Acworth and other Kink.com executives. Her tumblr post is the most prominent voice of the opposition so it is the blog I will be discussing.
I am a huge fan of numbers. Math does not lie! So I will begin my analysis of Holloway’s blog post, and express my opinions (yes these are my opinions) by first beginning with numbers.
New vs Old Payout Systems
Under the old payout system (that is still currently in place due to the vocal complaints of a few models), any Kink Live model was paid $150 for shows grossing under $500 and 30% of the total revenue for shows grossing over $500. As an additional incentive, 40% of the total revenue was offered for any show grossing over $750.
The $150 is called the minimum by all Kink Live employees.
Under the old payout system, a show grossing $100 and a grossing $500 earns a model the same amount of pay.
The proposed commission-only payout system (or the new payout system) would eliminate the minimum and payout 30% for shows under $300 and 40% for shows over that.
The chart above shows the two payout systems in one place. Any show grossing at least $375 guarantees a model the minimum. Furthermore, models who consistently work hard to gross over $375 are rewarded with a pay raise.
Under the new payout system, a show grossing $100 earns a model $30 whereas a show grossing $500 earns a model $200.
The new system was meant to reward models whose shows consistently do well. Even at a $30 payout, this is still above the CA minimum wage of $8 per hour for a three hour show.
This is where my first issue towards this tumblr post begins; at the beginning of her post. She uses a very harsh phrase to describe the pay changes.
“This past month a severe pay cut was given to the women who work at KinkLive.com. They needed to save money and they did it by taking it from the models.” (Emphasis added.)
This is not a “severe pay cut” but rather a way to reward top earners. Why would she chose to use such a severe phrase to describe proposed changes that are actually going to be beneficial to several models? The only thing I can speculate is that she wanted to elicit emotion within the local BDSM and sex-worker community. I mean, what better way to get others to subscribe to your cause than elicit emotions* of injustice towards the underdog by a big corporate entity?
*(I don’t want to inspire these emotions but I doubt I will be able to continue my post without it. At the very least I’ll offer a warning, disclaimer of sorts, to my readers: my post may enrage you, patronize you, and offend but at least I owning up to the emotions my post will elicit.)
What we do as cam model is essentially sales. We sell ourselves as a product. Everything we do in our cam shows is meant to entice customers to purchase our product. My degree and expertise is not in business but I can still understand a basic fact about any sales environment: Salespersons that don’t produce can’t expect to be compensated at the same level as salespersons that do!
Financial Security of Kink Live Models
“Now we are left with dozens of women who have had their monthly income severely or completely cut without any notice. Honesty and integrity about this issue could have prepared us to make financial changes in advance of the new policies.”
It is not Kink Live’s responsibility to plan for the fiscal security of each model. In any profession, pay cuts or even being fired, is in the hands of higher-ups at the company and not the employees. The best way for any employee (salaried, hourly, or contract) to protect themselves is to plan for their own financial security. This includes planning a budget that allows you to save for a rainy day.
NO company gives their employees notice when they are let go (if I am wrong, please let me know). Having been previously employed within a Human Resources department of a major bank, I saw employees leaving in tears on Friday afternoons after being let go. Their stories were all the same and none of them claimed to have expected to be fired. They were all worried about how they would continue to pay their bills and go on.
If any Kink Live model decided NOT to build a nest egg, that is not due to any fault of Kink Live. With a nest egg, any person faced with a major setback to their income could make their “financial changes” with much less stress.
Models, please stop blaming Kink Live (or Kink.com for that matter) for not giving you enough notice to reevaluate your own financial decisions!
A Living Wage
“Under the new payment system many models will no longer be able to earn a living wage working for KinkLive”
Let’s all refer back to Example 1 from earlier in my writing. A model with a show grossing $100 is paid the same amount as a model with a show grossing $500. Paying the lower-grossing model the $150 minimum nets Kink Live a $50 loss. Paying the higher grossing model the $150 minimum nets Kink Live a $350 profit. (This example, of course, ignores the overhead and operating expenses Kink Live must meet.)
What is being argued by the opposition to the new payout system is that models with higher grossing shows should subsidize the “living wage” for models who cost KinkLive money.
