The words “adult virgin” tend to conjure a very specific image.
It’s usually a guy who suffers from the sort of social awkwardness that inspires cringes of embarrassment. Or, you know, Steve Carell laying prone and screaming, “Aaaaaah KELLY CLARKSON!” as he gets his chest waxed in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”
Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other, right?
YouTube network Black & Sexy TV is debuting a new series tomorrow, called “Sexless,” which follows the lives of four women, two of whom are virgins and two of whom have taken voluntary vows of celibacy. The network has been teasing the show with six-minute minisodes on its channel — they’re way too racy to embed here.
The series comes from co-creators Leah Williams — an actress who played the judgy, lip-pursing Dolores “Sister Mary” Clarence on “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” — Black & Sexy co-founder Numa Perrier and writer Esther Weithers.
“They’re navigating what it is to be a virgin in your twenties out there in the dating world, and what it is to make a decision that you want to stop having sex for awhile or you’re going through something where it means something different to you but you still want to date,” Perrier said. “It’s not like you’re locking yourself in your closet. You still want to be out there, you still want to meet interesting people, but you’re just not willing to cross that line of intimacy.”
Valentine’s Day is a big deal in the Black & Sexy universe. Last year, the founders of the network, Perrier, Dennis Dortch, Jeanine Daniels and Brian Ali Harding, began experimenting with a pay model. They started by releasing the second-season premiere of “Hello Cupid” on VHX for $3, then moved to charging for the series finales of “Hello Cupid,” “RoomieLoverFriends,” and “That Guy.” At the end of the year, they released “That Guy: The Movie,” a feature-length film picking up where the series left off. They quickly became one of the top sources of revenue for the site.
On Saturday, the network is debuting its monthly streaming subscription service, Black & Sexy Now, Perrier revealed exclusively to The Washington Post. For fans who subscribe before Tuesday, the price will be $5 per month with a guarantee that inaugural subscribers will retain the same price for the duration of their subscriptions. After Monday, the cost goes up to $7 per month. Black & Sexy also plans to offer exclusive content through its streaming service. Full episodes of “Sexless,” for instance, will only available through Black & Sexy Now following Saturday’s premiere.
“We’ll still do the pay-per-views, because not everyone’s going to subscribe,” Perrier said. “But we’re trying to make it cost-effective and enticing.”
With “Sexless,” its creators really wanted to make a series where the virgins weren’t oddball freaks. Perrier referenced an episode of the network’s all-male talk show “Minute Man,” which asked the question “Would you date a virgin?”
All four men said no.
“They even went as far to say a woman who was 30-plus years old and a virgin must be crazy, or there must be something wrong with her if she hasn’t had sex by that age,” Perrier said. “It really upset a lot of our audience. We never received that kind of backlash before on anything that we’ve done … women were outraged, whether they were virgins or not.”
So “Sexless” is an effort to show a side of celibacy and virginity in adulthood that isn’t accompanied by markers of immaturity or social isolation, or even religiosity.
Though the plan to move to a subscription model has been in the works for some time, this shift puts Black & Sexy right in the midst of a larger shift toward streaming subscription services from individual networks.
Last fall, HBO and Showtime announced that they would begin offering streaming subscriptions in 2015, no cable subscription required. ESPN followed, and even Nickelodeon is planning to offer a standalone subscription service.
“It just makes business sense for everybody to be trying to figure this out,” Perrier said. “For us, it’s not about us being this big TV channel that’s now trying to figure out the digital space. We’re four independent filmmakers who discovered that we could use this platform to our advantage. We come at it in a different way, but we do understand that being first is important. Being ahead of everyone else is important, which is why we don’t want to delay any longer.”