I discovered Cindy Gallop during her InfluencerCon talk in NYC, and since then she has been an inspiration for me. She encourages everyone to “blow shit up” and take action! I love her bold position on business, porn and feminism. I am very thrilled that Cindy Gallop has taken the time for this Ronnie Spirit interview.
Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I am half Chinese and half English. I was born in England and I moved to Brunei, Borneo when I was 6 years old. I came back to the UK after, I went to school in Oxford University studying English literature, but I loved theatre, and Oxford has a thriving drama scene. I worked in theatre subsequently for 7 years in the marketing-publishing office and then I switched to advertising. My career background is 26 years working in brand-building, marketing and advertising.
How did you come up with the idea of MakeLoveNotPorn?
This is an issue that would never crossed my mind if I have not experienced it very directly and personally: I date younger men, that tend to be in their 20s. I encountered what happens when you combine total freedom of access to hardcore porn online with society’s equal reluctance to talk openly and honestly about sex in the real world. When those things converge, the result is that hard porn becomes by default the sex education of today because there is nothing else. My point was: if I am encountering this, many other people are, so I want to do something about it. So 4 years ago, before social media ever started talking about this, I started with no money, a website MakeLoveNotPorn, which resulted in a very basic and simple website that posts misconceptions/myths about hardcore porn and compare them with the realities: what happens in the real world vs. what happens in the porn world. People talk generally about sex, but superficially and not in a personal way. What I want is to open and facilitate the dialogue with these people.
How successful has the website been so far? What has been the feedback?
I put up this clunky website 4 years ago and I took the opportunity to launch it during the TED conference, and I deliberately decided to be very direct and explicit during my talk, because I knew that the audience there was not going to get this issue, unless I was going to be very straightforward about it. As a result I think it is safe to say that everyone that was at TED remember my talk. As one tweet said “ It’s the first time that the words “ Cum in my face” was said 6x on a TED stage”, so the talk went viral and it drove awareness of MakeLoveNotPorn. So at the time I had no money and time, I just put up the website and left it, I was merely focused on my other startup If We Ran The World, and on consulting to pay the mortgage. Even without my attention and active promotion the response was incredible. Now we have a huge amount of traffic, it’s global, and every single day for the last 4 years to the present day, I have received emails from the young and old, from men and women, from straight and gay, sharing their stories. They put their heart in their emails. They share their sexual life, their experience and opinion about porn, they ask for advice, they share with me details they never shared before with someone. That told me I had to go further. MLNP is not anti porn, rather we are tackling the total lack in our society of an open, healthy, truthful conversation around sex in the real world.
How does MLNP accomplish that conversation?
So the concept of MLNP is to talk about it openly and directly. I decided to take every dynamic that is currently available in social media and use that to discuss real world sex. I would like to socialize sex and to make real world social acceptable and therefore socially sharable as anything else we currently share on FB, Twitter, Tumblr & Instagram; this is how MLNP TV came to life from MLNP.com. MLNP TV is a crowd source platform where anybody from all over the world can submit videos of themselves having real world sex. It’s not performing for the camera, is simply recording what is going on in the real world that I and my team curate, we view each video, so this is not YouPorn, we make sure this is real world sex and we post it. We charge people to view the video and we share that with the people who submit the video.
How do you define real world sex?
Can be anything as long as it is real. We are not looking for performance for the camera, doing what you think is porn just because you think that this is what people want to see. We want people literally to simply turn the camera on and leave it running and have sex with yourself, or with your partner, with more than one person, have sex with anyone you enjoy, as long as it is genuine, authentic, real.
What are the most common biases about porn? Are those the same for women and men?
