Just a quickie. There’s been a bug for a while with rating sets, to do with long filenames. This should now be fixed and rating sets should be working OK. Please let me know of any problems.
If you are reading this, I’m going to assume that you are interested in adult entertainment. You’re a model, a photographer, a website producer, a cam-performer, a sex worker, a fan or a devotee of kinkiness and erotica.
The chances are you are already on Twitter, and you’re probably using it to keep in touch with your customers and fans, network with other adult industry people and kinksters, promote your website, OnlyFans or Clips4Sale or because you’re a fan and you like to meet up with the people who make your favourite porn.
Twitter is pretty good for this. Pithy tweets, actual conversations, and the ability to post pictures and videos for people to share and enjoy. And up until now, Twitter has been pretty good at sticking to their “free speech means adult entertainment is OK on our platform” principles.
Unfortunately, if you’ve been around a while, you’ll know that any monolithic platform run by one company is one CEO decision away from the Pornocalypse. First they mark everything as “sensitive” or “NSFW”. Then they silently censor it or move it down in search rankings. Then, when they’ve got erotica all corralled in a nice little area, they can just cut it completely.
Now I don’t KNOW if Twitter will do this. But I’ve been on enough platforms that have done it in the past that I’d rather not trust to luck. Paypal, Google AdWords, Patreon… I’d like to be a little bit more prepared this time around.
Which is why I started looking around for alternatives. I think I’ve found a decent one, and I think you should be on it too. It’s called Mastodon and it is like Twitter but based on open-source code and is distributed.
It’ll take five minutes, tops.
- Sign up to a Mastodon instance. Ours is at https://kinkyelephant.com. The big one, https://mastodon.social/about, is fine so long as you flag adult content. Switter.at is a sex-work friendly one (again community-run). There are other free ones, or you can host your own for 5 EUR a month.
- Set up cross-posting on https://crossposter.masto.donte.com.br/. Your Mastodon can automatically echo what you tweet. You can set content warnings here, worth doing for maximum reach (see below).
- If you want a phone app, install Amaroq (iOs) or Tusky (Android).
- Encourage your followers to sign up and follow you.
- Be smug when Twitter bans you but you are already up and running and have lots of followers on a new platform with almost zero effort.
OK, five minutes is just to set up your Mastodon feed, echoing your Twitter feed. It’s getting followers to sign on and follow us to assemble a critical mass that will be the hard bit. That’s why I’m posting this in the first place. The sooner we start, the better chance we have of staying ahead of the curve.
NOTE: When you sign in after verifying your email, you need to log in with email address, not the username you chose for the instance. This is annoying.
In more detail
Mastodon is Distributed. What that means is that you can run your own server, called an “instance” which communicates with other instances (“federated”, in the jargon). They company can’t shut you down, because there’s no one central company in control of the servers. With enough people running instances which talk to each other, you get a look-and-feel very like Twitter, but without the “CEO decides to cut porn today” risk. It runs on open-source protocols. Each instance talks to other instances to build up a social network, rather than having Big Brother at the top snooping down. Privacy is better protected, more under user control, up to and including running your own single-user instance with no-one else having ANY privileged admin access to your private data.
There’s got to be a catch, and there is. Right now it is tiny. The main instance, https://mastodon.social/about run by the dev who is developing the system, has only got 136,000 people. Some of you may have that many followers on Twitter. Right now, you probably won’t get NEW customers from Mastodon.
But we can bring them. As producers of adult entertainment we do have pulling power. People have always followed the porn, and as porn gets harder and harder to access on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, they’ll follow us wherever a critical mass of erotic artists and performers ends up. They followed us from Usenet newsgroups to websites to Yahoo groups and they will do so again.
Prepared For Losing Your Twitter Account?
If one day you lose your twitter account for one nipple slip too many in your profile, how will your fans be able to reconnect?
If you’ve started posting on Mastodon, and encouraged your fans and followers to come with you, you’ve got a ready-made fallback. The platform isn’t perfect and this may not work. But it’s better than sitting around waiting for the axe to fall on us AGAIN from social media companies.
