Responsible erotica: meet Denise Kratzenberg, co-founder of CHEEX

Fostering a space where education is valued alongside pleasure

Denise Kratzenberg

With a focus on inclusivity and sexual liberation, CHEEX is a Berlin-based membership platform for sexual entertainment and education. It comprises authentic adult films, erotic audio stories, live sexual tutorials, and a taboo-breaking magazine. In this interview MediaCat Magazine‘s Content Editor, Andrea Buzzi, spoke to CHEEX’s co-founder, Denise Kratzenberg, and discussed how their innovative approach transforms the way we engage with intimate content, break taboos, and embrace diversity, all in the realm of sexual desire.

Denise, could you tell us more about CHEEX’s unique approach to exploring sexual desire in way that’s free from shame and taboo? How does the platform promote inclusivity and sexual liberation?

CHEEX was born from a fiery aspiration to shake up how we perceive and engage with intimacy. Our main goal is to promote sexual liberation and empower people. A CHEEX membership offers unlimited access to ad-free porn, sexy audio stories and live tutorials to boost your sex life. Users can take a break from the male gaze!

CHEEX promotes content creators from a diverse pool of producers, directors, performers and writers to showcase the many ways we experience sex and desire. Think representation instead of fetishization.

Sexuality can often be stigmatised, how do CHEEX go about creating a sex-positive community? What steps do you take to ensure that users feel comfortable exploring their desires?

Sex is as diverse as our society. Our latest campaign, Positions on Pleasure, exemplifies this inclusive ethos: A never before seen illustrated card deck showing 16 positions that are appropriate for different people and real sexual relationships, regardless of gender identity, age, or physical ability. We ensure that everyone feels part of the conversation. At CHEEX, intimacy is depicted in a very human way. We established a safe space where various identities, life circumstances, and body shapes could authentically express their sexual practices.

Just recently, we shot an in-house production where a couple engages in consensual sexual activity while the female performer uses a soft tampon during her period — with the male performer’s supportive involvement. A perspective you haven’t seen before.

CHEEX positions itself as a contemporary platform that aims to free pornography from taboo. Could you describe how the platform design and UX contribute to this mission? How does the brand aesthetic differ from the more traditional look and feel?

Established to ultimately challenge what has become the standard for porn sites, CHEEX sought to be considerate, shameless and loud in a social space so clouded in guilt, expectation and bad web design — refreshingly breaching the subject ethically and progressively, with a prominent emphasis on sex education, pleasure and open-mindedness. Tackling its identity and website design with a similar tone, the subsequent brand is forward-thinking, utilitarian and, most importantly, fun.

We are proud of being cheeky, rejoicing in the naughtiness and celebrating the fact that pleasure is something we all should be able to enjoy. We want our brand to reflect this. Through the design of a series of fruit stickers (ethical, fair-trade), funky slogans and a juicy peach logo, we want to push CHEEX to the front of the alternative porn industry.

Let’s delve deeper into CHEEX’s responsible content production approach. How do you ensure that all content on the platform aligns with ethical guidelines, such as featuring performers above the age of eighteen and selecting partners carefully?

Our dedication extends to providing a platform and voice to sex workers, enabling them to express themselves in a secure environment. This echoes our commitment to ethical production and equitable working conditions in the industry. For us, ethical porn signifies genuine intimacy, consensual interactions, and transparency. To uphold these principles, we adhere to a set of criteria that we promote:

  • All performers are at least 18 years old
  • Performers only engage in activities they’ve actively consented to
  • Transparent, fair compensation regulated by contracts
  • Regular and mandatory health testing is a must
  • Inclusive representation of diverse genders, preferences, and individuals
  • Eradicating stereotypes and all forms of discrimination
  • Presenting diverse sexual acts authentically

While relationships may not demand labels, ethical porn surely does.

Considering the diversity of sexual desires and preferences, how does CHEEX maintain a balance between authenticity and creating content that caters to a wide range of user interests?

Our audio segment is a prime example. It provides a new dimension of adult entertainment and wellness through sexy audiobooks, meditative journeys, educational guides, and more. These are professionally produced with authentic sounds of pleasure, diverse voice talents, and meticulous sound design. It’s about letting imagination take centre stage, offering something for everyone’s desires and relaxation needs.

Additionally, our diverse collection of erotic films spans over 25 categories, ensuring that individuals can find inspiration across various moods and fantasies. Whether it’s kink, real couples, or other preferences, our films are thoughtfully selected to reflect ethical, fair, and legal standards. Moreover, our Pleasure Academy serves as a space for in-depth sex education. It offers live workshops, tutorials, and an online magazine, allowing users to enhance their understanding of various aspects of sex and intimacy. With topics from ‘Body Activism‘ to ‘How to Deepthroat‘, we cater to diverse interests while maintaining our commitment to providing valuable and reliable information.

Slap my Dough / CHEEX Originals

The absence of adverts on CHEEX is noticeable. How does this contribute to the experience? What impact do you think this has, in terms of the perception people have of the platform?

The design of many porn platforms is generally rather dark, and looks like you are doing something forbidden. We, on the other hand, create a safe space with our user experience, where you feel comfortable, enjoy spending time and deal with your own sexuality without shame. Sex is as diverse as our society and there must be safe spaces for it, the important thing is consensus. The absence of ads or pop-ups further enhances the user experience, allowing them to explore their fantasies and broad range of sex education without interruption.

