Harriet Sugarcookie talks sex robots, ‘porn for geeks’ and why tube sites help the adult industry 2084

Harriet Sugarcookie interview

Harriet Sugarcookie is not your average porn star. In fact, she’d not describe herself as a porn star at all. And rightly so. Instead she runs a successful online publication, that strives to stand out from the crowd by bringing a level of candidness – and respect – for readers not often found in the average porn subscription. It just also happens to feature her in adult videos too.

Though Yorkshire raised, HS is now based – along with her business – in Budapest.

“It’s one of Europe’s porn hubs. Like any business there are benefits to being part of a cluster, particularly cost reductions and shared knowledge. It’s also friendly towards porn (unlike the UK), low cost and there’s a large pool of expats and locals to recruit from,” HS explained to SEXTECHGUIDE.

While female entrepreneurs within the adult world aren’t necessarily a rarity, it can also be harder to battle against the male-dominated world of porn and sextech. However, HS, says that being a woman helps, rather than hinders, her business.

“I don’t see what difference my sex makes. I’ve never worked as a performer for other companies but I would guess the only difference would be that as a female performer myself I probably have more empathy with female performers. Whereas a man probably has more empathy with male performers and can’t accommodate female performers emotional and physical needs. A good example would be how as a female I would never label a video with derogatory language like bitch, whore or slut. I get that porn is a fantasy and some girls embrace those words. But the majority don’t and it can’t feel good to be described that way to millions of viewers.”

This approach comes through in Sugarcookie’s work too, describing her site as “porn for geeks” as she identifies with her core audience. She’d argue that it’s not a ‘porn site’ though.

“Primarily Harriet Sugarcookie is a men’s magazine. I’m a geek so I identify with that culture and that type of person’s needs most. As a magazine editor it’s important to know my audience and share the same interests, desires and problems. I treat my fans as intelligent people that are interested in more than just porn.

Sure we all want to see hot girls and get off every now and then. But most of us have other interests too. Like dating, self improvement, health, travel, food, video games, movies. I try my best to provide all types of content that will entertain or even improve my users lives, even if it’s just a small bit,” she continued.

Keepin’ it real

Empathy, respect, understanding your audience. It’s a combination of deliberately chosen values that add up to delivering an authentic experience for readers and viewers, but perhaps surprisingly, Sugarcookie isn’t sold on the potential of VR to help get even closer to fans just yet.

“I get that VR is supposed to bring you closer but when I’ve tried it I feel more disconnected from whats happening. Right now I feel like the technology gets in the way of the experience. With a screen you almost forget you are watching, it transports you there. With VR you are incredibly aware of the headset, it feels gimmicky and i’m not certain it will last. Remember 3D TVs anyone? Even games consoles dropped that.”

Then there’s the requirement for equipment – if you want to watch VR porn you’ll just need a basic (Cardboard or better) headset. If you want to film in VR, however, that’s a whole change in equipment, workflow and infrastructure. And then, at the end of the day, is that what HS’ fans want?

“Buying or making a good quality camera is difficult. File sizes are huge and this alone causes all sorts of annoying problems. At least for us. We haven’t even invested in 4K yet! We’re still deciding if it’s better to invest in 4k or something else. 70% of my users watch on phone or tablet so are they really going to benefit from 4K or should I spend my time improving their experience in other ways?”

Embracing technology

It’s frequently said that the Web severely hurt the porn industry  – and performers by extension – but Sugarcookie, at just 21, is someone that’s been enabled to get to where she is by embracing it. Just don’t repeat that line about the Web hurting the porn industry to her, OK?

“I don’t know where this myth of free online porn comes from. Don’t listen to the whining luddites! They’d have you believe that everyone was going to adult shops to buy porn before the internet. They weren’t! Now porn is accessed from pretty much every home in the world. The market is huge and growing. The people that are upset are the people that controlled the small group of companies that could afford to distribute on DVD, TV and in hotels.”

With the Web democratising porn – allowing a direct connection between fans and performers via cams, clips sites or their own profiles – no one needs producers or directors or people telling them what to do. Sugarcookie also points out that the prevalence of tube sites is actually a good thing for performers and the wider industry.

