Offbeatr, the Kickstarter for Porn, Is a Furry Playground

By Mitchell Sunderland


Screenshot via Offbeatr

Ben Tao and Eric Lai aren't furries. They aren't deeply embedded in the culture of hentai or porn video games or any of the other odd cum-drenched communities that have grown and multiplied in the odd corners of the internet. Yet Offbeatr, the site Ben and Eric founded to  crowd-fund sex-related projects people are passionate about, has become the quickest way to create the video games and art projects of those subcultures' wet dreams.

The two came to the porn industry in a roundabout way—Ben told me he was working in marketing with Eric when the duo discovered that there were some cam models who made thousands of dollars stripping for strangers and, inspired, they started ExtraLunchMoney.com, a cam site that quickly faced financial challenges.

“We didn’t have friends who would take their clothes off and sell content,” Ben said. “We couldn’t just tell our friends, ‘Hey, we have this site, can you do this?’” During this time, they realized that services like Amazon Payments and PayPal don’t allow users to buy “adult” products and crowdsourcing websites Kickstarter and Indiegogo won’t let you fund porn projects—the problem is a lot of porn purchasers cancel the charges when their spouses find out that they bought Two Dudes Doin’ It Volume 16 or whatnot.

“[We] saw a loophole and exploited it,” Ben said. They launched Offbeatr last year, charging campaign creators a premium of 20 percent for projects that require over $10,000 and 25 percent for projects that require less that $10,000. The twist is that before projects can even get to the funding stage, would-be pornographers have to pitch their ideas to the Offbeatr community—only after enough users vote in favor of the project can it start receiving donations. This distinguishes it from GoGoFantasy.com, another “Kickstarter for porn” whose homepage is full of mundane, mainstream porn enterprises, some of which don’t really seem to require crowdsourced funding. (Why do these guys need $1,000 to jack off in a hotel room together and film it?)  

Ben and Eric assumed users would want to make traditional pornography, but most of the successfully funded projects have been the stuff furries dream about. Where users have so far failed to raise $10,000 for Got Mormon Milk?—a chronicle of “the (very secret) rituals that are performed as a rite of passage” into the “very secret” gay Mormon society that has “definitely touched Mitt Romney”—Trials in Tainted Space, an “erotic, ultimately customizable, textual adventure game” has raised nearly $200,000. To make its intentions and audience clear, the game's Offbeatr page features illustrations like this. (That link is NSFW because it shows an alien-looking dude with four huge cocks.)

Trials in Tainted Space (or TITS) will feature a character who travels through the universe in a spaceship encountering “mysteries of the universe” that are “curvy, well hung, or both.” Along the way, the game’s “perk system” rewards users with “abilities in combat and bed,” which include “SSTD's—Sexy Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Examples: the Futa Flu, the Dick-Thickening Tremors, or the Sneezing Tits.” The game will allow users to design the protagonist’s hairstyle, eye color, and height and will include several “sex scenes that are short stories in their own right and mold themselves to your appearance using dynamic descriptors to ensure that your unique body is perfectly described.” This is something people really, really want—among its funders are 11 people who have donated more than $600, and two people chipped in over $2,000 apiece.

Many other successful Offbeatr projects cater to fans of, uh, offbeat erotica. Users have contributed over $60,000 for Poni Parade, which is described as an “adult fan book drawn by some of your favorite r34 artists. Poni Parade features 9 Comics and dozens and dozens of pinups for a total of 110+ pages,”—in other words, high quality illustrations of the (non-human) characters from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic having sex. 52 Pickup, which raised $4,480 after asking for $2,500, is an adult comic book created by Zambuka, a 25-year-old woman from New Zealand. She pitched her idea to the Offbeatr community like so: “I want to draw you some porn. Porn you say? What kind of porn? Well, the kind of porn with dicks in it. Lots and lots of dicks (and some ass too). The dicks will be attached to various anthropormorphic [sic] animals. Wolves, dragons, cats, horses, bears, and many many more!”

Through email, Zambuka told me she discovered Offbeatr on Furoticon, an online furry game community. A full-time furry artist, she saw Offbeatr as a tool to help her create her more ambitious, personal projects. “I usually make most of my income off of commission work,” she said, “which is nice, but sometimes it can be very restricting as ultimately what the client says, goes.” She placed advertisements about 52 Pickup on FurAffinity, a popular furry site. “Without [FurAffinity], I seriously doubt the project would have gotten past the voting stage,” she said. “I'm very lucky to have people who are willing to support an artist, even if they do not get something specifically tailored to them.”

Ben believes the furries have found success on Offbeatr because they know how to promote their work. “If you think about the furry community, it is a community,” he said. “Your traditional porn viewer might like girls watching sex, but he’s not going to go on forums, talk about it, and go to conventions. Traditional porn is in the shadows. These [furry] guys like talking about it.”

Offbeatr’s model seems to attract erotica that engages its audience so much that they’re inspired to discuss it, share it, and support its creators, rather than traditional porn—which is consumed in shame and solitude and kept private. Some in the industry, like Jake Jaxson, the owner of the successful gay porn site Cocky Boys, see this as a positive trend. “I think anything that creates more creativity and possibility is a good thing.” Jake told me over email as he jogged on a treadmill. “I am constantly inspired buy DYI pornographers and erotic artists. In fact, my muse is a beautiful man on Tumbler, BiteMarks.”

“The ones who can make it and do it are the ones who can make it and build a following,” Ben said. “Every artist needs to build a following. It’s the natural filter of all things.”

@mitchsunderland

More on furries and other sex fetishes:

Edgeplay Isn’t Your Grandmother’s BDSM Scene

Bed & Breakfast & Fisting

Enter the Dragon

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