Editor’s Note: The videos embedded in this article are NSFW because of language and adult content.
A woman in a revealing white robe stands before me, massaging her breasts. Her hair covers a hint of nipple, and supple curves hide beneath the fluffy fabric. She’s whispering to me, confessing that she loves me but was too self-conscious to ever say it. She thinks I’m out of her league, but her soft motions and sexual insecurities draw me in.
This is Nica Noelle’s first erotic whisper video, the one that helped launch a new genre of pornography called ASMR-Erotica, AKA whisper porn. The Massachusetts-based adult film director isn’t actually in my room, but I know her gentle whisperings are meant only for me.
DO YOU TINGLE?
Scientifically, whisper porn isn’t porn at all. It’s a neurological phenomenon called autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR. Soft noises such as whispering, folding towels, tapping fingernails, or, in my case, falling dominoes, trigger a series of pleasurable tingles down the spine and give goose bumps. The ASMR community largely refers to the sensation as “tingles” or “brain shivers.”
People who love it get their fix on YouTube, watching videos (mostly of women) whispering and moving in fluid motions. It’s meant for relaxation, to come down from the anxious high of a difficult day or to help viewers get to sleep. Providers are called ASMRtists and often role-play, pretending to be a hairstylist or therapist or librarian, with the goal of making someone feel loved.
“I get tingles,” said Heidi Jacobs, an Illinois-based ASMR listener. “The closest thing I can describe it to is the feeling you get from one of those wire scalp massagers. It’s a sort of tickle that starts at the back of my head and often travels to my neck, shoulders and arms if I’m lucky.”
Jacobs dons headphones and watches the videos on her computer or Kindle. Ken Bouma, an Indiana-based fan, takes his videos on the go. He began watching them on the train to work in Chicago and now plays them in the background to relax at his new job.
THE SEXUAL EVOLUTION
For Nica Noelle, the progression into erotic whisper videos came naturally.
“I got the idea early on because content providers started to show their hands or their lips,” she said. “There would be videos of women moving in a graceful way, touching things very softly. It seemed to be sensual, a little bit erotic, accidentally. It was like a side effect; it would sometimes cross over to where you felt sort of turned on. So, being a porn director, this was intriguing. I thought, ‘How do I bring these two things together?’”
Sometimes ASMR-Erotica happens by accident. When 22-year-old Cassie Laine, an LA-based adult film actress, created her whisper “Slip Inside” video, she had no idea the community she was tapping into.
The leggy brunette spreads out on the bed, fluidly waving her hands and fingers at the camera, whispering hypnotic phrases. It’s an erotic role-play where Laine is a hypnotist speaking directly to the viewer while softly stroking her skin and drawing you into her voice. She spends nearly 30 minutes inviting viewers to “slip inside her gaze” as she slips inside herself, coming to a quiet climax that triggers both brain shivers and tingles everywhere else.
“I am a whisperer,” Laine said. “When I am feeling turned on or I’m feeling sexual and wanting to turn my partner on, I tend to do that naturally. I didn’t make the connection with ASMR.”
ASMR-Erotica is a fairly new development, and for the traditional ASMR community of thousands, mixing relaxation and sexual pleasure sparks heated debate. Some love the combo, and others think it destroys the whole whisper experience.
When Noelle first began making the erotica videos she received a nasty Facebook message from a traditional ASMRtist, one of the stars of the genre, who chastised her for creating something pornographic out of what’s meant to be for relaxation.
“I felt like I had just been admonished by Mom or God,” she said. “It was very upsetting for me.”
CherryCrush, a cam girl who makes non-sexual whisper videos in her spare time, has received negative feedback based only on the nature of her other work.
“When I first started out I got a few comments on my YouTube saying that I might be ruining the innocence of ASMR,” she said. “I personally don’t see anything wrong with it. It can be a great mixture if it’s done correctly. However, some people in the community who like non-erotic ASMR feel that they will be associated with pornography unwillingly and that regular ASMR will get a tainted label. I feel that these people would be much happier if it was called something else completely.”
IN YOUR HEAD
There’s no doubt ASMR-Erotica is, ahem, on the rise. Audio porn, in general, is a genre that many people already enjoy. As the popularity of traditional ASMR explodes, stimulation will begin to take on a more virtual nature. Sure, current whisperers already role-play with viewers, but why confine it to an asymmetrical experience on a tiny screen?
“Virtual reality technology could be a game-changer for the genre,” ASMR fan Bouma said. “If it were possible to add physical sensations like touching or rubbing, then I’ve no doubt people who already enjoy the videos would jump at the chance to experience more. That also leads down the path of watching erotic videos with sensations, which I think would be the real driver behind the technology.”
Think Oculus Rift for whisper porn. Imagine a total visual and audio experience designed to fully immerse the viewer in a steamy soft-spoken game of ultimate arousal. Add touch for a complete virtual climax.
TINGLES FOR PAY
On the business side, Noelle is expecting ASMR-Erotica to become more pay-to-play. Women already do private cam sessions for paying customers, and the leap into live-action ASMR-Erotica is as simple as just getting word out.
“I think there are a lot of people that will be very interested in getting their favorite erotic ASMRtists as more girls in porn become aware of it and learn to do it,” she said. “It’s like private cam shows but using ASMR. Maybe the guy just wants to watch her rub lotion on her skin or brush her hair with no top on or something.”
Noelle, who is currently building a website dedicated to ASMR-Erotica with her studio, also expects to see more sites like it pop up in the near future, where the videos all emulate a sense of warmth, tenderness, and intimacy while satisfying a particular fetish through whispering. Women will perform in all the videos, as Noelle has seen a much higher interest in ASMR-Erotica from men.
At its most base, whisper porn is an addiction. People crave more content every day from their favorite ASMRtists, and it’s only a matter of time before more providers start charging for videos. But for now, Jacobs hopes that ASMR-Erotica will simply begin catering to a less-defined group.
“As a lady, I prefer the ASMRtist to use gender-neutral pronouns so that I don’t get taken out of the experience because I was referred to as a man,” she said. “I’m complaining about pronouns while a woman strokes her nipples for me. ‘First-world problems’ has never been more relevant.”
Jennifer Billock is a freelance writer, author and editor. Twitter: @jenniferbillock.