I may very well never get invited to The Armory again. You see, I was invited to visit after I wrote this scathing indictment of a Cybernet Entertainment, LLC press release (the company behind Kink.com and which I’ll here thereafter refer to as Kink, Inc., for brevity and rhetorical purpose) and the blogosphere’s response. A commenter named Chris K. claiming to be from Kink, Inc. wrote to me:

I’d like to invite you to come and visit us at Kink.com. I have a great deal of respect for you [sic.] position regarding the content we create and would like your direct input on potential improvements, both in the nature of the content we create, and the process by which it is created. When you have a chance please get back to me. Thanks.

Within the half-hour, I responded:

I’d like to invite you to come and visit us at Kink.com.

No, thank you. Let’s meet at a café first. There are many inexpensive ones where we can talk more freely.

I have a great deal of respect for you position regarding the content we create and would like your direct input on potential improvements, both in the nature of the content we create, and the process by which it is created.

Can you clarify: what do you mean “respect for you position”?

When you have a chance please get back to me. Thanks.

Well, I’ll email you this reply, so you can either write back in email and opt for a private discussion or you can simply reply to this comment for a more public one. Either’s good by me.

I figured that if this commenter really was from Kink, Inc., and if they really were interested in my feedback, they may feel more comfortable with a private dialogue than a public one. So, as promised, I emailed them:

From: maymay <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 09:46:25 -0800
To: [email protected]
[…irrelevant email headers clipped…]

Hi Chris,

You wrote:[0]

I’d like to invite you to come and visit us at Kink.com. I have a great deal of respect for you position regarding the content we create and would like your direct input on potential improvements, both in the nature of the content we create, and the process by which it is created. When you have a chance please get back to me. Thanks.

My reply:[1]

No, thank you. Let’s meet at a café first. There are many inexpensive ones where we can talk more freely.

Can you clarify: what do you mean “respect for you position”?

Well, I’ll email you this reply, so you can either write back in email and opt for a private discussion or you can simply reply to this comment for a more public one. Either’s good by me.

Cheers,
-maymay
Blog: http://maybemaimed.com
Talk show: http://KinkOnTap.com
Community: http://KinkForAll.org

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://maybemaimed.com/2011/01/13/what-porn-companies-can-learn-from-the-giffords-shooting/#comment-101221
[1] http://maybemaimed.com/2011/01/13/what-porn-companies-can-learn-from-the-giffords-shooting/#comment-101222

What followed was a conversation that left me feeling more confident that Kink, Inc. is actually interested in contrived placation, not community outreach. (In the spirit of transparency, I’m publishing primary sources for the entire conversation below.)

After I made numerous suggestions of a meeting place and time, Chris and I planned to meet at a café. However, we missed one another. I arrived several minutes late and emailed ahead of time to alert Chris of this. Chris said they waited for 15 minutes but left without seeing me.

I scoured the café looking for them when I arrived (and when both our accounts indicate we were at the same place at the same time), then waited for 40 minutes. Ultimately I had other things to do, so I left the café and followed up with another email and another suggestion for a meeting place and time the next week. It’s been almost three weeks since my last communiqué to Chris with no response, and seeing how Chris dragged their feet through the entire process the first time, I’m left feeling rather lead around by the nose.

I can respect that Chris is probably a busy person. But so am I. If Kink, Inc. genuinely cared about my “position,” if they genuinely cared about my “input,” they would simply make communicating with me promptly and directly a priority. That is not so challenging. But I don’t think they actually care about this because I have never—and probably will never—contribute even one cent to their coffers. What meeting with me was probably about was delaying or quelling any followup posts (like this one) I might’ve written.

Well, just as I refused to be appeased by a visit to the Armory, I am not above calling them out on disingenuous PR efforts. Too many people are too easily lulled by the promise of fantasy realized. To borrow Mistress Matisse’s words, I suspected that Perhaps it’s simply a clever manipulation of the blogosphere. And Kink, Inc. is masterful at manipulating BDSM-identified sex blogger sentiment, which really isn’t that hard when you think about it—who among us wouldn’t love to have access to the equipment and play spaces the Kink, Inc. Armory provides?

It’s fair to say staying on the “good side” of Kink, Inc. employees is a prerequisite for models, but a luxury for bloggers like me—and I can do without such luxuries. There’s only one other company of analogous size whose PR efforts are as skillful, and I was not above publishing email correspondence with them, either: EdenFantasys.

Let me be clear. It is not Kink, Inc.’s responsibility to listen to me about anything, nor are they obliged to talk with me. But when they publicly say that they would like to engage in a dialogue, but privately stall for as long as they can until they feel safe finally ignoring me, then that is simply correspondent incompetence in the best case or deliberate malfeasance in the worst.