Porn is entertainment, the issue is not porn but the fact that we don’t talk about sex in the real world. Often porn shows sexual behaviour, driven by the best of positive motives never the negatives. People talk generally about sex, but superficially and not in a personal way. We feel vulnerable when we get naked, our sexually egos are very fragile, and the outcome is that people don’t talk about sex with the ones who are having sex with. People are terrified of hurting someone feelings, you’ll put them off you, you will derail the encounter or relationship, and at the same time you really want to please your partner, you want to make them happy. If the only cue and education you have of making them happy is via porn, that is the one you will take. This is very unfortunate for both men and women. First of all the majority of porn speaks to a male audience, and like any other industry dominated by men, it’s male centric, so the purpose of the majority of mainstream porn is to get men off. As a result we have an entire generation of young men and women growing up in this belief. Porn does not teach women how to request and experience their own pleasure and it doesn’t teach men how to give it to women. Additionally, porn does men a huge disservice by reinforcing that sex is entirely dick centric, it’s all about your penis: it’s all about how big and hard it is and how long you keep up, and sex in the real world is actually about each part of your body. So unfortunately there are many ways in which porn and sexual education place out in the real world. What I want is to open and facilitate the dialogue with these people.
You have another venture you are working on “If We Ran The World”, could you tell us something about it?
I am naturally a very action oriented person, which led me to observe that the single biggest pool of untapped natural resources in this world is human good intentions that never translate into action. In addition having 27 working years in brand building and advertising, I know that there is another equally large, equally powerful, untapped resource, which is corporate good intentions. Because companies have good intentions too, but as people, they find it really hard to find quick and easy simple ways to act. But more importantly in a corporate environment, in ways that make sense for and actively help to grow the business. So I conceived IWRTW as a future forward marketing and business platform that brings together human good intentions and corporate good intentions- and to transform them, collectively, into shared actions and share objectives that will produce shared, mutually beneficial end results. At the moment many companies work at the level of co-creation, they invite the consumer to make content and too share it. I believe the future of business and marketing is co-action, where brands and consumers collaborate to create an impact in the world, and where consumers, society, and brands benefit from it. I believe the future of business is also doing good and making money simultaneously. So the business model of the future is shared values and shared actions and shared social and financial profit. IWRTW is a platform used by people and companies together to make things happen in the real world.
How can we start to make some real social change individually?
This is actually the premise of IWRTW, which is built around the concept of “the micro-action”. Micro actions are atomic units in the same way that the tweet is the atomic unit of twitter. It is the power beyond 140 characters. It is an incredibly easy to-do action, and so easy to do while you do it. All I am doing with IWRTW is to re-purpose common sense, it is what is encapsulated on the saying “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Everything in business and in life begins with a micro action. Do something small and each of those actions will add up very quickly.
What are your 3 tips for young entrepreneurs?
I actually only have one tip. The only person that can make things happen for you is you. We tend to rely on networking and knowing the right person but in the end it still comes down to you. You have to take full responsibility and full accountability for your success and be determined to make it happen for yourself.
You are definitely a busy woman, what do you like to do in your spare time? And sex doesn’t count as an answer!
I don’t have spare time because I am turning what I believe in and passionately love into businesses. I have two ventures where I am living what I work and working what I live. I am never not working. The good thing is when you work for yourself you have the ability to manage your own time and so it never feels like work.
I am working on my debut lingerie line, and you incarnate the spirit of the woman of my collection, what are your favorite lingerie garments?
As an impoverished start up I like nice lingerie but have to rummage through sales bin in order to find quality items at affordable prices. I believe one of the most important things is for lingerie to fit well. I believe very strongly that what you have on underneath is very important because it helps determine how you feel about yourself.
If you had to sum up your life with a title of a song, what would that be?
One of my fave singers is the country Mary Chapin Carpenter “Everything We Got We Got the Hard Way” and I think that sums up my life. I was brought up by hard working parents who instilled me with that work ethic. I have worked hard all my life and I believe that saying that the hardier you work the luckier you get so that song represents that adage for me.
What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Exactly where I am right now. I see myself growing my startups to success. IWRTW is my attempt to redesign the future of business, MLNP is my attempt to redesign the future of sex. These are ambitious goals. But if myself and my team do what we set out to do, no one should ever have to feel embarrassed or ashamed of having a sex video or a naked picture of themselves posted on the internet as these will become a natural extension of our lives.