I figure it is worth five minutes.
STEP ONE: SIGN UP
It’s super-easy. The first thing you need to do is to sign up to some Mastodon instance. Which one?
- Easiest option: https://mastodon.social/about. Adult stuff is allowed so long as it is tagged. You can see the full terms and conditions here. Tagging is just like twitter- set a flag in your profile to mark your media posts as sensitive. If you’re a fan, reading rather than posting, this is a no-brainer. As a content provider, I’d say sign up on there too as a first step. You can always have another account on another instance and it’ll help if you do create your own somewhere down the line.
- Middling option: Find another public instance which supports the stuff you want to post, via https://joinmastodon.org. Here are two examples:
- Friendly kinkster option: I’ve made an instance myself, https://kinkyelephant.com which you are welcome to join. Email or message me for an invite. I intend to make this a resource for BDSM and Fetish producers, photographers, models and fans.
- Sex-work friendly option: switter.at.
- Harder option: Make your own instance, hosted via https://masto.host. That’s what I did. Basic plan costs 5 EUR a month for unlimited space and max 100 users, and you’ll be in control. Hugo had it up and running for me in a couple of hours.
- Hard techie option: or you can go the full monty and install an instance on your own hardware if you know what you are doing. If you are worried about “who pays for it, am I the product?” this is your answer. YOU can pay for it, directly, and have control over your instance and all the code on it. This way you’re not even beholden to a hosting company.
STEP TWO: Cross Post with Twitter
If like me your main publicity tool on social media right now is Twitter, you may not want to curate another feed on another platform. Fortunately, you can set up automatic cross-posts between your Twitter feed and your Mastodon.
Go to https://crossposter.masto.donte.com.br/. Log in with your Twitter and with your Mastodon. Set to cross post. You can do it so tweets appear on your Mastodon, or vice versa, or both. Set it to ignore retweets, replies, etc. for a clean feed.
Mastodon has a content warning system, one for text and one for pics.
For pics, the easiest thing is just to set Preferences -> Always mark media as sensitive in your Mastodon control panel.
Supplement that with text saying what the warning is about. When posting you can click the “CW” button as you compose and flag it with words: NSFW, Nudity, BDSM in my case.
You can set the cross-poster to add these automatically on stuff from your Twitter feed: scroll down to “Twitter content warning” and add a few words (I have NSFW, Nudity, BDSM on mine as that covers 99% of what comes up on my twitter reposts).
I gather that will make it more likely that our posts will be widely shared and our instance happily federated by other admins.
STEP THREE: Apps
Of course you can just use it in a browser, which is what I do. (So I can’t speak for the above apps personally).
STEP FOUR: Tell Your Followers
Now get your current followers to sign up to a Mastodon instance and follow you.
This will grow the network and get us towards a critical mass. But more importantly, it means if and when Twitter gives you the chop, you’ll already have at least SOME of your followers up and running and ready to keep in contact on a new platform.
Follow a few admins and other producers. Post with hashtags (because that’s how search works on there).
STEP FIVE: See What Happens
I got all this set up from scratch in about 24 hours, including my own instance and a bit of reading around to understand how it works. I put this post together so the most important info is in one place so you don’t have to go looking.
I have no idea if this platform will have any longevity, but it has got a lot to recommend it and I figure it is worth a go. Especially since getting an “echo feed” of your Twitter onto Mastodon is literally a few minutes work, tops.
You find other people by their handle, which is (@)Username(@)instance. So I am
When you get in, the interface is Twitter-like. (And even more TweetDeck like, if you’ve used that).
If you are on your own instance, you need to start following people on other instances to get “federated up”. Google it- basically follow a few admins of other instances, and tell your fans. If they sign up and follow you from a big public instance, job done.
Use hashtags, that’s the only way to search. We need to establish stuff like #BDSM #bondage #adult #erotic #footfetish etc. so new people can find us if this does all take off.
Annoyingly, right now there’s very limited scheduling facilities for queued posts. There’s one in beta but it doesn’t allow pics yet. But while we’re still allowed on Twitter we can use their queued tweets to schedule stuff via cross-posting which is a workable solution while we build followings. But at least they’re working on it.
