MakeLoveNotPorn's ariel martinez shares why social sex is the sex we need right now

 When you see sextech disruptor Cindy Gallop's personal brand tagline — "I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business." you might (incorrectly) think it's hyperbole, but one look at her newest venture, real-world platform MakeLoveNotPorn (MLNP), you'll see that she's not prone to exaggeration. In this case, she's not just disrupting sextech, she's culturally changing how we experience, share and evolve all we know about fucking, masturbating, lovemaking and more. Enter social sex. Think shared, real-life videos of nearly every aspect of solo or partnered sex with all the messiness, playfulness, beauty and humanity we need to inspire, educate and grow in the bedroom. In other words, not porn.  
We were lucky enough to catch MLNP's head of curation, 9-year MLNP veteran Ariel Martinez, on a break between reviewing video submissions to chat with us about how their MakeLoveNotPorn platform is brilliantly revolutionizing sex and the people who love it.
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make love not porn ariel martinez
Source: IG @arielmtnz
You’re not just disrupting the porn industry, but also the sextech industry, VCs and business issues like payment processing — how are you making things happen in spite of all the additional challenges of starting a business?
Ariel Martinez, MakeLoveNotPorn  I think the thing about MakeLoveNotPorn is that everyone thinks that it's this very glam job. Frequently, a lot of our days are very boring where we're harassing banks to let us have stuff go on or begging PayPal to work with us or telling people to call their bank because their charges are disrupted. I think that all of this fits into the broader landscape of business at large where there's such a stigma against pretty much all things sextech or anything adult-content-related. Basically, what that means is that we have so many infrastructural blocks preventing us from operating a business like someone outside of the porn industry... not even porn, just any adult content. So PayPal won't work with us, Stripe won't work with us, MailChimp won't work with us, all of these added business hurdles that so many enterprises don't have to think about actively won't do that for us.
I think that getting people to call their banks and ask them to pass the charge or having these conversations, but most people who aren't in this industry don't know about all these obstacles people face. And then when they do, they're like, ‘Wow, that's so fucking stupid.’ So I think that even just sharing our struggle helps normalize it and helps push these bigger companies to make exceptions or rethink their terms and services. But it's really shocking how many things have ‘no adult content’ in fine print that you wouldn't even think about before you're facing it.
make love not porn
Source: IG @makelovenotporn
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That's so crazy. I know some sex toy companies have tried to remarket themselves as health and wellness, which they are, in fact. Are you guys attempting to change the category?
Ariel Martinez  No. We are very much social sex and real-world sex, and obviously, I think that that touches a lot of categories like health and wellness. I think it touches tech. I think it touches self-care. But I think that we really want to stand our ground because we shouldn't have to conform to this larger market or change what we are to be more acceptable. We really want to be acceptable on our own terms because what we're doing is acceptable.
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You guys have a million people signed up, right, and it's just the beginning. So clearly there's a market and a demand.
Ariel Martinez  Yeah. Yeah. And it's so funny, a lot of people will be like, ‘Well, why are you doing this when there's so much free porn out there?’ The answer is that what we're doing isn't porn, right?
There is a lot of free porn out there. I firmly believe everyone should pay for their porn if they are consuming porn. But what we're doing is something entirely different where it's real-world people sharing the real-world sex they have in their everyday lives. A lot of us lack the language to think about adult content or people having sex on video in terms other than porn. And I really think that's a failure of language more than anything, just because we haven't really been taught to think about things in a broader context or with additional kinds of language. But when you think about it, porn has so many different things. It's scripted. It's choreographed. There's a lot of labor components to porn that we don't face because what we're doing is completely different. So it's really a completely different venture. I think that our competitors, which aren't even competitors, but we should be more in the category of YouTube or TikTok where people are just sharing more of what they're actually doing.

"I didn't necessarily think when I first started working at MakeLoveNotPorn how life-changing it would be for people, but we get messages all the time from people who have really relearned sex or relearned relationships to their bodies by watching others experience different relationships to their body." — Ariel Martinez, MakeLoveNotPorn

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How is your vision for the platform impacting people's sex lives?
