THE WEIRDER WEB
The week of February 22, 2015

The amateur-porn hub where men defile their laptops for strangers

By Miles Klee

This story contains sexually explicit content.

Picture a heterosexual man. There’s been a build-up in him of late, and he’s desperate for release. Visualize a straight woman, in dire need of lusty, worshipful attentions, her body language suggesting as much. The two meet in an unusual club that few people have heard about. The attraction is immediate, the erotic impulses mutual and symbiotic. Before either really knows it, both have reached an aestheticized climax. There’s semen everywhere.

They haven’t learned each other’s names. They haven’t seen each other’s faces. In fact, they’ve never even left their respective bedrooms. Odds are, however, they’ll meet again and and play out this kinky ritual once more.

Welcome to the virtual hookup hub that is Reddit’s r/TributeMe.

‘Got cream?’

There’s no shortage of places to get off on Reddit. The social news site boasts a NSFW subreddit for every conceivable kink. On the notorious GoneWild, for example, users share nude photos “in a comfortable environment” for karma and compliments. But r/TributeMe takes matters one step further.

“I really think that the fact that it’s mutually beneficial and a fully voluntary activity makes it a good thing,” a redditor (we’ll call him Steve) told me in a private message. “I’ve only been on here for about a year, and prior to that, I wasn’t aware that anything like this existed outside of porn sites. The first place that I saw and took part in tributes was on an actual porn site.”

What is a “tribute,” exactly? In a phrase: a money shot. Women post nude photos or GIFs of themselves on the subreddit, typically highlighting their breasts or buttocks, though vaginas of varying bushiness are far from uncommon. These visuals include captions like “Seeing your loads on me makes me so wet,” “cum show me the love,” and “I love cum on my tits… anyone want to fulfill my fantasy?” The answer is an unambiguous yes. Men peruse the latest images and choose one worthy of masturbation, then reply with evidence of their satisfaction, delighting their female partners. It’s a perpetual cycle of doubly incentivized pleasure.

It’s a perpetual cycle of doubly incentivized pleasure.

“I started doing tributes about a year ago, and maintain it whether I’m having regular sex or not,” said a male user with the handle Ibex89. “Now, about 95 percent of the time I masturbate, it’s in the form of a tribute. I’ve developed a strange sense of… duty? Like, ‘This semen could make someone’s day.’ Now, it feels like a waste not to use it for a tribute.”

The community description puts it this way: “Got cream? Need to unload it? Want to do it on a hot lady who’s begging for it? … What horny guy wouldn’t prefer to share his wonderful orgasm with a willing remote/virtual recipient?” This, it would seem, is where necessity meets serendipity.

Founded in November 2012, r/TributeMe has slowly accumulated a loyal following. In December, it crossed 20,000 subscribers. The page averages somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 unique visitors daily. Given its niche, the community has surprisingly strict rules and regulations: In the interest of privacy, all female posters have to be verified before taking part, and there are basic guidelines for doing so; no phone numbers of usernames for other services can be offered in the comments; the whole subreddit is tucked behind Reddit’s over-18 age-verification system.

This web of formalities is partly the work of BobbyJo_babe, r/TributeMe’s only female moderator. The image you see on the sidebar is taken from her “welcome post.” In September 2013, when she found her way to the group through r/RandomActsOfBlowjob—a subreddit “for those after a bit more of an ‘in the flesh experience,’” as she put it—she saw that new mods were needed; the founder had more or less disappeared.

“I signed up mainly so that I could add strict rules for privacy protection and etiquette—and set up AutoModerator to enforce them,” she said, referring to a program built and maintained by u/Deimorz for use across a number of subreddits. “I wanted to make sure that we weren’t allowing guys to post pics of their ex-girlfriends, etc., and also to make it a place where guys could give feedback and directly with the person providing the inspiration. Cum on random Internet pics just isn’t the same.”

