Curvy, Confident, and Canny - Kelly Shibari: The Woman with a Cap Full of Feathers

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I first saw Kelly at the International Lingerie Show (ILS), modeling the sexy plus size harness ‘Bella,’ by one of my favorite brands - Spareparts® HardWear.  Kelly Shibari is an adult film star that began her entertainment career with production of Hollywood films. This amazing woman breaks so many of the negative stereotypes about adult film stars, and plus size women.  She is intelligent, holds multiple degrees, is confident, sexy, humble, and wasn’t raised in a broken home.  I like to call her the “Jackie-of-all- trades,” as she’s done it all continues breaking through the same barriers holding so many others back.  What I found to be most impressive is her level of authenticity and openness, and the positivity and confidence she exudes. 
           
During the interview we discussed being plus size, her sexuality, her take on masturbation, her favorite toys, her experience being 2 time winner of ‘The Fannys,’ life on and off-screen, upcoming projects, her collection of feathers, and much more.  Here are some highlights from the interview:

Kelly on being 2-Time Winner of ‘The Fannys’:
            Toni:    Congratulations on your recent win of “The Fannys.”  How has this                          experience been for you?

            Kelly:  It has been an awesome and humbling experience.  
  • This is a fan-based award Kelly believes she achieved by being so connected with her fans by talking to them all the time on social media. Kelly has a huge fan-base on Instagram, more than 10,000 followers on Facebook, and more than 65,000 followers on Twitter.

Kelly on being Plus Size:
            Toni:    What are some stereotypes you’ve overcome within the industry?

            Kelly:  In general, the industry has been more accepting of plus size performers over the past 4 or 5 years.  This is my 7th year in the industry and during my first couple years, especially before social media, it was more-or-less a fetish-side niche done by a few companies whose primary focus was big-busted women. Now, with the huge growth of social media, so many have become more open and ‘out-of-the- closet' with their love for bigger women. Currently, award companies that once lumped bbw (big beautiful women) porn with specialty categories, such as clown porn and foot fetish, now include it as its own separate category…with the exception of a few which I’m hoping changes soon!

            Toni:    What internal and external challenges do you still face being plus size?

            Kelly:  I’ve always been a plus size girl.  My time within the industry as a performer, in  terms of fans, has been very positive; this actually helps with my self-esteem.  Not that I had horribly low self-esteem before, but there is a definite difference between being out in the real world, having boyfriends, having been a kid and been teased and bullied about being fat, and then suddenly being in movies and on the internet, and having hundreds of thousands of fans email and tell you that you’re their  fantasy person.  This is a different type of validation.  On the other hand, you don’t necessarily solicit this type of attention when it comes to other emotional levels of attachment, such as a boyfriend or husband, and you hope the person likes you for not only physical reasons, but other reasons as well. 
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  •           Within the industry­­ Kelly is comfortable with any plus-sized positive term.  Personally, Kelly prefers chubby or curvy! Kelly is the only Asian and curvy adult film star.  She was also the only plus size woman to have been molded for the limited edition, Fleshlight.  Recently, Kelly co-created jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex: Plus Size.  This is the first ever educational video on plus size sex, something Kelly has wanted to do for 4 years. The video is set to be released around summertime.

Kelly, Outside of Performing:
            Toni:    So being that I originally met you at ILS, how did you get involved with Spareparts® HardWear? (A hit brand in the LGBTQ community)

            Kelly:  Spareparts® HardWear distributes through a couple companies.  The main one (Entrenue), which is sort of a boutique and high-end one, works with several companies that use a sales training company called STEME (Steme.biz) to teach retail staff, and I handle their PR and social media.  Well, the owner of STEME contacted me about Sparparts® HardWear looking for a model to promote their new plus size harness, Bella. 
*        
  •       Most novelty companies won’t use adult performers to promote product because they want to be able to target mainstream clients.  Spareparts® HardWear chose Kelly and made her the “face/body” of Bella.  Currently, she is the model on their box.  For two years now Spareparts® HardWear has hired Kelly as a live model for their plus size harness, Bella, at ILS.

            Toni:    Speaking of novelties, what’s your take on adult pleasure products?  Are you a fan of toys?

            Kelly: I love toys! I have always been a big fan of masturbation!  I’ve been masturbating since I was 9.  I’ve always been very much in touch with my body, how it works, and how certain things are pleasurable.  I’m also a nerd, so I like trying new gadgets.  A lot of the things I try don’t work, for me, but I’m more of a clitoral person.  (Although I recently found out I can squirt!)  But I’ve always been a big fan of vibrators.

            Toni:    So what are your top 3 favorite toys?

            Kelly:  Shibari Wands HALO is number 1.  I tested it for the first time and thought, ‘This is the best thing ever!’ Some of the original wand vibrators are so strong, it feels like they might burn my clit off. The HALO is strong enough to get me off in 0-60, without the worry of too much stimulation.  I can use it with a partner, but I really enjoy it by myself. 

