hornyvalor

Who’s Actually Horny on Main When Everyone’s Horny on Main?

As media, brands, influencers, and all your friends pivot to horny™, some are raising the bar to horny levels beyond belief

It’s hard to imagine, but there was once a time when I worried that my tweets about eating ass would get me fired. The fear for me — and presumably other brave pioneers of Horny Twitter — wouldn’t be a milkshake duck, but that I’d make a dirty joke online and get called into the corner office one Monday morning to find a disappointed CEO throwing down a print out of my post, demanding to know why I wanted to fuck a breakfast mascot. Sure, middle-aged white male journalists have been known to accidentally tweet links to their open tabs of hentai porn, but they don’t operate under the same rules as everyone else. Besides, why would a young “professional” on the rise willingly share that she wants to sit on Paul Giamatti’s face?

Turns out that my anxiety, which has somehow persisted for years without impacting my deranged posting style in the slightest, was pretty unfounded, not because I work at a men’s site that advises dudes on how to make their loads bigger and take pictures of their buttholes, but because the entire world is now horny on social media. What used to be a fringe concept on Tumblr to describe people posting or engaging with sexual content from their main accounts — as opposed to a kind of finsta created specifically for that purpose — is now commonplace across all platforms.

And as the coronavirus quarantine has meant unprecedented levels of horniness and free time to spend dicking around online, it’s not surprising that the two forces have merged to make being horny on social media so common it’s now mainstream. Sharing that your wife’s “clit/brown/taint area still pOwns your dick” or asking Drake to murder your pussy has none of the taboo it had in the past.

When I sent a tweet last week asking people to share their opinion on the horniest Twitter users, I got more than 300 replies, all so varying in their definition of “horny” it’s impossible to even parse them. But this in and of itself was an answer to my question. To numerous degrees and in differing ways — from Dean Norris accidentally tweeting “sex gifs” to women posting sexy selfies wielding knives to my friend and colleague Miles Klee DMing a picture of his dick to anyone who asks — everyone is Horny on Main. And if everyone’s horny all the time, are any of us really?

Consistently cited as a top example of “quarniness” — the intense horniness that’s arisen out of quarantine — is Caroline Calloway, the 28-year-old Instagram influencer/artist/“scammer” with over 700,000 followers originally popularized by her romantic depiction of life as a young, beautiful American girl studying at Cambridge University. Most people now know her for the $500,000 deal she got to write a book about her posh U.K. adventures with her secret ghostwriter/best friend and never did, or the event tickets she sold to fans at a high price despite not having a venue. At least, that was until the last couple of weeks, when she pivoted to horny and never looked back. “I’ve been trying to dole out nudity on my account in really thoughtful ways,” she tells me. “I thought, Wouldn’t this be an interesting and fascinating moment to make it even harder for people to see my brains?

Two weeks ago, Calloway posted a nude to Twitter and pinned it to the top of her profile, resulting in her opening an OnlyFans account — the paid subscription service popular among sex workers and newbies alike — on Easter, with the announcement that “He has risen. And He will cum again.”

Following in the footsteps of a lot of women who want cash during quarantine, it’s not clear how she’ll use the platform yet, but it’s likely that for the $49.99 a month (the highest per month payment option the site allows), fans will gain access to Polaroid nudes of Calloway paired with her notoriously long, memoir-istic captions about her pussy being like an orchid. (As for posting content as risque as crotch shots, Calloway says, “I’m not excited about it for the price of $50 a month. I’m not saying I’d never do that, but it’d be way more expensive; I’m not sure how many people could even afford to see my pussy.”) Calloway tells me that in the two days since she announced her launch on OnlyFans, she’s on pace to make $80,000 in a year — much needed since she self-published her memoir and donated all $40,000 of the proceeds to coronavirus relief, she says.

To get what’s interesting about Calloway posting her tits, you need context. You have to understand that she’s spent the entirety of her life lusting after Western art, Ivy League schools and upper-crust society — hallmarks of elitism and whiteness. Growing up the only child of two divorced parents in the D.C. suburb of Falls Church, Virginia, she dreamed of transcending her upper-middle-class upbringing to hobnob with old money and royalty in private, rose-trimmed gardens, while discussing how their life is totally like the Seurat painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte over expensive champagne. And — after applying to the Ivys and U.K. equivalents multiple times before finally getting in at age 22 — that’s what she did. And did and did.

