opera company seeks royal patron

I am in the research phase of setting up a Patreon page for ErosBlog, with an eye toward keeping the lights on and building the chance to do more of what I do best. “Research phase” in this context means studying how people I respect are doing it; and thus have I have been reading a lot of compelling Patreon pitches, and coming to the conclusion that we all need to be doing more to highlight patronage-supported projects of our friends, peers, mentors, heroes, and creative people we could not live without. Hence this post, which I hope will be the first of a lengthy if occasional series.

Today I want to highlight the Patreon pages of three women who have been doing excellent work in the adult/erotic space for at least as long as I’ve been blogging. But first, perhaps just a few words about the growing importance of the peer-patronage economic model?

As I see it, we live in a world where the old economic orders are breaking down. Automation, globalization, and information technology have utterly disrupted the reliable wage-and-salary economies upon which most of us depended, while the internet has killed the traditional publishing models that used to keep artists and creatives (a few of them, anyway) in day-old bread and thinning shoe leather. Late-stage capitalism seems increasingly predatory and self-referential; it pays only for what it values, its values are increasingly estranged from the culture that supports it, and precious little sustenance trickles down from the well-caulked boats being buoyed up on its rising tide. The creativity that brings us joy is no longer likely to be well-supported in the market, and relying on the patronage of the wealthy (although a time-honored survival strategy of artists everywhere) has its limits in the tastes of the wealthy. If this were not true, why would #pornocalypse — which at heart is about the squeamish unwillingness of the investing class to have its money associated with sexual culture — even be a thing?

One approach to a solution is crowdfunding. A duke or a titan of industry can support an entire opera company, but the company (predictably enough) will perform mostly the operas the duke enjoys. The internet lets us democratize this patronage model; I’m no duke, but I can (at least in a good month) afford a dollar here or a fiver over there to support something that delights me. The same internet that destroyed the traditional publishing model now lets an artist who draws anally-obsessed anthropomorphic ponies find support in a hundred or a thousand places. No more insufficiently-perverted dukes gate-keeping our pornography!

But finding each other is still a challenge in this newly-democratized peer-patronage model. The internet makes such finding possible, but does not make it easy. So that’s my inspiration for this post: to try and help with that. Here are three tireless women who deserve all the support they can get, and whose creative energy will more than repay us for whatever support we can provide. I’ve “known” all of them for more than a decade without ever meeting any of them, but what I “know” may not always be the face that they choose to present to the world today, so for purposes of this series, I’m just going to amplify their own words as found on their own crowdfunding pages:

Violet Blue at Patreon

I’ve created and run the oldest sex culture blog on the internet (tinynibbles.com). I’ve authored dozens of indie books in a turbulent and censorious market. And I regularly make news by reporting on hacking and privacy, companies behaving badly, and injustices to at-risk populations. I’ve bootstrapped my site and everything that goes with it, I work at industry rates (which aren’t great), I constantly have to chase down people who take months to pay invoices for my writing, and I was homeless as a kid, so I only have me. I want to do so much more.

I want to grow all of this.

If you’ve ever followed me or my work, you’ve seen how hard I fight for people who need a voice in their own conversations — and you’ve seen how badly I get attacked, censored (Libya, Apple, Focus on the Family, Amazon search, Facebook, the list goes on). You’ve also seen my work cause positive change, like drawing attention to PayPal’s financial discrimination against sex workers, getting Tumblr’s NSFW search reinstated properly. And maybe some of my work has touched your life, too.

I’m freelance and indie. This means I’m not beholden to interests or advertisers, and no one will ever control what I say. But there are many business tools I cannot use, because the topic of half of what I cover is sex — plus, like many, I’m affected by things like Amazon deciding to deep-six searches for indie books about sex.

Alison Tyler at Patreon

My name is Alison Tyler, and I’m an insomniac. Since I don’t value sleep, I write. All the time. If you see me at a 24-hour diner, I’ll be writing. If I’m stopped in traffic, I’m scribbling with a ballpoint on the back of my hand. That light on in the window at 3 a.m.? That’s me. Hope I didn’t disturb you.

To date, my career has been a whirlwind–a drive in a fast car, on a mountain road with winding hills. Was it being in the right place at the right time, sheer luck, or a refusal to give up? No clue. But I’ve managed to work for Masquerade, Black Lace, Plume, Harlequin, Penthouse, and others.

There’s no safety net here. I’m in my glitter and rhinestones. Let’s run off together and make our own circus.

Pandora Blake at Patreon

I’m Pandora Blake, the award-winning feminist porn producer and performer. I’ve been making kinky films since 2011, when I launched Dreams of Spanking, my website dedicated to ethically-produced BDSM erotica. The site is radical in prioritising gender diversity, explicit behind the scenes enthusiastic consent, and equal pay for equal work.

My erotic films express my own kinky fantasies and are sex-positive, body-positive, and strongly rooted in queer politics. I’m proud to say that my work has won multiple international awards, as well as attracting a wonderful fan base – until the UK porn censor ATVOD stepped in and shut my site down in August 2015 under new anti-porn legislation. After a drawn-out campaign, I’m delighted to have successfully won an appeal against the ruling, and the site is now back online, officially exempt from the new legislation.

Since fighting that battle I’ve had to learn a lot about porn law – and I’ve been increasingly called upon to speak publicly on issues of sex work law reform, censorship and obscenity law, sexual freedom, kink acceptance and ethical porn. I was honoured to be awarded Publicist of the Year at the Sexual Freedom Awards 2015 for my efforts advocating for sex workers’ rights and against porn censorship. Now, I’m taking that work to the next level.

movie patrons

Image Credit (directly above): Movie patrons in an advertisement for the National Cash Register Company’s new ticket-printing register, from the Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual 1916.

Image Credit (top of post): An opera company seeks royal patronage for French opera by throwing vulgar English theatre under a train, from an 1841 issue of Punch.