                        Because I’ve recently learned how to squirt, I was introduced to the G-Spot Lollipop.   It looks, literally, like a toy baton, and it's low-tech but works every time. If you're looking to squirt, that’s a product that works almost every time.
 


                        I’m also a fan of Liberator, and all the different wedges, for a variety of  reasons.  I love the Wanda, which you attach a Shibari Wand type toy too and ride it.  It’s great when you’re playing with a partner because you can do a lot of forced orgasm type play.


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          Toni:    Speaking of partner play, you identify as bisexual.  Tell me about your sexual  preference?

           Kelly:  The interesting thing about being in porn is that it has given me an accelerated experience of doing all the things that would take other people years to figure out if they actually like or not, in a controlled and safe environment, where everyone is tested.  When I first started out 7 years ago I was completely bisexual (I used to date women).  I have found over the years that I have a pretty masculine, hetero-normative mindset.  I love guys.  My personal sexual preference is heterosexual, but I do love women for play.  I love strip clubs, and I love having a play partner.  Currently,  I consider myself mostly hetero, with a desire to play with women on the side.
           
            Toni:    When you retire from performing what do you want to do, would you remain in the       adult industry?

            Kelly:   I absolutely love this industry.  With all of its weird chaos and drama, I am still a big fan of this industry.  I’ve always been in some segment of entertainment since college, and this is just something that I have naturally fallen into. I think segwaying away from performing when that time comes is not going to be very difficult.  Right now the majority of my work is in PR and marketing.

  • Kelly was a roadie for rock n’ roll tours, and was then a production designer for mainstream Hollywood films and commercials.

            Toni:    What feathers haven’t you collected that you would like to collect? What can we look forward to coming up?

            Kelly:  I'm kind of running out of things to check off my list.  At a certain point you say ‘wow, what haven’t I done sexually that I still want to do?’  I haven’t done porn anal.  This is different than regular anal with an average sized penis.  I am currently working on a project where I get to do that for the first time.  I’m extremely nervous. I’ve done plenty of girl/girl anal with toys on camera, but it’s different when it’s attached to a human body.
                         
                         As for upcoming projects, once the educational film is out I will work on promoting that.  I really enjoy doing PR and marketing because every week is a different project, so that will continue.

  •  Kelly Shibari does PR and marketing, modeling for companies like Spareparts® HardWear, work with adult novelty manufactures, blogging, editing, and more. Later today, Kelly will be showcased on the cover of Penthouse Forum. 

It was such a pleasure to interview such an intelligent and awe-inspiring woman.  At one point during the interview Kelly talked about a saying in her family, “It doesn’t really matter what line of work a potential girlfriend is in; if she acts like a lady you treat her like a lady, if she acts like trash you treat her like trash.”  In all that she does she takes pride in doing it with class, and her collection of feathers in her cap is proof of this.  Personally, I can say I have met so many that supposedly fit into mainstreams classification of “professional” that have less class than she.  We need more Kelly’s in the adult industry to help break the stereotypes that accompany it.   

Connect with Kelly Shibari:
 
Websites: kellyshibarixxx.com, Paddedkink.com, ThePRSMgroup.com
Facebook: KellyShibari
Twitter: KellyShibari

Thinking out-of-the-box: Email Marketing

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A lot of us have a email lists...but how many of us use it?  How many of us send out emails manually?  There are plenty of companies out there that offer this service.  Some of these companies include: email-list.com, emailbrain.com, and  mailchimp.com (what I personally use because it's free).

Here are 3 tips on increasing your consumer base:

Research from 2012 shows:

  • Using the "$" or "sale" in the subject line produced above average opens, while other words like "discount, and "free" received below average opens.
Tip #1:  Do your research and insert words that are more likely to get customers to open

  •  Over 60% of people stated that simply "not being interested" was the #1 reason for not opening emails, followed by "receiving too many." 
 Tip # 2:  Be creative in keeping your customers interested in your company, and don't slam them with multiple emails.

  • 78% Of U.S. email users will also access their emails via mobile by 2017.  
 Tip #3:  Keep it short and sweet, but include a link to your site (where you have an extended version of your information).  Who wants to read pages and pages of information on their phone?


  


Sources: Chadwick Martin Bailey, 2012, Forrester Research, Email Marketing Forecast 2012 – 2017,  Adestra July 2012 Report



Thinking out-of-the-box: Rep Accountability

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T.O.B- Rep Accountability-

Tip #1.  Do what works for other successful companies

There has been a big push for follow-up surveys, customer cards, customer satisfaction etc... Implement a customer satisfaction survey program to your business.  Following a party, send out a short email to your customer.  Include standard questions with a rating system.  Take  it a step further and have a reward for your rep with the highest ratings each month or quarter.  It increases customer loyalty and satisfaction, offers opportunities for feedback, and holds your reps accountable.


