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A Strongly Steeped History of Teabagging

At some point in time, someone lightly dragged their balls across someone else’s face, creating a global trend that still haunts us today

“To err is human; to drag one’s nuts across some sucker’s face is divine.” 

Shakespeare said that. Maybe. Regardless, the art of teabagging — gracefully swirling your testicles across someone’s waiting face — is a time-honored pastime that’s been unfairly overlooked in the history books. Did the Founding Fathers drop trou and swing their droopy balls to and fro as they signed the Declaration of Independence? Probably. Did Christ himself rise from the dead and emerge from his tomb with the sole purpose of telling a Roman guard to come and “get a face-full of these reanimated nards”? Almost certainly. Have nuts, will teabag. 

But what exactly constitutes a proper teabag, and where does the act stand in the hairy annals of world history?

1) Teabagging is, by definition, an act that involves dragging your testicles across your partner’s forehead and/or dipping them briefly into your partner’s mouth. As Cosmopolitan UK puts it, “The name comes from the act’s similarities to dipping a tea bag in-and-out of hot water, to strengthen and disperse the brew.”

2) Teabagging is not to be confused with sucking or licking balls. Where sucking, licking-oriented blow jobs are typically an act of pleasure, traditional teabags are less erotically stimulating. And while doling out a mouthful of testes could certainly be a pleasurable experience, modern teabagging tends to serve as a hallmark of playfulness or prankery.

3) Porn aggregator FUQ.com currently has 604 videos tagged under “teabag,” but the videos range broadly in tone. One artful compilation advertises “teabag worship,” suggesting a more romantic twist; others lean more into the face-fucking realm, with a more BDSM-worthy, humiliation-focused bent. 

Ultimately, though, proper teabag execution depends less on form and more on intention. Are you in a smearing, swirling mood, or would you prefer a rhythmic dipping motion? Perhaps you’d like to dip your nuts one by one, tantalizing your partner with a quick slip of the sack? There’s no wrong way to teabag; it’s all about style.

4) Teabagging’s roots are inherently sexual, though it’s impossible to know exactly when the act itself originated. That said, filmmaker and stylish pervert John Waters does claim to have popularized the term. In an interview with Boing Boing, Waters explains, “I didn’t invent the term or the act but DID introduce it to film in my movie Pecker.” Waters continues: “‘Teabagging’ was a popular dance step that male go-go boys did to their customers for tips at The Atlantis, a now-defunct bar in Baltimore.” The actual mechanics of the dance at The Atlantis have been lost to history; however, in Pecker, Waters showcases what Out describes as “rough-trade go-go dancers dangl[ing] and dunk[ing] their balls onto fat, bald patrons’ foreheads.”

5) All due respect to Waters, but it’s impossible to deny that gamers brought the act to the mainstream — not as an earnest display of eroticism, but as a beacon of utter PWNage. Kotaku suggests that the gamer teabagging movement began with Counter-Strike or Quake in 1999. But it was the 2001 release of Halo: Combat Evolved that cemented teabagging’s status as Inverse calls it, “gaming’s most carnal form of disrespect.” It makes sense; all of these games are classified as first-person shooters, meaning the objective is to kill one’s opponents with a variety of weaponry. And nothing says “you’ve been eliminated” like a pair of swangin’ berries in your face.

Know Your Meme points out that the teabag revolution is thanks in part to the fact that, after one Halo player killed another Halo player, the dead player could initially still see their screen for a few moments. At this point, the offensive player would taunt the loser, often via virtual teabagging, which involves rapidly crouching up and down over the victim’s prone body. (Halo doesn’t offer explicit testicular dunking at this time.) The move is simple to achieve; Eurogamer explains that a virtual teabag is as easy as “repeatedly pressing the crouch button so your character squats up and down on your enemy’s corpse.”

6) Inverse adds that other games featuring crouch capability — World of Warcraft and Street Fighter II, for example — quickly garnered a community of mischievous teabaggers. (Giant Bomb reports that the vaginal equivalent of teabagging is known as “clam slamming.”)

7) Per a cursory search on Lyrics.com, there are 118 songs that include the words “tea” and “bag.” A significant percentage of these songs are old-fashioned shanties about literally drinking tea, but the rest are delightfully explicit ballads about the pleasures of smearing one’s gonads across someone else’s face. 

Take, for example, Run the Jewels’ “Lie, Cheat, Steal,” in which Killer Mike threatens to “teabag a piranha.” Then there’s the classic ditty “Dracula’s Tea Bag” by short-lived Brazilian punk band Kleiderman. The lyrics go: “She’s ready to be eaten / So she’s wet, she’s real wet / Dracula’s tea bag / She rubs it on my face and I like it.” 

8) Gamer culture and lyrical inspiration aside, teabagging lurks in other pop culture realms, too. In Season Four of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dennis messily teabags Mac after dunking his nuts in ink.

9) Teabagging became synonymous with Mary Steenburgen in 2008, when director Adam McKay inserted a brief testicular plot point into his film Step Brothers. In the film, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play feuding middle-aged stepsiblings. At one point, a huffy Ferrell teabags Reilly’s beloved drum set, rubbing a pair of prosthetic testicles atop the snare while sweatily whispering, “Don’t wanna miss a spot.” This scene will undoubtedly resonate with gamers who see teabagging not as a tender sex act, but as the ultimate show of scorn.

10) Despite hundreds of teabag-centric porn clips available online, sexual teabagging doesn’t seem to have a frontman the way other niche genres do. This begs the question: Is teabagging having an identity crisis? 

These days, the act seems fairly limited to gamer forums on Reddit, and as Urban Dictionary puts it, a practical joke often resulting in photographic evidence to embarrass one’s friend, “usually at a party when a friend has fallen asleep.” In fact, presidential aide Reggie Love once went on record after photos surfaced online that appear to show Love being teabagged at a frat party. “You make mistakes and you learn from them, and you try to use them to make you a better person,” Love told the New York Times. (Seattle alt weekly The Stranger once linked to the photos; download at your own risk.) Teabagging may also live on in the distant fantasies of certain testicle-bearers; for example, Die Antwoord’s Ninja, who told VICE about his desire to teabag Drake during a basketball game.

And yet, publications like Cosmopolitan continue to offer earnest teabagging guides, which is admittedly charming. In 2016, Cosmo argued that, while the phenomenon “has its roots in humor and humiliation, teabagging can also be an arousing act.” The magazine even cited one sex educator who advocates for renaming the act to “consensual ball play” for dignity’s sake. 

Ultimately, the value of a teabag is in the eye of the beholder. Whether it’s an erotic jiggle, an act of PWNage or the ultimate fratty prank, teabagging may or may not play a significant part in nutsack history — but, as with any sex act, it only takes one set of turgid gonads to turn the whole thing around.

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