“The amazing thing is that tube sites are investing in pay sites, so there’s room for both amateur and professional porn. I don’t think one killed the other, but I would say there has been a huge transfer of wealth from people with production and distribution skills (e.g. Hustler, Wicked, etc) to people that have technology skills [Gamma, Mindgeek, etc].

Tube sites are amazing. I wouldn’t be here without Pornhub, xVideos, etc. I can’t imagine trying to grow a porn site without the instant traffic they give you. You can make your first ever porn video in the morning using your phone, and by the end of the day you can have made money on it. Also, can we put this free porn myth to bed? Producers that complain about it don’t seem to know how their own sites work! The main ones give you a share of the ad revenue or premium subscriptions for uploading your porn, or they let you use their site as a marketing tool. Tube sites have so many different ways of working with them it’s not hard to find something that works for both of you.”

Technology isn’t just presenting new options for porn producers though – it’s also powering a sextech revolution that will ultimately result in AI-equipped sex bots. Right now, teledildonics are more commonplace – though still niche – but one day a sex robot won’t just exist in science fiction.

There are two different approaches that could be taken here, however. One is an AI-based, Westworld-esque robot, and the other is basically a basic sex doll that has a range of movements, but no AI. One of those is also significantly easier to achieve than the other. For Sugarcookie, it’s AI all the way.

“I’d want a RealDoll. I’ve seen first hand the passion and artistry they goes into creating those girls. They’re beautiful. And their faces are sculpted by hand. The owner is a real artist so I’d have one for the aesthetics alone. And the AI version, why not? It’s so surreal to be there watching her and talking to her. It’s the same wonder you experience when you go on your first plane as a kid.”

Overreaching regulations

We’ve talked many times about the Digital Economy Act (DEA) and its effect on the porn and the adult industry in the UK several times already, but while HS campaigned against the changes, she thinks they’ll actually boost her business.

“I’m generally against regulations as I find it’s just a way for established companies to protect themselves from competition. Ultimately the DE Act will be very good for me business wise. It will shut down many UK rivals and discourage new competitors. I campaigned against it on moral grounds, I don’t think we should be censoring the media. it’s a slippery slope.

But the time for campaigning is over. It’s a law now. So now my concern is privacy. If privacy concerns cannot be met then I will just have to block the UK or wait to be blocked. I don’t want to implement a solution that puts user privacy at risk – and adult industry has a terrible reputation for protecting user’s data, info-security standards can be frighteningly low in our business. I was talking to a major porn company last month and I found out that they store all their user data unencrypted, crazy right?”

Naturally, HS didn’t name the company.

On a personal level

When not working, Harriet Sugarcookie spends most of her spare time at the moment reading fantasy novels and playing video games, with Overwatch particularly standing out.

“My current favourite [novel] is the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson – and the third instalment is coming out in November.  A perfect chance to read the first two books for anyone interested! It’s about knights with magic powers and giant swords! Sorta… It’s amazing.

I’m also playing a lot of video games like Overwatch at the moment, but I’m really looking forward to the new Monster Hunter game which is going to be out on PS4 soon.”

With big plans for the future of Harriet Sugarcookie as a brand, HS the person says she’s just trying to concentrate on keeping true to her core base.

“The future for Harriet Sugarcookie is exciting. There are so many ways to grow for me right now, and I’m going to be trying out a lot of new things. I think I’m incredibly lucky to have such an amazing chance to really create something special, and big, but I want to make sure my core principles and passion – that is the connection to my audience, is never lost in the growth.”

Read next:  Anna Bell Peaks on ‘Dino Crisis’, the VR porn industry and her favorite sex toys // Top VR Porn Sites of 2017

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I founded this site and keep it running. Tech. Sex. The future.STG is a place to look a bit closer at that the place where those things meet. I also run 10SECOND.TECH in my spare time.My regular work is currently found on WIRED, TrustedReviews, The Inquirer, V3, The Next Web and many more sites. I'm available to hire, or for media consultation/training for startups..If you want to get in contact, shoot an email to [email protected]

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