Ever read the descriptions of the porno you're about to watch? Just think: there's someone behind those words who must capture the essence of the film — and we can only imagine the things they've seen. Reddit user FarleighChill works as a ghostwriter and said he has been "branching out into erotica" lately, so when he saw a job listing for "Erotic Writing," he took it. "Turns out, what they actually wanted was descriptions written for 500 porn films. Describing, and seeing, that much porn was a very weird experience." The user did a very interesting AMA detailing the unique job — from coming up with new ways to say "has sex with" (there are a lot, apparently) to watching so much porn that he eventually became desensitized to (most) things. Read on to see highlights from the Q&A.
1. What was the first one you wrote descriptions for?
"All kinds of things. It was largely catering to a straight market so a lot of usual suspects with bleached hair and big fake breasts, but there were plenty of things that I wasn't expecting as well. On the positive side, there were quite a few transgender people or intersex people represented, and on the negative there was a lot of incest fantasies and videos about having sex with sleeping people . . . This whole incest thing was a real surprise. I ended up making all of my descriptions about how they were step-siblings that didn't see each other much, or other excuses like that."
2. Do you normally view porn in your personal time or was this a unique venture?
"I watch porn from time to time, it's not like I'm against it, or like it's a hobby, but the volume I had to witness as a part of this was on a whole other level. It became really overwhelming and I became really desensitized."
3. Are you sick of porn now? Did you rub one or many out during your viewings?
"I didn't have to watch them all, because for each there was a selection of thumbnails provided, but I would watch the videos when the thumbnails were confusing or didn't provide me with enough information to meet the required word count for the description . . . Seeing that many naked bodies did get arousing at times, but the sheer quantity of it was quite unsettling. It became so commonplace to see outrageous things and I think a lot of the novelty was lost for me. By the end of a day's writing, I was so sick of it."
4. Was there any good acting or story in one of them?
"In some cases the introductory sections were actually quite well acted yeah, but for the most part it was dreadful and the stories were often very problematic. There were a lot of plots involving blackmailing people into sex because they had been caught doing something illegal."
5. What is the strangest sentence you have ever wrote?
"There's quite a few to choose from, because you really run out of things to say very quickly when it's just endless variations of two people f*cking. I ended up getting as weird as I could to entertain myself. One of my favorites was this:
'As a testament to just how important the couch is to pornography as an art form, these two have taken their leather couch to the top of a cliff where they butt f*ck in its honor.'
I went through a phase of seeing how many Bs I could get into one description: Bedazzling Busty Blonde Busts Black Balls Brilliantly Being Brutally Boned From Behind."
6. More examples descriptions you've written?
"'More kitchen action in this video than an entire series of Masterchef, and far less of Gregg Wallace's bald head. Sorry to make you picture him while you're jacking it.'
'She's got gadgets and gizmos aplenty. She's got whosits and wotsits galore. You want thingamabobs? She's got twenty. But who cares? She wants more! She wants to show all her dildos off. She wants to see, wants to see you wanking.'"
7. Did you use a Thesaurus? How many variations of "hot!" can there be?
"Oh my god, this! It was a real struggle coming up with new ways of saying things. Same for the various ways of saying 'has sex with' (which there are luckily a lot), but yeah I would find myself using the weirdest words. I quite often came out with the word 'steamy', which I've never used to refer to anything arousing.
As a feminist, I also made a point to avoid using words like 'b*tch', or 'slut', and to generally try and frame things in a way that was sex-positive and emphasized shared enjoyment and consent. In the case of some videos that meant I had absolutely nothing to say and so talked about the couches. I described couches a lot. Couch-related side note: you are playing with fire filming an anal scene on a white couch (but it happens a surprising amount)."
8. Weirdest video you've had to write a description for?
"Probably the one where they were f*cking on the top of a cliff above the ocean that would have been really epic if they hadn't brought a really trashy leather couch along with them to do it on."
9. Did your employer ever state conditions for your descriptions? Did you have to rewrite some?
"I don't think they were ever explicitly stated as having to be arousing, the quantity I had to produce in a short time frame makes me think they're not being vetted at all, but there were a few times when a video I had already done would recur. I don't know whether these were duplicates or ones that had failed vetting and come back to me."
10. Are you married or have a SO? If so, what was their stance on the job and has them knowing about it created any turmoil in your relationship?
"I've been in a relationship for years and she just found it quite funny. She was annoyed that it wasn't that well paid but I couldn't really back out once I started and I didn't expect it to take as much time as it did. She liked hearing the funnier descriptions I wrote, although felt a bit weird when I would send them to her when she was in the office. Personally, I found it weird being exposed to sexual content for my entire working day and it definitely did strange things to my libido, but she was understanding of that and I feel like I'm back to normal now."
11. Would you recommend the job to people?
"Not really, no. I don't think it worked out as minimum wage compared to the time I had to put in to doing it. It was demoralizing work and it felt largely pointless. It was novel at first, but writing descriptions that kept it amusing soon became a chore in itself just because of the sheer quantity of videos to get through."
12. What's the benefit of being a ghost writer and not just publishing in your own name? No-name erotic fiction authors that self-publish on Amazon seem to be able to make a decent living.
"Yeah, I've wondered that myself at times. For the most part it's taking writing gigs that already have some groundwork established so that I'm not doing it all myself. Also, as I'm working on a novel I'd like to keep my own name separate for publishing that."