|Maxine Holloway - a webcam model suing Kink.com|
The SF Weekly story begins:
"For connoisseurs of BDSM porn, San Francisco's Kink.com has built up a reputation that makes them the sadomasochistic equivalent of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Fans of the company's sites look to them not only for high-quality porn that caters to a wide variety of fetishes, but for an explicit ethical code. As cultural messages directly equating "sex work" with "trafficking" become stronger, Kink.com has established itself as the Good Guy of porn, where the models are there because they want to be and are able to stay safely within their personal limits."
The basic premise from there is simple, Kink.com has been paying it's webcam performers a flat rate of $150 for a four hour show with bonus commissions if their performances brought in more than $500 from private shows. But, Kink.com claims that policy is causing them to lose money, so they now plan to pay on a commission only basis, and some of the models are upset enough that they've filed a class action lawsuit against the pornography giant.
Under the old payment system, webcam workers were guaranteed $150 for a four-hour shift if they generated $500 or less from private sessions, while additional commissions ranged from 30 to 50 percent for revenue generated that exceeded $500.
In reporting on this story, I should disclose that I'm not exactly the kind of guy who would enjoy webcam performances. I've subscribed to a number of different Kink.com sites over the last year: The Upper Floor, Wired Pussy, Sex and Submission, Public Disgrace, Device Bondage and Hogtied. My standard practice is to subscribe to a site, download all the movies and pictures that are available for later enjoyment, before proceeding to cancel that site, subscribing to another then in turn.
In general, I'm enjoying the Kink.com sites and their videos. Serafina and I watch them together, and while some portray more extreme activity than she might enjoy, I find that they are good for inspiration. They also serve to generate discussion with Serafina, as she'll sometimes ask questions about particular positions and techniques as we observe them.
If I wanted to instruct a submissive, tell her what to do and watch as she complies with my requests, I'd do it with my Serafina. In all honesty, if I was single I'd not be terribly interested either, as I'd be looking to find a partner rather than spending my time plugging money into the video equivalent of the old coin operated live peep shows.
When I have dropped in for a quick peek, I've mostly encountered pretty obviously bored performers, girls who inspired neither my desires or my dominance. There are exceptions, Rain DeGrey coming to mind as an example of a vivacious individual who's very obviously enthusiastic about BDSM and her job performing it live. If I were into webcam performances, she'd be the kind of model who could attract my interest, but from what little I've seen, she's the exception rather than the rule.
With that in mind, and also considering the Kink.com payment plan for webcam models was unique and more generous than the industry standard, it's easy to understand why models would be upset. A lot of the performers won't generate $150 in commissions for their four hour shift, they will likely make less for their work, perhaps far less.
Here's the problem from the business end of things, no profit making company can be expected to continue operating a venture at a loss, and Kink.com's CEO is quoted in the story saying:
"The product is not profitable in its current form. We're losing somewhere in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 a month, and it's because of having these model minimums in place. There's no other cam company that does that. The business is incredibly competitive and cutthroat. The webcam sites all compete for models by offering them better and better deals. Our deal was to compete by offering them a minimum. Unfortunately, that didn't work for us, so we're reverting to what the entire industry does, which is commissions only."
In my online journeys, I've run across individuals from the San Francisco BDSM community who have told me of their high opinion of Peter Ackworth (Kink.com CEO), people who had no reason to misinform me or deceive me about their personal impression of the man. One is a sweet submissive lady who I respect greatly, so I'm pretty comfortable in accepting her high regard of Peter as being both sincere and accurate.
I'm very confident we're not talking about a Darth Vader like CEO, as the SF Weekly story pointed out, "Kink.com has built up a reputation that makes them the sadomasochistic equivalent of Ben & Jerry's ice cream." My own experiences with Kink.com as a customer have been overwhelmingly positive, far better in fact than my experience with companies in what would have appeared to be more wholesum lines of work.
Considering that the models themselves admit that kink.com's previous method for compensation was more generous than the industry standard, and considering my (admittedly brief) experiences in observing some of the webcam performers general lack of enthusiasm for their work, it's my personal belief that Peter Ackworth's decision to move to pay models on commission seems pretty reasonable and fair.
Perhaps my perspective is off because I live in the midwest, a place where a lot of people get paid little more than minimum wage. Perhaps I'm jaded because I don't personally use any company's webcam services. And I have to disclose that I've never earned money at that rate, even when satisfying the tens of thousands of angry constituents that make up a legislative district, a task that would seem to be the equal (in my eyes) of satisfying a few perverts in four hour shifts.
So I say, "Suck it up girls". If you don't like working for commission, pretty girls can always find work as waitresses and hostesses in the food service industry. I've worked in that industry, and to with total sincerity, I think you'll find you've got it better where you are at. To be honest, there are perverts to satisfy wherever you work, get used to it!