BobbyJo_babe had been organizing an IRL meetup-hookup with a man she’d found on r/RandomActsOfBlowjob when she was introduced to tributes—he sent her one unprompted. It “was weird at first because I wasn’t expecting it,” she said. “But when I actually looked at the pic, seeing myself covered in this strangers cum even though I hadn’t experienced it firsthand, I was strangely turned on and kept going back to it. I’d never really thought about it before then.”  

She waxed nostalgic about her now-infamous first r/TributeMe post: “Someone blew it up to actual size and positioned a Fleshlight under it and the camera perspective was such that it really looked like he was standing over the real me, fucking my throat, and not just a picture,” she said. The very NSFW video is public; you can see for yourself what she means, if you’re curious. “Watching that gave me a very strange and sexy sense of déjà vu—for something that I knew could never have happened, it embedded itself in my mind almost as though I’d actually lived through it—but from his perspective, which was another totally new experience. Weird and strangely erotic!”

“There’s something about seeing everyday women putting themselves out there that’s very hot,” Steve told me. “And in the case of r/TributeMe, if me getting off gets them off, even better.”

Making a connection

Scrolling through r/TributeMe, I was struck by one woman’s post in particular—and not just because of her massive chest. The selfie showed her half-dressed in a hoodie that she took care to note was her boyfriend’s.

“It gets at tensions that have always been there about relationships, what is acceptable within a relationship, what’s cheating,” sociologist Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, author of the forthcoming book Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment, told me in a recent phone interview. “It could be that partners say, ‘Go for it’—and that helps with the relationship. It could be bad if they’re completely unaware. We have no way of knowing what boundaries are there. Either way, people think, ‘I get to have this little thrilling exchange with someone I don’t know, and I’m not doing anything wrong, because it’s virtual and anonymous.’”

As opposed to traditional methods of infidelity, she added, there’s no risk of STIs or pregnancy. It’s a win-win-win situation, provided no one’s being neglected or lied to.

“Some women have wanted to take things off of Reddit,” said Steve, “but not in the way that you’d expect. There are a few women that I do tributes for strictly via email. They will send me various pictures and I will send them videos back. Again, mutually beneficial. When one of us needs some material to get off, we share it. Both of the women that I do this with on a regular basis are in relationships, but something about this gets them off. They have both told me that their significant others can’t ejaculate nearly as much as I can. Maybe that’s the fetish?”

This, it would seem, is where necessity meets serendipity.

“Once in a while you strike up a little rapport with a poster,” Ibex89 concurred. “I repeatedly tributed u/pot_pixie, for instance, because I found her incredibly attractive and, unlike some posters, she was very responsive to her tributes, which, ultimately, is the best part of this for me. I could obviously just print off photos of attractive women and masturbate onto them—the real appeal to r/TributeMe is the interaction between users.”

He’s wary, though, of private requests from unknown or unfamiliar parties. “Oftentimes these seem to just be gay guys trying to get me to beat off for them—which, ultimately, the difference between beating off for a woman and beating off for a guy should be negligible, but the reason I don’t is that the guy is using a picture of a girl without her consent, which is a thing for me. I always ask for some form of verification, and usually get no response, or the account is deleted.”

There’s actually another subreddit geared toward homosexual exchanges: r/gayTributeMe. But, as with efforts to devise a platform where women can tribute men, it hasn’t exactly “set the world on fire,” according to BobbyJo_babe. “We have also had a few trans women posters (and I love that they’re usually well received unless they’re blatantly trolling), but we don’t have an official policy in place, which is something I hope to change,” she said. “Obviously the guys who come here looking for porn to jerk off (on!) have a set of expectations, and trans people have their right to privacy, too. Thus far we’ve tried to keep the balance by suggesting trans women let the viewers know, but if you’re living life as a woman and no one else knows you used to be a man, it seems fair to them that they should be able to post without having to out themselves.”  

The psychology of tributes

Sex educator Sunny Megatron, host of Showtime’s Sex With Sunny Megatron, identified an old-school precedent for the peculiar brand of exhibitionism to be found on r/TributeMe.

