Most afternoons, Craig, a 34-year-old musician in San Diego, takes a break from recording synth melodies and strumming his lonesome guitar to touch his penis to online porn. A “man of many tastes,” he enjoys sifting through videos of Riley Reid and Jasmine Webb on Pornhub and XVideos, never picky about what they’re doing but always wary of male co-stars who say erection-deflating things like, “Ohh, dropping loads all over your face.” In the past, the whole thing hasn’t taken more than 10 or 15 minutes, but in the past few years, he’s had to spend a lot more time searching than he’d like.
Because “‘big-dick step-brothers’ keep getting in the way.”
Recently, Craig has noticed a preponderance of incest-themed videos on his regular tube sites, and he’s found it difficult to find what he’s looking for. Nestled in amongst the search results he asked for are hundreds — no, thousands — of unasked-for incest-themed videos, none of which he requested, but all of which appear to be competing for his attention with every last pixel they have. Worse yet, he says, even if he manages to escape to a corner of the site that’s free of father-daughter frolicking, a clinically lit Brazzer’s banner advertising a clinically lit MILF masturbating her scrawny, well-hung step-son will find him just the same.
“Incest porn is EVERYWHERE,” he says. “You can’t escape it. I’m able to ignore it for the most part, but I don’t understand why all step-moms and sisters have to suck off their brothers or sons now. It’s completely taken over the internet, and it seems like it won’t stop until every mommy and sister and father and son on the planet have made love.”
Over the past few years, incest porn — or “fauxcest” as it’s called when it’s obvious the actors aren’t related — has absolutely exploded in popularity. Nearly every major tube site is flooded with videos of family-based fucking, and it’s become next to impossible to pay your nightly visit to Kendra Sunderland without being subjected to “huge tiddy teen” stepsisters, sons who “accidentally” cum in their mom’s mouths and suburban nuclear families who “ALL FUCK.” Every site tags and categorizes these videos differently so it’s hard to know exactly how ubiquitous they’ve become, but as Sarah Vandella, a porn star and cam performer who specializes in fauxcest explains, the exact figure is irrelevant. All that matters, she says, is that “everything you see now is ‘Mom’s got this, mom’s got that,’ aye, aye, aye, mom, mom, mom.”
If you’re among the roughly one in five people who are into this, congratulations — you’re alive at exactly the right time. The recent surge in both amateur and professional fauxcest porn has not only improved the quality and selection of videos you can jerk it to, but as Tasha Reign, an adult actress, MEL columnist and fauxcest fan tells us, it’s also made it okay to have fantasies like these. “I think this stuff is hot, and it’s important to normalize it,” she says, explaining that there’s a big difference between watching actors role-play as family members and actually wanting to try it in real life.
If you’re in Craig’s camp, however, you might find yourself wondering whether Fauxcest Mania will ever end. To him, it feels like incest-style porn is being pushed on him without any provocation, and while he harbors no judgment for those who enjoy it, he longs for the day that he doesn’t have to waste precious minutes sorting through step-sister shower sex just to wring one out to Riley Reid.
Craig might be onto something with his pearly vision of the future: Fauxcest porn is a trend, and, like all trends, there will (probably) be a day that it dies. Just like coronavirus porn, Belle Delphine and the insufferable, pun-based porn parodies of the early aughts — hello, Jurassic Pork — the bubble will burst, and something else will rise up from the cum-covered ashes to take its place… right?
Actually, by some metrics, that’s already happened. In 2016, “MILF” and “Mom” reached their highest-ever ranking on Pornhub, with incest-related terms hogging four out of 10 spots on that year’s list of most popular keywords. Even earlier than that in 2014, Google searches for incest-related terms hit a high note — browse for almost any family-related term with the word “porn” at the end of it on Google Trends and you’ll see that fauxcest was hitting its zenith during the same time period that “Hotline Bling” was blaring through your speakers, Karens were rubbing it out to 50 Shades of Grey and the prospect of a Trump presidency still seemed like a fun joke gone awry. Meanwhile, incest storylines featured prominently on early episodes of American Horror Story, Game of Thrones and Sons of Anarchy, awakening the general public to what it really looks like when characters “put family first.”
It was right around that time, too, that Vandella started to notice a major shift in the amount of incest-themed porn the industry was producing. “For most of my career, the big thing was parodies,” she says. “Everything was a fucking parody. I did some great ones — trust me — but it was really around 2015 or 2016 that they started to fall off, and for whatever reason, fauxcest took their place.”
