Tosca Musk, Elon’s sister, has a business venture of her own — and it’s all about romance and female sexuality

Atlanta, Georgia

Tosca Musk strides onto the crimson carpet at a Regal Cinemas, statuesque in a white pant go well with and glistening burgundy silk most sensible.

A hush comes over a bunch accumulated outdoor the theater’s doorways. Some whip out mobile phones and get started recording her each transfer.

It’s a cold October night time in Atlanta, and the enthusiasts are right here for the premiere of “Torn,” the second one in a trilogy of romantic fable films according to books by way of writer Jennifer Armentrout. The crowd of most commonly feminine enthusiasts vary in age from their twenties to their seventies, and a few flew in from Boston, Detroit and different towns.

It is a large night time for Musk and her five-year-old streaming carrier Passionflix, the backer of the film. It’s their first public movie premiere for the reason that pandemic began.

She floats from one team to any other, chatting without difficulty with Passionflix’s superfans, referred to as Passionistas. Her older brother, Elon Musk, could also be essentially the most well-known sibling within the circle of relatives, however he’s no longer the one person who’s based an organization.

Musk, 48, is the drive at the back of Passionflix, which adapts romance novels into films and streams them to a faithful area of interest target market. Romance novels are the most well liked style of books in america, and Musk is tapping into that marketplace with tales about sultry, tough feminine leads and good-looking males with chiseled abs. She directs one of the most motion pictures herself.

“Passionflix makes a speciality of adapting romance novels precisely because the fan and the writer envision it,” Musk says in a separate CNN interview. “We focal point on connection, conversation and compromise – and take away the disgrace from sexuality, in particular for ladies, as it empowers ladies to each recognize and ask for excitement.”

Days previous, at the set of a Passionflix film, “The Secret Lifetime of Amy Bensen,” Musk supplies a couple of glimpses into existence together with her well-known circle of relatives.

Perched on a military blue sofa in a room tucked within a warehouse in suburban Atlanta, she chooses her phrases sparsely when requested about her older brother, who used to be at the verge of his Twitter acquisition.

The Musk kids – Elon, Tosca and any other brother, center kid Kimbal – had been born in South Africa and hung out in Canada ahead of coming to america. Their father, Errol, is an engineer and assets developer, whilst their glamorous mom, Maye, is a type.

From left to right: Tosca Musk, Kimbal Musk, mother Maye Musk and Elon Musk at Maye's 50th birthday party in 1998.

Tosca Musk attended movie college on the College of British Columbia in Vancouver and moved to California after commencement. For 3 months, she labored for one in all Elon Musk’s corporations, Zip2.

“I noticed each time I stepped out of the movie international, I used to be simply no longer glad,” she says. “It simply wasn’t my factor.”

After a temporary stint on the Los Angeles place of business of Canadian media corporate Alliance Atlantis, she started directing and generating motion pictures whilst nonetheless in her twenties.

Musk produced romance motion pictures for the Lifetime and Hallmark channels and in 2005 introduced a comic book internet sequence, Tiki Bar TV, which used to be hailed by way of Apple CEO Steve Jobs as forward of its time within the rising box of vodcasts – or video podcasting.

Then got here Passionflix. Its starting place tale is a vintage story of when one door closes, any other one opens.

About 5 years in the past, Musk were given an electronic mail from a lady who sought after her to show her script into a film. Musk liked the script, however there wasn’t a lot passion from manufacturing corporations.

“Folks weren’t in point of fact that as it used to be too risque … It used to be an grownup film with just a little little bit of reincarnation, such things as that,” she says. “It simply wasn’t a type of issues that common community tv sought after to do.”

However Musk met the lady, Joany Kane, in Los Angeles, they usually bonded over their shared interest for love novels. All over that dialog, Kane introduced up the speculation of turning romance novels into films and making a streaming platform for them.

And with that, Passionflix used to be born – with Musk on the helm and Kane as a co-founder.

“We had no buyers. We needed to cross out and to find each investor. So it used to be a question of going out and pitching each unmarried particular person,” Musk says. “We pitched each pal, each circle of relatives member, everyone only for that small little bit of angel funding. It used to be arduous. The primary cash in is all the time the toughest cash.”