“Back in the days of Juggs and those sort of magazines,” she told me, “women would submit amateur porn pics, and the magazine would feature one a month. Then they’d invite guys to send in their own pictures—guys would submit polaroids of themselves jacking off. It would turn into a contest—who’s got the biggest load, the best picture.”

The Internet has only magnified the game.

“Anonymous hookup exchanges where both parties are willing participants have happened since the dawn of time; it’s random sexual exchange,” Tibbals said. “It could be that most people here enjoy conveying their getting off” in the same way that restaurant diners like to Instagram their food or concertgoers tweet about seeing their favorite band, she suggested. It’s affirmational.

Megatron had run across online erotic image-swaps before, especially among members of FetLife, a booming social network “for the BDSM & fetish community,” but didn’t know it was happening on Reddit as well. “This is a safe way” to indulge in the thrill of an anonymous hookup, she said. “We don’t have to worry about letting some potential psycho know where we live … This takes the risk out of the equation. I think for women specifically, when it comes to sexual objectification, there are a lot of people into it—but we’re nonconsensually objectified all the time. Dick pics? Ew. There’s part of us that wants to be objectified, but we want to be in control of it, and when we are, that can be empowering.”

Indeed, women can go beyond those initial hurdles and become “cum-certified” with enough contributions to the cause. (BobbyJo_babe happens to be the only cum-certified moderator.) “They’re using amateur pornography as a component” in their gratification, said Megatron, “but it’s bigger than that. There’s more of an interactive component. Women can highlight exactly what you want to highlight and have people fawn over them, and that feels good.”

“People think: I get to have this little thrilling exchange with someone I don’t know, and I’m not doing anything wrong, because it’s virtual and anonymous.”

Dr. Tibbals was on the same page. “There are people who are professional cam models,” she said, “who have lifelong relationships, deep meaningful connections with people they never meet. Relationships that are very real and authentic, maybe even more so than for people who are sitting in the same room but have ceased to communicate with each other.”

The thrill of the taboo

BobbyJo_babe is r/TributeMe’s only “Cum-certified” mod.

“I urge ‘on the fence’ or considering it to give it a go,” BobbyJo_babe told me. “It’s a very respectful corner of the Internet, overall. The community doesn’t tolerate assholery, and it’s generally very supportive of all types of women.” Those good vibes have roots in the unusual nature of the kink itself. “Any relationship will go more smoothly if it’s based on honesty,” she continued, “and the guys and girls at TributeMe appreciate being able to talk about, ask for, and demonstrate, what is a common practice/desire—cumming on pictures—but still very taboo. So there’s an automatic common bond between the users, as with most ‘underground’ fetish groups.”

BobbyJo_babe said she has developed “surprisingly long-lasting (but not permanent) online relationships with particular guys who have gone to great lengths to make sure I really enjoyed myself,” echoing Steve and Ibex89’s comments on the subject. “Often a deeper connection forms than you might think, if and when conversations move to PM/email. And sometimes those relationships can be really beneficial in the longer term for either or both parties.”

The main page features an anonymous quote from another woman:

“It might seem weird at first, but seeing yourself covered in guys’ cum is strangely arousing, curiously satisfying, and surprisingly fun. It’s like having a memory of something you never actually did. Being able to try it and talk about it openly, safely, and in a supportive environment, is pleasantly liberating … and somewhat addictive; you can’t understand until you’ve tried it yourself!”

That openness is something Steve doesn’t experience. “Though this is a part of my life a few times a week, I don’t discuss it with my friends, and most definitely not any women that I am seeing,” he said. “Guys discuss women that they have sex with and what porn they browse, but I don’t think that anyone is ready to talk about jerking off on their monitors yet.”

I asked Dr. Tibbals why someone might be drawn to r/TributeMe in particular.