Seemingly overnight, she went from being cast as the girl-next-door to being recruited for more explicitly maternal roles. The scripts she read from and the direction she received started to change as well. “We had quotas for how many times we had to say ‘step’ in a scene,” she remembers. “They wanted us to make it very clear that there was a family relation.” On one particularly memorable shoot, she had to yell, “It’s Mother’s Day, woo!” in the same breath as “Now get your head in this pussy and start lickin’!”
At the same time, porn stars like Ashley Fires went on fauxcest content sprees, churning out titles like Mommy Made Me Do It and Daughter Has to Do the Unthinkable at a breakneck pace. Adult video distributors like GameLink reported a 178 percent increase in demand for incest-style content between 2014 and 2016, and in a widely cited figured, estimated that the genre had grown by 1,000 percent since 2011. The thirst for familial relations became so great during that time that some studios and performers began exclusively producing fauxcest, and its overnight popularity lured in a steady stream of new faces who were more than happy to play along. Some, like Fires, even went full fauxcest after rejecting overly familial scripts for years. “My fans only want to see me as mommy,” she told VICE in 2016. “I am mommy and only mommy.”
The exact reasons for why these factors crescendoed at that particular point time (2014 to 2016, roughly) have always been murky. Even to performers like Vandella who cashed in on fauxcest’s big boom, its overnight popularity remains an enigma, and neither she nor porn ranker and industry expert Geoffrey Celen say they remember an inciting incident, scene, film or performer that catapulted the genre from Michelle level to Beyonce status. For all they know, it could have been Game of Thrones. It could have been this viral news story about what it’s like to date your dad. It could have been the wind. Who knows?
Since then, overall interest in incest porn does seem to have decreased (though, only slightly). According to Pornhub’s 2019 Year in Review, “stepmom,” the most requested fauxcest-themed search term, fell three spots from its 2018 ranking. Now at a much more humble #7, it’s topped by “Japanese,” “hentai” and “lesbian”; terms that would appear to have nothing to do with familial fucking. “MILF” also made a minor plummet, falling two spots off its high horse from #3 to #5, and plain-old “Mom” took a step down as well. As is customary in Pornhub’s annual reports, no sisters, brothers, dads, step-dads or step-siblings made the cut.
For that reason, Celen respectfully challenges the idea that fauxcest is actually as popular as it looks when it’s plastered all over your porn site’s homepage. “Over at ThePornDude.com, I’ve currently got 15 pay sites in my premium incest category, and almost as many in the free incest aisle,” he says. “It sounds like a lot, but it pales in comparison to sprawling categories like amateur or Asian. Even virtual reality porn is surpassing fauxcest, at least in terms of how many new sites are popping up on the web.”
Sex researcher and Kinsey Institute fellow Justin Lehmiller backs this up in his book Tell Me What You Want. While he didn’t ask about fauxcest specifically, roughly 20 percent of the 4,175 people he interviewed admitted to fantasizing about incest at least once. However, only three percent said they fantasized about it “often,” and even less named it as their favorite fantasy.
Josh, a 33-year-old bartender still waiting for the day he can go back to mixing margaritas, says that could be because pornographic depictions of it aren’t as thrilling or inventive as they used to be. He first got the sense that fauxcest was at “critical mass” all the way back in 2003, but ever since, he says “it’s 100 percent overreached itself.” While the relative rarity of it used to give it an air of taboo that turned him on, today’s oversaturated father-fingering market feels generic and overdone. “It just seems like an excuse for amateurs to make more interesting pornography,” he says.
My colleague Eddie Kim agrees, calling the fauxcest porn of today “watered-down trash” that “insults the intelligence and desires of actual fetishists.” Yet, he watches it just the same; while he tries to ignore the familial storylines, he says the genre has become so pervasive on porn sites that it’s often easier just to give in and click on a step-something video simply because it’s there. “Once you get past the first five minutes, it’s just regular porn,” he says. “Am I really not going to watch what otherwise appears to be a perfectly good video just because of some lame, tacked-on incest plot at the top? Probably not!”
Clutch here is the fact that he’s not watching for the fauxcest itself; he’s watching because that kind of porn is just sort of… around. “It’s inescapable,” he says. Might as well just save time and turn down the volume. And while Josh and Kim are just two men amongst a sea of fauxcest watchers, their mutual apathy toward something that’s supposed to be racy and taboo may be one of the many omens that family fucking is inching past its prime.
There’s also another, much less Craig-friendly interpretation to be explored: What if these numbers are meaningless, and peak fauxcest has yet to come? What if a different take on the same theme revealed that our ascent toward its apex may only have just begun?
