Tosca Musk’s digital streaming platform turns up the heat for lovers of romance
Story By Shanee Edwards | Photos by Maria Martin
Tosca Musk is a romantic at heart. She’s made a career of writing, directing and producing films in the romance genre, but her current infatuation is with digital entrepreneurship. Forward-thinking and tech-savvy, the longtime Playa Vista resident’s latest venture is the creation of Passionflix — a streaming platform created specifically for fans of the romance genre.
Until Passionflix, she says, “There has never been a place where you could find great romance movies that you know are going to take you on an emotional roller coaster, but are also going to have a happy ending.”
The “emotional rollercoaster” of romance stories, says Musk, is what allows people to laugh and cry — validating a range of powerful, real-life emotions.
“We wanted to create a space where a woman can rejuvenate at the end of the day, watch a story without the fear of something evil lurking around the corner, and there’s a happy or hopeful ending. Overall it’s a really positive experience.”
Similar to streaming giant Netflix, Passionflix offers both original content and popular favorites, such as “The English Patient,” “Legally Blonde” and the TV show “Roswell.” Original films and series produced by Passionflix are based on best-selling romance novels.
“We work very closely with the authors to adapt the stories and bring these books to life as the fan would want,” explains Musk. “Often times that means our movies can be longer than the average film. A novel like “Driven” became a six-part series because two hours and 40 minutes is too long for one movie.”
Musk — whose famous brothers are indeed Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk and The Kitchen Restaurant Group founder and food education activist/philanthropist Kimbal Musk — recalls sitting during the premiere of “Driven” with her mother, model and dietician Maye Musk. After a particularly steamy scene, her mother turned to her wide-eyed and humorously asked “Who are you?” … to which she replied matter-of-factly, “Well, that’s what it said in the book!”
For Passionflix subscribers who might want to watch a film with mom without having the woman who raised you question your identity, the streaming service provides a “Barometer of Naughtiness” rating for each of its offerings. There are five categories:
1. “Oh So Vanilla” identifies the tamest. Think “Strictly Ballroom.”
2. “Mildly Titillating” offers just a sliver of heat. Think “Chocolat.”
3. “Passion & Romance” is a tad sexier, including films like “Anna and the King” and Passionflix original “The Trouble with Mistletoe.”
4. “Toe-Curling Yumminess” evokes a sensual, physical response — like “An Officer and a Gentleman” and the Passionflix original “Afterburn/Aftershock.”
5. “NSFW” (Not Safe for Work) brings the passion full-speed, including “The English Patient” and the Passionflix original “Driven.”
Passionflix is only a year-and-a-half in the making but already growing fast, with more original films in the works.
Musk says she’s making inclusivity a priority for new content. Currently most of the characters featured in films available on the streaming service are heterosexual Caucasians, but she wants those offerings to be more representative of her audience’s diversity.
“We’re relatively new, so we have not had the opportunity to do too much yet, but we want to represent every sexuality, every age group, and every ethnicity on our platform,” she says. “We have made a concerted effort to focus on finding [ethnically diverse and LGBTQ romance novels]. I’m not saying they don’t exist — they’re just not the first ones that came to us when we reached out.”
Musk’s broader content mission also involves removing cultural stigmas about female sexuality.
“One of the things that really frustrates me is this double standard: If men discuss sex, suddenly they’re macho, awesome human beings; but if a woman discusses sex, she is looked down upon — she’s shamed. That’s unfair and immediately puts us in a much lesser place in society.”
As she continues to grow her company, Musk loves being able to live and work in Playa Vista.
“I moved into Playa Vista in 2012, when it wasn’t crazy expensive,” she says. “Everyone I know outside of Playa Vista calls it Pleasantville because everyone in Playa Vista is so pleasant, which I love.”
The Passionflix app is available on IOS or Android devices and also operates on Apple TV and Roku. Musk says the service will soon become a channel on both Amazon and Comcast, and is already available on most Samsung smart TVs. A monthly subscription costs $5.99 per month.