CHEEX presents a variety of seamless content in its porn collection, tailored to suit your mood. Indulge in captivating storylines for extended, sensual experiences, or satisfy your spontaneous urges with quick pleasure fixes.

In a world where instant gratification is often sought, how do CHEEX approach the concept of responsible consumption of adult content? Could you talk more about the idea that stories are meant to stimulate personal fantasies, and not become a necessity for satisfaction?

CHEEX approaches the concept of responsible consumption of adult content by emphasising the principles of consent and education. In a world where instant gratification is sought, we prioritise the importance of mutual agreement among all parties involved, in any personal fantasy. Consent is the foundation of responsible consumption, ensuring that everyone engages willingly and enthusiastically.

Furthermore, our platform provides educational resources that go beyond mere gratification. We encourage users to learn about various techniques, expand their horizons, and develop a deeper understanding of boundaries, preferences, and open communication. By fostering a space where education is valued alongside pleasure, we aim to create a well-rounded experience that respects the diverse interests and needs of our users. Our stories are designed to stimulate personal fantasies while encouraging responsible exploration, rather than becoming just for satisfaction.

Creating a space both educational and engaging can be a delicate balance. How do CHEEX approach the development of live sexual tutorials and erotic audio stories, to ensure they are informative while also captivating the audience interest?

We prioritise co-creation and authenticity. We let performers shape content, presentation, and even design — because why not give creative freedom a little striptease? Our collaboration with the Berlin Strippers Collective is a good example. We worked closely with them to produce personal audio stories that provided insight into their experiences as young strippers, offering an authentic and honest perspective on their lives. These stories aren’t just juicy, they’re like a backstage pass to their world. One episode mixes fantasy and reality, diving into the universe of stripping. Another episode challenges preconceived notions about men who visit strip clubs, offering a fresh and insightful perspective that challenges stereotypes. In a nutshell: it’s about making education entertaining, shedding light on untold stories, and breaking down stereotypes — while keeping it real and relatable.

Could you share an example of a marketing campaign that communicated the platform’s values of inclusivity, authenticity, and sexual liberation? And what were its outcomes?

Absolutely, our campaigns aren’t just about catching attention; they’re about making bold statements that challenge the status quo. Two prime examples: Organic Orgasm and Positions on Pleasure. In Organic Orgasm, we drew inspiration from the fair-trade movement. Imagine seeing cheeky slogans like ‘Fairtrade Fetish‘, ‘Biological Blowjob‘, and ‘Gluten-free Gang-bang‘ alongside ethical, fair-trade fruit stickers (like the ones you see on your organic veggies) on posters in cities like Berlin and Amsterdam. This eye-catching fusion of ethical standards and sexual expression sparked conversations. In daily life, these terms usually apply to food, clothing and cosmetics. Normally, these products have to meet a long list of criteria to ensure their quality — unlike porn.

Then there’s Positions on Pleasure. This campaign was a visual manifesto, aiming to redefine how we perceive intimacy. Collaborating with artist Diana Bobb, we show 16 bold illustrations that shatter conventions. From ‘Bleeding Hearts Club,’ embracing period sex, to ‘Intimacy Assistance,’ showing a sex assistant helping their disabled client, these illustrations showcase diverse characters in sexual scenarios.

Both campaigns not only caught attention but also ignited conversations around our core values of inclusivity, authenticity, and sexual liberation. By pushing these boundaries, we’re creating a more open and liberated space for sexual exploration, free from taboos and restrictions.

With the aim of presenting sexuality close to reality, could you talk about the process of curating authentic adult films and stories that resonate with users, whilst remaining respectful of their diverse preferences?

With us, every piece of content is reviewed by the whole content team. We know the contracts, salaries and all production conditions. The performers have a free choice of who they work with, the pay is fair and in the upper range of the industry average, tests for STDs are done beforehand at the expense of the production company, the performers have to prove their age and there is an intimacy coordinator on set, who supervises the shootings. Our films are also about interpersonal relationships, dealing with each other respectfully and with pleasure. You can definitely see in our films that the involved parties have fun with sexuality. The prominence of the female gaze shapes our platform’s foundation. In the realm of feminist porn, women aren’t objects; they’re empowered subjects making self-determined sexual choices, free from external sexualisation.

This portrayal is authentic and liberating, underscoring that sexual empowerment needn’t equate dominance. Notably, topics like gang-bangs or BDSM aren’t inherently negative; it’s about ensuring the enthusiastic consent of all parties involved. Ethical content can be candid and intense.

In an evolving digital landscape how do CHEEX plan to adapt to emerging trends in tech, design, and user expectations, whilst maintaining a core mission of breaking taboos and offering responsible content?

At CHEEX, embracing evolution is as important as embracing pleasure. As the digital landscape evolves, so do we. We’re committed to ensuring our platform remains engaging, accessible, and user-friendly. With the growing integration of AI in various industries, including the adult industry, we are aware of the advancements and potential challenges. For example, AI-generated content is an emerging field that presents both opportunities and ethical concerns. As we move forward, we’re dedicated to ensuring that our commitment to ethical production, authenticity, and consent remains uncompromised.

Featured image: Slap My Dough, Original film production / CHEEX

Andrea Buzzi, Former Content & Social Media Editor at MediaCat Magazine

Andrea’s experience includes digital publishing, marketing, comms, media relations and editorial, working for companies such as Italian Publishers Association, Gruppo Mondadori and Condé Nast in Italy. She joined MediaCat Magazine at the start of 2023 after her second (and hopefully her last) move to London. In September 2023 she moved on to work for a fashion magazine.

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