On Porn And Patreon.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So one of my biggest crushes on FetLife, @KattAnomia, opened up a Patreon account dedicated to her porn career – you donate to her monthly, you get a choice of some erotic photos/videos of her. And because I routinely donate to artists I enjoy through Patreon, I subscribed immediately.

Now here’s the weird thing: the Patreon subscription is actually more expensive than subscribing to her personal website. Which she’s had open for months now. I would save about $4 a month by going directly to her site.

Except that would be porn.

Whereas Patreon is for artists.

Which, I realize, is a weird distinction to make. In both cases, I pay to get nude images of one of the most attractive women on FetLife doing naughty things. But because one site is framed as “supporting creators” and the other is framed as “pay me money to whack it freely,” I was biased towards one method.

Put another way, I was -and am! – paying a $4 surcharge to transform a porn star into an artist.

Which is super-weird, because I also routinely subscribe to hot porn for the exact same reasons – if I like what someone creates, I believe they should earn enough of a living to keep creating it. (Try Desperate Amateurs and Kink.com, they’re both awesome and creative.)

But my porn subscriptions are purely selfish things. I buy them, I download all the hot movies to my hard drive, I cancel. I don’t get personally attached to the artist in the same way that I do with, say, Good Job, Brain’s podcast performances or Tailsteak’s webcomic Leftover Soup. With those guys, I feel a connection to them – deserved or not – in that they’ve consistently stimulated my brain for long enough that I’m happy to give them cash because I have not only come to like their art, but the people behind it.

With porn stars, there’s a subliminal aspect where I feel shamed for being aroused by a professional.

And porn stars are a much more personal thing these days, thanks to Twitter and FetLife and other social media. @_slut___slut_ on FetLife writes brilliant essays that detail her life as a prostitute at the Bunny Ranch – which are edited versions of her life, as she still wants to pull in clients, but you can sense her being as honest as anyone can be about their job in a highly-public arena. I know that @KattAnomia loves Magic, and her animals, and her cosplay.

I have a better sense of who my porn stars are when they’re not personally turning me on.

Basically, porn has become a thing where there’s more of a personal connection than ever – even if that connection is, as it often is with my essays, a highly-groomed connection that reflects certain aspects of the star with accuracy but quietly crops quite a bit out of the frame.  That presentation is designed to be appealing, but then again you’ll find very few successful artists who are actively griping about how much they fucking hate their job (unless that hatred is part of their appeal, like it is with Randy Milholland of Something Positive).

And yet I realized that even though I think of porn stars as artists in every way – working hard to maintain their craft, perfecting their portrayal, finding new methods of connecting with their audience – I’m less likely to give them money because it feels stickily selfish.

Part of that is, of course, the shameful way that PayPal and credit cards have stigmatized porn. I was loathe to name Katt’s Patreon account by name because I was worried they might realize what she’s doing and shut her down – though thankfully, Patreon has a very clear description of what it allows as “adult content” and Katt stays within those lines.

But other places aren’t so lucky. Try to be a porn star on GoFundMe, or even just raise funds for a charity through FetLife – you’ll get shut down. You can’t Kickstart a sexy project. And when you look for the Patreon of porn, where you can subsidize your porn stars with small payments, it’s usually some Geocities-inspired turd of a site festooned with flashing ads and created with a Vegas methodology designed to obscure how much you’re spending.

Those sites are designed to hide the porn star and magnify the site – you’ll see their clips for sale, but not their blog posts, nor links to their personal site. Whereas Patreon and Kickstarter are all about encouraging that artist’s connection – creators can turn backers into outright fans, and are in fact encouraged to do so by consistently creating kick-ass stuff and being amusing.

And I realized: I want to treat porn stars like other artists. If they’re happy, and creating stuff they love, and that stuff happens to be porn, I want to have a place where I can quickly subscribe without feeling like I’m shuffling into a darkened alleyway to sneak into the video booths.

I want to go to a place that mixes comics and writing and porn and videos and games all together, tastefully blocked so you don’t have to see it if you don’t want to, where “made you aroused” is merely one of a variety of emotional responses that is acceptable, along with “made you cry with happiness” and “made you laugh” and “made you concerned for these artificial characters.”

And right now, Patreon is that. But because of the way payments work, at any moment, Patreon could decide any sexy creator is violating their Terms of Service – which is, to say, “The terms which their overlords PayPal and their credit card processor sets” – and suddenly *poof*, porn’s back to a backwater.

We can’t mix porn and art, because financial considerations keep excluding porn.

Which is a shame. I’ll keep backing Katt on Patreon for as long as they let me, because it’s a convenient site. I don’t have to memorize another login, and I can see all of my backings in one spot, and I can occasionally get pictures of a very attractive woman doing very lewd things.

I could think of that as a $4 surcharge to transform Katt’s naked work into art.

Or I could think of it as a $4 tax to try to convince Patreon that erotic art is also worth having around.

Either way. I’m staying there for now.

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