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How Bitcoin Plays Into the BDSM Trend Taking the Porn World by Storm

Mistress Harley sees bitcoin as a crucial part of her business. The tech-savvy dominatrix discusses sex, porn and power with Leigh Cuen.

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Dominatrix Mistress Harley sees bitcoin as a crucial part of her business. The tech-savvy sex worker talks with Leigh Cuen, host of "Sex, Drugs & Bitcoin," about BTC, sex and the porn industry.

Mistress Harley, a “techdomme” who specializes in digital BDSM, said, “If you think about power exchange, there’s almost nothing in our society more powerful than money.”

Harley is among the growing cohort of online sex workers who offer financial domination (findom) experiences. Findom has also become a popular category on video streaming platforms that accept bitcoin, like Chaturbate and FanCentro. FanCentro Vice President Kat Revenga said findom “broke out into the mainstream in 2020.” That one platform alone alone now has hundreds of influencers offering more than 1,500 porn clips in this niche.

“COVID gave findom its "50 Shades [of Gray]" moment. It’s not just about exchanging money for content anymore, it’s about providing income to the influencer,” Asquith said. “In the next year or so, we’re going to see a dissolution of the findom binary, an understanding that there’s an entire spectrum of fandoms that involve elements of sexual thrill for financial support.”

Likewise, Pornhub VP Corey Price said in 2020 the platform has seen roughly 12,000 searches for “findom” per month.

What is findom?

There are many ways for findom aficionados to practice their art. Sometimes they sign automatic payment contracts, without exchanging porn at all, because part of the humiliation is paying the dominatrix to ignore the submissive. In other circumstances, the submissive completes complex tasks, like mining bitcoin, to earn money for the dominatrix. For yet another example, some submissives give the dominant control over digital wallets or bank accounts.

Such is the case with developer Niki Flux, a coder by day and dominatrix by night. She once drained a client’s bank account using teamviewer, locking him out of the account as part of the roleplay.

“The idea was he was powerless to do anything about it,” Flux said. “It was an amazing session. I was tripping on endorphins for three days after, as was he.”

Flux said “real findom” is rare, that most of the hype on Twitter is just for show. In reality, few can afford real findom experiences, since some submissives don’t get their money or data back. The risk is real.

“The threat of blackmail and exposure can be a very powerful thing and it’s not something you’d engage in casually with some rando,” Flux said.

Thanks to COVID-19, dominatrixes are experimenting with new punishments and tasks.

“I can get right into their crypto wallet and send myself as much currency as I want,” Harley said. “I have a lot of subs in places where porn is illegal, places like Kuwait and Qatar and Saudi Arabia. And the easiest way for them to pay is using a cryptocurrency”

Bitcoin is proving to be an unparalleled boon for findom kinksters.

Kinky bitcoiners

Asquith said there were “thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin payments” facilitated through Fancentro so far in 2020, a platform with more than 5,000 active monthly users.

Since many platforms are not as open to kink content as Fancentro, sex workers like Flux and Harley are ramping up their experiments with bitcoin.

“You so much as mention smothering, choking, pissing...and you’re en route to a stern warning from your [payments] provider,” Flux said. “As censorship and surveillance get ever more invasive, we need to have platforms and tools ready and working before it [deplatforming] kicks in.”

As such, Flux offers developer services to other sex workers looking to add bitcoin payment options to their sites. A few of Flux’s clients pay her directly with wallets. However, she said bitcoin’s technical skill requirements are “way higher than most of my clients could operate.” Many such submissives prefer the speed of a website plug-in.

“By definition, my audience has a tendency toward one-handed navigation,” she added. “To stop and wait 20 minutes for [bitcoin] confirmations doesn’t fit well with that.”

Longtime findom expert Mz.Kim said, “Bitcoin has the potential to be a useful and much-needed tool for findom.” But, like most performers interviewed about this topic, she added the biggest limitation isn’t utility, it’s clients.

“The barrier to using bitcoin has not been easy enough to cross for clients. Unless crypto becomes more widely used as a currency, people won't take the time to start an account,” Mz.Kim said.

As for Harley, she said cryptocurrency is her favorite type of findom tool to work with because she can transfer money (almost) anonymously and instantly. She added, findom is very different than actually ripping someone off because there is consent involved. There is often a type of “buy out” condition, where the submissive can pay an agreed amount to stop the findom relationship. Plus, dominatrixes must clarify limits with their submissives.

“We engage in a conversation asking their limits: What’s too far?” Harley said, describing consent in findom. “Sometimes people tell me their limits are bankruptcy. That’s a very reasonable limit. But some people do not have that limit, so swirl that around in your head for a minute.”

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