Enough time has passed since the world was at Peak Hipster for us to look back at it as a movement, or a craze, or a meme, or whatever the fuck it was and try to take stock of what it all meant, if anything. So this week we're doing exactly that in a short collection of stories.
In most artistic pursuits, it's impossible to objectively declare one person "the best" at what they do. Who's to say if van Gogh was superior to Monet, or if Zayn is hotter than Justin? There is, however, an unparalleled champion in the genre of hipster erotica. Her name is Hannah Wilde, and she is the creator ofThe Complete Hipster Gangbangs (now available as audiobooks, if that's your thing).
The ten-part compendium turns every hipster stereotype into an opportunity for a gangbang: There's the story of Amy, the hipster barista who has an orgy in her coffee shop; Danielle, the goth hipster who gets pounded by ten men at once; Lauren, a hipster gamer who "finds herself in the middle of the hottest multi-player action she could've ever imagined," and many, many more. As far as I can tell, there is no other collection of hipster erotica as expansive.
Who is Hannah Wilde, I wondered, and how does she know so much about hipster sex? Was she writing from experience, or were these her recurring fantasies? Was she more of a grad-school MFA hipster, or, say, the type who traipsed around music festivals wearing feathers on her head? I tracked her down, and to my surprise, Hannah Wilde is not much of a hipster at all—just an enterprising erotica writer in Los Angeles who set out to write books that would sell. I spoke to her about the origin of the series, how she develops her characters beyond the superficial stereotypes, and why one book of hipster erotica just wasn't enough.
VICE: You have nine books in The Complete Hipster Gangbangs series. Why focus on hipsters?
Hannah Wilde: I was trying to come up with my own spin to stand out from the pack, [and this was] something that I personally thought was sexy and hadn't been done to death. I also wanted to target younger, college-aged people instead of the housewife market that usually eats up those shirtless-guy-on-horseback paperbacks. Hipsters just seemed to make sense.
I also knew that I wanted to do a series of books, because I'm always drawn to collectible things and I figured my audience might be too. I remember being young and being obsessed with Goosebumps books, how I would just go to the book store and buy the next one that came out because I liked the way the whole group of them looked sitting on my shelf. The reason the collectible thing matters is because there are so many different kinds of hipsters. It seemed really cute to try and come up with every different subcategory that I could think of and somehow turn it into a gangbang: gangbang at a music festival, barista gangbang at the coffee shop, gamer guys gangbanging a gamer girl... It's really just an endless well. Just thinking about it now, I'm a little disappointed that there are only nine books in the series.
If you were to write a tenth book, what kind of hipster would it be about?
I was thinking about doing a tattoo shop one. Also, even though there was a gamer book, I never got around to a programmer type—like, computers instead of consoles and some sort of hacking element. There were thoughts of a punk book as well, since my definition of hipster was essentially just counterculture, but I suppose the other ideas just roll themselves out faster.
So how did you decide which hipsters to write about?
To be honest, sometimes the ones that make the cut just depend on if I find a really great cover photo that works for one idea over the other. Yoga Hipster Gangbang kind of came together just like that. I had the idea, but what really got things rolling was when I found a really great cover girl photo.
Also, short-form erotica is so much more about the action than anything else. You pretty much have 5,000 words to get in, get dirty, and get out, so there is a huge element of stereotyping to everything. I suppose that applies to porn in general: You're taking a persona or a fantasy and just exaggerating the elements to these epic sexualized proportions. Mostly, the voice of the characters is just mine, and there is a natural sarcasm and youth to it, which I think fits the hipster aesthetic well. Maybe they are all just different aspects of my own personality.
Is there an autobiographical element to the books? Do you yourself identify as a hipster?
I think it depends on your definition of a hipster. When you're taking broad strokes and looking for every different type of counterculture persona, then I definitely fall in there somewhere. But if we're talking about the traditional riding-fixie-bikes-in-Portland-to-the-Wes-Anderson-film-festival hipster, then that's not really me. The first book, Graduate Hipster Gangbang, is actually much more autobiographical than it should have been. [Editor's note: Graduate Hipster Gangbang is about a 19-year-old girl named Hannah, who gets gangbanged by an entire football team.] But so far nobody who was involved in those events has traced things back to this pen name, so it seems my anonymity is safe for now.
"Most people would rather look at a guy or girl and see tattoos and instantly think, I relate to that, instead of having a 20-minute intro where the porn star talks about how much they love Jack Kerouac."
What makes "hipster sex" different from, say, the erotica you write about paranormal characters?
The paranormal erotica that I write is much more about the action than anything else. The stories are short, and they need to move along because there is usually some kind of scary monster or adventure aspect that has nothing to do with the sex. There's just way more to make happen on every page. Hipster erotica is more about setting the mood and, especially, creating dialogue that seemed young and fun. If someone is reading one of my Hipster Gangbang books, they're doing it because they want to hear about the bands these guys and girls like, or what kind of sarcastic quip the character might have when put into a pretty absurd, porny situation. There's a lot of comedy in the Hipster Gangbang books that comes directly from having the characters react the way that I personally would in these over-the-top sexual situations.
It sounds like you focus a lot on developing these hipster characters. What do you think about hipster-themed porn, which is basically just mainstream porn plus black-framed glasses?
Personally, I don't really mind that, because a vast majority of hipsters are doing that in reality—just putting on glasses or growing a beard and playing a banjo, whatever. It's an aesthetic choice that people are making and that could reflect a lot of what is going on inside of them, or nothing at all. The vast majority of porn, especially if we're just talking about pictures and videos, is only supposed to be a short little vacation into fantasy; you get in, you get out, you move on. That means that most people would rather look at a guy or girl and see tattoos and instantly think, I relate to that, instead of having a 20-minute intro where the porn star talks about how much they love Jack Kerouac. That's just not the way most people treat their porn, and I think that's totally fine.
Erotica, however, is going to have a different kind of audience, people who are looking for more of that slow burn where they get to know the character internally and get off to this type of hipster personality type in a slightly more real feeling way. Really, erotica is perfect for hipster porn because it's one of the only subsections of pornography that is focused on revealing the personality of the participants, and what is going on inside their heads.
So what do hipsters think about during sex?
I think that there's a certain amount of posturing that comes with the hipster aesthetic, for better or worse, so I imagine that that there might be an issue of too much thinking about yourself instead of enjoying the moment. Obsessing on how you look, or what you're wearing, or not wearing. In the erotica fantasy world there's none of that, thankfully, because that is the nature of fantasy worlds, but the situations are things that hipsters would find themselves in: fucking to get VIP passes for a music festival, for instance, or to expand your mind at the yoga studio, or to impress your boss at the coffee shop.
Do you plan to continue writing hipster-themed erotica?
I've learned over time to direct my efforts into what sells, and while hipster gangbangs did well, monster gangbangs did even better.[Editor's note: Hannah Wilde also has a series called Violated By Monsters.] It's so fascinating to me that there are more people out there who are more interested in fucking the Loch Ness Monster—or at least laughing about fucking the Loch Ness Monster?—than fucking a cute barista or something.
Yeah, on that note, I noticed that you wrote a book about fucking a pack of Chupacabras. How did you come up with that?
There was an X-Files episode about Chupacabra that, if I remember correctly, never really showed it and I think I've been disappointed by that ever since. Maybe this book was making up for that in my own subconscious, I don't know. That book is part of the Violated By Monsters series, which I just finished and ended up being 60 books long with a different monster in every one. At this point, I think it would be very difficult to come up with a type of monster that I haven't written about fucking.
You can find all of Hannah Wilde's erotica here.
Follow Arielle Pardes on Twitter.