I Listened to Porn in Public

It was just another day in the park. Kinda.

flickr/Sascha Kohlmann

Streaming porn giant Pornhub wants its already massive audience to grow as large as possible. In that spirit, the Montreal-based company has launched a new Described Audio feature for the visually impaired, which overlays a narrator’s painstakingly specific description of the ins and outs of adult actors performances over original audio. The goal is to provide a product for the visually impaired, and DA is successful in that regard. But it also does something else: it allows for private porn consumption in public.

These porn descriptions were created with visually-impaired people in mind, but it’s unclear at this point how much of the audience that group will represent. I am not visually impaired, and when I first heard about Pornhub’s plan to launch DA, my first thought was that it would enable the most inappropriate among us to take our porn to go. Sure, there was already a lot of moan-filled audio to work with, but listening to explicit descriptions of sex as you wait for the subway is a singular experience.

I naturally decided to give the Described Audio feature a test run on a sunny Monday afternoon in the park. There’s nothing like having a classic doctor examination porn scene described to you in punctilious detail while parents push their newborns in strollers and a local little league team celebrates their championship win.

No, really, there’s absolutely nothing like it.

John C. Reilly and Mark Wahlberg in Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Boogie Nights'


When I first made myself comfortable on a park bench and opened up the Described Audio section of Pornhub’s massive website, the lack of non-straight and non-lesbian videos pissed me off. Eventually, I came across something gay, a classic prostate check-up scene. I figured the foundational storyline of the doctor’s office would provide an additional challenge for the narrator of the scene. “This is Pornhub’s descriptive audio of the video ‘Hunky Doctor with Big Cock’ by Hot House,” a narrator announced in an unaffected tone. “The video is seven minutes and thirty seconds long.”

It was all happening so quickly.

As you probably could have guessed, there were several peculiar aspects of this public porn-listening experience. First of all, the voice of the narrator — the centerpiece of my listening experience — immediately struck me. You’d be inclined to think the narrator would take on a sultry intonation for this purpose, but apparently Pornhub decided that we’re all better off with matter-of-fact stage directions. Also, if you’re one of those people who claims to have never heard what a true Canadian accent sounds like, refer to “Hunky Doctor with Big Cock” and you’ll never hear the word “mouth” the same.

As the scene moved away from an innocent doctor’s check-up to full-on sex, the narrator’s descriptions remained unemotional. In reference to some fellatio that was going on in the video, the narrator didn’t hold back in his attempt to convey this image. “His face is all screwed up with the effort of taking this huge thing in his mouth,” he intoned. “It’s so hard.”

At this exact moment a scrawny, quivering chihuahua clad in pink feathers defecated on the patch of grass directly in front of me. Let me be the one to tell you that witnessing a small lap dog taking a shit while having a blow job described to you in detail is not pleasant. Life is gross.

Look at how effective Photoshop can be!


Now’s about the time that I should reiterate that Pornhub launched DA with visually-impaired people in mind, not creepy dudes looking for supplementary ways to consume porn in the park. Listening to porn while watching people go about their lives uproots the pornography experience in a surprising way. Sex is integrated into everyday life in a way that is, perhaps, healthy. It’s so easy, after all, to think of sex and porn in particular, as occurring free of broader social context. One does not consider that noble chihuahua while getting intimate and there’s something profound about being forced to do exactly that.

The other thing about pornographic audio: It sexualizes whatever you’re looking at, even if it’s not sexual at all. In a way, this too can feel healthy. It is probably good to be reminded that unremarkable strangers in unremarkable clothes probably have remarkable fantasies. By making sexual thoughts unavoidable, PornHub’s audio makes sexual thoughts seem universal, which they very nearly are.

Described Audio is a trailblazer for visually-impaired visibility, but certainly not an excuse to listen to porn in public. Let’s all do everyone else a favor and restrict that activity to private areas. In the meantime, are you craving other ways to consume your online porn? Stick around — it’s only a matter of time before technology penetrates the next frontier.