Social media is a mixed blessing for many reasons. One of the biggest problems we have as erotic artists is that any large corporate platform can ban adult material at any time (as has already happened on many previous occasions- Google AdWords, Paypal, etc.).
At the moment, Twitter is the most supportive platform, but we’re only one CEO decision away from losing our complete social media presence. As things like forums and interest-specific groups have fallen into disuse we are left at the mercy of large companies.
What would be ideal would be to have a semi-private platform which we control, a bit like the RE forum was back in the day, but which can talk to all the other semi-private platforms so people can still talk to each and discover each other’s work.
There’s an imperfect but promising solution to this called federation, and the most interesting platform for this at the moment is something called Mastodon. It works very much like Twitter, except that you sign up to a specific “instance”, a server which talks to other instances but which remains under the control of the admins who run it.
As an experiment I’d like to invite Restrained Elegance and Silk Soles members to join us on our new chat platform while we try it out. You can sign up here (it’s free): https://www.kinkyelephant.com.
There’s a GOTCHA – I think once you’ve signed up and verified your email, you need to sign in with your email address, NOT your chosen username.
OR: you can sign up via any other Mastodon instance, for example the big one run by the founder of the system at https://mastodon.social. Then you can just follow me: @RestrainedElegance@kinkyelephant.com.
At the moment what you’ll see is largely similar to my twitter timeline (because that is the easiest way to get some content on there to test it out). If the tests prove positive, I’ll be posting lots of teasers and tasters on there, and also promise to keep politics out of it! (Once it is up and running and no longer echoing my twitter feed anyway).
If this works, I’m planning to invite other models, photographers, fetish producers and fans to join us on https://KinkyElephant.com and build a kinky community that isn’t at the mercy of big business. I’ve no idea if it will work. I’d love to have you join in and help me find out.
I’m getting rid of some older photo and video gear to clear out some space in the RE kit room (and because Ariel has rightly gone on strike until the kit room is in a safer, less-cluttered state to work in).
I’ll be putting stuff on eBay, but I’d rather the kit went to kinksters who might shoot wicked things with it!
To that end I’ve got a few “package deals” on offer to anyone who would like to acquire a shooting setup.
I’ll get photos etc. together in due course as I’ll need those to post on eBay anyway, but if you’re interested in taking any of the packages off my hands as a job lot to shoot with, it would be a lot easier for me and a lot more satisfying to send kit off to a good new home. (I hate getting rid of gear, have I ever mentioned that?
General Note: Postage
I’ve not yet priced up posting and packaging, which is one of the reasons I’ve not got this stuff on eBay yet. So prices here EXCLUDE P&P. Happy to post stuff but we will need to add P&P at cost, email me at email@example.com to discuss. Or you can collect in person for nothing, of course.
So what am I getting rid of?
Micro Four Thirds Shooting Setup
- Panasonic GH4. Superb video/stills hybrid camera, the best small camera set-up for shooting 4K video. Used on many RE productions, including “The Underground” and Pony Girl series ES features. Also useful for stills- I have shot a few RE sets with it.
- Panasonic 7/14 mm f/4 wide angle lens
- Panasonic 12-35 mm f/2.8 – an excellent quality standard zoom lens
- Panasonic 45mm macro lens
- Gorgeous Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 “see in the dark” manual focus prime lens. It’s this lens that makes me most reluctant to sell the GH4, it’s a stunner.
- Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4 4/3rd lens with 4/3 to micro 4/3 adaptor. Full pro quality lens, lovely optics, I’ve shot many videos with it and also landscape photos up to 24″ x 36″
- metabones speedbooster adaptor for Canon EF lenses to micro 4/3
- battery grip and extra batteries- all you to run all day (and into the night) on one set of batteries. I used this in the mountains for extended timelapse, but it is great for stills shooting as well.
Potentially also a Libec video tripod to give a complete video shooting set-up. (That’s what we shot with on the British Fetish Film Festival for example).
