NYTimes: Kink.com’s Peter Acworth makes Nick Denton look tame

I was beyond amused to see the I wanna be cool and reach 20-somethings NY Times magazine venture into writing an article on SF bondage and smut purveyors Kink.com and their founder, Brit economist Peter Acworth whose 10 BDSM fetish sites have given gainful employment to scores of Bay area digerati, artists and photographers, not to mention dozens of MBAs and such, especially since the article does such a straightforward job of describing how Kink.com’s lures solid professionals away from other digital media businesses with good benefits, a calm workplace and regular hours.
More challenging–and braver–is the Times’ writer’s attempt to report on Ashworth’s mission to not only make mucho bucks off his brands, but to “demystify” BDSM (bondage/discipline/sado-masochism) through moving it out of the hard core fetish scene and presenting it as something between (loving) partners.
The reporter says that Ashworth wants kinky but repressed people to “realize they’re not alone and, in fact, that there’s a big world of people that are into this stuff and that it can be done in a safe and respectful way. ”
Writing that “What starts on the fringes works its way to the center. And this affects all of us since, more and more, the center of porn culture has converged with the fringes of popular culture” reporter Jon Mooallem posits that BDSM mores–troubling though they may seem–are entering the mainstream of the culture through the kind of thoughtful porn educated people like Ashworth & co produce–an assertion I found fascinating because its strongest expression might be that the Times chose to assign and run this article in the Sunday magazine.
For all that people that marvel at Nick Denton’s cool (and Nick is cool); Peter Ashworth’s transparent edginess seems simultaneously geeky and nervily deliberate.
None the less, the business that wins the biggest prize is the New York Times, who manages with this piece, to truly push the envelope of good taste without ever losing its G rating.
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  1. Robert Hoffer says:

    Susan – naturally brave enough to go here – I didn’t see Jarvis’ take this on – he’s working hard to become Giraldo – commenting on the press response to the Horrific Virginia Tech Massacre. Note … I doubt anyone’s really doing tasteful work on that subject.
    In the it’s true category we have the notion that things become mainstream or center. Let’s pick some concrete examples of edge culture that have entered the mainstream through the fringes of pop. Bodymods come to mind – piercings, tats. I see people in business all the time now proudly displaying their work on their arms. How about Hip-Hop music? Rap? Edgy – then mainstream. So the notion of things moving to the center – not so crazy.
    But BDSM? I think there’s no need. If there were a study on the sales of bondage gear – would it be peaking. Have a looksee at Google Trends for search terms in the space and you’ll get some interesting results. Note the regions section that defines the geography of a search.
    Year’s ago – David Hayden – yes, ‘that’ David Hayden showed me a thing at Magellan they had – the “Query Voyeur” it was rather illuminating.

  2. SlavesMaster says:

    It’s not just BDSM porn, but all porn that is becoming more “mainstream”.
    As the Internet allowed more and more folks to buy pornography in their own homes, and in the security of that privacy, sales of porn in general went up. “Fringe” porn, in many different niches, had the sharpest trend up, possibly because of that privacy.
    Also, younger people in general are used to more relaxed social norms and to the easy access of media of all types on the net.
    Thanks for some good reading.

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