Log on to so many gay websites and you're greeted with dark, foreboding pages engulfing the content. It's enough to scare the consumers away.
"Porn's happy. Why wouldn't you want your porn site to be exciting and happy and gay?" says Ben Soares, Director of Public Relations for Toronto-based . "A part of our logo is the rainbow, and it's been our logo since we started in 1997. So if we're categorized as a community by a rainbow, which is basically sunshine and smiles, why shouldn't we be emulating that in our websites?
"We do white backgrounds. Everyone else's is usually dark and heavy," notes Soares. "Our designers have really implemented an easy, maneuverable, clean-looking space that our members are happy about. It allows them to feel like they really are a part of something bigger, better, and gay."
The gay megasite offers users a copious library of stills galleries, videos, live sex shows, articles, and access to content from brother sites.
Founded by three gay partners who noticed a void in the emerging gay adult world market, MANcheck.com was created to supplement that growth and create a website that captured more of a gay community spirit.
"The owners were really up-to-date with their business models," Soares says, "and already implementing partnerships and trading traffic when it wasn't as popular at the beginning of the industry, because in '97, most of these large companies were launching a Thumbnail Gallery Post site that was, like, a dollar. And they were, luckily, having a million people sign up for that one-dollar membership. It catapulted a lot of larger companies like MANcheck into that major player field."
Today MANcheck is a huge gay presence with a member area that has 1.2 million photos, about 12,000 videos and more than 4,000 gay and straight models. The site also has a news section.
"Our mandate is to always keep our content at the highest level. I know our budget is astronomical per year on what we spend on content feeds, but you're really looking at all the major players in content supplying us with feeds," Soares says. "Our VOD section is a Maleflixxx VOD section, so we have that as well. We have really cool brother companies that are starting to emerge in our company — like Universal Bear, which is probably one of the strongest bear sites in the industry. We try to work with these companies that provide a really good product in a specific niche to be able to provide that to our customers."
The site offers one- and two-year memberships, as well as PlusVideo memberships giving access to all of the site's video content.
"In our business we should have a fifteen-minute rule. For every customer that comes to the site, they want to log in, lock the door to their office, unzip their pants, beat off, and zip up. And they want that done in fifteen minutes," Soares says.
"People coming for that objective don't necessarily want to hang around for the longest period of time. So we make sure that that accessibility is there for our clients, we make sure that if they're coming to our site and they want to check out one of our twelve thousand videos they can do it without feeling the angst of having to go through certain sections."
Soares interviews prospective models himself, and makes an effort to see all of them in person. He says he wants to make sure they develop their men so they have clear perspectives of what they're doing and — most importantly — when they're finished they feel good about their performance and themselves.
"People are always, like, 'Oh, you're always looking for beefcakes.' And my line is, 'We're chubby and we're small, at MANcheck we love them all.' I say that to guys that I interview. Some guys will say, 'I don't think that I'm the hottest.' And I'm, like, 'It doesn’t matter what you think. There could be a million people out there who think you're a god.'"
Soares adds that MANcheck has a strong brand. The site is revamping its membership area to make it more membership-based (look for blogs and more interactive qualities soon), and the new content program will keep with tradition and roll out two new galleries a month. Soares says that making original video productions is just a matter of time. "We're starting to see our own content program come back up again, and it's something the company hadn't seen in five years."
With its tenth anniversary coming up in 2007, Soares promises a bigger, bolder MANcheck, with a continued emphasis on community involvement.
"We're active within our own community here in Toronto. We reinvest in a lot of cultural and community activities, Pride functions. We try to throw circuit parties that bring awareness to certain issues or charities within our community or even ones that we may be facing as an adult Internet community as well," he says.
"And we just try to build on that old-fashioned type of camaraderie. It makes sense for us to reinvest in a community that feeds us. I think too often larger companies in our business tend to forget that."
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