four chambers on patreon - a eulogy

Nov 18, 2018

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From 2014-2018 the Four Chambers project and community existed on Patreon.com, this was the sole income for the project and in the final years my whole livelihood. In June of 2018, after years of happy (and mutually beneficial) existence on the site raising funds we were notified that we were no longer welcome.

This was mirrored in the site purging the funds of many other creators, especially those of sex workers. There is no safe space online for us.

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This was my message explaining the situation to our community


"Hey all,

I don’t exactly know how to start this, 
 
Four Chambers started on Patreon with the idea that we might raise enough money to be able to pay our performers properly. Our first goal was to make $250 dollars a month and until then we'd just been taking gift card donations and I was funding the project with my sex work online and our "vanilla" jobs. We never ever expected it to take off the way that it did. The response was more than we ever could have imagined, the way you as a community connected with what we were trying to do, your generosity, how excited and engaged everyone was with helping to support us to create more.
 
We grew and the funds you all raised allowed us to make work with some incredible people all over the world; sex workers and artists, people I looked up to. We shot and hung out and made real, valuable important connections. We fucked and got messy and sweaty and laughed and I fell in love with shooting porn and I fell in love with the people. I’ve made some of my closest and most important friendships and relationships because of the project. 
 
We also got to the stage where we were able to pay top rate fees for our performers, more than any other indie porn company I have every come across: sometimes double, triple the rate to work on these sets. We stand at this moment in time paying the equivalent of $1,100 a scene, to every performer, regardless of gender or presentation or acts taking place. (this is comparable at time of writing to the fees you'd get as a girl signed to a top LA porn agency) This is genuinely something I am most proud of, performers are at the heart of our success, I owe them everything we have here. Your support on Patreon meant we got to make work with a really incredible, diverse and interesting group of talented people and get them paid for their labour - thanks to you.
 
We have loved being on Patreon for one main reason, a reason that is at the core of everything we are doing and trying to achieve, that has come sharply into focus recently; Media about sex is as important, valuable and worthy as any other work we create and consume.
 
As a society we have always told stories, made artwork, explored and investigated every facet of our human experience. I think it’s a part of what makes us human. Sex is not and should not be any different. It’s intrinsic to our understanding of ourselves and how we interact as a society. But it’s mostly been ignored or talked around but not often explicitly and honestly explored because of years and years of meticulously orchestrated shame and demonisation. This breeds confusion and misinformation and has meant that a very narrow definition of sex and of porn has become the accepted norm.
 
Sex should not be left in the dark, in the shadows. Porn doesn’t have to do or be or say just one thing. It doesn’t have to be about selling point or function. It doesn’t have to be shameful or private or disposable. The potential for porn and sex as a medium for ideas is at the heart of the Four Chambers project. 
 
Existing on Patreon gave us the opportunity to make space and have our work sit right alongside all other types of creators. We were one of the first on the site using explicit sex and we helped make space for other sex workers and porn creators to find a home there in this community and make money and help grow the site into what it is today. All of us together as a community, proved that you can treat the podcast you listen to the same way you treat the porn you watch, that porn supporters' money isn't dirty, dangerous money to handle, that if you respect and include work with sexuality it can be (the only thing capitalism cares about) good business.
 
But progressively as the site grew, the terms and conditions got stricter and more specific. And we were waiting. Like we always are. To potentially have to start all over again. Sometimes people would ask why we didn’t just leave already and there’s a few reasons (some of them are stubbornly based in denial and pride) but a big part was that WE KNOW DESERVE TO BE HERE, we wanted to try to keep existing, keep holding onto that space and keep that door open as long as we possibly could.
 
But it’s come to this. We were contacted by Patreon over the weekend and we have to remove any connection between Patreon and pornographic content. They are keen for us keep the fund open and to use it for any work that isn’t naked or explicit but I don’t think it’s fair to our community and to the integrity of the project. 
 
Obviously, I am devastated. I knew this was probably coming for a while and I thought I had prepared myself but I surprised myself by breaking down crying on the phone to them trying to explain why we don’t feel like it’s fair to keep the fund open if it can’t be a home for our work in it’s authentic entirety. If we say we believe that work with sex is as worthy as any other to stay in a sterilised and censored format would be to admit that it’s not. That it is other. That is less. I can’t and I wont do that.
 
This might sound like an obituary but I promise we are absolutely not going anywhere just yet. We are in the process of setting up a new system for you to support the project and to access rewards and fund new work if you still want to be a part of our community. We have shot some of the work I am most proud of recently and it’s ready to be edited and made into more films. I believe in the project. I want to see it continue.
 
But just to be clear what is at stake, this is my whole income, my livelihood. I have been full time working on Four Chambers exclusively for around 3 years now. I have devoted my whole self to the project and I am going to have to try to start again from scratch. I’m very lucky and the success of the project has certainly been down in part to my privileges and I will be ok. This absolutely isn’t the case for everyone who does sex work who is at risk of losing their funding in any number of ways on these sites. This is what is most upsetting.
 
This is an issue bigger than Patreon (In the climate of FOSTA/SESTA) It probably goes beyond even the payment processors. it’s a world wide, online AND in person crack down on freedom of expression, on women, on marginalised people, on sex and sex work, on non conventional forms of labour that counter the status quo: the domination of corporations and the patriarchy. On dissent. This particular microcosm is absolutely not the worst thing that’s happening in the world right now but it’s a symptom of a much much bigger chain of events.
 
I’m going to put some links to sex work related organisations that I think deserve to have the support of the money that would have gone to the project, if you can manage it:
 
I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. For your ongoing support, for believing in the project and what we are trying to do against the odds, for the countless amazing, emotional, heart breaking and touching emails and messages of support we get. I want to especially thank those of you who are survivors of sexual abuse who reached out to say that our work helped you heal, something I wasn’t prepared for and never expected but I will count as maybe the thing I am most proud of in my lifetime. 
It’s exactly these messages that are the proof that I need to remind myself when I get complacent that this is vital, important work that should exist.
 
This absolutely isn’t goodbye but we need to work out what our next move is and what our future can look like.

Thank you, I love and appreciate you all.
 
Vex + 4C"

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We spent the next 4 months without funding and searching for new ways to secure the future of the project. We tried to continue to explore unconventional avenues, unfortunately nothing came to fruition. Making work with sex excludes you from almost every conventional, modern platform to fund/promote your work. (see this post on medium about porn and censorship)

As it stands now we have a simple way of collecting funds and we've been overwhelmed with the incredible response from everyone helping us get back on our feet. It's been a sobering experience seeing how fragile everything is but also how strong and supportive our community has been setting us back up. Silver linings.