Kevin Joy on the red carpet at the premiere of Passionflix's

Musk declines to mention whether or not her brother Elon used to be one in all her authentic buyers. However she says she will all the time depend on her two brothers, together with restaurateur Kimbal Musk, to offer her recommendation on her industry ventures. She tries to not ask except she in point of fact must.

“I am getting recommendation from them to a undeniable stage after I ask for it. However no unsolicited recommendation,” she says. “If I ask for recommendation, I don’t have any doubt that he (Elon) will give it to me. After which I’ve to take it, as a result of he’s going to be proper. So you must in point of fact need to know what you wish to have to invite. However as a rule after I’m with my circle of relatives, we speak about circle of relatives issues.”

So what does she take into consideration her brother’s new position as CEO of Twitter – and the flurry of headlines surrounding it?

No remark.

Passionflix’s first movie used to be “Hollywood Filth,” according to a best-selling novel by way of Alessandra Torre a few Southern lady who unearths romance with a Hollywood megastar when he involves her small the town to movie a film.

“All over that taking pictures of that film, we had been suffering,” Musk says. “Are we going to get cash? Are we going so to end it? We weren’t in point of fact positive. We mainly had been simply form of piecing the bucks in combination.”

In Would possibly 2017, Musk performed a trailer of the film at a romance novel conference and requested attendees to prepay $100, as founding individuals, for a two-year Passionflix subscription. About 4,000 other people signed up, Musk says, and he or she and Kane used that to turn doable buyers they had been onto one thing.

“Seeking to lift cash for a female-driven platform on romance used to be simply no longer top on anyone’s precedence listing on the time,” she says. “However once we confirmed there used to be that many of us that may come on board, the buyers simply began flying in.”

Fans take photos of people on the red carpet at the premiere of Passionflix's

Passionflix has since produced greater than two dozen feature-length and quick motion pictures, in keeping with the Web Film Database.

The corporate stays lean – it has a core staff of 7 individuals who every put on a large number of hats. Along with generating its personal content material, Passionflix additionally licenses motion pictures for its platform.

“I feel the largest problem for Passionflix is we will’t produce sufficient content material to satiate the enthusiasts,” Musk says. “It’s a fight with such a lot of streaming platforms, when other people need authentic content material at all times.”

With greater than 200 streaming services and products now competing for audience, such area of interest markets face a myriad of demanding situations, says Dan Rayburn, a streaming media knowledgeable and marketing consultant.

Developing, licensing and advertising content material may be very pricey, he mentioned. And whilst romance is the biggest-selling style of books in the United States, that doesn’t essentially imply its reputation interprets to films.

“That’s evaluating apples to oranges. Books are other,” Rayburn says. “This industry is past tricky. It’s extremely aggressive and calls for an absolute huge amount of cash.”

Passionflix fees a subscription price of $5.99 a month. The corporate does no longer reveal its subscriber numbers. Musk says subscribers are within the “six figures,” however declines to supply specifics.

Rayburn says it’s arduous to resolve the corporate’s profitability with out figuring out its bills, together with manufacturing and licensing prices.

“OK, for those who don’t have subscriber numbers, what’s the utilization? What number of hours per 30 days do other people watch it? How a lot are you spending on content material licensing?”

A deep dive into Passionflix’s on-line film catalog finds a mixture of fresh romance, fable romance, paranormal romance, erotic fan fiction and comparable sub-genres.

The flicks, which circulate at the Passionflix website and on Amazon Top Video, are rated on an escalating steaminess scale Musk calls a “barometer of naughtiness.”

The 5 classes: Oh So Vanilla, for healthy romcoms; Mildly Titillating; Pastime and Romance; Toe Curling Yumminess; and NSFW (Now not Protected for Paintings). The latter class has risque plot traces and extra intercourse – assume “Fifty Sunglasses of Gray.”

However Musk says that even the naughtiest Passionflix films don’t achieve the soft-core porn threshold.