It’s safe to say that people who attend the Oxford Hunt Ball aren’t the ones advocating to “free the nipple,” though somehow the chronic oversharing and boundary crossing was fine. Even now that her brand has transitioned to being more “real” and in the way of bohemia — she’s living in a studio in the West Village where she paints watercolors — she still thinks her particular version of poster’s disease is in direct opposition to what she “should” be doing to infiltrate the notoriously exclusionary art and lit scene in NYC. “There are few things I could do to make the literary scene take me less seriously than become an Insta-famous girl who is nude online,” she says. “But fuck it, that’s what I want to do. There’s always something uncool about what I do.”

Yet, at the same time, Calloway says that I’m overthinking her nude, and that posting it wasn’t strategic. She simply follows what she’s interested in, like all her favorite artists. The nude was “fresh,” taken casually without much thought given to the composition. But she also tells another story, and it’s hard not to conflate the two: She was planning to take her brand in a sexualized direction for a long time and claims she was even slated to shoot a nipples out, “no pussy” pictorial for Playboy this spring, conceptualized around the image of her as a naughty schoolgirl in a gothic library, based off the concept of her book that never was. (Late Wednesday night, a Playboy representative emailed me the following: “Playboy does not have and did not have any photo shoot planned with Caroline Calloway.” It probably doesn’t matter anyway: In mid-March, the company announced plans to shutter its print magazine.)

“I can’t emphasize enough that taking my brand in this direction wasn’t just on my emotional calendar, we were getting close to a point where it was on my contractual calendar,” Calloway says. “I wanted to move in this direction, and then corona hit and everything got postponed.” Until she took things into her own hands, as she is wont to do.

Calloway reminds me that since she’s departed from her duchess cosplay, a major theme in her work has been sexualizing tragedy, presenting herself as horny or hot during times of immense grief — like when she posted sexy pics in the wake of her father’s suicide, resulting in an onslaught of harassment, though the hate never seems to deter her. In fact, quite the opposite. In her mind, posting a nude during a global pandemic — and then launching an OnlyFans account the same day she drops a violently graphic chapter about her father’s death — just kinda makes sense.

In a recent Instagram post she boasts that her reputation is “good for the first time ever” — no doubt in large part due to the amount of money she’s donated to charity and her endorsement of a progressive presidential candidate like Bernie Sanders — but it’s telling that the long-maligned “scammer” is being praised for something that 10 years ago would have been unthinkable for a woman who hosts a May Ball for her birthday.

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What am **I** looking forward to most after quarantine? I’m going to take all my pent-up horniness and all my newfound New York coolness and break up every relationship, gay or straight, in what I like to call “Ironic Brooklyn.” I’m going to put my reputation, which is good for the first time ever, to even better use! Hide your daughters, hide your wives! Hide your boyfriends, hide your girlfriends! Especially if they went to Ivy League schools!!!!! Poly couples are safe from my desires because I am notoriously bad at sharing attention. And the gays? Well unfortunately the gays love me. And even more unfortunately: I am going to get cancelled for a third time by suggesting that their love for me could even override their fixed sexual orientation predetermined at birth!!!!!!!!!!

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

Most of the critique of Calloway’s pivot to horny seems to miss the point entirely, framing it as about age, ego or self-obsession. But her decision to post a nude says more about our culture than it does about her. Calloway is a genius at intuiting what people want from an aspirational online figure even if it’s just to gawk and sneer. To credit her behavior — or the deluge of horniness we’ve seen on the timeline during quarantine more broadly — as entirely due to apocalypse vibes and extreme isolation is to rewrite history (a la Calloway when she posted a handwritten list of everyone she’s ever fucked).

Calloway and everyone else are simply building on a bunch of horny bricks that were already set atop each other in now iconic posts by sex workers, sex-positive activists, the gays, insane teen stans going through puberty, and unfortunately for all of us, accidentally horny-on-main normies like the Horny Beto Lady. “Porn in general and sex work has been de-stigmatized, so people are more comfortable talking about their sexuality,” says Taylor Lorenz, a digital culture reporter for the New York Times. “That has led to a lot of people becoming more comfortable being horny online.”