Ariel Martinez  I love this question. Something that's really wonderful about MakeLoveNotPorn is all of these people emailing us. That's my favorite part of the job and just seeing how much MakeLoveNotPorn has really changed their lives. I think that a lot of people don't know what kind of sex they want to have until they see it. And then when they see videos on MakeLoveNotPorn, they're like, ‘Oh my God, I didn't know sex could be giggly or I didn't know it could be messy or I didn't know it could be awkward or have these silly breaks in it or have a snack break’ or all these things where people write to us being like, ‘Oh, I didn't know I could ask for a man to go down on me.’ All these things that people have a lot of anxiety about and a lot of internalized stigmas against, a lot of sex acts or sex things, and then when they see them happening on MakeLoveNotPorn, there's this sense of permission that's like, ‘Oh, it's okay to want that. It's okay to desire that, or it's okay to do that.’ So there's just this huge sense of affirmation that happens when people watch videos on MakeLoveNotPorn, which is really wonderful. I think that once they're affirmed in that way, it can just really increase sexual confidence, thinking about sex maybe a little bit more dimensionally or more creatively. I think that that all leads to a much more fulfilling sex life.
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It goes back to what you said, when people realize it's social sex, not scripted, not with the camera, not acting because they're supposed to, there's probably a sense of freedom in that.
Ariel Martinez  Oh, absolutely, yeah. I think that even thinking in this meta way of like, ‘Wait, what does an orgasm sound like if it's not influenced by porn?’ Because I think that people really learn from that. And then there's this performative element a lot. But some people orgasm totally silently or other people it's really loud. Just seeing how people actually have sex when there's not choreography involved or really just planning out what's going to happen, like there isn't porn, it's just really liberating for people to see and then be inspired to do their own thing.
I also even think who we get to see in movies or in a lot of media is changing a bit, but it's pretty still the majority of people who we're seeing have sex even in TV are thin people, white people, able-bodied people. So I think that anyone who's outside of that really narrow demographic for who we're able to see as desirable, that fucks you up too. And on MakeLoveNotPorn, we're really lucky to have a lot of diversity in terms of body type and people and genders and sexualities. Obviously, we could always be more diverse, but I even think that people are like, ‘Oh, that person's body looks like mine and they're having this really hot, rewarding, multi-orgasmic sex,’ like that's really inspiring too.
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I love Cindy's mission — to make MLNP the Khan Academy of sex education — what does that look like? What’s missing in sex ed right now?
Ariel Martinez  Well, eventually we would love to expand MakeLoveNotPorn to be MakeLoveNotPorn.academy and actually run a sex-ed platform like we do MakeLoveNotPorn, where everything is curated by our curation team, everything goes through a review process, and where we're actually able to pay sex educators for doing what they're doing. I think a lot of sex educators are doing really amazing work out there, but a lot of sex educators face the same infrastructural hurdles that we do where their YouTube channels get de-platformed or their TikToks get censored or their Instagram accounts get banned. When you're trying to connect to a larger audience where people are so thirsty for that information, there's just all of these blocks in front of them in terms of people accessing it.
And so, we would love to one day expand to be a platform where people can be like, ‘Okay, I really want to learn about anal sex.’ And then you can browse and see all these different people talking about it. Right now we have people being like, ‘Our first time having anal sex.’ And that's definitely sex education, but doing a little bit more from the specifically education lens. All of our videos are educational, but I think that we would love to have a little bit more explicit sex ed kinds of materials. And then that would also span for different age groups. We could have for kids, for high schoolers, for over 18, and people could really curate their experience in that way. But I think that there's so much amazing sex ed out there already, it's just the access to it that I think is the main block.

"I think just seeing how people actually have sex when there's not choreography involved or really just planning out what's going to happen, like there isn't porn, it's just really liberating for people to see and then be inspired to do their own thing." — Ariel Martinez, MakeLoveNotPorn

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What is ‘social sex’ and what need does it fill in our sex lives?
Ariel Martinez  Social sex is the act of sharing your sex socially and interacting about sex with other people for this thing that's historically very private and very taboo to talk about. When we shine the light on it and have people commenting on it or interacting with it, it can really help reduce stigma. It can help inspire. It can affirm. It can validate. It can do all of these really amazing things that wouldn't happen if things were just kept in the shadows and very private. I think that socializing sex is just the mission and the goal of bringing these things to light in order to celebrate it. Because if you're on MakeLoveNotPorn, you have some sexual curiosity, so we really want to affirm that and see it and validate it.
