Porn News

Regarding the Issue: Social Media Eat Porn’s Lunch (Again)

It seems everyone is giving Newsweek credit for breaking the story about how Penthouse owns When, in fact, the news leaked out in March of this year, not last week. sparked a conflagration among conservative Christians last week by pointing out that Christian dating site is owned by Penthouse Media Group.

This wouldn’t have been big news to BigChurch members who bothered to look under the site’s hood. The Christian dating site has been operated by social networking giant Various, Inc. (which runs, and for years. Penthouse Media Group acquired BigChurch, along with dozens of other niche social networking sites, when it purchased Various last December.

As a result of the purchase, Penthouse is now just one brand among many in a corporation that focuses on social networking, says Penthouse Media Group CEO Marc Bell pictured].

Some people still think of Penthouse as Playboy’s dirty cousin, even though Penthouse changed hands in 2004 and is now trying to be one step raunchier than Maxim rather than one step classier than Anal Sluts 13.

But when an old-guard porn kingpin like Penthouse becomes just another niche, you know that times have changed. This focus on social networking supports my ongoing argument that the fantasy of porn will continue to yield to the fantasy of sex, and that savvy adult companies will keep up with these changing consumer expectations.

I also think the fantasy of sex, served by both mainstream dating sites and adult social networks, will open our wallets in ways online porn hasn’t for years.

Of course, social media does not guarantee sex any more than porn does. But it provides the anticipation of sex, the possibility of sex, the idea that you just might get lucky. It’s the premise of porn, manifested in reality. Almost.

Social networking promises a new experience each time. And free porn can only be an advantage in an adults-only social networking context. Just ask YouPorn.

If customers find themselves flirting and even cybering on a regular basis, they return again and again, paying for premium memberships until disillusionment sets in (why am I not getting laid for real?). Those who hook up in person remain members as long as the nookie is more fun than the drama.

Old-style softcore simply can’t compete with that. Not because we don’t like to look at it, but because we don’t like to pay for it — especially when we can see the same thing on the social networking sites while chatting with the women in the pictures.

It’s not like BigChurch isn’t about sex. It’s just more subtle than a site that’s explicitly aimed at swingers. BigChurch’s function is to connect people whose concepts of sex are tied so closely to faith and doctrine that it can be difficult to meet potential partners in more traditional settings.

Many people who identify as Christians have a fairly secular attitude toward premarital sex, while others believe in sexual pleasure within marriage. A handful still relegate sex to procreation, and God forbid that you (or at least, she) enjoy it.

With all this variation, it’s possible that Christians benefit more from online dating than even kinky people do, in that they don’t waste as much time chatting up people who don’t share their particular beliefs. After all, with an online matchmaker, it’s just a matter of checking the right boxes.

Whether BigChurch can survive the public link to Penthouse Media Group remains to be seen. I’m not sure Penthouse would miss BigChurch if a membership exodus killed the Christian dating site. BigChurch says it has a mere half-million members, while AdultFriendFinder alone claims about 24 million.

Even selling BigChurch might be a challenge now, as the URL will carry the taint of blatant sexuality, unless whoever buys it can pull off a “saving BigChurch from the devil” marketing campaign.

Given that Penthouse Media Group owns all of the FriendFinder and Spring Street Networks sites, as well as the legendary and several webcam networks, it’s hard to see how losing one small property would make much of a dent.

It’s the corporate version of the Question of Our Age: “What if my day job learns about my sex blog?” Only this time, sex will win, either way.

See you in a fortnight


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