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CHEEX
Courtesy CHEEX

CHEEX is the porn and sex education platform you wish you’d had


TextBrit Dawson

With a focus on inclusivity and sexual liberation, the Berlin-based company boasts authentic adult films, erotic audio stories, live tutorials, and a taboo-breaking magazine

Most – if not all – young people’s first sexual experiences are learned via pornography. And, thanks to a lack of meaningful sex education at school and a limited access to alternative teaching platforms, many don’t see themselves nor their desires reflected on traditional adult sites. While the internet has expanded the choice for inclusive, independent porn, a lot of free content still perpetuates misogyny, fetishisation, and hyper-masculinity.

For those who work in the sex industry, the prevalence of free content and pirating of their material can be detrimental to their livelihoods, while reliance on third-party platforms has – time and time again – proven dangerous.

Fuelled by a desire to see things done differently, and an urge to eradicate the stigma associated with pornography and sex in general, Denise Katzenberg and Maximilian Horwitz launched CHEEX. With a focus on inclusivity and sexual liberation, CHEEX is a membership platform that comprises authentic adult films, erotic audio stories, live sexual tutorials, and a taboo-breaking magazine.

“Whenever I spoke about sex and porn with my friends, we all seemed to struggle with the current options for pornography,” Katzenberg tells Dazed. “This really bothered me, so I wanted to do something about it. My motivation was to create a platform that shows sex in an authentic, consensual, fun, and lustful way that also educates users and works towards sexual liberation.”

The site is split into four sections: watch, listen, learn, and live. For a small monthly fee, users get access to diverse, independent porn created by performers who are “treated fairly and paid fairly” and whose “work is celebrated”. There’s also live courses on non-penatrative sex, squirting, and shibari, sexy audio stories with a choice of male or female voices, and articles on everything from gender identity and self-pleasure to disability-friendly sex and pegging.

Based in Berlin, the platform was founded at the start of 2020, and was expanded into the UK last month. Katzenberg puts much of its popularity down to the pandemic: “It affected the mindset of a lot of people in different ways. I believe that because everything slowed down and we spent a lot more time with ourselves, many people reevaluated their priorities. A wish for more sustainable concepts has been on the rise ever since, which has positively affected the demand for a platform like CHEEX.”

Central to CHEEX’s ethos is diverse representation on screen – in relation to body types, gender identities, ethnic backgrounds, age groups, abilities, and sexual orientations – which sex worker Nico Nava says is lacking in mainstream pornography. “Representation and visibility are big problems in the industry,” Nava tells Dazed. “I feel like we always forget to remind people that porn is not real – it’s a play, a fantasy. It’s an illusion that we create to achieve our deepest desires. The sex you see in porn most of the time isn’t the sex you’ll find in real life. Connections can be real depending on who you work with, but sex in porn is always staged.”

“CHEEX gives the performers the control and they pay fairly. This means other performers and I can feel appreciated and respected” – Luna Corazon, adult creator

For porn performer Luna Corazon, “what’s lacking in mainstream porn is legislation”. “It’s a no man’s land,” Corazon continues, “especially regarding the performer’s rights and obligations.” 

With this in mind, CHEEX is focused on establishing positive working conditions for its creators. “When curating our content, we take strict precautions to ensure the safety of the sex workers,” says Katzenberg. “We make sure all performers are of legal age and that content is produced legally and with everyone’s consent. Furthermore, we ensure that the artists are enthusiastic about what they have produced and want to share their videos, audios, or tutorials, and that they receive a fair salary for the work they’re doing.” Katzenberg adds that CHEEX is transparent when it comes to how the business runs. “There’s no hidden costs, no subscription traps, and no incompressible offers,” she continues. “But of course, we are always still learning and open to suggestions on how to make the platform more meaningful.”

CHEEX’s objective will be particularly appealing to sex workers at the moment, who are still reeling from OnlyFans’ recent ban – and backtrack – on sexually explicit content. Although subscription sites like OnlyFans have helped democratise the industry and enabled sex workers to gain autonomy over their work, the recent scandal hammered home the precarity of performers relying on third-party platforms.

“What OnlyFans did to everyone is a wake up call,” says Nava. “I’m exploring my options because I don’t trust them. A user-friendly platform that cares about creators without agendas is ideal, but there’s still room for improvement in the industry – which is what CHEEX is trying to do.”

Nava has worked in the sex industry for two years, and started creating for CHEEX after being suggested the platform via Instagram. “It was the first time I was exposed to a sex positive culture,” Nava recalls. “It was also the first time I even realised there was a whole movement and culture around being proud of being in touch with yourself and getting rid of sexual shame and baggage.”

Corazon adds: “The difference with CHEEX is that they give the performers the control and they pay fairly – this means other performers and I can feel appreciated and respected.”

Of course, CHEEX is not immune to the barriers faced by other adult sites, namely the persecution by big banks. “We have also had to endure many struggles in relation to payment providers,” explains Katzenberg. “This is always very frustrating and presents the stigma and censorship that is often encouraged by large, powerful organisations. However, the safety of our artists comes first. In no situation – no matter how dire it was – would we ever give up the safe space we have created, or in a way that would negatively affect our performers.”

“In no situation – no matter how dire it was – would we ever give up the safe space we have created, or in a way that would negatively affect our performers” – Denise Katzenberg, CHEEX co-founder 

Alongside content to get you off, it was important for Katzenberg and Horwitz to offer resources for those for whom mainstream pornography and education doesn’t provide. “To me, the main discussions of sex education are ‘How to not get pregnant’ and ‘These are the STIs you can contract’,” says Katzenberg. “Sex ed needs to move away from this very limited and heteronormative way of thinking. Of course talking about protection is important, but there are so many other areas that also need discussing, like lessons regarding communication and consent, how to channel sexual desires, as well as placing emphasis on explaining different genders, in order to reduce ignorance and judgement.”

With more platforms led by sex workers and allies cropping up, Katzenberg hopes that porn in the future will be “safer, more diverse, and more sustainable, and that people become more aware of how they consume porn”.

“My hope is for people to see beyond the frame,” adds Nava. “Sex is one of the pleasures in life – why not celebrate it? Why not talk about it more? Let sex be a window to awareness – it’s healing, it’s therapeutic.”

In the meantime, before we achieve sexual liberation, Katzenberg says she’s simply “happy and overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from our users and everyone we work with”. “It’s great to see that while many things still need to change, our platform is recognised and celebrated, because this shows that a lot of people want this change and want the world to become a better place.”

CHEEX is available worldwide now – you can find out more and become a member here

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