It’s not often I come across a website whose purpose befuddles me, but that’s what I found in Buttrcup [NSFW]. In a nutshell, it’s a social media platform for consuming sexy images and videos; Instagram for the risqué. But it’s a business model I can’t quite wrap my head around. Why does the world need another subscription-based platform, in the age of free porn and easy access to visually stimulating images?

Creators Molly Murphy and Michael Edwards are trying to answer that question. Launched back in October of 2017, the site has already created a niche for itself with thousands of active users and creators. The purpose of the site is to provide access to the type of content that’s typically censored on Instagram or Facebook. It describes itself as “pro-provocateur, anti censorship and judgement free”, no doubt a shot at other sites that have faced backlash for censoring risque yet not explicit content (they even threw in a #freethenipple hashtag for good measure).

In an industry where explicit content comes easily and for free, Buttrcup is trying to provide a network for creators and models that can act as a something of a safety net

“We have compared the content to Playboy, we have some really great photographers and models who are providing content that is sexy, risqué and yet not too explicit. We say ‘it is nudity, yet non porn,’” said Murphy, a New York-based photographer. “Also, unlike Playboy the creators are in complete control of what they create, so it is like self-publishing. For the women especially, there is an ethical element in that they are in complete in control of their own content and image which is important when it comes to sexual boundaries.”

It’s an interesting model, for sure, that attempts to address the intricacies at question. Creators control their own content, and are paid directly by their subscribers. In an industry where explicit content comes easily and for free, Buttrcup is trying to provide a network for creators and models that can act as a something of a safety net; with their fans sponsoring them. “It gives [creators] a place to promote their digital archives, self-publish and earn money directly from their fans.”

An interesting notion, although the site did little to convince me of a need for its existence. It’s free to sign up (as it should be), and there’s a Discovery feed similar to Instagram where you can view public posts. While scrolling through the images, you’re constantly bombarded with ads promoting the benefits of subscribing to your favorite creators or paying for premium access. Videos would tease you with short clips, then prompt you to purchase the full video on-demand. You could like photos and comment, and save them to your profile. You can even apply to be a creator yourself and create your own Buttrcup “app”.

Nothing on the site particularly interested me. I even brought my roommate over to see if he could provide some insight into something I might be missing. He was just as confused as I was. “Why? Why would anyone actually pay for this content? Isn’t this what tumblr is for?” Perhaps one of the sites 25,000 users can answer that one for me.

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