After her husband rebuffed her offers to experiment with sexting or threesomes and even an open marriage, Sally McCloud* decided to take action. This summer, the 38-year-old woman from New Jersey joined Pure, the hot new hookup app where anything goes.
Going by the handle “Philosophical Fairy,” McCloud met a traveling businessman hot for her “mommy bod” and they enjoyed a rendezvous at a Newark hotel last September. The tryst finally convinced McCloud that her boring sex life wasn’t her fault.
“On Pure I found that I was a lot more desirable than I thought I was, and the guys seem to be enjoying me and my witty banter. Honestly, this app has helped me unlearn a lot of junk I’d been carrying with me, that sex was shameful until marriage or that a man’s needs always come first.”
Launched in 2013, Pure has only just started marketing the app in the US as a site for “shameless dating,” an online ad board where users can explicitly say what they’re looking for right now. The brainchild of Ukrainian entrepreneurs Roman Sidorenko and Alexander Kukhtenko, the app currently boasts a half-million active, international users, mostly in cities like London, Paris, Berlin and Moscow. In the New York City area, Pure has approximately 20,000 prospective daters. In April 2020, Olga Petrunina, who previously founded several IT companies in the travel and crypto industries, became the CEO of Pure. According to the company’s literature, “As a woman, Olga’s main goal is to improve the female experience with online dating.”
“Our founders imagined Pure like Uber for dating — right here, right now,” says Anna Hintsyak, the company’s marketing manager in the US and UK.
According to Hintsyak, the number of Pure users has increased 120 percent since last year. Men on Pure pay $18 a month, while women use it for free.
The average user is between 25 and 40, with 67 percent identifying as male, 30 percent female, and 3 percent non-binary. Seventy percent say they are straight, 20 percent claim to be bisexual with the remainder saying they are gay, lesbian, queer or asexual. (Notably, while the vast majority of Pure users are men, no male users would agree to speak to The Post.)
As for the kind of men she meets, “it’s not just rich Manhattan guys,” said Natalie DeCamp*, a 28-year-old New York City hospitality employee who has been using the site for about five years. “It’s very diverse people from all walks of life, and they’re all pretty pervy.”
New users of Pure will find it straightforward enough, downloadable via either Apple or Google. Users post a profile after identifying only their gender and sexual identity and then scroll away for possible matches. When matches are made — or when users pay an extra $2 to send direct messages to others — possible paramours can either chat, send each other audio messages or agree to connect via the site’s video feature.
One unique feature is the “chat timer,” which begins a 24-hour countdown when two users match. If the daters don’t talk during that window, the chat “self-destructs,” ending any chance for connection. While some might feel pressured by that, others appreciate the nudge.
“Pure is a lot of ‘cut to the chase,’ and the timer encourages us to do that,” McCloud said.
DeCamp agrees, saying, “Otherwise people dilly-dally.”
Pure was conceived around the same time as Tinder, Hintsyak explains. She says founder Sidorenko saw Tinder was “gaining steam and building a culture around ‘endless dating.’” But he also noticed Western culture was “straying away from monogamy and saw a different opportunity for Pure,” namely the chance to “provide quality over quantity for dating app users,” making the right kind of connections in a “sex-positive” environment.
Hintsyak says Pure isn’t trying to be just another Tinder, though, or even Grindr for straights.
“We stand for diversity and inclusivity, so when creating a profile, there are three genders to choose from (male, female, non-binary) and five sexual identities (heterosexual, queer, lesbian, bisexual, asexual).”
Nonetheless, the site is mostly a go-to for heterosexuals searching for casual sex. Nearly all of the users interviewed by The Post found Pure either by scrolling through the app store or Googling “best straight hook-up app.”
Along with offering interesting dating opportunities, Pure prides itself as a site where all fetishes are welcome but shame is not, Hintsyak says.
“Our mission now is not purely providing a safe space for dating, but also creating content together with sex educators and psychologists to help people understand their desires and kinks are healthy, valid, and natural.” That content is found in the app’s “Journal,” which includes columns on Culture (“11 Must-Watch Films on Transgressive Sexuality and Kinks”), Dating (“Friends With Benefits: A Self-deluding Concept?”), and Pleasure (“5 Rules to Enjoy Sexting for Beginners”). There are also first-hand accounts called #PureStories, where users describe what it’s like to date on the app.
Pure users aren’t vetted by the company, but female fans said they feel confident using the platform because of its emphasis on privacy. Everyone on Pure can remain anonymous, male or female, and no one has to include pictures with a profile. Plus, if someone does send photos to a match, the images self-destruct within seconds of being viewed.
“The self-destructing photos are one of Pure’s winning features,” said “Vibrant Seductress,” a 30-year-old woman who lives on the Upper West Side and works in the medical field.
But the self-destruct photo feature can be turned off, too, for cases when a user wants a match to enjoy their picture permanently.
“Vibrant Seductress” said she doesn’t bother with the photos too much, though, other than to ensure a person’s “attractiveness,” and she definitely isn’t into sexting, as she joined Pure expressly for “casual sex.”
“I’m intentional in wanting to hook up, so sexting is a waste of my time.”
She adds that Pure is “better than the other sites when it comes to no-strings-attached hook-ups.”
Neither photos nor chats on the app can be copied or saved, and if a user attempts to take a screenshot, an alert is immediately sent out. And while the platform’s in-house camera allows for video chats for users to chat or sext, those videos are never saved, not on Pure’s servers or in the cloud, Hintsyak said.
“The app does a good job of empowering women and keeping them comfortable,” said “Dynamic Provocateur,” a 20-something grad student living in Lower Manhattan.
Which is not to say Pure’s female users don’t have to jump through hoops to find a decent guy. Many a man on the site has been known to sneak in a suspect photo that shows them fitter or with more hair than they truly have — or even times when they purported to be a handsome celebrity who they, of course, are not, said Dynamic Provocateur.
“Finding a gem on here requires a lot of vetting and hard work, but they do exist,” she added.
McCloud has come to the same conclusion.
“I’ve had one or two not good experiences, mostly where guys don’t look like what they’re supposed to, but I’ve also had a lot of really good experiences, too.”
Which isn’t to say Pure is for everyone. Sure, there are many straights on the site looking for casual sex, DeCamp explains, but it’s not always sex for the faint of heart.
“The other day I met a guy for extremely strict Dom Daddy/Little Girl role-play,” she tells The Post. “We met up for bubble tea and then [had sex] in Central Park at night in a kind of public location — that was a kind of regular Pure date for me.”
DeCamp said that her tastes run so outré, Tinder has banned her from using its site.
“Tinder’s so puritanical now,” she said. “I’m into hardcore sadomasochism and psychological role-play” and some of her fantasies “have been hard to come by, even on Pure.”
*All names have been changed.
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