There's something I haven't been telling you. Even now, I'm reluctant to talk about it. There are a dozen things I would rather be doing than writing this post, like reading a book, editing a new video for the site, or finishing my half-written blogpost on the latest nonsensical Tory porn block proposal. But it's been over six weeks now, and I really do need to tell you.
In late February, I got a letter from ATVOD.
They addressed it to my legal name and sent it to my business mailbox in central London. I wasn't expecting any mail to that address, so it took over a week for me to pick it up - in fact, it was D (who shares the mailbox) who ended up being the bearer of bad news, bringing it with him when he came to visit one evening.
The letter referenced www.DreamsofSpanking.com and basically said: 'we think you are serving content which we would define as Video on Demand, so please reply and confirm whether you are or not'. The implication being of course, that if I admit I am serving that sort of content, they will claim that I need to register with them and pay them to censor me. The whole thing also says, implied but crystal-clear, We Know Who You Are and We Know Where You Live (or at least where my company is registered).
D thought I was going to be devastated to receive the letter, but when I opened it I just felt numb. I'd known it was coming. It was inevitable. I'm one of the most visible producers in the UK porn scene who is standing up and opposing the new laws. I've been writing blogposts, appearing on TV, distributing free protest videos and generally making a nuisance of myself. They joined my website for 5 days in January, so I already knew they were aware of me. It was only a matter of time before they sent the letter.
I consulted Backlash, followed their advice, and filled out the form and sent it to the return address a couple of weeks later. No point moving things along quicker than necessary. That was mid-March. Backlash advised me to tick yes, Dreams of Spanking allows users to view video content (vague wording, much?) but no, the site does not fall under UK jurisdiction for the purposes of the AudioVisual Media Services Directive. I sent it off.
Since then, I have been under a bit of a shadow. I don't know whether I should tell you this, but it's true, so fuck it: I've gone back on on anti-depressants for the first time in ten years. The depression is situational, and it's a direct result of ATVOD throwing their weight around. I have sunk five years of my life and thousands of pounds in this website - my creativity, my energy, my passion. Anyone who has met me will confirm that the Pandora you see on these pages is not a persona - this is who I am, and what you see is what you get. Dreams of Spanking is the authentic expression of my fantasies, my sexuality, my truest self. To have all of that labour, all of that investment, whisked away...
I feel like I understand, now, why exile from the Roman Empire was considered a fate worse than death. I feel displaced; not geographically, but creatively. The site into which I have invested my labour, my identity, my creative and erotic energy, has become unstable and might be moved from underneath me. I have built my emotional and financial security and my professional and creative career on this project. Now, it is no longer under my control. I might have to take it down; I might lose everything.
To protect myself, involuntarily, I've retreated. I've emotionally disengaged from the day-to-day running of this site, a pre-emptive strike so when they take it away, it won't hurt as much. But who am I kidding. It will still hurt.
So I'm on anti-depressants. I'm talking to a lawyer. When ATVOD issue their Determination, if it is not in my favour, I intend to appeal to Ofcom. Meanwhile, if the updates are a little late sometimes, or if I publish more guest videos than usual, please bear with me. And please don't write helpful suggestions in the comments that I move myself or my basis of operations overseas. Trust me, I've talked every possibility through that you could think of with my lawyer, and I'm choosing the course of action that's best. It's just a shitty situation.
We are living in interesting times. If you haven't yet joined the site, do it now, while you still can - time is running out, and legal fees are expensive.