Music News

Spanks for the Memories

Page 3 of 7

In 1997, they were both working on their dissertations (his focused on motivation in a work environment, hers on attitudes and stereotypes) when they decided that daycare wasn't a good environment for their young daughter. They wanted to hire a nanny, but for two doctoral students, money was in short supply. Still, they had something in abundance: a healthy interest in spanking.

While spanking was something they'd lovingly administer to each other in the bedroom, they'd agreed on a no-spanking rule for their child -- a policy they extended when they had two more children. "My kids do not even know what spanking is," Masterson says adamantly, a sentiment he reiterates numerous times on his blog. "Spanking sucks as a way to raise your child. I don't think spanking is an effective form of discipline; time-outs are much more effective."

So, with no small sense of irony, the parents took to spanking themselves for the benefit of their child. To earn extra cash, Masterson put up a small website with photos of him and his wife, their faces blurred, spanking each other in their bedroom. At the time, the adult industry on the Internet was mostly uncharted waters, full of porn pirates out to jack customers with incessant pop-ups, hidden charges and unfulfilled promises of quality content. And few fetish sites offered any Internet-specific spanking pics or video. "There were companies that were converting the videos they already had and putting them online," Masterson recalls, "but no one was actually filming solely for the purpose of putting it on the web."

The site got so many hits so quickly that Masterson posted more photos and videos and started requiring membership. He and his wife connected with other spanking enthusiasts and held specialized sessions in their basement. Part of the site's appeal was the sense of interactivity it offered. "Every week we would ask, 'What do you want to see on the next update?' People would send e-mails, and, if possible, we would film what they wanted to see," Masterson explains. This reciprocation with members became the foundation of their company, giving fellow fetishists the feeling that they had a hand in creating the scenes.

Within a year, the couple was making more money with the web than they would have as psychology professors, so they decided to go full-time with their company. Since they could do their work anywhere, they decided to move to Colorado -- where they could raise a family outside the conservative stodginess of Texas and enjoy the outdoors during their free time.

A more obvious relocation choice for a brand-spanking-new spanking business might have been Van Nuys, California, then widely regarded as the porn-industry capital of the world. But Mr. M and Ms. J wanted to take their company in a different direction, one that wasn't guided by adult-industry norms.

"Most adult producers go into the industry not giving a shit about what the model is feeling," Masterson says. He credits his psychology background with helping him "understand what is wrong with the process of the adult industry and the things that give it a negative feel to the public -- that there are these money-hungry people out there who are there to objectify women and take advantage of them and pay them as little as they can. I think it has helped me combat some of that in the way we deal with some of our models."

The family moved to a mountain town outside of Denver in late 1998. Mr. M and Ms J started out making spanking videos in their house, using women who'd contacted them through their website. In one year, the business had grown enough that they could rent a studio in Denver and hire network technicians, graphic designers, webmasters, model managers and customer-service representatives. In 2003 they moved again, into their current, 4,000-square-foot studio.

Today, Real Spankings is the largest producer of original adult content in the state. Not that there aren't other porn-centric corporations in Colorado. Boulder's New Frontier Media is one of the world's most profitable and prolific adult-entertainment ventures, generating $42.9 million in revenues last year. But as CEO Michael Weiner is quick to point out, his Wall Street-traded company does not produce any content, but rather contracts with more than fifty studios in other states and then peddles their materials through a high-tech distribution service that includes video on demand, broadband, cable and satellite. Other porn producers in the area range from small-time startups that run their own websites, to freelancers for bigger companies in California, to the ever-sketchy dude with a digital camera who's more interested in getting laid than paid.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jared Jacang Maher