'Incest' influencers are crushing it on social media, using taboo tropes to amass followers. It's a classic porn-industry move.

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'Incest' influencers are crushing it on social media, using taboo tropes to amass followers. It's a classic porn-industry move.
Popular Instagram and TikTok accounts keep followers guessing whether a duo is incestuous.Instagram/Siblingsordating/TikTok/jakeymast/Insider
  • TikTok and Instagram users are amassing followers by playing on incest tropes in their posts.
  • Some videos have gained hundreds of thousands of views from people gawking and making jokes.
  • Kink experts say it's one of humanity's favorite taboos and social media is fertile ground for "fauxcest" content.

Jake Masterson began posting TikTok videos in January 2020. He recorded himself doing TikTok dances and challenges and commenting on the gay community with another fresh-faced young man: his boyfriend, James.

Then, Masterson surprised viewers by claiming that James was also his brother. He uploaded a video with text that read, "Hey, aren't you the guy who's dating his brother?" The video cut to him and James kissing. The caption read: "Brothers by chance, lovers by choice."

"Wait, is this for real or is this satire cause now I'm just confused," one person commented. Masterson deadpanned: "No, we live in Texas" - poking at the common pejorative stereotype about incest and the American South.

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Although the couple eventually debunked their own rumor, clarifying that they aren't actually brothers, they still continue to post videos using incest tropes, bringing in tens of thousands of views per video. In September 2020, Masterson posted a video with text that read, "When I post a TikTok with my boyfriend and someone says 'they look like brothers' as he mouths over audio of TikTok user Brooke Averick, saying "What I love most about this comment is that you guys know how to hit me where it hurts."

"It all started out as a joke after I got a bunch of comments saying me and my boyfriend looked like brothers and I just ran with it," Masterson told Insider through Instagram DMs.

@jakeymast

love is love ❤️ #gay #loveislove #lgbt

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Masterson and his boyfriend aren't the only couple on the app raising eyebrows on the platform.

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Another couple, Diana Camila Avila and Jordie Vena, grew in popularity as the now-defunct @alphafamilia on TikTok, after they claimed that they are actual step siblings. The two knew each other for six years before they started dating, Avila told LADBible in an interview, and started a relationship in 2017 after meeting through their parents.

The success of these accounts is the latest iteration of incest fetishes, which have long been popular in adult entertainment. Like other taboo sexual fantasies, the incest trope (having sexual relations with a blood relative) gets its erotic edge from its illicit nature. Performers have successfully used the trope to get viewers' attention, whether they're turned on or grossed out. TikTok influencers who have emulated the porn trope on a PG-13 level have caught onto how playing into the hush-hush fantasy can amass views, comments, and shares on the oversaturated platform.

Pornography has long featured fake incest, or 'fauxcest'

In porn, there's a long history of playing off the incest trope. One of the earliest depictions of "twincest" - incest between twins - was between the Christy twins in the 1970s, Salon reported in a now-archived article. Although they weren't actually twins, they looked similar enough and were marketed as such.

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Multiple pay sites sharing both gay and straight porn play into what's called "fauxcest" - fake incest - and some featured real siblings. A Czech-based website called "Bel Ami" featured models Elijah and Milo Peters - who doubled the site's traffic to 1.5 million monthly users after shooting "twincest" porn, Esquire's Luke O'Neil reported.

Most recently, two brothers known as the Cash Twins - one of whom was a part of a viral Vine - have sparked controversy in the gay community.

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Legrand Wolf, porn star and CEO of Carnal Media - who created multiple porn paysites including Gaycest, FunsizeBoys, and the popular MormonBoyz, which has since been relaunched as Masonic Boys- told Insider that as someone who grew up Mormon, he had trouble unlocking his sexuality. He said that as a teen, though, he was able to experiment and explore through consuming adult entertainment and erotic stories.

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"It was extremely helpful for me to understand what was and wasn't turning me on," Wolf told Insider, "As someone who's out and has circled back to Nifty, I found all these sections of things that are wildly taboo like incest."

"In no real world scenario is this erotic to me, but in a fantasy world this was incredibly erotic," Wolf told Insider.

Incest has been eroticized for ages

Humans have a long history of finding eroticism in familial romance. Take Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, where the main character has sex with his mother.

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"Basic human wiring hasn't changed much over the last few millennia, and we've always had an erotic interest in incest stories. Oedipus met a tragic end, but what really makes the story is that he bangs his mom," Geoffrey Celen, a porn industry trend expert, told MEL magazine.

It wasn't until Sigmund Freud, the creator of psychoanalysis, coined the term "Oedipus complex" that incest took on an inherently negative connotation, according to Brian Connolly, author of Domestic Intimacies: Incest and the Liberal Subject in Nineteenth-Century America.

The thrill of breaking societal rules

Sex researchers have long known that taboo fantasies, like incest, turn people on for a simple reason: It feels good to do something you're not supposed to do.

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"A big part of it is that tendency for us to be drawn to the taboo and seeing people engage in something that is taboo is thrilling and titillating," Kinsey Institute researcher and "Tell Me What You Want" author Justin Lehmiller told Insider. "And then you being a voyeur and watching this, you're also doing something that you're not supposed to be doing."

While conducting research for "Tell Me What You Want," Lehmiller found 1 in 5 survey respondents said they had an incest fantasy at least once in their lives.

Cultural moments, like incest themes in HBO's hit series "Game of Thrones," have pushed more people to explore the taboo in sex. Following scenes that depicted romance between siblings Cersei and Jamie Lannister, porn sites saw an increase in fauxcest adult films, The Sun previously reported.

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According to Paul Wright, a professor of communication science at Indiana University, incest porn also ups the ante for people who are bored of their usual content.

"As types of pornography that were less common in the past - for example violence, this or that fetish - become more and more common and easily accessible, consumers get bored by them and need the extremity and deviance upped a notch to once again become aroused and excited," Wright told Esquire's O'Neil. "Few sexual acts are more extreme or deviant than incest."

Social media provides fertile ground for 'fauxcest lite' to flourish

Social media users have brought the trend to TikTok and Instagram, where strict community guidelines have resulted in watered-down versions of fauxcest.

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Take the popular Instagram account Siblings or Dating, which has 1 million followers. On any given day, the anonymous account owner shares photos of couples who could be siblings and vice versa, and has followers guess: Are they siblings, or are they dating?

On TikTok, real-life couples pretend they're siblings to get a rise out of viewers.

Jonathan & Chanya, a couple with 43.6K Instagram followers, made a video suggesting they were siblings. They are, in fact, a couple. "I know how all these videos will end yet I'm always surprised and cringe at the kiss," one viewer wrote of the video.

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In the comments, fans sound off about how squeamish the game makes them feel. And yet, they come back for more.

Though Freud turned incest into a taboo, porn - and now social media - have brought about a fauxcest rennaisance.

"Part of it is that transgressive element, that heightened arousal that comes from taboo activities," said Lehmiller. "[It] might also be genuine curiosity, you know, 'I suppose I've heard a lot of things about incest before and how it's bad,' so for some people there just might be this morbid curiosity behind it."

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Rachel E. Greenspan contributed reporting.

Update: This article has been updated to show that MormonBoyz is now called Masonic Boys.

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