Why You Should Be Listening to Audio Porn

Caroline Spiegel had a problem. A computer science major at Stanford and a recovering anorexic, she found her libido completely destroyed due to an eating disorder. And when mainstream porn wasn’t helping, she turned to other kinds of erotica.

On Reddit and Tumblr, she found what she was looking for: audio pornography. Audio porn is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, porn that relies on audio soundscapes instead of visuals, leaving the details of the scenario up to the listener’s own imagination.

“I made my own Tumblr blog of my favorite audio clips, and I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ And I shared it with one of my friends in my sorority at the time, and by the end of that week, everyone in my sorority was listening to audio erotica.”

In the months that followed, she conceptualized a place where audio porn was easily accessible for users, eventually dropping out of school to found her own app, Quinn. 

Quinn began operations in 2020, and Caroline and her team began looking for talent. Now, there are over 45 hand-selected creators on board (working in categories similar to what you’d find on a mainstream pornsite like Pornhub), clips from five minutes to over an hour and steadily growing revenue. “Our revenue’s been growing 70% month over month, which is kind of insane.” Spiegel explains, “Taylor Tomlinson mentioned us in her Netflix special, which was awesome, and this is a conversation people are having right now with their friends, with their loved ones. A lot of that is thanks to Tik Tok, honestly.” 

Tik Tok’s featuring the app have started to blow up in popularity, and a subsection of “starter content” has been made specifically dedicated to people who have come to Quinn from the app. Comments within Quinn itself are filled with support for creators, from lines of spicy emojis, to the exact timestamps of when they (ahem) finished the audio.

“I think the appeal of audio erotica can be summed up in that line that’s says that the brain is the biggest sex organ.” Spiegel explains. “It provides a story driven aspect, a world building aspect. Like if I told you, ‘I’m just gonna drop you into a random place with a stranger and you’re gonna have sex with them’ that wouldn’t sound particularly appealing. But the idea of okay, maybe we’ve been friends for a long time, now it’s like, late at night after a party, we’re sharing a nightcap things are getting flirty, that sort of thing can really press on the gas of your desire and arousal.” Shows like Bridgerton, Sex Education, and the 50 Shades series have launched conversations about people’s erotic imaginations. “You don’t hear someone say, ‘Oh, my God, I just couldn’t stop thinking about that double penetration scene I watched last night.’” Spiegel laughs, “You hear people talk about that erotic tension, the push and pull.”

There’s been a shift in the culture of porn, with the rise of performer-controlled apps like OnlyFans taking power from the company-controlled mainstream porn industry, and a more frank discussion in the mainstream about how porn affects our brains. Billie Ellish, in an interview with Howard Stern, said that she thought porn “is a disgrace…I used to watch a lot of porn. I think it really destroyed my brain.” Forty million Americans access porn sites regularly, and the average age for when people see porn for the first time is 14. “People always say that porn is fantasy. But it’s not.” Spiegel explains, “Those are two real people, having real sex and actually doing those acts. It stops living in our imagination, and it actually becomes very real.” 

Spiegel references the feminist Andrea Dworkin’s thoughts on fantasy when summarizing what Quinn wants to achieve with its approach to porn: “Men characterize pornography as something mental because their minds, their thoughts, their dreams, their fantasies, are more real to them than women’s bodies or lives.” Spiegel says that she’s noticed that the trend in how Gen Z consumes porn fits in chasing a realer version of that fantasy. “Young people are really interested in ethical, sustainable content. They’re more positive than previous generations around the actual effects of sexuality and gender expression and all those things.”

Creator Bad Influence is one example of how Quinn fuels real fantasy in audio erotica. A 20-something filmmaker, he started making audios on Quinn in 2020 after seeing a posting on Craigslist. He’s one of the app’s stars, with thousands of favorites on audios named “3 A.M.” or “Camera On.” He’s completely anonymous, which he says he does partly for privacy, and partly to feed into the fantasy of the app. “I like the idea that my listeners can imagine me however they want, that I can be whatever their type is,” he explains. The content he creates is designed to pull the listener into whatever scenario he’s created. “If they really feel like they’re being valued, and they’re being seen, and they feel like the person wants them, it becomes so much more natural, it becomes so much more organic.”

He explains that he believes Quinn has a better approach to sex and intimacy than the mainstream porn industry. “Having been addicted to traditional porn in my life, this seems so much healthier for the mind.” He explains, “It’s so much healthier for intimacy in a sense, of not having to be so voyeuristic, but rather just loving yourself.” Part of the appeal to him is the acceptance of kink and fantasy the app provides listeners. “It excites me to think that people are getting to live out maybe a fantasy that they’re terrified to tell anyone about, and now, finally, there’s someone who will not only share it, but also like, whisper in their ear about how into it they are.”

Spiegel says that Quinn is continuing to shift and grow, in large part from audience feedback. “Social media has become a great growth channel for us to hear directly from our users in a way that I don’t think has ever really been possible.” she explains, “People will comment on our TikTok like, ‘Oh my gosh I haven’t stopped listening to this audio’ or ‘I was listening today while I was doing laundry’ or whatever. And those kinds of things really informed the product. That feedback loop has been really cool.”

While Quinn grows, Spiegel says that the future of porn, and the creation of a non-exploitive fantasy is what they’re chasing. “Whether it’s audio or written, or just any kind of content that allows for that world building, that’s the kind I think will take hold, and I hope Quinn is a big part of that.”

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Why You Should Be Listening to Audio Porn