Entering the adult entertainment industry in late 2014, Allie Eve Knox, was in pretty dire circumstances. She had just graduated from grad school, was working a full-time job that hardly paid the bills, while trying to reduce the massive $100,000+ in student loan debt.
“I was treading water trying to make ends meet,” she recalled. “I had promoted a popular men’s magazine while in college, and they invited me to join their cam site. Thinking that it couldn’t hurt, I started camming on their site a few nights a week, and quickly learned that there was a lot of money to be made pretty easily.”
Knox soon discovered that the answer to her dire financial situation lied within the adult entertainment industry. Soon thereafter, Knox moved into shooting occasional porn and began to produce her own content. Making great money off the cam sites, she unfortunately, was forced to furnish 50 percent of her earnings to the cam site company, with an additional 30-50% to her clip sites.
“I started to look for other ways to increase my earnings,” she admitted. “I was accepting Skype payments through PayPal, who quickly deleted my ‘high risk sex worker’ account, and of course, keeping all my earned funds.”
The problem, according to Knox, was that like Skype, many other outlets and payment processors like PayPal, had a problem with the content and services being conducted—either shutting her down, or taking a large percentage of her money.
This is where the newly powered blockchain platform, ‘SpankChain’ comes into play.
We spoke with Knox about her experience in the adult entertainment industry and why her “fetish” with blockchain technology wets her appetite to create, perform, and thrive in a safe community.
GritDaily: So, recognizing this problem, what was the next step for you?
Allie Eve Knox: Cryptocurrency. As I was fretting about this in my cam-room one day, one of the members suggested I look to cryptocurrency for payment. This member walked me through the process of opening a wallet, using an exchange, like Coinbase, watching the market, and receiving payments, instantaneously. It was easy, safe, and I was able to keep almost all of my money!
GD: Were you familiar with Bitcoin at the time?
AEK: At the time, I was familiar with it, but somebody had told me more about it. Around that time, it was super cheap. Back in 2014, I started using it with Skype, collecting tributes and gifts for payment processing. As I started collecting a ton of Bitcoin, 2015 was already rolling around. ShowTime was producing an original series called “DarkNet,” and they had found me online, contacted me, and interviewed me about the role cryptocurrency played within the sex business.
GD: As you began using cryptocurrency with these outlets and exchanges, did you come across similar problems of being shut down?
AEK: Absolutely. Unfortunately, during the filming of one of the DarkNet episodes, I happened to show my Coinbase QR code to the cameras, and Coinbase did not like it, so they shut me down.
Its reasoning was because the content and services I was producing and providing, violated their Terms of Service. But, what I want people to know is that I’ve never used Bitcoin or cryptocurrency for anything which hasn’t been legal—activities deemed high risk, but never illegal.
Enjoying Fetishes On the Blockchain
GD: How did you become involved with SpankChain?
AEK: Well, I held onto everything, holding onto all my bitcoins, and in Winter 2017, I cashed out some, and built my dream house. That same season, one of the advisors from a company called ‘SpankChain’ tweeted out and said, ‘if half the core team in a year isn’t half female, I’m quitting.’
People wrote back in response to that tweet, ‘you need more females on your team, and how dare you come into the space and not know what you’re doing,’ so I got into the space thinking how could you be in this sector and strive to design a platform, and not even ask sex workers what they wanted? It was absolutely insane to me.
So, the co-founder wrote me and said, ‘you’re right,’ and I helped them do promotion during ICO. That following day, I wrote the co-founder and sent him a position I created for myself and why they needed someone like me to help the company grow.
While he liked what I sent him, they just weren’t ready for me yet, until a few months later when they hired me as their Model Community Manager. I changed positions last November, becoming the Product & Strategy Manager for the company. It’s been great—they’re absolutely wonderful and I’m able to do the things I want.
GD: What issues do you think the platform solves for the adult entertainment industry, specifically as a performer?
AEK: Sex workers, especially with recent legislation have encountered several roadblocks, most frequently with payment processors. These systems operate as both a cam site and payment processor, so the performers can make money on their site, or through the use of their software development kits (SDK’s) on their individual site. They take a very small cut, usually 5 percent or less, and will not shut down your account simply because of what you do. Performers can be paid instantly and are able to cash out at any time.
Knox told us that to date, the platform has processed over $100,000 worth of monies through the cam site in less than a year, noting they are still in the “beta” phase.
“We’ve taken hardly any fees, and recently started taking only 5% of fees, leaving most of the money in the hands of the performers, which is really cool.”
For the models in the community, this is a whole new world, Knox emphasized.
“Having the models is the hardest part, because they aren’t used to this kind of system—they lose their seed phrases, never had a wallet before, never had KYC to an exchange—this is all different. On a cam site, you put your id in and do your cam show and they send you a check every two weeks with your cut. Here, you have to make your money, make your wallet, and sell it on an exchange. You have to manage your own system, which has been a barrier to entry.”
With all the newly enacted laws and legislation surrounding the adult entertainment space, such as SESTA-FOSTA, SpankChain has only been open to the U.S. for a little period of time, understanding the compliance requirements. We will soon be enabling a “credit-card” option, allowing people to pay with credit cards, but of course we will still have the crypto option, because there are still types of goods and services you cannot sell through VISA and Mastercard.
GD: What knocks your socks off about SpankChain, specifically?
AEK: The most exciting was during ETH Berlin last year—one of the organizers put SpankChain on the platform, which was a surprise, because it was three sex workers and a meme—with our founder, Ameen, on stage with us. The organizer literally just asked us several questions surrounding the discrimination we faced, how the public could help performers thrive, and how we could help shape and grow the adult entertainment industry.
The organizer took us so seriously that it forced everyone in the room to recognize we knew what we were talking about, instead of snickering. But, we were the only ones in the room building something. […] The team itself is very thorough and thoughtful. Performers look after one another, so with this community, the performers on the team are always making the best decisions for the other performers. Our industry is very marginalized, and it’s nice to have a tool that can help us thrive and succeed in a safe environment.
On the flipside, the most difficult aspect is—if they saw how angry three sex workers got about how we were treated and how things really are, we just looked like three pissed off sex workers. This was just another layer of “oh dear god, these people.”
GD: What do you want people to know (clients, users, performers, space) about SpankChain and what your vision is with the future of the space?
AEK: I think this offers a large financial solution for people. I think if people play along, it’s going to be very great. The Ethereum community, where I usually bash them online, they need to get off Twitter and actually build shit, using their system. If everyone takes ICO money and goes to the beach and doesn’t build shit for three years, it’s never going to work. […] There’s a solution here, so take it seriously and just build shit.