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Cock Hero, the Porn Video Montages That Turn Masturbation Into a Rhythm Game

The words on screen at the start of most Cock Hero videos describe this particular genre of pornographic kink better than I ever could. “Stroke to the beat, you will be given 60 seconds between each round,” says one of them, in white letters embossed on a writhing actress in a black snapback. “If you cum before the end of the video, restart on the song you came to.” A metronome throbs in step with every bass kick of the dance music coursing through the festival of porn on screen. It’s just like Harmonix’s classic Guitar Hero games, with your penis standing in for the plastic guitar.

Reddit user BigRedRider says it takes him roughly 40 hours to compose one of his Cock Hero montages. First, he organizes a storyboard. Symphonic self-pleasure takes a precise touch, so he labors over the themes and motifs that will constitute the 30-minute-or-so runtime. Since you’ll be jerking off at a strict cadence, he’s on the lookout for smut with an even-keeled thrust rate. Will it be fast or slow? Tender or aggressive? Will it focus on one porn star or several? Will there be chapters? Multiple climax points? A Machiavellian twist? It all depends on how he’s feeling that day.

Once that’s settled, BigRedRider gathers his music. Usually he settles on the magenta, dirty-talk-smothered house anthems ubiquitous at any scummy club’s Thursday night. He imports those ingredients into the German sound processor Cubase, and begins the taxing alteration process — i.e., he manually pairs every beat of the electro tracks to the metronome. No algorithm, no automation. The finished product is a curated porn compilation, and the final frontier of masturbation gamesmanship.

It’s difficult to call Cock Hero a tried-and-true kink rather than a highly specific method to consume internet pornography, but it’s gathered a committed following anyway. The Cock Hero subreddit sports 9,000 subscribers; CockHero.org is a registered domain; Pornhub is stocked to the gills with Cock Hero content; and there are even equal-opportunity alternative options, like DildoHero, for men who want to feel a tuneful orgasm through different self-pleasure means. (BigRedRider started the r/DildoHero subreddit, and considers that craft his specialty.) Like many esoteric porn confederations, Cock Hero videos are constructed by myriad authors, but the aesthetics between them are remarkably consistent. Most start slow, and get progressively “harder,” demanding more strokes in tighter rhythmic windows, as the porn picks up and rockets toward its grand finale.

“I like that I’m not 100 percent in control of when I’m going to cum,” explains BigRedRider, who says he started off as a fan of Cock Hero before he started making videos himself. “In a way, it’s a simulation of having someone else give you a handjob.”

Culturally, Cock Hero is the natural extension of Jerk-Off Instruction (or JOI) videos, a hilarious-if-taken-out-of-context subgenre of porn in which a single woman stares directly into the camera and tells all the horny boys around the world how they should touch themselves. Immersive, point-of-view pornography has existed since the dawn of time, but JOI tilts that tradition on its head. (In fact, the concept itself has proved radical.) Here, an actress breaks the fourth wall by addressing you as you are — a dude sitting in a chair jerking off. There is no sex, no voyeurism, and often, no nudity. Instead, all the eroticism is expressed through someone commanding you to masturbate at a specific velocity and cadence before finally announcing your permission to cum. It works because it’s fundamentally realer than traditional porn. A point-of-view video of a woman giving a blowjob and telling you how much she’s enjoying the cock on screen is false and wishful thinking. A point-of-view video of a woman telling the camera how impressive you look when you masturbate? That’s a fantasy you can participate in.

Obviously Cock Hero isn’t as direct as those JOI videos, but it scratches the same itch. The idea, explains one of the subreddit’s moderators when I contact him over Skype, is to “gamify” the self-pleasure experience — to inject masturbation with the same juvenile, aspirational excitement that’s lost by the fifth or sixth millionth time you’ve done it.

“The ‘standard’ way to jerk is to go to a porn site, search something that takes your fancy, watch a bit of a video or two, beat your meat for a few minutes, pop your load and move on,” explains the moderator. “Cock Heros have a range of ‘speeds’ to jerk at, instead of just going hard and cumming fast, often it will start slow and build up. Also, it might go fast and then slow down again, then fast then slow. This is called edging, where you get close to orgasm and then back down. A lot of people say this creates a much much more powerful and pleasurable orgasm.”

One anonymous patron speaks for men everywhere when he tells me his top two favorite “alone time” activities are video games and pornography. Cock Hero understands that dichotomy beautifully — this is gamer masturbation made exclusively by masturbating gamers — so naturally the patron’s favorite Cock Heros bake in a few arcade wrinkles that elevate the experience. Some videos are bolstered with multiple endings, where you’re instructed to jump to the conclusion if you nut too quickly, like a cummy Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel. He likes it when there’s a tease round, where the rhythm is paired with softcore or something lighter, which lets him get his bearings before things heat up. But most importantly, he says, the video needs to come with the right music. “I don’t like any Cock Hero with metal,” he says. “But I love Cock Hero with trap, house and EDM.”

“I mainly like the idea of being ordered to masturbate at a certain pace,” he continues. “I find it especially enjoyable to try to ‘beat my own high score’ by seeing how long I can get. I’ve actually only really finished a few without cheating. It’s the interplay between myself being in control and letting go. I’ve watched regular porn but with my own playlist playing in the background, but that lacks the cutting between scenes in rhythm to the music, which further enhances the experiences.”

The men I talk to all described Cock Hero as a submissive experience, in the sense that they enjoy handing over the authority of their orgasm to a third party — in this case, the pulsations of a grimy house track. The patron is a unique example (as he generally skews dominant with his partner), but he describes Cock Hero as a way to engage with his obsequious side on his own terms, without deferring to anyone. “It’s masturbation, and it’s challenging yourself,” he says. “It’s its own version of submission and dominance.”

Or maybe it’s just easier to be weak and fragile in the face of your own penis, instead of another person.