Potentially also including a Panasonic GF1 pocketable camera with detachable electronic viewfinder, 12mm and 20mm pancake prime lenses. Mostly useful for stills, does shoot video but only to 720p rather than 1080p I believe. Still, useful as a master wide cam for two camera shoots to cover yourself just in case the main cam is blocked, I’ve used it as such in the past.
Why I am Selling It?
Yeh, I’m asking myself the same question. Basically it is down to space in the kit room and space in the car when we go on location. Although the GH4 is a kick ass camera, it doesn’t share lenses with the rest of my set-up so easily. (The Metabones adaptor works, but it’s not as good as native lenses). This means an extra packing case on every trip, and I find myself increasingly relying on my Sony camera for all the stuff I used to use the GH4 for, because it kills two birds with one stone, being a great backup to both the Hasselblad and the RED.
It is a wrench, but Ariel is right, we need the space and having a complete lens kit for micro four thirds just takes up too much space.
New, this set-up cost well over £7000! Based on eBay recent sales, the GH4 is worth around £500 and the lenses 400+400+300+400+250+400 = £2150. The GF1 with lenses maybe £250. The libec tripod around £100.
So there’s at least £3000 value in the package. Will anyone give me £2500 for the lot? It would set you up for video production nicely- you might need to add a shotgun mic (Rode or similar) and some lights if you haven’t got any, but potentially it’s a two-camera set-up, even.
DJI Osmo+ hand held gimbal camera
It’s one of these: LINK. It’s a handheld gimbal for steady shots as you move, built in camera with zoom lens, and you use your phone as a monitor. Shoots 4K, excellent for roaming around shots and the zoom lens makes it very much more versatile than similar stuff (or a gimbal for your phone, I know because that’s what I tried first).
Why Am I Selling It?
I LOVED the shooting experience and form factor of this, shot quite a few things with it at our location trip in Cornwall, including Ariel and Penny in the hot tub. It does slow mo, it’s generally a delight to use. So why I am selling it?
Because I liked the form factor so much I bought a hand-held gimbal for my Sony A7Rii, and I find myself taking and using that in preference to the DJI.
New is about £580, eBay shows they are going for around £450 second hand, yours for £400 if you use it for kinky productions.
Canon shooting outfit: Canon 7D and L series zooms
Canon 7D used for countless RE films and stills sets, including top sellers like Sophia Smith Bedroom Slavegirl. Alexander Lightspear still shoots sets for RE using his 7D.
Canon L-series 24-70mm f/2.8 and 16-35mm f/2.8 zooms.
This outfit would set you up with a complete pro-quality shooting set-up for stills and video with older but top-notch-of-their-era zoom lenses. I’ve used this camera and lenses to shoot a wedding, vintage fashion, and loads of RE sets.
Why am I selling it?
I need the space in the kit-room. I don’t use these two zooms much any more – I prefer primes for stills (which I am not selling, sorry), and the Canon zooms I do use are staying on my RED. So I can part with this camera and the two zooms which work best on it without compromising my current shooting kit.
Body is around £300. Lenses are 450 + 600 = £1050. Value £1350, I’ll sell for £1100.
Gekko Kelvin Tile LED video lighting setup
The Gekko Kelvin tiles are bi-colour LED 1×1 panels which were the workhorse video lighting for RE for several years; Slave Auction and most of the other early ES films were shot using them. They can be operated by mains or by V-lock battery (which is fantastic for location shoots). They are dimmable, and the colour temperature is adjustable from about 2500K to 7000K ish via dials on the back. They’ve got removable plastic diffuser panels on front so you can choose harder or softer light.
Add the Kelvin Tile Paintbox, though, and they transform to a complete coloured light solution. You can dial in primary colours, any gel colour you think of, adjust saturation and brightness, or control any of the six physical LED colours directly (each LED is actually a red, a green, a blue, a warm white, a cool white and an amber and all can be controlled directly).
Unlike cheap LED’s, their colour rendition is EXCELLENT- and more importantly, variable. You can dial in a plus or minus green/magenta tint with the paintbox controller, which is extremely useful when matching natural light or other lighting on location.
