My ‘Zone’ playlist. Please send me your recommendations if you’ve got em.
My ‘Zone’ playlist. Please send me your recommendations if you’ve got em.
My ‘Zone’ playlist. Please send me your recommendations if you’ve got em.
The 14 year old son of an old friend of mine took his life this morning. He’s been on my mind all day. I haven’t spent physical time with his family in… almost 14 years, when his uncle and I ended our relationship. But his mom and I kept in touch on Facebook throughout the years.
Fourteen years ago I knew a child who was remarkably sweet and loving, with adorable big doe eyes. He was innocence personified. I know that’s what you’re supposed to think of every baby you hold. In truth, the memory of holding and playing with and cuddling baby Jon always evoked mushy maternal instincts I usually don’t have, even to this day. Perhaps I unfairly latched these expectations of innocence and sweetness and happiness on him because I had been in a very dark place at the time, the darkest in my life. It’s hard to explain, but he genuinely made me happy, even if for a short while. He represented everything I wasn’t and that was a relief.
I’ve since carried this memory of innocence in the shape of that child with me for 14 years. Now the child is gone, but the memory remains.
I didn’t know the real Jon and I won’t pretend I did. I don’t know his happiness. I don’t know his turmoil. But I know these memories of mine, and if given the chance, I’d thank him for that gift.
It’s Monday morning. The end to another great weekend in Seattle.
On Friday, Jesse and I met Colin Hodge for drinks, the founder and creator of DOWN (formerly Bang With Friends). I’m a big fan of DOWN because it’s a honest hookup app. Whereas apps like Tinder opt for “dating app”, avoid calling themselves a hookup app (which they undoubtedly are), DOWN has no issues calling a spade a spade. Colin’s belief that we should all be upfront and honest about what we want resonates with me. I’m happy we have DOWN in MiKandi, because transparency is something we strive for at all times, and I want to support other adult business that do the same.
A telltale sign you have an Asian mom in your house. #yum #cambodianfood
On Saturday, Tim, Pauline, baby Evie, and Pauline’s mom and cousin came over for some home cookin, courtesy of Pauline’s mom. We had a feast of homemade Cambodian food. It reminds me a lot of Filipino food with some slight differences in flavor. She made a sour soup with a tamarind base, much like sinigang, but with pineapple and enokitake. Gawd, I love having an Asian mom at home. You will never go hungry.
The next morning, I’m up at 9AM, enjoyed the sunlight, a fresh bouquet of flowers, and read a book at Pike’s Place Market. Later that day, Tim, Pauline, and Jesse’s dad came over, and we strolled downtown for a few hours. Tim’s been building furniture lately, so we were on a hunt for inspiration. We stopped by some furniture stores and antique shops. At one of the shops near the pier, I found the motherload of Playboys.
— MiKandi (@MiKandiStore) October 19, 2014
Then to wrap it up, we had a Walking Dead get together with other tenants in our building. I’ve been living here for 3 months now and hardly know anyone. It’s great to finally meet more people and find some common ground. We’ve decided to make this a weekly thing. Now, maybe I can find a Dr. Who group to complete my Sunday nights.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in Model View Culture’s Sex and Technology issue. Having a foot firmly planted in both worlds, I had so many experiences to share. I previously wrote about slut shaming adult companies. I decided expand that thought, and wrote about misconceptions about the adult industry and the implications of running industries on morals instead of ethics.
There are many damaging restrictions adult startups face that ultimately make it incredibly difficult to run a business in the industry ethically and with transparency. Often, these restrictions are based on moral objections to the space we occupy. In the end, everyone pays, but most especially the customers.
On morals vs ethics:
People often conflate ethics and morals, using the two interchangeably, when at times they’re almost the opposite of each other. Where ethics are objective and impartial, morals are subjective and intuitive. For those reasons they can be inconsistent because we don’t always critically and rationally examine our morals or the beliefs we base them on.