In other words, if you don’t want to hear from me, Chris, that’s fine, but don’t publicly say that you do; that just makes you look two-faced.

For what it’s worth, I’m still very happy to engage in a dialogue with Kink, Inc. (or anyone else) about my positions regarding their press release, the “nature of the content [they] create, and the process by which it is created.” However, I will no longer accept private correspondence from Kink, Inc. as a viable means of conversation. Clearly, they are much more amiable when dragged into the public square. (And, for whatever it’s worth, the more I write about Kink, Inc., the more negative stories I’m being told about them from former employees in private discussions.)

Lest you think I’m done with this topic, I’ll also publish a 1 hour long audio recording of a very interesting conversation I had with a fellow sex blogger who also wrote about Kink, Inc.’s press release. Our conversation was rife with some debate, and tried tackling a number of difficult questions regarding the role of commercial entities in the sex-positive community. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Meanwhile, here’s the primary sources I promised of my conversation with Chris K. from Kink, Inc. The following reproduces the conversation I had with Chris K. across several media in chronological order, omitting certain personal information as well as quoted sections for readability purposes, starting with Chris’s reply to my email, above.

From: Chris K[. …last name redacted…] <[email protected]>
To: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 16:19:25 -0800
Subject: Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting

Maymay,

Sorry for the delay. A café meeting sounds fine. If you have one in mind let’s set up a time to meet. By respect for your position I mean I respect your desire to ensure that sexual exploration of any kind includes a clear ethical standard for all involved. Hope to talk with you soon.

Chris K[. …last name redacted…]

Subject: Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting
From: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2011 00:53:44 -0800
To: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>

Hi Chris,

No worries on the delay. I figured you had a schedule full of other things, too.

I was totally booked Monday, but I have Tuesday (today) free all day. Ideally we could meet in the afternoon, say, around 4 or 5? There’s a nice café called Cup-A-Joe in my neighborhood[0] that offers both food and drinks. Alternatively, if you want to meet closer to the Armory, there’s a Blue Bottle Coffee Kiosk we can hit up on Linden Street.[1]

I realize this might be too short notice, so I can also make time for a meeting later in the week (perhaps a late lunch on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?).

Thanks again for your interest in meeting with me. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Cheers,
-maymay
[…]

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Cup-A-Joe+Coffee+House,+San+Francisco,+CA&sll=37.776236,-122.423294&sspn=0.006716,0.008819&dirflg=w&ie=UTF8&hq=Cup-A-Joe+Coffee+House,&hnear=San+Francisco,+California&ll=37.788285,-122.415097&spn=0.003358,0.00441&z=18&iwloc=A
[1] http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Blue+Bottle+Coffee+Kiosk,+315+Linden+Street,+San+Francisco,+CA+94102&sll=37.776346,-122.423079&sspn=0.013076,0.017638&dirflg=w&ie=UTF8&hq=Blue+Bottle+Coffee+Kiosk,&hnear=315+Linden+St,+San+Francisco,+California+94102&ll=37.776236,-122.423294&spn=0.006716,0.008819&z=17&iwloc=near

From: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>
To: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 14:18:19 -0800
Subject: Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting

Maymay,

Again apologies for the delay. If you’re available next Monday for lunch that would be ideal. Perhaps we meet halfway at a lunch spot?

Thanks,

Chris K[…]

Subject: Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting
From: maymay >[email protected]<
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 14:29:39 -0800
To: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>

Hi Chris,

How about Monday, January 24 at 2 PM at DeLessio Market?[0]

Cheers,
-maymay
[…]

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=13358702853062691708&q=Delessio+Market+%26+Bakery,+Market+Street,+San+Francisco,+CA&hl=en&dtab=0&sll=37.773281,-122.42978&sspn=0.006295,0.022335&ie=UTF8&ll=37.783808,-122.448893&spn=0,0&z=15

From: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>
To: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2011 09:10:40 -0800
Subject: Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting

I’m tied up at 2PM, how about 12PM that day?

CK

Subject: Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting
From: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2011 13:18:20 -0800
To: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>

Sure, I *think* I can make it to Delessio Market at noon on Monday, January 24 . :) May I ask for a mobile number so I can send you a text message if I’m running a bit late? Mine’s […redacted…].

Cheers,
-maymay

In the above email, I asked for a mobile phone number from Chris. I never got a response to that email. In the below email, I write to Chris on the day of our meeting stating that I’m running a few minutes behind schedule. I’d ordinarily have called or sent a text message but, well, I had no phone number.

From: maymay <[email protected]>
Subject: Running a few minutes late; on my way
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2011 11:47:45 -0800
To: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>

Hi Chris,

I’m heading to Delessio but am running a few minutes late. Please accept my apologies for the short delay.