Yes if a model costs KinkLive money, other models will pay her salary under the old system. This is incredibly unfair to the models who constantly work to improve their product and not a financially sound strategy for any company.
Other Competitive Cam Sites
“The changes occurring in the KinkLive department include withdrawing our flat rate and instilling a commission-only earning system, which makes our pay-out percentage rate much lower than other competitive cam sites.”
All other cam sites pay models on a commission only system. The only cam site I have found that pays otherwise is Live Cam Network and their hourly pay is $13.50 for public chat. This hourly wage isn’t even offered to every model that cams through their site. (I doubt this is public knowledge since I learned of this in their models-only forum.)
Along with all other cam sites paying models on a commission-only system, when a model chooses to work from home she must provide all of her own equipment. Below I’ve included a table with requirements for at-home cam shows in no particular order.
|High speed Internet||Required – monthly cost||A model can have a slower connection but she will not make money. Low-quality streaming will deter customers.|
|Computer||Required||Without a computer, it is impossible to be an internet web chat model. If someone has figured out how to do this for a living without a computer, I will buy you dinner!|
|Web Cam||Required||HD cams deliver a higher quality picture to potential customers. Yes a model can use an SD cam and perform. The higher quality image is meant to entice customers. A camera that can pan and zoom makes for an even better show because a model can adjust camera angles to give customers a more enticing product.|
|Electricity||Required – monthly cost||How is anyone going to run a computer, let alone a web cam without this?|
|Props||Necessary but not required.||These include things like sex toys, costumes, make up, etc. Any model can perform without these props but are much less likely to earn a viable income. A model without makeup, properly attired, and no toys will likely not entice customers.|
|Cleaning supplies||Necessary but not required.||These include supplies to clean sex toys with and even home cleaning supplies. Any adult who has had sex will agree that sexual intercourse can be very messy. Simply using a lubricant adds to the possibility that your sheets, carpet, towels, etc will need to be washed. A model can choose not to wash these items (but who really squirts on their towels and doesn’t wash them?).|
|Hygienic supplies||Necessary but not required.||Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, razors, etc are all necessary to present a cleanly appearance. If a model is doing anal on her cam show, she will entice more customers. Scat is not allowed on any cam sites (if I am wrong, please correct me). So if a model wants to perform anally, she needs enemas to ensure her rectum is scat free.|
|Lighting||Necessary but not required.||Again, this is like the props. A model can perform without proper lighting but a dim chat room in which the model is barely visible will not attract customers.|
|Staff||Not necessary but very convenient.||Having a staff to set up lighting, decorate sets, clean sex toys, and even help you move your computer to the bathroom when you are covered in Nutella (yes I needed help with that at home) really make performing a lot easier. (My husband often acts as staff for me when I work from home.)|
|Private space||Required – monthly cost||This is like a computer being required (though if you do this from a shared room with roommates, more power to you, but I’m not buying you dinner). I imagine somewhere, some model has hosted a live sex show on web chat with other people around. Yes this is possible but a deterrent to models who require privacy.|
|Decorative items||Not necessary but very convenient.||Decorative pillows, nice sheets, aesthetically pleasing wall paint, etc all help draw customers to a models cam show.|
Kink Live provides all of this and even a green room where a model can find bagels, cereal, juices, and snacks. They also have a full wardrobe department with an incredibly friendly staff that will provide models costumes for shows (so long as they are not too busy and a model gives some notice). If a model forgets makeup, there is makeup that models can use already at the armory.
Did I mention that Kink Live also provides staff to clean up puddles of squirt, used dildos, and bring us any additional props we might need?
A model must invest a significant amount of her time and her own income to set this sort of show up at home. On top of that, models that work from home will be paid on a commission-only basis. Yes, at-home cam models must invest their own money before they can even think to turn a profit. Kink Live models don’t have to invest a dime (beyond makeup and outfits) to start earning money.
There is another issue affecting models who work from home. Depending on the traffic of the site, there are times when at-home cam models can make less than the California State Minimum wage. (I have had several unsuccessful at-home cam shows before which has deterred me from setting up a consistent at-home cam show schedule. I only cam from home when a client has emailed me in advance and booked a private session. I receive these requests about monthly and in those situations, I can earn more than I make at KinkLive from home. Again, these earnings are few-and-far-between commission-only gigs.)