Running an adult startup is a difficult task, but in many ways, sex toys was much more difficult. Where with the adult entertainment side of the the industry, prohibited activity on the TOS for mainstream companies was clearly against porn, the lines are blurred with sex toys. Sex toys are not pornographic, but depending on the mainstream company and its understanding of human sexuality, health, and wellness, they can get lumped in with porn. Again, this brings us back to the problem of running companies on morals instead of ethics.
If you have a moment, please read SexTech Startups in a Hostile Business World, as well as the other fantastic articles in this issue.
Early this morning at around 3:30 AM, a young man died outside a bar two blocks from my place. Jesse woke me up after hearing three loud gunshots. From our vantage point on our balcony, we watched the aftermath as people scrambled to safety and police, ambulance, and fire trucks raced to the scene.
When I got up this morning, I sat by my window and watched the sidewalk for awhile. People came and went, chatted with friends before parting ways, checked their cellphones- all unaware that 5 hours earlier, blood was shed there and someone lost their life. It’s a chilling to witness the callousness of time.
That tainted little patch of concrete will always be “the place where that man died” to me. Whenever I see it or walk on it, it will recall an unpleasant memory and a story. But for his family it will be so much more- a life changing tragedy they can’t recover from.
I don’t know what sparked the gunfight. I don’t know anything about the people involved. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if the two people involved were drunk, or had a history of violence, or were tourists in the wrong place at the wrong time, or whatever. They were real people. This morning, that’s enough.
A few years ago, Apple unceremoniously purged the Apple App Store of apps that dared bare a bit of skin, dubbed “bikini apps”. It became widely known that, while not an option for hardcore apps, Google Play was a viable alternative to developers who desired to create and share apps of racier fare. Everything was working for awhile. Developers would distribute their sexy but censored apps in Google Play, while offering the full monty in the MiKandi porn app store. That is, until last month, when Google changed their minds and gave sexy apps the boot, Apple style.
While it’s disheartening to see perfectly legal businesses further marginalized by policies, I’ve always felt that markets should be allowed to decide what they want to offer in their stores so long as customers have an alternative. The great thing about Android is that if Google Play doesn’t want to distribute adult apps, that’s fine. Android users can go to other markets like MiKandi to get the content they want.
And there’s always a but…
I feel there is a significant problem going on here that, until recently, was going on unchecked- dehibilating restrictions placed on adult companies from mainstream services due to moral objections are making it increasingly difficult for companies to survive, much more succeed.
It’s not just being pushed out of Google Play – it’s not being allowed to use MailChimp or similar newsletter services. It’s not being able to find a bank that will take your business, as Cindy Gallop of MakeLoveNotPorn.tv highlighted here. It’s being slut-shamed by your personal bank. It’s Tumblr enabling their users to steal and distribute your content on their platform while prohibiting you from recouping your losses through affiliate promotion. It’s not being able to accept money via American Express or Paypal or Google Wallet. It’s having to settle for incredibly high rates from credit card processors that want to charge an upwards of 13% of each transaction (thankfully, not our processor, who we love dearly).
While one on one these restrictions are small, collectively they’re catastrophic. Keeping up with the technical obstacles is expensive and time-consuming. Unless your adult company has strong technical chops or enough money to spend on full time engineers, you’re not going to make it. MiKandi is tech-first, so we’ve been able to weather this perpetual storm. But how is this business climate fair to sex entreprenuers who aren’t?
The blanket restrictions many services place on adult businesses creates unnecessary obstacles for companies that wish to deliver legal content to adults who want it. I argue it’s a form of censorship. Some say that it’s a good thing if pornography were more difficult to come by. I wonder if we weren’t talking about pornography here, but instead political ideas and issues, would there be a larger outcry? I think so.
I was speaking with a reporter about my issues with Google and Google Glass. At some point I said just that. It’s easy to vilianize porn, but censorship is a slippery slope. “Isn’t that a bit of a stretch?” he asked. It’s not. Once we start censoring legal content simply because some find it objectionable, it’s gets increasingly more difficult to draw the line. Because it’s much easier to shelf polarizing ideas, thoughts, or opinions than it is to deal with them. But just because it’s easier, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.
