Meet the Speakers
Ela Darling is - as she calls herself - the world's first Virtual Reality Porn Queen and a pioneer of VR in the adult industry. As the co-founder and face of VRTube.xxx, Ela joined forces with Cam4VR to bring VR live cams to a global scale. In the process she helped empower performers to monetize across a new medium and helped create a new service for users to have a porn experience that far surpasses what was possible with any 2D analog.
After transitioning from a career as a Reference Librarian, Ela has spent the last years as a feminist, porn film star, and political activist. She is currently serving her second year on the board of directors for the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) and is on the committee for the Performer Availability Scheduling Service (PASS).
At DIGILITY Ela will discuss the opportunities for intimacy and connection in a new medium, how these forms accelerate engagement, and what we can learn about emerging VR and 360 business models from the experience of the porn industry.
In the interview Ela talks about the new dimension of intimacy, the production of live VR-content and what other industries can learn from the porn business.
Ela, from a conference point of view with a B2B focus it is quite unusual to invite a Porn Queen. What do you think convinced us to add you to our line-up?
I think that my experience and background in the VR industry transcends pornography. I’ve been a VR content producer for 2.5 years and I’ve created experiences in multiple formats with 6 different product releases in that time. My cam platform, now called CAM4VR, was the first of its kind in Virtual Reality. I’m the voice of a marginalized female-dominated industry that has a history of influencing technology and as the president of a non-profit organization, I have a background in activism and community building that adds to the message I have to share. Porn itself is a business and the performers in porn are often small business owners who manage a variety of roles on their own. While the nature of the content might seem salacious, it’s very fitting within a community for businesses and entrepreneurs. I’m very honored to have been invited.
From the business perspective, which trends do you see in virtual reality? Why do you think this is a promising technology?
I see Social VR as a strong, promising part of the VR industry. We are so dominated by social engagement- most people are on several social media platforms which they tend to several times per day- so it makes sense that combining VR with social engagement would be a strong direction for the industry to take. This is one of the reasons we switched from creating pre-recorded content to creating live broadcast content on our CAM4VR platform.
360°, Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality - which technology belongs the future, generally spoken but also especially in the porn industry?
I think Augmented Reality is the next destination, however for the near future I think VR is the best place for creators to learn about this new medium. I think stereoscopic 360 degree content is important but I’m less interested in monoscopic 360 content. Most of my users have reacted negatively to that style of capture because they don’t feel it’s “true VR.” I think the porn industry will thrive in Virtual Reality for the foreseeable future because the ease of access and barrier for entry is on par with what most producers will be comfortable with and capable of achieving. AR porn will be thrilling, but I think porn needs to get a firm position in VR before that transition will make sense.
What do you think, can other industries learn from you and the porn business concerning technologies like VR and AR?
Absolutely. My business model has been to stay lean, learn frequently, and pivot when necessary. We have not taken large investments so we aren’t responsible to someone else’s expectations and since we’ve kept our team very small, we’ve been able to pay the costs of running the business out of pocket. Since there’s only myself and my business partner James running things, we’ve been able to maintain strong communication and switch gears when one idea doesn’t pan out or when we discover that another concept is more compelling. The decision to pursue adult content in VR was strategic: most tech companies can’t touch the porn industry due to restrictions from their investors, board members, and consumers. Most porn companies weren’t equipped to explore VR at the time we entered the industry, so it was a very defensible position that allowed us time and room to learn and grow. As it stands, my partner and I are in the process of bringing the CAM4VR concept to a new non-adult broadcasting platform that can offer a one-to-many connection and communication opportunity and be a place for conscious content.
With whom of our other DIGILITY speakers would you like to drink a Mojito?
If mojitos are involved, I’m not fussy about the company I’m keeping! I love meeting other women in Virtual Reality. I’m also interested in attending some of the panels about advertising in VR, so I suppose I’d like to attend Philipp Steuer’s panel.
What is the topic of your speech at DIGILITY?
I’m going to be discussing the way intimacy unfolds in Virtual Reality and the development and progression of porn in this medium. Porn has always been a facet of the film industry that has a strong tendency to guide technological development while being able to work on a shoestring budget. Most feature-length porn films are produced for less than the cost of an indie short film and without access to other resources like grants. If you’re a low budget creator, the porn industry really has a lot to share about creating compelling content with few resources.
In two sentences: WHY DIGILITY? (Why are you personally joining us? Why should stakeholders and decision makers come to DIGILITY in Cologne?)
Digility has an excellent list of speakers discussing important, relevant topics that can help people from all aspects of the Virtual Reality industry. I’m joining because I love connecting with thought leaders and great minds in this industry and Digility is the perfect opportunity for that.
Thank you, Ela. We are quite curious to learn more about you and your work. You certainly have many fascinating stories to tell!