I think that that helps really reeducate ourselves and unlearn things that maybe we've internalized about sex. That it's dirty or wrong or that we should only do it in these certain kinds of constructs of marriage, or whatever, and really just say, ‘Hey, this is what I'm into.’ And that's valid. As long as it's adults consenting, that's great. I think that relatedly, on MakeLoveNotPorn, we want to celebrate real-world sex. And what that means is entirely up to you. For some people, that means penetration. For other people, it means maybe jerking each other off with no actual penetration. For some people, it's just spanking. For some people, it's just tantric kissing. We don't define what real-world sex is, our MakeLoveNotPornstars do. Everything on MakeLoveNotPorn doesn't have a hierarchy. You rent it for the same price. There's no internal hierarchy of what we value more than other things. Because we just really want to uplift and celebrate, anything that other people think is real-world sex, we want to agree with. So give us reason to agree with it, and we will.
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Given all that, how does MakeLoveNotPorn change conversations around sex and the type of sex we’d like to experience?
Ariel Martinez  MakeLoveNotPorn is definitely changing conversations around sex in that it is this humongous library of videos of people having the sex that they're wanting to have or exploring the sex they want to have. I think when people are watching MakeLoveNotPorn videos, they can be like, ‘Oh, I see myself in that’ or ‘I want to do that’ or ‘I don't want to do that’ — that's fine, too. But at least they're engaging with it in this much more honest and realistic way. What that does is it inspires people to explore their sexuality with a little bit more confidence. I think that can absolutely impact all other areas of life. I think that it can boost confidence. I think it can boost body confidence. I think it can boost communication skills. I think it can make people more direct, make people more ready to say what they're wanting in bed, make them more excited to date or not date or be selective.
make love not porn
Source: IG @makelovenotporn
There's really no one-size-fits-all for how people experience MakeLoveNotPorn, but again and again we're getting these messages of gratitude. I think that in terms of comments from our members to our MakeLoveNotPorn stars, by far the most frequent comment is ‘thank you’. I think that just goes to speak to this gratitude of people who are so brave to be sharing these really intimate moments and just really normalizing and changing the conversation about what sex could and should and will look like.
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MakeLoveNotPorn content includes material that would be considered kinky, polyamorous, adventurous, etc., how is it pushing boundaries with regard to real-world sex vs traditional porn?
Ariel Martinez  At MakeLoveNotPorn, there's nothing that's off the table, right? Our rules are no poop, no animals, no children. Pretty straightforward.
Everything else just needs an intro video to contextualize it. One of the rules or guidelines for MakeLoveNotPorn is that everything is contextualized, and then we veer away from things that are too porn-tropy. But what that means is we have a lot of videos of facials, for example, where someone comes on someone else's face, and that's very much a porn trope. Cindy famously says, ‘Come on my face,’ six times in her TED Talk. But what MakeLoveNotPorn does differently is we see the context leading up to that. We see the aftermath of it. And then we have these people talking and being like, ‘Hey, we actually think facials are really hot. It's a really intimate thing for us to be able to connect with that way. I really like feeling submissive.’ Just adding a little bit more dimension to this one sex act that we're seeing in a more hollow context in a lot of porn.
So it's not so much being like, ‘This is porn-tropy, we hate it,’ it's like, ‘Okay, sex can obviously be inspired by porn, but who are the people behind it? What is the context leading up to this moment? How is this in dialogue with the rest of your sex life? What is this saying about your relationship?’ So I think the difference is seeing the people behind the sex acts where you have these people talking, you have maybe after sex is done, the camera's still rolling, and you just see them gazing lovingly at each other on the bed or laughing or going to get a snack. I think it's the humanization of these different acts that maybe we associate with porn, it's like, who are these people that are actually doing this?
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You make a great point about context because porn can feel misogynistic to some, but using your example, coming on your face, can feel very different when it’s coming from a lover and considered the essence of their being versus a stranger's “hey bitch, I’m going to come on your face” POV we might see in porn.
Ariel Martinez  Yeah, absolutely. I think with even your question about like kink or polyamorous couples, we also very much welcome kink. We love kink on MakeLoveNotPorn. We love poly couples on MakeLoveNotPorn. But I think the thing is to just contextualize it. A lot of people might be freaked out by kink because they've never really experienced it or they don't understand it. They don't really know what that's about. We have this really amazing MakeLoveNotPorn star named Goddess Erica who is a dom. She shares her videos. We've had some just really beautiful comments about the depth of connection that people are really able to see between her and her partners. I think that that really speaks to maybe you didn't know, you were curious about that, and then watching it and being compelled by these people who are just people, might really open your eyes to that in a way that you didn't expect.
