Ever notice how much “step-whatever” porn there is? As with all porn, some of it is good, most of it is not, and all of it is suddenly ubiquitous, though it is not entirely clear when that ubiquity arrived. Porn was popular before faux-incest porn was popular, though. I remember when the smut shop I worked at decided it was time for a faux-incest section and the ensuing debate over where it should go (it ended up between “BDSM” and “Tranny”). Before we get into why it has suddenly taken the broader porn world by storm, we need to note the most interesting thing about it: it’s entirely defined by what is said, not by what is done or even by what is worn.

The closest thing to it are the various occupation fetishes, such as nurses, teachers, or French maids. The performers in those movies can be of any race, orientation, and age (more or less), and they can do or not do most any sexual act: anal, oral, facial, cuffs, whips, etc. All that’s required is that one performer wear a very specific outfit. That’s more interesting than you think: a porn genre defined by the clothes that get taken off in its opening act. The occupation-genre in particular that is most similar to faux-incest is babysitter. Babysitters don’t have a uniform, or even a typical way of dressing. Babysitter porn becomes babysitter porn only when a performer says something about it. If you watched a dirty French maid porno on mute, you’d figure it out. Ditto nurses and teachers. But you might not with a babysitter, just like you might not with a faux-incest.

In that it needs to be watched with sound, babysitter porn reminds us that occupation fetishes are not about how sexy we think whatever attire is, they’re about the social dynamics. Military uniforms aren’t actually sexy, at least not terribly sexy. What is sexy is the idea of getting fucked by an extremely fit, well-disciplined man of power who settled on a career track that might well mean killing. That is way more sexy than metal helmets or the uniquely chaste color of olive green. Nurses’ uniforms are also by no means uniquely sexy. But an infinitely caring woman with professional knowledge of the ins and outs of bodies is certainly sexy. The idea that you might well meet her at your lowest point, at your most vulnerable, is also appealing.

Most of the other occupations are just common taboo desires. It stands to reason that porn would create entire genres of frequently occurring social fantasies in addition to physical fantasies; could it even be any other way? We’ve all had teachers. Many people have had a teacher they wanted to fuck; maybe even a majority of people have felt that way about a teacher of theirs. Wanting to fuck secretaries, maids, and the like is all also fairly common. While not that many of us have had personal secretaries, most office workers have been around a secretary or two that works on the same floor as them, and is often one of the only women there. Maids are much the same. Few of us have had them, but many of us have seen maids at hotels we were staying at that we would have loved to fuck the brains out of. But babysitters? Not so much.

Think of it in terms of non-porn for a second. Remember the nurse in Requiem for a Dream? How about the maid in Bottle Rocket? The MILF in The Graduate? The secretary in The Apartment? The “barely legal” girl in Manhattan? Coming of age dramas with sexual tension between students and teachers are too many to name. Ditto chick flicks with men at war. Now quick, think of a popular movie with a babysitter love interest. Sure, you can find straight-to-DVD bargain basement shit with babysitters, but no one cares. And it’s interesting that no one cares, right? The one babysitter that I can think of was in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle. But it’s all the babies being sat that want to fuck her, not the dad. And in porn, it’s always the dad.

Babysitters capture the artistic and carnal imagination less because of a lot of day-to-day realities. Few people work as a babysitter in a remotely full time capacity, or for very long. When I was a teenager, I fucked tons of babysitters, and you probably did too. They were just teenage girls who sometimes looked after kids. For it to be a taboo, the babysitter has to be yours, and few people start hiring babysitters until they are well into their thirties, a long time after they’ve developed sexually. Ergo, the desire to fuck a babysitter is a fantasy entirely produced by unhappily married middle-aged men. Read that sentence out loud and tell me it’s not a depressing observation. Yet, that is not the only demographic inhaling babysitter porn: if it was, there wouldn’t be nearly as much of it as there is. So why do tons of dudes with no children jerk off to babysitter porn? Why did I do it a bunch when I was a teenager?

The answer lies in the identical non-answer of the same question when applied to faux-incest porn. Can you think of any popular or classic movies, TV shows, or books with a relative or step-relative love interest? No, you can’t. Katy Perry sings about kissing a girl and liking it, Van Halen and the Police sing about being hot for teacher. Nabokov wrote about wanting to slay a little girl. The Marquis de Sade and Henry Miller wrote about all kinds of weird shit. You can’t say the same for babysitter or incest (of any kind) stuff. Why? Because it’s not really a thing. What about the incest in Dexter and Game of Thrones, you ask? Both shows came out and became popular well after Internet porn took over American sexuality, not before.

Banging a babysitter just means you’re an old sad-sack with a bit of game who doesn’t care about the well-being of his wife. And no one is into incest. Even Dan Savage thinks incest is fucking disgusting. Children who are not actually related but grew up together in kibbutzes don’t even fuck each other. I’ve met tons of disgusting perverts, but I’ve never met someone who wanted to fuck a relative. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve switched from talking about faux-incest to talking about incest. That’s because faux-incest porn is incest porn. They just add the “faux” because otherwise it’s illegal.

So, again, why? Why is there so much porn that traffics in sexual fantasies that aren’t had by very many people? Is that not fucking weird?

The answer is that porn is now just about breaking taboos for the sake of breaking taboos. We’ve already seen it all, and now we need more. Specifically, we need more “bad.” One avenue to get more bad is sex acts that are more and more intense, but that has strict biological limits. The other avenue is scenarios, which do not have strict biological limits. First came babysitters, defined by married men with kids fucking teenagers (yeah, the dads could be divorced, but c’mon). That’s good and sleazy. It ups the quotient of “bad” on what would otherwise just be another “barely legal” movie. It doesn’t matter if you have ever had a babysitter you wanted to bang; the genre isn’t about that fantasy specifically, the scenario is just a handy (no pun intended) vessel for lots of bad. But the legions of babysitters were not enough. Bad had to get worse. And what’s worse than fucking a relative? Nothing much comes to mind; fucking prepubescent kids I suppose, but most people are not actually attracted to prepubescent kids. Incest porn can mesh with most anything else you like: different ages, different acts, even different races when it’s faux. All the incest does is increase the quotient of bad, which is what we were looking for. Like with babysitters, it doesn’t matter that you’ve never had the fantasy. The scenario is not about fantasy, it’s about bad.

Bad, bad, bad.


“Incest and Babysitters” is an excerpt from Richard Power’s new memoir, Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.