Dan Hawke On Bondage Porn History

Bondage porn producer Dan Hawke of BestBound.com, who got his start before the internet was a thing, reminisces on a forum about the history of bondage porn production and distribution:

The younger [members of this forum] have no idea what a golden age they are living in. I bought some of my earliest 8mm loops back in 1971 or 1972. They cost $25 each for 8 to 15 mins of content. I actually discovered HOM before Blakemore! Although pre-Blakemore HOM was a very brief period. HOM and Harmony and Tao were all producing the same fairly tame tie-em-up and let them struggle bondage. It was weak, but it was all there was. These mags were in the $3-$5 range.

Adjusted for inflation the loops were like $80-$100 bucks in today’s dollars and the mags easily in the $15-$25 range. My first part time job paid minimum wage. I think minimum wage was about a $1.35 back then. Of course comic books were $.12 and candy bars (really big candy bars) were a nickel.

Today the amount of FREE bondage material to be found on the web is enormous. And if you consider the paid sites, they are nearly free if you join them only when their archive of material grows vast, you can get an hour of bondage video for about $.15 or so. I paid $99 for the first HOM/Blakemore VHS video, ‘Bittersweet Revenge’. And that price was still north of $60 for this type of content for years to come. At least with Blakemore you got really good content for pretty much the entire running length of the tape. Other companies may have had one or two five minute scenes that appealed.

So we are living in a golden age of porn in general and bondage porn in particular.

There’s much more. You should read it all. I find his take on the current state of the business to be spot on:

I was not the first private producer bondage web-site, but I was still pretty damn early. I wasn’t alone for long. There were dozens, if not hundreds of small bondage producers who popped up all over the web. Some of them were good, some of them were not so good, but they all made enough money to keep producing. At the first NY Bondcon I attended, in 2000 or so, there were a ton of small producers.

But today they are almost all gone. The membership model was largely a patronage model. You would vote for producer X to stay in business by becoming a member. And more critically for the smaller producers, remaining a member. Every update I put up would be a product I would have paid $50-$100 for twenty years ago. Every site that updated weekly had an archive of material that would have been valued at thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars a decade ago. Now it was all available for a monthly membership fee and some time to download it.

Membership may still be the primary economic model, but it has cheapened the product to the point where your only product is your newest product. Once your material went up on the web, you quickly lost control of it. Kink.com figured out how to make theft of material work for them, and began giving content away. They were an early adaptor of the affiliate program. And armed with large profits, they slowly began to buy up the affiliate sites that sent them lots of hits. Thus the proliferation of Kink content on the web began.

Insex bucked the trend against memberships via a ‘community’ of members who watched their live shows, live. (These were stripped down to archival content later, but it was not the same as the live shows.) But others soon did likewise and when Insex closed down (to be re-launched as Hardtied) the efficacy of live shows was reduced. It is still a factor, but less valuable than it was for the genius who pioneered it, PD.

But the devaluing of inventory; through constant theft and re-posting of material, began to create a new barrier to entry. You had to have a strong marketing push, to maximize return. You had to spend money and time shooting content that became devalued the day it was posted. And you had to shoot, aggressively and continuously as you only value added content was what you put up that week.

Some small producers railed against piracy as did some larger ones, but it is the reality of how the web functions. Things posted to the web are out of your hands once posted. People expect to get everything dirt cheap. You can go crazy chasing those illicitly posting your stuff, but it is a game of whack a mole. For every one you whack a new one appears. And it is the world wide web. I mean I can perhaps shame a US based thief to pull my illegally posted stuff. But someone running a site out of the Balkan countries, or Nigeria? Good luck with that.

So I didn’t let that stress cause me an aneurysm, I simply accepted that it was what it was, and there wasn’t much I could do about it.

To some degree, this collapse also reflected a consumer judgment of my product, I realize that. But with the theft and the collapse of patronage membership, very few producers were able to survive. In fact all of the remaining producers work in a production house, with large staff, large resources and lots of capital behind them.

My site lingers as do a few others. But the independent small bondage producer is a thing of the past.

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2 comments on “Dan Hawke On Bondage Porn History”:

John Doe commented on June 24th, 2014 at 8:26 pm:

I’ve always wondered: why don’t porn websites follow the Valve/Steam model?

Start by releasing good videos sure, but run “epic sales” every once in a while to stir things up? I feel like Kink is trying that with Kink on Demand, but I feel like it’s still really expensive. If they want to win they should really aim for $1 video/picture specials, limited time sales where they rotate in old stock to try and move in volume.

I know Kinky stuff is pretty niche, but I can’t afford to pay them $20/month/subsite, but I can afford to buy the individual sets I want to watch (and consider subscribing to one).

On that note, come on Kink, what about one global account for all the subsites?

Rope Guy commented on June 25th, 2014 at 12:57 pm:

Oddly enough they are actually experimenting with a site called Kink Archive that promises access to every shoot they ever did that’s more than two years old, for one pretty low price.

Unfortunately when they went to implement the new site they appear to have gotten their head stuck so far up their ass that they are now attempting to view the world through the holes in their nipples. What they did was throw all the shoots from all the sites into a single reverse-chronology scroll, starting from two years ago — but there’s NO way to get back to the stuff from 10+ years ago except to scroll through, page by endless weary page. Really stupid IMO.

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