LGBTQ 101

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Why does all of this matter?  More education = less stereotypes, less discrimination, and more sales.
Why more sales?  Studies show when people feel more comfortable they buy.
If you know the difference you're less likely to say something offensive possibly killing a sale or losing potential clients.  Negative word of mouth can be devastating to your business.
So what does all this mean?

Well.... Here are the basics everyone (especially those working in the adult industry) should know!
Gender Identity-
What it is: How you feel
What it is not: What's between your legs.
Your gender identity can differ from whats between your legs, what you are attracted to, or how you appear at a given moment.  There are those who dress in drag and still feel like their biological sex in everyday life...On the opposing end, there are those who conform to societal norms and feel every bit of the opposite sex inside.
Play it safe: Don't assume...either ask, or leave it alone! You can say "Whats your PGP?" (Preferred Gender Pronoun) if you don't want to offend, and you should get a he/she response.

Gender Expression-
What it is: How you externally present
What it is not: Stereotypical roles of men/women
Gender Expression is (usually) how you want others to see you.  If you choose to wear heels as opposed to tennis shoes, or sitting with your legs open as opposed to crossed.  This is in everything the smallest gestures to what you are wearing.  Just as the hetero-community has a growing number of "stay at home dads," and "independent women," leaving less room for assumption, don't assume if you see a masculine women she doesn't cook or clean, or isn't with child.  Likewise, don't assume a feminine man can't change a tire.
Play it safe:  Making comments that can places anyone  in a gender-role box can leave a bad taste in their mouth. Example: If selling to a couple (both female), don't assume the one with a more masculine look would use a strap-on, instead ask "What are your interests?" addressing the pair, to get a feel for who's using what with whom.  It may shock you to see that they are opposed to it all-together. 

Biological Sex-
What it is:  Whats between your legs and inside
What it is not: How you feel, or how you present
Biological sex is what anatomy you are born with, your hormones, and your chromosomes (whether XX, XY, or a combination of the two). On rare occasions you may not know from the organs down below.  With intersex, and individual could have what appears to be a small penis and ovaries.
Play it safe: Never use the term "hermaphrodite."  The term once used is now extremely offensive.

Sexual Orientation-
What it is: What you like
What it is not: What you "look like you like"
Sexual orientation can be tricky to detect.  There are those that swear by their "gaydar," but truth is....you never really know....especially because an individual may not know themselves.  Some are in denial, some are in the closet, some are out and proud, and others may be internally confused.  Lets stay away from the choice vs. genes debate.  Just as people may not know what goes on in your bedroom, people may not know what someone is sexually, emotionally, or spiritually attracted too (Or if they are sexually attracting to anyone at all).
Play it safe: Never assume...speaking as someone in the community....if you really need to know...just ask.  People are much less offended by honest questions, than ignorant assumptions.
Sexual Orientation Myth:

Bisexual means you're confused, or that you like everyone equally.
Bisexual means you like biological males and biological females, it does not include transgender or intersex, and it does not mean you like both men and women the same.  The term be attracted to  "people" in general is Pan-Sexual.



Why do Rabbits have Faces?

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I always feel like...somebody's watchin' me!  What's your opinion about vibes with faces? I have had mixed reviews from clients.  Some say it's "creepy" while others say the face makes it "cute."  I happen to error on the side of "creepy," but not so creepy it deters me from using it.  My opinion, if you're going for cute, go all-the-way cute....like the Muse....Now there's a cute vibe with some personality!!!
(Soooo cute)....but a phallic shaped rabbit, with a funny lookin' face, scopin' out your insides?  That's a miss for me-- design wise.  But hey, if it does the job then stare away little face. So why the face?  Through my research I have found 2 consistent stories regarding this Japanese mystery.

 Reason #1.  Legal Loophole-The phallus is an extremely sensitive symbol, and its use in production is strictly prohibited.  In order to get it past legislation, the Japanese came up with an oh-so-creative way to "disguise" the vibrating wonder....slap a face under the head! Genius....no one will ever recognize it now!  Actually they put the face under the tip....or they turn the vibe into animals or creatures...like dolphins.

Reason #2. Vibrating Dolls (Another legal loophole)- It is illegal in Japan to ship sex toys out of the country; so, in order to get these high demand items to other areas, a face is made on the vibrator and it sold as a vibrating doll.  Can u comb its hair...No. Can you play dress up with it...Not exactly. Will it be on your 6 years old's Christmas list...Let's hope not! But it can bring you hours and hours of pleasure. Batteries not included...


Whatever the reason...be ready to respond to clients either for or against the vibrating dolls/un-phallic like phallus.