I challenge any model that opposes the new commission-only payout structure to cam from home exactly the same hours they would have at KinkLive, and still make $50 per hour (on a consistent, long-term, weekly basis) with only investing in clothing and makeup!
Unclear Guidelines for Public Chat
There have also been complaints that public chat rules were not being clearly communicated to models.
“Another new development at KL is the restructuring of the rules for public chat to allow more explicit acts in the free chatroom. These new guidelines originally were not laid out for the models, or even mentioned by the staff to the group as a whole with any clarity.”
On April 5th there was a Kink Live model meeting to discuss technical feature rollouts for the following month. At that meeting we were asked what we all thought of the recently rolled out tipping system. Rain DeGrey mentioned a successful strategy of hers including telling members that she could do anything in public chat as long as she was tipped a single kink. From this, I was able to infer (and I imagine other models were able to as well) that the public chat rules could be bent if a models show was profitable. I decided then to allow for more explicit acts in my own chat room. Of course, I wanted to make sure I did not break any rules, so I decided to double check and ensure that I had not misunderstood our model meeting.
Later that week, I emailed Sheila Gunn with an idea for a public chat game. I received approval and posted a thread on the Kink Live forums entitled, “Public Nudity, Geeky Gamer Style.” I later reposted my game with new rules (from member suggestions) as a thread entitled “Everybody Wins d30 game.” My rules were publicly posted. Any time I could have been told to stop my game (and I would have). Any other model could have emailed any of the staff at Kink Live at ANY time with similar public chat rule requests. They could have also asked the public chat rules to be clarified at ANY time rather than relying on rumors to dictate their shows.
I consider myself a professional web cam model. As such, I make sure I have approval from any necessary individuals before introducing anything that might violate a cam sites policies, ESPECIALLY if I feel any policies have not been made completely clear. I also constantly email staff to ask to clarify any rules or misunderstandings rather than relying on rumors (I often feel silly with the amount of emails like this I send). This is part of being a professional in any industry.
“Some models were only informed through other models with no information coming from staff at all.”
Again, all any model had to do was email Kink Live staff and receive clarification. This is what professionals do in the work force all the time.
“Various models were given contradictory information regarding the new payments…”
If this is the case, had these models asked via email for clarification, and received contradictory information, they would be able to prove that at the very least, the Kink Live staff misunderstood the new policies. (Simply receiving contradictory information does not imply malicious intent. Misunderstandings happen all the time.)
Misunderstandings and rumors abound in every industry. Part of being a professional is not adding to the rumor mill by verifying information, preferably in writing (like email), from management.
Early on in my adult life (well before I had even started college) I learned how to be a professional the hard way by being let go from contract positions. In my mind I thought it was not my fault. I convinced myself that the performance expectations were not made clear. Eventually I learned that it is my responsibility to understand my job duties and expectations. Since I have taken responsibility for knowing my job duties and the rules in which I must perform them, I have NOT been let go from any position!
If you had to learn these lessons like I did, the hard way, at Kink Live, I am very sorry. These life lessons can be difficult. In fact, they fucking suck sometimes! It is not the fault of Kink Live that you learned these lessons during your time performing at the armory.
“…we are expected to do so much more with our bodies than models on other sites: bondage, electricity, implements, fucking machines, pain endurance, humiliate, domination, etc.”
No Kink Live model is required to perform any of the above acts. I repeat, no Kink Live model is required to perform any of the above acts. The BDSM community has a popular phrase that goes something like, “safe, sane and consensual.” It is the third point I want to focus on. Any model that does something she is uncomfortable in public chat is doing so without being forced. There is no one standing in any of the Kink Live sets insisting models perform non-consensual acts on camera.
I CONSTANTLY SAY NO when members make requests I am not comfortable with or could jeopardize my safety. I have had members request that I make myself vomit, rip nipple clamps off of my nipples and labia until they are bloody, stick sharp objects in my rectum, eat feces, drink urine, electrocute myself, choke myself until unconsciousness, and so on.
If a model feels she needs to do anything outside of her limits and comfort zone to generate revenue she is mistaken!
