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Under Cover With the Stars of Mask and Glove Porn

No glove, no love: PPE porn is a novel breed of erotic video that’s exploded in pandemic popularity — giving adult performers a new way to spice things up

It’s 10:30 p.m. on a smoky L.A. night, and I’m dabbling in what’s recently become a regular ritual in the waning hours of my quarantine days: browsing Pornhub for so-called “coronavirus porn.” A novel breed of erotic video that exploded in popularity at the beginning of the pandemic, it mainly features glove- and mask-clad humans flailing about in various degrees of sexual pursuit. There are many subspecies of coronavirus porn, but the face mask kind is, by far, the most ubiquitous. And on this particular eve, one mask video in particular has caught my eye. 

CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE FACE MASK FACIAL” starts off much the same as any other COVID porn, but I can tell right away that there’s something different about it. The woman — a pink-haired beauty on her knees with a stumpy penis hovering above her face — never takes off her surgical mask. Instead, she kneels there, blinking — alluringly, kind of? — for an awkwardly long period of time while a disembodied hand yanks at the dangling dick. Eventually, a lackluster ooze of semen splatters across the white fabric of her perfectly intact PPE, a conclusion that makes one thing overwhelmingly clear: The draw here isn’t fellatio, facials or pink-haired women — it’s the mask itself. 

There are hundreds of thousands of videos like this on Pornhub and beyond, all which feature different types of masks and facial coverings that appear to be as (or more) erotic than the actual sex taking place in the scene. “CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE HANDJOB — GLOVES & MASK (BIG CUMSHOT)” is one of Pornhub’s most popular examples, treating viewers to just under 10 minutes of explicitly sanitary hand sex. There are also hordes of mask-and-glove cum shot compilation videos to choose from, and even a number of kinkier offerings like “FACE MASK FETISH” in which a woman in striped socks and lacy panties struggles with the leather gimp mask attached to her head. In “Custom Fetish Gaz Mask” [sic], the woman trying on her apocalyptic-looking gas mask doesn’t even have to do anything sexual to earn her 90 percent rating; all she does is place the mask over her head, tighten it to fit and look around. Like many mask videos in the pornoverse, it’s more “airline safety demonstration” than “hot sexy vid,” but that doesn’t matter — it’s on Pornhub, so you know someone’s using it to get off. 

Meanwhile, there are entire Reddit universes dedicated to mask porn. NSFWMasquerade, a subreddit for “lovers of women in disguise,” welcomes visitors with a quick explanation of their rationale: “Masks bring out the naughtiness in women. Once they become anonymous, they become more daring.”

It’s the same story for glove porn, which shifts the object of desire away from the face and toward the hands. On Reddit’s GlovesNSFW, women don a variety of glove types — latex, vinyl, silk, leather — teasing viewers with hand jobs, fingerings and prostate exams conducted with the titillating texture of different mitts. 

None of this is particularly new. As Geoffery Celen, a porn expert and founder of the porn ranking site ThePornDude.com, explains, glove and mask porn has “always been a thing” and can be traced back to at least the 1800s, when people started to appear in erotic photographs wearing little else than masquerade masks or a demure black strip of fabric across their eyes. Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut capitalized on the erotic potential of this, forever cementing the mask as an item of ritual and fetish by portraying the one thing every mask lover knows to be true — that the removal of one’s identity can also remove their inhibition. 

At the same time, the concurrent rise of nurse erotica and medical fetishism catapulted surgical masks and latex gloves into the porn sphere, a trend that was rapidly picked up by the Japanese adult video industry. “They were protecting their lungs long before the rest of us got scared of drowning on our own,” says Celen, referencing the long and relatively common tradition of wearing masks to protect against disease and pollution in populated Asian cities. 

What is new, however, is how much glove and mask porn is trending during the pandemic. According to Pornhub, searches containing the keywords “glove” and “mask” have both increased precipitously. In April and May, searches for “mask” jumped 51 percent and “gloves” were up 67 percent compared to their February averages. Interestingly, searches for “glove” began to decline in June while “mask” has continued to increase. Meanwhile, on Google, interest in mask porn also skyrocketed in March after five years of no growth, a trend that likely explains why Gunner Taylor — director of strategic development for FriendFinder Networks — says that cam models on his networks have seen requests for mask content more than double since the pandemic began. 

“Reality porn is still one of the dominant styles of smut these days, and it’s hard to complete the illusion that all these strangers are having spontaneous threesomes if they live in a world where nobody’s worried about catching the ’rona,” Celen tells me. “The masks also add a topical element, connecting the scenes to our current times and providing a quick, easy gimmick. Pornographers are always looking for ways to make this week’s blowjob different than last week’s, so of course they’re going to roll with it.”

But while some studios have dabbled in high-production mask and glove videos, the main engine of the trend has really been amateurs, or what Celen calls the “cosplay girls and social media models.” Mostly, he says, their handiwork shows up on sites like OnlyFans, FanCentro and LoyalFans. “They’ve really been killing it during the pandemic since everybody’s stuck at home, shooting videos or just watching them,” he continues. “It’s a whole new world of DIY smut by a fresh generation of self-made starlets, and I’ve been seeing a lot of PPE-clad solo movies popping up in my feeds lately. The format works well for it — just break out the masks mom dropped off to keep you safe, turn the webcam on and record yourself having fun.”

That’s exactly what amateur couple Little Squirtles and her boyfriend Chase Poundher decided to do at the beginning of the pandemic. Sensing early on that COVID would become a major problem in the U.S., they decided to make a funny Pornhub video that they hoped would spread awareness around mask-wearing as a prophylactic against the virus. The result was a sort of absurdist take on the type of sex Anthony Fauci wishes we were having: a fully explicit fuck scene replete with oral sex and kissing, but marred by the constant presence of well-fitted N95 masks that stay on the whole time. 

