There’s about to be a porn version of Kickstarter

People in the sex industry are barred from traditional crowdfunding sites. So they decided to make their own.

Mar 1, 2020, 4:34 am*

IRL

EJ Dickson 

EJ Dickson

This story contains sexually explicit material.

You can crowdfund pretty much whatever you want on Kickstarter, from potato salad to a sexy smartphone charger to actual poop. But one thing you can’t do is launch a crowdfunding campaign for is pornographic material, or pretty much anything that has to do with sex at all. So if you’re an aspiring vibrator entrepreneur, or a cam performer who wants her fans to contribute to a fund for a trip to Coachella, you’re out of luck.

Enter the upcoming website CumFundMe, a website exclusively for the adult industry. Launched by a Phoenix-based former cam site operator who goes by the name Ricky Booker, CumFundMe is the NSFW counterpart to crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, which don’t typically allow adult content (or even people who are associated with adult content) on their sites.

“It always frustrated me to see adult stars, or adult companies get their campaigns revoked on other crowdfunding sites because of their career,” Booker told the Daily Dot via email. 

“I felt like it’s discrimination towards adult entertainers and the other people involve[d] just because of their line of business. So that’s where the idea stem[s] from. I wanted to make a change and give the adult entertainment industry a home to raise funds for their causes without out getting revoked or looked down on because of their career.”

When he says that adult performers are discriminated against on crowdfunding platforms, Booker is not exaggerating. Last year, cam performer Eden Alexander discovered this firsthand when she contracted a life-threatening illness and tried fundraising for her medical bills on GiveForward. Her campaign was abruptly yanked by the payment processor WePay, on the grounds that her campaign was a violation of its terms of services because it was “in connection with pornographic items.”

Got this email from @wepay saying they CANCELLED my medical fundraiser bc ill use the money for porn. LITERALLY.pic.twitter.com/Sa8tohWaDe
— Eden Alexander (@EdenAlexanderXX) May 17, 2014

Although WePay later apologized for yanking the campaign, Alexander was outraged.  “I felt deceived and abandoned,” she later wrote in an xoJane piece. “All these people were trying to help me but this company decided that I couldn’t receive help because of my profession.”

GiveForward is not the only crowdfunding website with an anti-pornography policy. GoFundMe also refuses to host crowdfunding campaigns that are associated with the industry, as Maxine Holloway learned in March when she used the website to raise money for a legal campaign challenging a California anti-prostitution law. GoFundMe’s policy prohibits “sexually explicit material” and “adult services or products,” and Holloway’s campaign fell in neither category. Yet the website yanked it nonetheless.

Although crowdfunding platforms’ anti-pornography policies might sound discriminatory, there’s some degree of reasoning behind them. Payment processors are often loath to do business with adult websites, for instance, on the grounds that adult website transactions are associated with a higher risk of fraud and chargebacks. But that argument carries a lot less weight when sex workers are attempting to use websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to crowdfund for, say, their family vacations or pet medications.

In this sense, despite its ridiculous name, CumFundMe serves a real need for members of the sex worker community who are trying to crowdfund for non-industry-related reasons. But Booker says it will also be used to raise money for adult industry purposes as well. The website will be targeted at adult “performers, directors, models, dancers, inventors, etc.” who will use it to “raise funds for just about anything: cosmetic surgeries, emergencies, production cost, film idea,s sex (sic) toy inventions, school tuition, etc.”

Sydney Leathers, an adult performer known for being Anthony Weiner’s former sexting partner, says she sees CumFundMe benefitting her own business as well. She told the Daily Dot she’d “use it for anything from implants to tuition (priorities).”

“I would definitely use it,” she told the Daily Dot via email. “I think it’s a great idea to have a crowdfunding site for people in the industry since so many other sites discriminate against us even though our profession is legal.” She won’t have to wait long: Booker says the site will launch on Monday.

Photo via Jorge Mejia Peralta/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

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*First Published: May 2, 2015, 10:00 am