Here’s what I look like so you can spot me when I arrive:

http://maybemaimed.com/about/

Cheers,
-maymay

Shortly after sending this email I arrived at our rendezvous point but, as noted above, failed to connect with Chris K. I travelled elsewhere in the city to continue with my day. A couple of hours later, I sent the following email to Chris asking him to proactively select a new meeting place and time:

Subject: Missed you at DeLessio Market today? (was Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting)
From: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2011 13:49:04 -0800
To: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>

Hi Chris,

I’m sorry to have missed you at DeLessio Market today. I showed up at about 12:10, a little delayed from our scheduled meeting at 12:00 PM. I apologize for my tardiness.

Sadly, although I waited until 12:50 PM, I did not find you. I ate breakfast and, having other things on my plate today, I decided to go. If you’d still like to meet with me, please suggest an alternate time to do so. I’m disappointed that we were not able to discuss things, especially considering your initial invitation to converse with me.

Cheers,
-maymay

Chris responded the following day, conspicuously lacking any effort to make another meeting arrangement:

From: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>
To: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2011 10:50:14 -0800
Subject: Re: Missed you at DeLessio Market today? (was Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting)

Maymay,

I’m sorry we missed each other. I’d already left the office by the time I received your first message. I grabbed a sandwich and coffee and gave it about fifteen minutes then waited outside for a bit. Again, sorry I missed you. I need to get rid of my prehistoric phone and get something that receives e-mails etc.

CK

Noting the lack of any forward motion, I (finally) became annoyed:

Subject: Re: Missed you at DeLessio Market today? (was Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting)
From: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2011 15:26:48 -0800
To: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>

I’ve been very forward with information for you. I provided my cell phone number and requested yours for precisely this reason; you declined to so much as acknowledge that I had made that request.

I emailed you while heading out since I didn’t have your mobile phone number. I arrived only several minutes late (somewhere like 12:07, or with rounding, no more than 10, as stated below.) I can appreciate you are a busy guy, but so am I. You say you waited 15 minutes, which would have given us a cross-over of at least 5 minutes. When I entered, I scoured the establishment, even notifying the cashier that I was waiting for someone, but I recall seeing no one eating alone. Then I waited not for 15 minutes, but 40.

You’ve done little beyond commenting on my blog publicly to give me any significant indication that you’re actually interested in speaking with me. As such, I’m extremely reticent to continue any private conversation with you. You seem so much more amiable when interacting where your customers can see you.

That said, I’d be interested in trying to meet you again, and I’d ask you to forgive my skepticism, except that I continually find my stance towards your employer rather justified, and you’ve shown little reason why I should treat you separately from your employer. Case in point: your most recent reply does NOT actually suggest an alternate time to meet as requested below, and while your email is polite, it shows no effort whatsoever to move us towards a conversation you claimed *publicly* you wanted to have, but have been dragging your feet on in private.

The ball is in your court.

Cheers,
-maymay

After this email, I received a voicemail. Here’s audio of the voicemail, with Chris’s last name and mobile phone number silenced in the audio, and here’s a redacted transcript:

Hi this is, this is Chris K[…]. Just wanted to try to touch base with you again, uh, from Kink dot com. Do apologize that, uh, I missed our meeting. I received your email today and am trying to reach you now. Um, I do have a cell number. My number is [REDACTED] for fuck’s sake, let me look it up. Sorry. I’ve got a cold I’m getting over, so…. It’s [REDACTED]. Um, give me a ring when you can. My apologies again for, for, uh, having missed our appointment. Thanks.

While I appreciated Chris’s voicemail, I didn’t have the free time to give him a call back right as I received the message, so I chose to reply with another email:

Subject: Re: Missed you at DeLessio Market today? (was Re: What porn companies can learn from the Giffords shooting)
From: maymay <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2011 18:00:27 -0800
To: Chris K[…] <[email protected]>

Hi Chris,

I received your voicemail message a little earlier today. Thanks for following up with your number. I’m sorry to hear you’re fighting off a cold, seems like everyone’s catching something.

You said you wanted to “touch base with you again,” but I’m unsure what that means seeing as how we’ve yet to touch base a first time. :) Were you interested in trying to meet again? If so, I’m available this upcoming Monday, January 31 at 12 PM, same as last week. We could even try again at DeLessio Market. Let me know how you feel about that.

Cheers,
-maymay

Monday, January 31st came and went, and I’ve received no further correspondence from Chris. The email above was the final correspondence I’ve had with Chris, almost 3 weeks ago now. If there’s any further correspondence, it will be public, so you’ll surely be able to follow along if you’re interested.

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