All that said, the adult indsutry has its fair share of the blame. One of the reasons why we’re in this predicament is because the adult industry is rife with individuals and companies who are more than happy to spam and scam their customers for a quick buck. These are companies that don’t intend of be around for long, so they find shady but technically legal ways to part you from your money. Those that are trying to make real change in the industry are left holding the bag. “Next-generation” adult companies are attacked from both sides.
Being a “next-generation” adult company is something we strive for at MiKandi. We go by our real names, which is almost unheard of in the adult industry. I’m readily available on this blog, Twitter, G+, and Tumblr. We still answer every email and inquiry personally. We try to maintain a culture that’s transparent and non-judgmental and all about communication. Sure, we like to push the envelope because it needs to be pushed. But we don’t step over boundaries. At the end of the day, MiKandi is a small, growing, innovative company. We’re learning and we’re listening and we’re human. Shouldn’t that count for something? Or are all next-generation adult companies damned to forever wear a scarlet A?
When I was a kid, we had a this globe that lit up that my sisters and I loved. It didn’t slyly house tumblers and whiskey, nor was it simply decor. Ours was prominent in our living room- it sat in its own wooden stand, used its own outlet, took up its own corner in the room next to the loveseat. Everyday, we stood over it, wondering what life was like in all those little multi-color shapes. If I wanted to travel to the world, I’d give the globe a spin, plant my finger down, and imagine myself in the country chosen at random. If we had our way, my sisters and I would keep its light on at all times. It was especially beautiful at night, when the world was dark and quiet. In my memories it was a fancy globe, the kind you find in a dark library with mahogany shelves. In reality, it was probably just a plain ol’ plastic globe. But reality pales in comparison to imagination anyway, which is precisely what a globe emits.
I think it’s kind of rare to have a globe these days. You just don’t need one, with the Internet, Google Earth, Wikipedia, Facebook, etc. Still, I feel there’s something, I don’t know… romantic about having one in your home. I assume inquisitive people would own one. A globe in a home is a constant reminder, beckoning you to come play, to explore. It waits there in the corner of your eye. And when you finally play with it, it doesn’t give you immediate gratification. It forces you to rely on your imagination for just a little while.
I don’t know what happened to our globe. I assume it got lost during one of our many moves. Or perhaps donated by my parents to another family. I hope its found a home. From where I sit right now, I notice there’s an empty corner in my room- I just figured out what it’s missing.
Whenever someone asks me how I’m doing, my immediate response is always, “I’m good!” Even when I’m not. And for the most of 2013, I was not good. I was under an enormous amount of stress, over-worked, and physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. In fact, it’s been years since I’ve been definitively good. Yet, day after day I tried to hide it from anyone outside my family. Even to that, only my two partners really knew and understood the extent of my stress, because they were experiencing it too.
I developed ways to inspire myself to keep going. Whenever I experienced what I felt was a Totally Shit Time, I told myself it would just be a really good chapter in my biography. I’d listen to Here Comes the Sun on repeat. I’d read books on Teddy Roosevelt and other inspiring leaders. Sometimes, I would retreat into anything that was decidedly not work. And then I’d collect myself and get back to it. A great deal of time was spent on analyzing myself, my business, my strategies- every aspect of my life. But sometimes that can be depressing- thinking about all the ways you suck and why. Sometimes you just want things to be okay when they aren’t. Of course, things don’t magically become okay. You have to make them okay.
It’s just… sigh… that’s so exhausting sometimes.
But you want to hear something crazy? Even through all of that, 2013 was by far the best, most fulfilling year I’ve had in a really long time. Possibly ever.
For two years, I lived in China building a brand from the ground up. I take a lot of pride in the products and brand I created with Jesse. Even though I played an integral role in the development of KEY Pleasure, at the end of the day, I wasn’t on paper- it wasn’t mine. On the other side of the world was my baby, MiKandi. I was splitting my time between building someone else’s dream and my own.