“After we first began Passionflix, any individual requested us if we’re going to price the use of MPAA,” she says, relating to the Movement Image Affiliation of The usa’s film rankings similar to PG-13, R, and so on. “I don’t in truth like all of the ones rankings. They’re no longer explicit to ladies. I sought after one thing that might price our displays and create extra of a tongue-in-cheek dialog.”

Attendees watch the premiere of Passionflix's

Musk says she’s a romantic at center and is a huge fan of the style.

“Love is fantastic, it’s extremely tough. I like to inform tales of affection, a wide variety of affection,” she says. “So parental love, pal love, circle of relatives love, and love between any roughly couple.”

That huge vary of romantic genres, and its attractive content material, are what units Passionflix except for channels similar to Hallmark and Lifetime Film Community, says romance novelist Tamara Lush. She believes the romance style has been particularly widespread right through the pandemic as a result of other people search convenience in tales with happy-ever-after endings.

“Hallmark is romance-centered however the tales are very, very candy. Passionflix tells a much wider vary of news, and those romance readers need to watch,” Lush says.

“The recognition of ‘Bridgerton,’ ‘After’ and ’365 Days’ on Netflix must inform streaming services and products all they wish to know: that romance is a profitable and certain wager for audience.”

Passionflix’s authentic subscribers, referred to as founding individuals, get get right of entry to to film premieres and filming units.

Remaining month in Atlanta, about 4 dozen of them piled into the Regal theater for the premiere of “Torn.” Following the film, Musk hosted a question-and-answer consultation with the lead actors, adopted by way of an after-party at a bar around the boulevard. Lovers and actors mingled over beverages.

Debbie Parziale, 67, says she flew in from Boston for the development. One of the most founding individuals, she says she spent the pandemic years curled up on her sofa, observing Passionflix films.

“I like Tosca’s premise of empowering ladies and making intercourse no longer one of these taboo matter,” she says. “She’s so true to the romance novels. Whilst you learn a ebook and watch one in all her films, it’s the ebook you learn.”

Debbie Parziale, Deborah Thornton and Amanda Cromer, from left, at the premiere of

Amanda Cromer, 32, says she signed up for Passionflix at a romance ebook conference. She loves the camaraderie that incorporates being a part of the Passionistas. The crowd has a digital ebook membership, referred to as Pastime Squad.

As one of the most authentic individuals, Cromer can consult with units and engage with the actors. Cromer, who lives in a suburb of Atlanta, says that right through a consult with to the set of “Torn” she become an additional in a restaurant scene.

“I like the empowerment the flicks deliver,” says Cromer, who attended remaining month’s “Torn” premiere together with her mom.

“They make a choice books with robust feminine leads. They’ve performed one of these excellent activity of portraying the feminine personality as a robust impartial feminine, and no longer a timid particular person.”

Again at the set of her newest romance film, Tosca Musk strikes from one carefully furnished room to any other.

Musk lives in suburban Atlanta together with her two kids, 9-year-old twins who had been conceived via in vitro fertilization the use of an nameless sperm donor.

She’s on the point of fly to Italy with the twins to movie “Gabriel’s Redemption,” the 3rd ebook in a chain by way of Sylvain Reynard a few Dante pupil and his passionate affair with a more youthful graduate pupil. She says they plan to experience a number of gelato in Florence and consult with Oxford, England, so the children can see one of the most places the place the Harry Potter films had been filmed.

As a unmarried mom, Musk says she marvels on the trail that led her to a task she loves.

Tosca Musk poses for a portrait in Fairburn, Georgia, on October 11, 2022.

She hopes Passionflix will lend a hand persuade the movie trade’s large names that adopting romance novels into films is a worthy funding.

“The leisure international is managed most commonly by way of males. On the finish of the day, the choices have a tendency to sway towards the male target market versus the feminine target market,” she says. “Additionally they have a tendency to be extra in regards to the victimization of ladies than they’re about sexually unfastened or sexually empowered tales about ladies.”

And for Musk, there’s additionally a more effective reason why for her filmmaking ventures.

“I’m a storyteller at center,” she says. “I simply need so to inform tales.”

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