If you are a DMX wizard, you can control via computer, but for us mere mortals the control box is necessary.
Why am I selling them?
Because I love the technology so much that I’ve invested in their bigger, badder, actual-Hollywood-film brother, an Arri Skypanel S60.
There are two caveats about these lights. 1) Because they have six colours of LED and most of them are dimmed to give the right white balance at any one time, they are not as bright as some solutions. I ran them in banks of two or three to make up for this, which also gives the nice side effect of broader, softer and more flattering light. 2) The buggers do have a bit of a tendency to overheat and blink if used in a hot studio for too long (especially if run from the mains adaptors, which generate a fair amount of heat). They’re fine as soon as they cool down a bit.
Be aware of that and they’re really useful lights. I used them for years, and I only upgraded to the Arris for convenience of packing and carrying around the same light output and colour control in a more tightly integrated package. They’re fine for short trips, but getting them on ferries I needed a more compact fit-in-the-car solution. (Or maybe I should have just bought a van).
The reason I have six of them was that I could run four at once- two or three as the key light, one as a fill, one as a backlight, and have a spare or two in case any of them started to overheat. If you don’t do long shoots or don’t shoot in really hot studios, or mostly shoot on battery, you’ll be fine. But in all good conscience I have to let you know of the shortcomings.
Well, it depends. I have six of them, but only one Paintbox controller. I need to get rid of at least some of them to make space in the kit room. If I put them on eBay I might just sell two or three of them, keep the others and the control box myself. But if I can find them a good home as a complete set-up, you can have the control box and all six lights.
Hard to find prices on eBay but they were £1000 each originally, plus £500 for the control box. They are a bit dim compared with cheap bicolour panels today, but the complete colour control with the Paintbox puts them in a whole different category- they’re a creative powerhouse, and I had to spend a LOT of money to match them.
If you’ll take the whole lot off my hands as a job lot, I’ll accept £2500 for all six plus the control box. (N.B. if you need postage you’ll have to budget for that too as they come in around 7kg each with all fixtures and fittings).
Add a few cheap kit stands (they work just fine on cheapy ones) and you’ll have enough lighting to shoot feature films. I shot a mainstream feature with these plus a few cheap tungsten parcans and backlights for the scenery.
2x Core Flash CF-300 mains-powered flash heads
Two cheap and cheerful mains-powered studio flash heads, with reflectors, with slot for mounting umbrellas. Originally donated by RE member Merlin, they were used to light the white infinity cove in the old RE house for many, many photosets including the RE lexicon.
They’ve been sat on a shelf since we moved, I’ve decided to sell the cove sections so they’re surplus to requirements.
Great starter kit for getting up to speed with flash photography, just add a cheap Infrared flash trigger.
New, a two-unit set up costs £400. Similar units seem to be going for £100 each on eBay, give me £150 and you can have the two.
Ronin Gimbal Rig
More of a specialised item, this is a full-blown camera gimbal rig. It’ll take the RED, but I used to use it with the Pansonic GH4. I’ve shot feature films and many RE videos on it. This is the original full-sized Ronin, not the later Ronin M, and it can take any dSLR and heavy lenses, all the way up to cine cameras. Comes with a remote control box and dedicated flight case.
Why I Am Selling It?
Tennis elbow. I’ve been forced to switch to using a lighter hand-held gimbal set-up, even though this one is technically far superior.
New it was £2000. They are going for around £900 on eBay, yours for kinky purposes for £750.
We’ve had quite a few new members join us over Xmas, so I just wanted to say hi and welcome!
To celebrate I’m putting up a fab video this Friday starring Ariel and Penny in the hot-tub from our recent Silk Soles location shoot.
We stopped shooting SilkSoles video for a while because sales didn’t seem to justify it.
So we really hope the new members and the increased sales from the shopping cart will make it feasible for us to start shooting more! We LOVE shooting them for you!
Happy New Year from Ariel and Hywel!
P.S. apologies for the on-going problems with rating sets on the site. My programmer friend Ian will be taking a look at it when he gets back from his break. We think it might be related to the set filenames, but we need to investigate further to fix. Apologies.