2013-12-05

Co.Exist

This 24/7 Porn Channel For Women Lets You Choose The Movies--And It's Coming To The U.S.

It's porn--or "porna" as its called--for women, by women, and chosen by women. The result? Dusk, a network of realistic erotica that wasn't clearly created for the enjoyment of men.

If you're a visitor to the Netherlands and you hear people casually talking about "porna," you could be forgiven for being confused. This isn't an actual word in Dutch. And yet, porna--defined as porn for women--has found its way into the local lexicon over the past four years, as a 24/7 porn channel for women called Dusk (link NSFW) has risen to prominence.

Now porna could find its way to the U.S. soon. Dusk is planning to launch here in 2014, perhaps as early as the first quarter. "If you call it porn, [women] say that's disgusting. We invented the word 'porna' to give it a more feminine touch," says Martijn Broersma, one of Dusk's cofounders.

Broersma and his co-founder, both men, launched Dusk four years ago after a cable channel approached them seeking a female-oriented erotica channel. "When it comes to thematic [cable] packages, they noticed it's always the guy making a decision because of sports and porn. They were searching for female-oriented channels to involve the female in the household in the decision-making process," he says. [Update: While Dusk was founded by two men, a woman named Liesbet Zikkenheimer, is now managing director.]

So Broersma, already an entrepreneur in the media space, surveyed women nationwide in the ultra-liberal Netherlands--60% said they watched porn, even though they didn't like the available offerings. When he asked if they would watch a female-oriented porn channel, the large majority of women said yes.

Dusk has quickly become popular, with offerings like Father Figure 2, Yoni Massage 1, and Marital Bliss playing at all hours of the day and night. Today, it's carried by four major TV providers in the Netherlands.

Dusk is unique in more ways than one. All programming is decided by an open panel of women, dubbed the Dusk Panel (link, again, NSFW). Women in the Netherlands can join the online panel for free, but since it's closed to international users, I was unable to participate. Broersma says that women who subscribe are presented with scenes and asked to explain whether they like them or not and why. The audience decides what porna is--not the channel's executives.

Dusk has about 2,000 active panel members, all of whom have very different ideas about what they want to see. But there are some common threads: Women want to see attractive "normal" people (like porn star James Deen, for example) who look like they're actually enjoying themselves. They look for extensive foreplay, nice scenery, good lighting and camera work, and sex that is explicit without being overly rough.

The top film reviewed by the Dusk Panel is called Open House (link very NSFW), a 14 minute-long film that features a female real estate agent staging a for-sale home. From the description: "One male viewer is more interested in her than in the house and soon they disappear into the bedroom."

These were the overall Dusk Panel stats for the film:

The vast majority of the current top 10 (just in case it's not clear, all these links are NSFW) Dusk Panel films were directed by women. It was initially a challenge to find this kind of content, says Broersma. Not only is professional porn still a male-dominated industry, it's also struggling because of the rise of amateur Internet porn. One of Dusk's first content providers was Candida Royalle (this link is totally SFW), a pioneer in female-oriented erotica who was able to point the channel to other relevant producers. These days, Dusk sources its porna from 45 suppliers around the world.

Despite its diverse programming, the vast majority of Dusk's content is heterosexual. Lesbian scenes just aren't that popular with the network's audience, says Broersma. "There is a group of women that would like to see lesbian scenes, so we do air some of it. The majority would like to see straight, heterosexual sex," he says. When Dusk does air lesbian films, the channel still adheres to its audience preferences, which are basically the same for heterosexual and lesbian sex: no fake-looking scenes that were clearly created for the enjoyment of men.

That's not to say men don't watch Dusk. "There are about 100 sex therapists that subscribe couples with relationship problems to Dusk," says Broersma. "A lot of couples watching Dusk, it's the first time they can watch [erotica] together without feeling ashamed. By doing so, you know that probably something will happen afterwards."

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