So I came home and, in 2013, dedicated all of my attention to my dream. To build MiKandi into a world-renowned, next generation adult company.
When you own your own business, you’re obsessed with it. You spend 12-16 hours a day working on it, but you enjoy it. Because your identity is so closely tied to your company, every high and low is felt intensely. That’s what I experienced. That’s what I’ll continue to experience so long as I work for myself.
When MiKandi has a poor sales day, it hits me hard. When members leave, it hurts. When we miss launch dates, job listings on Craigslist start calling my name. When anything not awesome happens, I feel like shit. But when our products go viral, when we get covered on Fast Company, Vice, TIME, and hundreds more, when our user base jumps, when our customers love us and tell us how much they love us, when we can continue to create things that excite people, that’s when I feel alive.
So when you ask me how I’m doing and I say, “I’m good”, I’m lying. I’m fucking great.
Since its advent, Google Glass has evoked empty threats of violence in comment sections around the web that have turned out to be just that- empty. That’s not to say I wasn’t a little worried the first time I wore my device out in public. Especially after a year of editorials like this. But I’m happy to report that in my 7 months since receiving my device, I haven’t been punched, or drop kicked, or smacked by any internet tough guys.
In truth, most of the interactions I have with strangers are positive. People are curious and excited about this undeniably innovative device. Occasionally, I get some side-eye from passersby, but that probably has less to do with the technology and more to do with the strange girl wearing a weird blue thing on her face. This lot tends to keep their distance but is otherwise indifferent. Or not. Maybe they take to Twitter to vent about my grievous offenses. I like to think they just don’t care about it all that much.
And then, least often, I come face to face with that guy from the comments section. I’ve been called I’ve been called a dork, a cock, and a Glasshole in conversation by total strangers. To be fair, Glass does look kind of dorky.
But honestly, ridiculing a stranger on what they choose to wear, accepting your ignorance on a device you’ve never tried and never want to try, expecting others to share your displeasure, and judging those that don’t? Yeah, I’m the Glasshole.
That’s not to say I’ve always kept it Glassy. I may not be staring off in my peripheral mid-conversation or sticking my face in a plate of food to get a picture, but sometimes I stop reading people. I can get caught up in my excitement and assume everyone is as into Glass as I am. Sure, most are, but I should be more sensitive to those that aren’t. I often quip that we’re never going to have a United Federation of Planets until we are willing take lofty leaps in technology, and I’m only half kidding. But the possibility of a Federation to one is the possibility of SkyNet to another. I don’t agree with it, but I try be sympathetic and aware. I just slip up on occasion, but one thing I never am is intentionally mean or cruel.
The ironic thing is that out of all the wearable devices, Google Glass is the least invasive and the most indiscreet. A cell phone is much better equipped to capture you unawares and upload video or photo of you to a plethora of networks without your consent. A smartwatch even more so. Google Glass? It’s a nerdy computer strapped to your damn face that displays a light when it’s on. It doesn’t even stay on for more than 10 seconds unless you activate it. It looks invasive if you don’t understand it, which is why I advocate everyone try it first before making knee-jerk reactions.
And maybe let’s stop assuming Glass users are recording everyone? Unless you’re wearing a tutu riding a unicycle having a one person lightsaber battle in a rainstorm, then by all means assume a Glass user is interested in you- as well as anyone else with a camera or a mobile phone or a heartbeat. Because you, person I made up for this point, are epic.
Whether or not Glass stands the test of time, there’s no doubt wearable devices are a brave new world. There is going to be a learning curve from the community on how to apply this new technology and how to interact with it. History has taught us that things will work out in the end. So can’t we all just get along?
Check out my guest post on Android Central’s Through Glass series- Through Glass: Breaking the Ice.
When Android Central asks you to share your experience with Google Glass with their readers, you share your experience with Google Glass with their readers.
Check our my guest post for their Through Glass series, titled Through Glass: Breaking the Ice.