Friday, March 20, 2009

Afterthoughts on Kink.com

So, what has this experience given me, other than a fine time meeting great people in a cool building?

Chiefly, it has made me appreciate my fans even more. Because unlike some of the paying members at Kink.com, my fans, even when they request or demand additional material from me, have always supported my original vision. I like to joke that when I get the same number of notes telling me I have too much het content and too much gay content, I know I am doing things exactly right. But in a way, it's completely true. Because no one has ever said to me "ewww, no more gay scenes," or "boy girl stuff is gross." (I assume the truly offended readers just move on.)

In addition to that, and more important, I feel I have the support of my readers in that they are really there for the story and not the sex scenes. They are willing to wait through 80 pages of getting to know you before the long-awaited Chris/Robin reunion; they want to know histories and reasons, backstories and plot devices. Through the patience and generosity and support of my readers, I get to tell the tale I want to, and within the small marketplace of "people who read SM porn," it is as rewarding as can be reasonably expected. (That is - not as much as you think. Grin)

I don't know if that translates well to the visual world.

For one thing, there is the major discrepancy between the consumers - my readers come to hear a story. Consumers at kink.com come to see good looking people doing dastardly things to each other. My consumers come expecting to supply many of their own details to the story - that's the wonder of the written world, for good and ill. But since it is a private matter, it doesn't change what I produce. For example, a reader is perfectly free to imagine that Chris Parker looks exactly like Pierce Brosnan. Because of that freedom, they don't have to write to me and say, "This would be hotter if Chris were about 7 inches taller, somewhat slimmer, had blue eyes, and oh, was Irish."

(For the record, Chris agrees, and wants to know where to sign up for that.)

But if I were in the business of producing a visual product, one where my consumers were paying me to look at what they want, I would have to know I was sacrificing a significant portion of my buyers if I hired a model who actually looked like MY character.

So, readers?

OMG, I adore you. Thank you, thank you.

The second thing I come away with is the question of what sort of visual entertainment would the SM community really support?

We already celebrate (or are bemused or dismayed by) almost every appearance of SM in mainstream entertainment, whether it's a movie or a plot device in a weekly drama. We even occasionally make movies within the community which reach a sizable distribution, at least among fringe film festivals. But what is the next step?

For example, look at gay entertainment. Queers used to be the rare stars of an occasional movie (to be celebrated or deplored) and the occasional plot device on TV. Now, there are queer sitcoms, dramas, mysteries, and even reality shows. No genre has been left untouched, from cartoons to news programs, talk shows to documentaries. There are (at least) two queer networks.

What would the SM Network look like?

What would people really set aside time to watch? A comedy of manners? (The Importance of Being Dominant) A drama about relationships? (Tune in for scenes from next weeks Kinky-Somethings) A talk show? (Next up: Shan Carr interviews Pat Bailey on being out at work!) A fashion show? (On Cover Your Ass, Midori and Master Skip help out with dungeon do's and don'ts!) Cartoons? ("You wascally subbie!") An adventure series? (Stay tuned for the finale of Top & Bottom, as private detectives Abner Top and Lucille Bottom try to rescue their intern/slave Polly from the non-consensual slavery ring!) A sitcom? (Daddy Knows Best - the family comedy about a different kind of family.) And of course, a lifestyle advice show. (Ask Me If I Care - relationship advice from Laura Antoniou)

But seriously...would we watch? Would we support something that wasn't just 90 minutes at a film festival, or a jack-off session at the computer? And by support, I don't mean mention it on Facebook - but would we pay for it? What would make it worthwhile?

More questions. That's me all over. Peter Ackworth has a notable wish - some sort of 24/7 SM space where stories are told and service is offered and received. His audience is already accustomed to something much less complex; the audience which might really enjoy such a thing has never been quantified in any way, and there's little that can be done short of some professional surveys and focus group research, to know if it even exists. Is that a good combination for such a risk?

I am sending Ackworth my thoughts on what can be done, some halfway steps and some ideas which would require a commitment of time, money and talent which he might find too heavy to bear in a struggling economy. But I am grateful for the opportunity to have been there and be consulted on such a great vision.

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