And when she says people, that includes brands, who pick at online trends like vultures. “Back when I was a social media manager in 2010/2011, it was a big thing for a brand to express humor online,” Lorenz continues. “Then they became comfortable expressing frustration and snark, and more recently, they’ve become comfortable expressing horniness.” As was the case with being “sad” or “socialist,” nothing is an online trend for long before it’s co-opted by corporations, drained of any authenticity and banished to the land of cringe it was probably always destined for. “When we use social media earnestly, we risk that earnestness getting monetized,” writes Darcie Wilder for the Outline (RIP).

You could certainly hear the horny death rattle the second Netflix got in on the action:

It’s also of note that many of the millennials who presumably run these brand accounts went through puberty during the proliferation of the internet and were the first generation to watch porn online and have cybersex. Being horny online comes naturally to us, and talking about being aroused is a kind of common language. When you first typed the word “cum” at age 13 with a group of friends high off Mountain Dew all collectively pretending to be a sexy 22-year-old cocktail waitress in Seattle (a/s/l), it’s hard to shake.

Phil Matarese, a cartoon creator who wrote a horny bumper sticker book called Horn If You’re Honky, says he was inspired by the cultural messaging and aesthetic of the free love movement and 1970s, where sayings like “if this van’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’” were everywhere. And so, it’s not surprising to him that the people that generation birthed are obsessed with talking about how their dream is to be reincarnated as Shiv from Succession’s bicycle seat. “We’re all aware, we’re all woken up and we all go to therapy enough to realize that you shouldn’t keep anything in, especially bad feelings,” he says.

This ubiquity also means that some of us O.G.s worry our culture is being co-opted, as is the case with literally every online subculture, and with far more consequential repercussions when the group is marginalized. But it does suck that a specific digital experience is being drained of any authenticity, edge and humor. (Klee refers to the rash of horny posts we’re seeing during quarantine as an attempt to “steal horny valor.”)

No one can know for sure if someone is truly horny when they post or if it’s a grift for likes, but experts can tell if you’re at least fluent in the language. “The worst type of people are those that used to snark on Horny Twitter and are now trying to do horny tweets — it’s really lame,” says Lorenz. Matarese agrees and similarly sees through the bullshit of saying the word “fuck” a lot in an attempt to prove that you do indeed fuck. “Being horny online should be innate. It’s fuck energy,” he says. “The worst version of being a human is being someone that needs other people. That isn’t fuck energy.” That is, real horniness online isn’t asking for something via thirst; horniness is a state of being that just radiates off you, it doesn’t exist to gain validation (in fact, it probably exists in spite of it).

If you want to know more about “fuck energy,” you have to go to the source. And unsurprisingly, as with most woo-woo concepts that are sorta bullshit, it’s located in Los Angeles. Last year, a small group of people I met on Twitter who are radioactively horny online decided to host a Horny Twitter Summit (HTS) at a steakhouse to discuss the state of the union and then go to a strip club afterward. I was curious what these depraved creatures — who tweet about subsisting off only Cheetos and pussy and sucking a guys dick after he fucks you in the ass — think of the Calloway nude. I’m not surprised that it didn’t make them bat an eye. It takes a lot more than exposing your nipples online to hit their threshold; if you haven’t been sharing about microdosing cum to crickets for years, you’re not even on their radar.

“There are a lot of tweets I did in like 2015 that people were ‘grossed out’ by that would be tame-ish today,” says HTS member and Hollywood Crime Scene host Rachel Fisher. Now when she comes accross a horny tweet on her timeline she asks herself, “Is it performance, or is it from the soul? I consider the best horny tweets, the purest, to be the ones that don’t do big numbers. They aren’t for likes, they’re for you.” Comedian Allen Strickland Williams agrees: “It may be genuine horniness these newbies are referring to, they just haven’t put the time in on the frontlines yet so it reads as inauthentic.” MEL columnist Desi Jedeikin, however, goes so far as to straight up call them frauds: “Their horny is for attention; I actually want to fuck.”

But when I present the notion to Calloway that she might not really be that horny, she immediately balks. “I’m SO horny,” she pleads. “Whenever I make horny posts, I have to be careful that I’m not drunk. Because I know if I were, I would go all fucking out.”

That’s not to say she doesn’t have something to learn. She only re-activated her long-dormant Twitter account a couple of months ago despite having amassed a large following on Instagram years prior. “I learned about OnlyFans the same way I learned about Hell Dude — on Twitter,” she says. She also admits, “I very much feel like a new kid on the block.”

Luckily for her, there are a bunch of people eager to put her on a leash and show her around. All of which, of course, will be chronicled in horrifyingly horny detail on the timeline.