“The possibilities are truly endless,” she said. “It’s anonymous, virtual, and there’s no monetary exchange. There’s the connection with a stranger. It could be a little thrill that keeps someone sexually fresh. People who troll on the Internet and hack things, like, they’re strictly for the rush, no compensation—it’s the thrill of the taboo. It could be the voyeur thing, it could be work-related, or that someone found someone who reminds them of an old partner. Any time you think you have figured out the motivating factor then you know you have to keep looking.”

Megatron, too, said that a single kink encompasses “highly individual” needs. “Let’s say a man might get off on feeling kind of subby, at the whim of this woman,” she said. “For somebody else, it could be, ‘I’m the most dominant guy in the world.’”

Underlying all these driving forces is a moral dimension—that r/TributeMe is in some way a rogue alternative to pornography that precludes the exploitation of performers or the detachment of viewers.

“Is it the equivalent of camming, or dirty snapchats?” Tibbals asked. “It seems close to that. But as people get more and more comfortable with virtual exchanges, the definition of porn gets really muddy.”

Cleaning up

The more curious aspect of the subculture, Dr. Tibbals pointed out—or the thing that would seem weirdest to an outsider—is the potential “destruction of property.” She was referring to the habit some Tributers have of ejaculating directly onto their tablet screens or laptop keyboards. “You’re going to do what do your computer?” she asked with mock incredulity.

“The real appeal to r/TributeMe is the interaction between users.”

By and large, the size of one’s load seems to be the salient detail in men’s photos and videos. Some guys have adopted what you might reasonably call “signatures,” including the drenching of electronic devices, to set themselves apart. Ibex89 explained his analog leanings:

Unlike a lot of users, I don’t cum on my screen. The prevailing remedy for that seems to be either cleaning it off quickly afterwards, and probably with some diluted cleaning solution. … It’s weird to be snooty about this stuff. … I just buy decent quality photo paper and use that. Doing a couple of tributes a week, it’s really not bleeding my bank account dry, and I feel like it gives my shots a little character. I also probably worry about lighting more than anyone else, but, meh, you got to have a hobby, right?

Steve, meanwhile, regularly finishes on a screen—which isn’t that big a deal, he said:

As far as the setup and cleanup goes, I use an LCD monitor and usually clean the screen off with a paper towel and then wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe. As long as you don’t get any semen into the edges of the monitor you won’t hurt anything. To me, cleaning semen off a monitor really doesn’t take much more time than cleaning up the way I normally would.

Naturally, a warranty-voiding money shot remains a concern for some users. BobbyJo_babe said most users have it covered. “Some guys wrap them in cling film which they can dispose of afterward, and others print the pictures instead of using a tablet—although my gut feeling is that paper tributes are disappearing.” She added, “I’d kinda almost like to have a collection of some of the paper ones, if there was a way I could receive them anonymously.”

On the off-chance you’re thinking of trying this yourself, we solicited sanitation advice from a clean person, Jolie Kerr, author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag… and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha.

“The two things you need to clean a computer are pretty simple: Canned air and isopropyl alcohol (that’s a fancy name for rubbing alcohol),” she wrote in an email. “There are other kinds of cleaners that can be used in place of the alcohol, but they cost more, so why? The rubbing alcohol, though, has sterilizing properties—which, in the case of semen removal, seems like a good quality, yeah? Yeah.”

The canned air, she explained, cleans debris from between keyboard keys and should be used first. Then you can wipe everything down with the rubbing alcohol. “The alcohol will also cut through both stickiness and dried-on cum,” she noted, “in the event the clean-up doesn’t take place immediately.”

Still, Kerr urged caution.

“In terms of whether or not it’s recommended that one shoots one’s load onto one’s laptops… that’s pretty obviously a no, right?” she wrote. “It’s not a good thing to do for the long-term health of your electronics. But if you are going to do so, be mindful about cleaning up as soon as possible and after every single unloading.”

Photo via the US Army/Flickr (PD) | Remix by Jason Reed