Most viewers were revolted by their overly literal interpretation of “safe pandemic sex,” but others lavished it with praise, calling it the “greatest video ever put on the internet.” Their foray into masks didn’t end there, though. After the video was released, Squirtles says they were inundated by more than 1,000 requests for more even more mask porn, all from fans who got a real kick out of their partially covered mugs. “It wasn’t even necessarily COVID masks that they were asking for,” says Poundher. “It was any kind of mask. I think COVID just made the mask thing click in their brains.” 

At the same time, they theorize, the growth in masked porn might also be the result of the pandemic’s effect on employment. With so many people furloughed or laid off from their jobs, subscription sites like OnlyFans have been seeing massive increases in user signups as people figure out that custom videos, nudes, porn and camming are viable ways to turn a profit at a time when jobs are hardest to find. It’s possible, Poundher says, that masks — with their handy ability to conceal identity — are making it easier for people to make adult content without revealing who they are. 

It’s also possible that their sheer ubiquity during the pandemic has meant that average, everyday people who may never have seen their erotic potential are now waking up to to the fact that in an a pandemic world, gloves and masks are, well, kinda hot. “One of the most immediate reasons why they’re attractive is simply the way it covers half the face,” explains Celen. “You don’t have to have any kind of fetish to enjoy this — a mask can hide a weak chin, a snaggle tooth or a pig nose. It’s kind of like sunglasses for the bottom half of the face; some people just look better in them. There’s also that sexually exciting mystery of anonymity, that thrill of banging a stranger or someone pretending to be a stranger.” 

That might explain why performers like Covid Couple — an age-diverse amateur porn duo who started uploading videos to Pornhub after becoming unexpectedly quarantined together in March — say they’ve seen such a high demand for mask content. At the beginning of the pandemic, when they first noticed that COVID mask videos were starting to trend, they decided to “flood the system and go all out,” shooting so many masked porn scenes — and for so many hours a day — that they “lost friends over it.” 

“With the mask, without the mask, with a mask on starting, with the mask on finishing, the mask with the holes cut out over the mouth,” says Dr. Grey, the older male half of the pair. “We’ve done it all. You see a lot of the mask videos now, so we’ve really tried to be creative with it.” 

Shooting mask porn isn’t as easy as it looks. Viva Athena — Dr. Grey’s younger female counterpart — says surgical masks are quite cumbersome during the act. “They get sticky if you’re trying to do certain things with your mouth,” she jokes. “It’s not too difficult, but you have to remember to take them off or put them on all the time.” 

“Can’t breathe in them,” agrees Dr. Grey. “You hyperventilate sometimes.”

Not that either of them mind — they’ve gotten so many mask video requests that they’re shooting even more of it, and are even thinking of partnering with a mask company. They’re getting into gloves, too; they just got a new leather pair for their other project, a sounding channel called Sounding4K

When I ask them why they think people have developed a sudden affinity for facial coverings and sumptuous gloves, Dr. Grey guesses it’s because the pandemic has “forced” these things upon us. “Fetishes are kind of like allergies,” he says. “You develop them over time. Now that some of us are forced to wear masks, it’s become the norm.”

And with that norm, whole new waves of kinky interests have been developing, especially among people like 30-year-old Adam, a pseudonymous Colorado engineer, who says the pandemic awakened his interests in the power exchange potential of masks and gloves. “I’ve always been kinky, but I didn’t realize how kinky masks and gloves were before COVID hit,” he admits. “They can make any bland, vanilla interaction feel like there’s some sort of power shift, and I find that really hot. It’s a simple way to make sex spicy.”

True to form, Celen lauds gloves and masks for their well-known enhancement of both roleplay and BDSM (which, coincidentally, are the categories they show up most often in on Pornhub). “PPE creates a boundary, a denial of contact that cannot be breached unless the one in power allows it,” he explains. “Doms wear gloves so as not to touch their lowly slaves, no matter how badly those slaves want to feel skin-on-skin contact.” 

These coverings can also help “depersonalize your partner in a fuck-doll roleplaying scenario,” he continues. 

There’s a sort of tantalizing dehumanization factor they convey. By removing a person’s identity, you transform them into little more than a fuckable series of holes, a thrilling liberation for those who both desire and consent to that kind of objectification. 

In roleplay — particularly medical fetish scenes — snapping on a pair of latex mitts is also a cheap, easy way to signify that your roles have changed and you’re outside the bounds of so-called “normal” sex. “In medical scenarios, real or fantasy, the caregiver always has some immediate authority over the patient,” Celen continues. “A doctor can boss you around and give you a rough enema, or a nurse can milk you for sperm. She can stroke it kindly, giving you a sweet pep talk, or with an air of total indifference, like she’s bored from having to do this all day. Alternately, someone might use their pretend-nurse as a cum receptacle, just another depersonalized step on the road to recovery.” 

It doesn’t hurt that most gloves — particularly the latex kind — have a silky smooth texture, making things like fingering, hand jobs and prostate massage safer and more pleasurable (particularly when they’re well-lubed).

It’s hard to say how long all this mask-and-glove mania will continue, but seeing as how the pandemic has overshot its welcome by about six months with no plans to leave us alone, it appears that it’s here for the foreseeable future. Whether you get into it or not is up to you, but as Squirtles and Poundher remind me, it has at least one major benefit we could all stand to get used to: It reminds people that wearing masks and gloves is a “thing.” 

And with that, Celen concludes with a little public service announcement of his own: “Whether you’re about to shoot a raw-dog gangbang scene with a dozen guys you just met or are going to the grocery store to pick up kitty litter, please wear a goddamn mask.”

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