Charities Hush Hush about Porn Industry Donations

 

Hush

October 30, 2014; New York Observer

“Meet me in the back alley at midnight,” say charities to donors from the adult entertainment industry. It’s not a matter of principle that compels most charities to keep Big Porn’s surprisingly robust largesse on the down low; it’s guilt (or shame) by association. Pornography is hugely popular across the demographic board, last year was a bad year for porn, and yet it generated about $100 billion globally, $10 to $12 billion of that from American wallets. So it is hardly surprising that there would be some interaction between charity and porn, and it is also no surprise that this interaction would be treated in a way that appears shame-based and furtive.

Typical porn industry fundraising events have, as one would expect, salacious double-entendres for slogans. For Arbor Day in 2014, Pornhub came up with “Gives America Wood” and planted a tree for a certain number of hits for one “related” video category. Pornhub sponsored the planting of over 15,000 trees, yet the donee charity requested the equivalent of a paper bag over its head.

Pornhub was also at the center of a controversy involving the dubiously conscientious breast cancer leviathan Susan G. Komen Foundation, which suffered a foot-in-mouth gaffe when it temporarily cut off funding of Planned Parenthood. Pornhub called this drive “Save the Boobs” and generated $75,000 one penny at a time for every thirty views of another related video category. Komen turned down the product of 2,250,000 views very loudly in the media, so Pornhub went to three smaller charities fighting breast cancer, which wished to remain anonymous. Remember, this stiff snub comes from a cancer fighting charity that has teamed up with fracking company Baker Hughes to bring a thousand bubble gum–pink hydraulic fracturing drill bits into operation. Komen gleefully accepted $100,000, to boot. Komen apparently bristled at Pornhub’s public naming of Komen as their charity of choice but has no moral reservations consorting with a giant fossil fuels energy partner whose extraction methods and chemicals are alleged by many to be carcinogenic. 

“High class” webcam site Benevidz has an ongoing campaign deeply ingrained in its commerce. It gathers 10 to 20 percent of its performers’ gratuities into one pot; each month, they elect a different charity and the site discreetly donates the amassed revenue to the chosen cause. Benevidz founder Mike Wondercub is conscious of the need to build trust with hesitant donees about giving but has no problem with entering through the back of the charity house. “You have to build a relationship with the charities,” Mr. Wondercub said from experience. “The stigma is real, but we don’t run into it as much because we’re low-key.”

Adult entertainment charity drives are often more out in the open beyond American borders. A Japanese telethon raised $24,000 for the Japan Foundation for AIDS Prevention with the prurient scheme of inviting audience members to do some petting of porn stars on air. This kind of telethon probably wouldn’t get by network Standards and Practices in the U.S., except perhaps on pay cable after midnight.

Pornhub Vice President Corey Price thinks the current drive to disassociate charity from porn is waning: “People are slowly becoming more open minded about being associated with us,” he states. “We try to conduct ourselves in a way that steers clear of fulfilling people’s preconceived notions of vulgarity, in preference of class and tastefulness.”—Louis Altman