Members will respect your limits as much as you respect your own limits. A model can always say no. I often try and redirect a request politely without saying no.
Member: “Stick a dildo in your ass.”
Me: “I’m sorry but my butt hole is really tight and inexperienced. Would you prefer to help me learn to stretch it with a small butt plug?”
Yes I have had that conversation on Kink Live before (lol – the stories I could tell). Some members agree and the show moves on. If they continue to push me, the conversation can continue something like this:
Member: “No! Stick that in your ass!!”
Me (In the cutest, sweetest, voice I can muster with a HUGE smile on my face): “I’m sorry I can’t do that. Maybe I’m not the cam model for you? I’m certain another model would love to meet your needs!”
Hopefully there, the member will compromise or move on. If they become belligerent, I say no explicitly (and drop my sweet voice) and if they continue to push me, I do inform the Kink Live staff.
My shows still generate revenue even with me CONSTANTLY insisting my limits be respected. Models who believe their shows will only generate revenue if they are harming themselves, or performing acts beyond their own limits, need to reevaluate their career choices.
To all cam girls out there (and to all human beings in general) I urge you to really take to heart what I write next: Other people give you as much respect as you demand. If you can’t respect your own hard limits, no one else will! Learn to say no.
I figured this out long before I became a sex worker. If a model has not figured that out, it is not the fault of Kink Live.
It has been argued that the fact that Kink Live asks models to arrive an hour before their show is reason to have these models be classified as employees and not independent contractors. I do not understand the legality of this but if a legal precedent has been set to uphold this, that can be the only wrong Kink Live has done.
To anyone outside of Kink Live, let me tell you what shows were like before this call time was enacted (maybe then everyone can understand some of the reasoning behind enacting call times).
Often I would arrive at the armory, before the start of my show, having come directly from class. The latest I arrived before call times, was about 5 minutes before my
call time show-start time, and that is only because I was delayed on campus. My commute on BART from Downtown Berkeley to 16th Street is about an hour, including wait times for a BART train. I was able to make it early to most of my shows only to be often told my show was being delayed. Many models were tardy to their shows and this created a bit of a tardy domino effect. Every show after theirs would be delayed, at no fault to whichever model was on next.
Being delayed due to other women’s lack of punctuality was incredibly frustrating. When the call time was enacted I was simultaneously relieved and frustrated. I knew it would ensure my shows would not be delayed but I also knew I was being, in essence, punished for the tardiness of other models. There are times when an hour is more time than is needed to prepare for a cam show. Those days, I am most frustrated at the models who made that rule necessary. Now this call time is gone, there is bound to be a time where a show of mine is delayed through no fault of my own.
I am saddened that the models opposing the payout structure are nit-picking at rules like these so their causes can hold water.
I am incredibly sympathetic towards the models who feel they have been hurt by performing at Kink Live, however, I do not feel that your emotions towards this issue merit all the protests and definitely do not merit a lawsuit.
Furthermore, I feel the models in opposition to the pay changes, have crossed a line by insisting their cause speaks for ALL Kink Live models. No where the tumblr post referennced nor in the letter sent to Kink executives, did was the possibility left open that some models may not agree with this cause and might actually be embracing these pay changes!
Your cause does not speak for all of us models at Kink Live. Please stop putting words in my mouth and in the mouths of other models who do not agree with your protest.
If Kink Live is forced to close every Kink Live performer and employee will be negatively affected. All of us will lose a major source of our income (not just the lowest performing models).
Please remember that this Kink Live hatred has very real consequences for everyone involved.
- Audrey Rose
This is now the second time I have defended Kink.com publically. First I defended Kink.com in general against an attack by people outside of the BDSM and porn community. Now I am defending it against those within those communities. I understand some might start attacking me directly, personally, for consistently defending this company. Go right ahead!
I am incredibly grateful for the exposure this company has provided me within the adult entertainment industry. If it were not for Kink.com, I would never have even started on my current career path (and might I add, my new career makes me very happy).
Defending a company that has provided me with so much does not seem like a burdon at all. (Though I am worried about the prospect of being ostracized by the local kink and indie porn community. ¡Nimodo!)
Thank you Kink.com for giving an unknown girl with discheveled pink hair (and an obsession with puzzles) a chance!