We see that a lot, too, where people are like, ‘I never thought I would be into this, but thanks for opening up my eyes to this new thing.’ Or ‘I didn't know this was hot.’ We just saw that with a pee-play video that we published last week. Someone was like, ‘I had no idea that I would think this was that hot. Thank you so much.’ So again, I think it's just eye-opening and gratitude that's really a frequent combination of emotional experience. I think that MakeLoveNotPorn is actually a really wholesome place. All the time I'm like, 'Oh my God, they're so cute,' watching these videos, which is really funny and something I don't think you would expect to think when it is videos of people having sex. But you can really feel the connection between them, and it's frequently very mushy gushy, which is very funny.
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So if someone were interested in, say, sharing some of their 'social sex' on MakeLoveNotPorn, what tips do you have? Do you offer them for lighting or camera tips, or is that part of just keeping it super real?
Ariel Martinez  Great lighting never hurts anyone, right? I definitely recommend that people film either in the morning or in the afternoon. I love golden light, I think it's so pretty. But obviously, a lot of sex happens at night, so just making sure that people are well-lit enough to see what's going on. I definitely recommend shooting horizontally. I think we have a tendency to shoot 
vertically, but shooting horizontally allows us to see more of you, and the way we publish videos is horizontally, so I would definitely recommend just flipping your phone over. And then I would say, prop your phone or whatever you're using against something, and making sure you're in frame. And then make sure that there's no radio on. We have to reject videos a lot because there's copyright music in the background, and that's always a huge bummer. A lot of people don't really think of that being an obstacle to sharing real-world sex, but legally we can't share anything with copyright audio in it, so that's always sad.
I'm like, "Oh, this video is so great, and I also love Prince, but I can't publish this. 
And then I also think that while I love to just set it and forget it and not edit at all, we definitely understand that people need to be anonymous for whatever reason. Maybe they have a job that they can't share their face with or maybe they're just not ready to do that, and so we have a lot of MakeLoveNotPorn stars who shoot anonymously. They'll go back and blur their faces out or just edit it so it's like shot with neck down. We had somebody use a Snapchat filter, that was really creative, or wigs or masks. I think that just doing whatever you're comfortable with is definitely what we want you to do. So if that means editing, that's totally great, we understand. If that means adding a soundtrack of non-copyright audio, that's very fun. Some people get very artsy with it. That's totally cool. It's just whatever feels authentic and exciting to you is definitely what we want you to submit to us.

"I think that there's just this huge sense of affirmation that happens when people watch videos on MakeLoveNotPorn, which is really wonderful. I think that once they're affirmed in that way, it can just really increase sexual confidence, thinking about sex maybe a little bit more dimensionally or more creatively. I think that that all leads to a much more fulfilling sex life." — Ariel Martinez, MakeLoveNotPorn

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So what makes a great video?
Ariel Martinez  A great video can be so many things. I think that it's just people having a really good time. So if that's by themselves or if that's with a partner or with a couple of partners, that's really great, or just conveying something really authentic. I think that people really respond to the authenticity on MakeLoveNotPorn. So even if it's just someone exploring their own body and just seeming really excited or vulnerable or just these moments of really radical authenticity I think is what people respond to really well.
I also think if people are setting up a camera and feel awkward, I completely understand that. And I feel like just saying, ‘I'm feeling a little awkward right now. I've never done this before,’ is completely valid and completely real. But I think if you think it's a great video, we will absolutely think it's a great video and our community will think it's a great video. I wouldn't say there are any rules about it besides no copyright audio, make sure it's over three minutes, and just have a good time.
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I'm so curious because storytelling is such a buzzword these days, what sort of storytelling can people create, for example, can we watch couples over a few months experimenting with different types of sex or perhaps test-driving toys, new skills…?
Ariel Martinez  Yeah, I love that question too. We have had some couples submitting to us for years, so that's really amazing to be able to be like, ‘Oh, they were in this apartment or now they have different hair, now they have a cat," and to feel like you know these people from this really unique perspective. We had a couple who'd been submitting with us for years, and I actually met them in person and then I found out one of them was a runner, and I was like, ‘Oh, you're a runner, why didn't I know that?’ because I felt like I knew them so well. And then I was like, ‘Why would I know that?’ I don't actually know them. I just know them when there's one unique window. I definitely think that we see people evolve over time.
