Audio-Only Porn Is Putting the Mystery into Masturbation
We talked to the Audio Porn Tumblr about their open submission policy and the pros of online porn with no visuals.
It's no secret that Tumblr is full of porn. You don't even need to go looking for it: on Tumblr, porn finds you. Start an account, follow a few blogs and before long your dashboard will be full of S&M gifs and nude selfies of self-promoting cam girls, or nasty stuff, like revenge shots, photoshop forgeries and hacked celebrity nudes.
The upside, though, is that Tumblr offers alternatives. Tumblr is sex-positive and inclusive, full of diverse, feminist-friendly porn. Experimental porn. Tasteful porn. Maybe even porn that's safe for work.
Audio Porn is one of those Tumblr blogs. At first it doesn't look remarkable: it's plain, text-heavy, pastel pink and devoid of images. Instead, there are little black bars of clickable audio. No one glancing over your shoulder would have suspicions, unless they were to read the URL.
But Audio Porn lives up to its title: it's a little online treasure trove of sexual experiences, each post submitted by readers who have recorded themselves during sex. It's disconcerting, ASMR-like, intensely intimate and more than a little bit adorable.
Tracks are published without context and without contributor's names: only the track's title is provided, offering few answers ("Great sex" and "Cute boy moans" are among the most popular posts on the site). They act like a prompt for sex, rather than giving you the full story, asking the listener to imagine the rest.
The effect is something like having stumbled onto a phone sex line, or living next door to insatiable neighbours in a building with very thin walls.
I spoke to Audio Porn's founder, who prefers to remain anonymous but who also runs the Romantic Pornography Tumblr (aka "Porn4Ladies") where the tagline is "Yes, women actually masturbate! Happy orgasming."
Both blogs have gained a significant following, though Audio Porn's success was less predictable. "I have almost half a million followers on P4L," says the site's founder, "and some of the most popular audios on Audio Porn have been listened to over half a million times."
The experimental measure of restricting porn to sound clearly found an instant niche: "I'd listened to audios before and it really turned me on – I mean, who doesn't secretly enjoy it when they can hear someone having sex in the next room? I also like it because the followers aren't crusty middle aged men masturbating by themselves at home. The audience is much younger and very female."
The minimalist approach goes against porn's historical tendency to cater to the male gaze by disposing of the gaze entirely. Some tracks feature gasping and female screams of pleasure, others are far less identifiable and might pass as entirely unrelated to sex were we not given a clue in their title.
The result is female-friendly, democratic and inclusive, and followers are all too happy to join in. "I get too many submissions to cope with. Most of them are ladies masturbating... I think sex audios are my favourite thing to receive in my inbox." The format allows for exhibitionism with minimal chance of being identified: "People seem very relaxed about their privacy. It's a lot harder to identify audio of people having sex or masturbating compared with pictures or videos."
Getting off on audio is not without precedent: rumours famously plagued Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg's "Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus" that the orgasm sounds at the end of the track were real, leading to a radio ban for the track and ensuring its everlasting infamy. And on a skit on 1994's Ready to Die album the story has always been that, yes, that really is the sound of Biggie getting a blow job.
The audio tracks leave listeners curious, and the blog's creator is no different. "People don't tell me much about the submissions, which is frustrating. I'd like to know more." And yet that has to be part of the fun: the idea that you could be listening to anyone, a unique and random cross section of Tumblr users.
It's hard not to ascribe a certain reactionary quality to the Audio Porn blog, standing against the very different, very visual porn blogs which already populate Tumblr. Taking away one key element makes it experimental, and political in a sense. It's amateur porn with no risk of exposure, no body politics and no identity, leaving just the immediacy and intimacy of sex. The threat of doxxing so often levelled at women in particular loses its currency.
It seems little coincidence that the blog receives audio of female-sounding voices most of all: the blog lets women negotiate amateur porn on their terms. Says the site's creator: "Running the blogs has just reminded me how much women do masturbate, regardless of whether they admit to it. I love scrolling through my followers and finding all these pretty innocent faces, and realising how kinky they really are."
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