That’s how it’s felt for Vandella. While she’s been doing fauxcest for years, she says fan requests for custom mommy content have been growing, and have yet to show signs of slowing down. They’re also coming from an increasingly younger crowd, a possible sign that people aren’t aging out of their incestuous desires like they might with hentai or Fortnite cosplay. “Fetishes like this don’t just go away,” she explains. “They evolve with us, but they never really disappear. Especially this one — there’s just such a huge demand for it. I think we’re only starting to see how popular it can be.”
If you zoom out on the slightly downhill trajectory of fauxcest since its supposed peak, that prediction makes a lot of sense. Instead of thinking of these tiny blips in fauxcest’s popularity as indicators of the lifespan of a trend, they might better be seen as relatively insignificant changes in our well-documented fascination with incest-based themes and storylines as a whole.
After all, the idea of mothers who fuck their sons and siblings who bang didn’t just “appear” on the porn scene and then fade off into obscurity like Belle Knox or Japanese butthole eels; threads of them have been around since the dawn of human storytelling. From Ancient Egyptians to Adam and Eve to Oedipus and beyond, incest-y themes have been a part of art, culture and religion the world over. If we’re still talking about the ones that happened 2,000 years ago, why would our obsession with them develop a sudden expiration date today?
“If we try to look at porno with a critical, scholarly eye instead of a stiff one-eye, I do believe it’s an indicator of what’s been kicking around in our collective sexual minds for some time,” says Celen. “Basic human wiring hasn’t changed much over the last few millennia, and we’ve always had an erotic interest in incest stories. Oedipus met a tragic end, but what really makes the story is that he bangs his mom.”
Taboo, a 1980 feature-length serving of mother-son frolicking, brought that fascination into modern times with a performance so moving and memorable that it won the inaugural Homer Award in a non-pornographic award show that would eventually become the stuffy Entertainment Merchants Association. Twenty-two sequels later, it’s still considered to have been the turning point in the mainstream video industry’s acceptance of not just fauxcest, but of pornography as a whole. To call that a “trend” feels reductive — like it or not, fauxcest is really a tradition.
The question is why fauxcest is such an enduring one. If few people actually want to fuck their family — and doing so could result in any number of boner-killing legal or genetic infractions — why do we insist on slapping a fresh coat of makeup on it and dangling a boom in its face?
The most obvious answer, of course, is because it’s “wrong.” “That titillating wrongness is often cited as the reason for the growing popularity of incest/fauxcest,” says Celen. “People want smut that pushes the boundaries, which is increasingly difficult in this day and age.” After all, we now consume more porn at more rabid rates than any other time in our history — with how much free access we have to discover and jack off to whatever we want, it makes sense that we’d be jaded and in need of something “harder” to push our boundaries. Fauxcest, being little more than vanilla sex repackaged in a deceptively spicy wrapper, is a simple way to feel the intoxicating rush of taboo once the thrill of the lighter stuff starts to fade.
That also makes it especially easy and economical for people to produce. Because it requires no special equipment, no unique setting or no particular bodily gymnastics to pull off, porn performers and producers can diversify their content and cater to a wider number of audience interests with relatively little effort. Fauxcest scenes can get elaborate obviously, but all that’s really necessary to turn a POV missionary scene into a sordid moment of sibling lust is a line or two of pretty rote dialog — a sprinkle of “But you’re my brother!” or “Mommy, that tickles!” will do just fine.
“Incest porn is lucrative,” says Celen, explaining that part of the reason why we see so much of it is because it’s a cash cow for those who produce it. “I think we’ll continue to see pornographers throw their sister’s hat and panties into the ring for the foreseeable future. They’re already making the movies, and there’s high monetary incentive to work in those family storylines.” If the profits from fauxcest flicks start declining, we’ll start to see it less and less, but as of now, he sees no real reason why that would happen.
Which brings us to the most Craig-averse revelation yet: Fauxcest profits will probably never take a significant nosedive because the thing that fuels them — the eroticization of real family relationships — is a renewable resource that will never die. So long as families are being created, expanded, combined and broken apart, fauxcest will be like a car that never runs out of gas, chugging along on the limitless number of power dynamics, trust levels and degrees of intimacy that familial relationships bring. Many of us concoct the most thrilling fantasies about people we already know — and who’s closer to us than family?
Whether or not you get a little erotic tingle from any of this is an entirely different story, but at the end of the day, asking whether fauxcest will ever go out of style is like asking if The Beatles will ever be bad — if they’re not your thing, sure, but if you can put personal taste aside, it’s hard to deny their influence. They’re classics for a reason, and for better or for worse, classics stick around, Craig be damned.