We've been with a couple of MakeLoveNotPorn stars through pregnancy, which is really cool. And then after we've seen people test-drive toys or get into different toys. Yeah, it's really amazing to watch people evolve on MakeLoveNotPorn. I think that frequently when people start submitting, they're really nervous and maybe they're not showing their faces. Usually people end up showing their faces just because they're like, ‘This is such a welcoming, great community. Fuck it, why not?’ Which is really amazing. Maybe they're getting better at lighting their videos or maybe they upgraded their camera or all these things. But I really think that MakeLoveNotPorn mandates that you talk about your sex life in a different way to be like, ‘Are we going to film this? Are we not going to film this? What do we want to show? Should we show our face? Why do we want to do this? Why are we thinking about this?’
It just demands these really deep conversations about sexuality and each other and yourselves. I think that definitely always results in growth. We had a couple who I love that are very sweet and they'd been submitting to us for a long time. They started submitting to MakeLoveNotPorn after having a baby, and they wanted to regain their spark. They're amazing, I'm obsessed with them. They started submitting for a year or two, and then they started getting more into toys. They started exploring anal sex. They started exploring sex toys. They started exploring bondage. They recorded all of this for us, which was so generous and amazing.
And then one day they emailed me at midnight and they were like, ‘Ariel, we were just talking to each other, and we both came out to the other one as bisexual. We wanted you to be the first one to know.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, that is the cutest thing in the world. Thank you so much for including me in this.’ But I also think this shows the really close relationship we have with our MakeLoveNotPorn stars where we're emailing back and forth all the time. We have Zoom meetups for our MakeLoveNotPorn stars. We just end up building this really amazing community of really like-minded people where obviously we share a really important value and ethos of how we think about sexuality. I think that that results in a really beautiful community.
make love not porn ariel martinez
Source: IG @arielmtnz
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What styles or genres of sex videos get the most traffic?
Ariel Martinez  So that's something that we don't really release. One of the things that we are really intentional about is not sharing metrics like that just because we don't want to influence how people are having sex. If people are seeing that grinding videos get a lot, we don't want them to be like, ‘Oh, that's what we should do now because that's getting a lot of metrics or a lot of attention or a lot of rentals.’ We actually don't do any ‘most rented’ or ‘most popular’ or anything like that just because we really want to keep the authenticity as much as possible.
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What’s been your most eye-opening discovery/realization while working for MakeLoveNotPorn?
Ariel Martinez  That's a great question, too. I mean, I think what draws me to working in sexuality is that there's always, always, always more to learn. I've been working for MakeLoveNotPorn for 9 years, and there are still moments where I'm really blown away or I'm learning something new. People are so interesting, and sexuality is definitely a reflection of that. There are just so many different ways that people have sex and experience their sexuality and experience their bodies and pleasure. I think that's endlessly fascinating. What's probably the most interesting is that I really don't think you can judge a book by its cover in terms of sexuality. That just continues to be true and just continues to prove itself over time. People's sexuality is really fluid and always evolving and always changing.
Real-world sex is inherently more interesting than a lot of porn just because people are really interesting and people are really different and unique. I think that just continuing to be surprised is probably the most eye-opening thing after many years of working in this field. I didn't necessarily think when I first started working at MakeLoveNotPorn how life-changing it would be for people, but we get messages all the time from people who have really relearned sex or relearned relationships to their bodies by watching others experience different relationships to their body. We had someone a couple of years ago email saying that he was a prostate cancer survivor. He and his wife had to relearn how to have sex without penetration in that way. He was thanking us for having all these videos to inspire them how to have sex differently than how he'd always been having sex and just really regain intimacy.
We've had people who have experienced sexual assault relearn how to experience pleasure and experience their bodies by being inspired by MakeLoveNotPorn videos. We've had people, like I said, come out as queer and realize these different dimensions to their sexuality. So I think I just didn't understand the breadth and the depth, I guess, of the impact MakeLoveNotPorn would have on people, and that just really continues to astound me and make me feel so grateful to be a part of this project.
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Have you tried watching or sharing social sex? If not, will you? Share...👇💋

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