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Illustration Marianne Wilson

‘It’s all in your head’: why so many women are turning to audio erotica

Downloads of audio porn apps like Quinn and Dipsea are soaring – here’s why

What’s “the most significant new trend in consuming erotica”? According to Anna Richards, founder and CEO of erotic platform Frolicme, it’s audio porn.

What exactly is audio porn? Well, it’s pretty much the consumption of porn without visuals – like someone sending you a very vivid voice note of all the ways they’d want to pleasure you, complete with moaning noises.

Audio porn has been around for a while – 1-900 lines which horny people could ring for phone sex were all the rage in the 90s – but now, its popularity is soaring. A Forbes article dubbed audio porn a “booming business”, with several audio erotica startups collectively raising over $8 million in 2019 alone. Then came the pandemic, which Richards highlights as a huge trigger for the rise in audio erotica listeners. “More of us sought solace and escapism in our technology during numerous lockdowns,” she explains. “In the first six weeks after the initial lockdown in March 2020, Frolicme saw a 48 per cent increase in listening figures to our audio porn stories, with 61 per cent of those new listeners being women enjoying the steamy narratives that were on offer.” Additionally, audio erotica app Dipsea saw an 84 per cent increase in subscriber volume since quarantine measures began in 2020. The bubble doesn’t show any sign of bursting just yet though, with a number of audio porn apps continuing to flourish post-pandemic.

One erotic audio app that quite literally has the girlies shaking is Quinn, founded by Caroline Spiegel. On the app, you’ll find an array of categories that include MDom (men taking control), Praise (encouragement or instruction for all the “good girls out there”) and Friends to Lovers (focusing on storytelling that depicts friends falling in love and having sex). Listeners have a curated set of creators (“voices”) to choose from – one of those voices is Zachary Cowan, an LA-based content creator and professional actor.

Cowman’s most recent audio, “Basement Banter”, tells the story of a girl’s older brother and her best friend reminiscing on growing up together and eventually realising that they’ve had unspoken sexual tension for many years – and succumbing to it. Cowman earnt over 9,000 plays in a matter of days thanks to the steamy audio. “I’m back… and I am dead from cumming like five times lol,” one of the comments under the audio reads. “Kinda mental how many times I’ve listened to this audio in the last 12 hours,” says another.

“Quinn reached out to me after coming across some of my viral TikTok videos and noticing my strong community that aligned well with the demographic of Quinn users,” Cowman recalls. “It was a fully woman-led company looking to disrupt a very exploitative industry which is really what sold it to me. Plus, they’re very good and ethical in paying their creators.”

“With audio porn, you don’t have to worry about being yourself in a potentially uncomfortable or unsafe situation” – Mattie

Mitchell Warren can also be found whispering NSFW sweet nothings in his weekly Quinn audios. Warren is one of Quinn’s most listened-to voices, with over a million overall audio plays. He’s amazingly deep-voiced, and recalls a doctor’s appointment years ago where a nurse joked that he could work for a 1-900 number due to his unusually sensual accent. “That comment from the nurse stuck with me through the years, so when an opportunity to create spicy content for Quinn presented itself, I jumped at the chance,” he explains. “It helps to know that anything I participate in is made ethically and in a transparent way where listeners don’t have to worry if what they’re enjoying is a product of exploitation.”

For many listeners, audio porn comes with all the pleasure that mainstream visual porn brings, but without some of the problematic sides of the industry – including a lack of inclusivity and “issues surrounding mass-produced extreme gratuitous porn such as lack of consent, exploitation and violence,” says Richards.

Cowman also believes consumers are more ethically conscious than ever when it comes to the porn they consume. “I think a lot of these visual mediums have proven time and time again that they’re not safe and they’re not looking out for people in the videos,” he says. “Another issue is that the majority of visual porn is catered towards male heterosexual values and I think the audio porn industry is a little bit more in touch with what female presenting and non-binary people want from porn.”


I’m not buying it

♬ no - kenzie !! 🤍

After all, the appeal of audio porn isn’t just about ethics, but “it can be more emotionally engaging than visual porn for the listener,” according to Melissa Stone, a sex and relationships expert for Joy Love Dolls. “It often has a more intimate and personal feel to it, as it’s easier for the listener to imagine the scene in their own head.” Anica, an audio porn fan, agrees and adds she strongly believes that visual porn is hardly relatable. “I prefer audio porn mostly because it’s all in your head. You can be anyone, or be with anyone, especially when the creators are anonymous,” she says. “Personally, with visual porn, I have to be attracted to the person in the video, or else it’s not gonna work and you’re just watching people have sex. With audio porn, I’ve realised, everything is so intimate. You can hear their breath, their smile, even their heartbeat sometimes. It really makes you escape, which [I] can’t do with visual porn.”

It’s pretty apparent that most mainstream, cis heterosexual visual porn is largely catered for the eyes of straight men and their fantasies. The foreplay shown is almost always focused on a man receiving a blowjob, before the woman is portrayed as having multiple orgasms through rough penetrative sex, which in reality is a struggle for many women. A recent YouGov study on the orgasm gap found that 30 per cent of British women say they orgasm every time they have sex, in comparison to 61 per cent of British men.

Allyson is a Quinn subscriber, and she explains that she found that visual porn often lacks relatable size inclusion. “As someone that is plus-sized, I don’t feel that visual porn is relatable. Even when plus-sized people are featured, often I can’t relate as it’s usually not a true reflection of how sex actually is in real life.” Mattie, another avid audio porn listener, says she prefers it to mainstream porn as it offers her a safe and “judgement-free way” to explore kinks. “I think a lot of people are realising that the expectations partners and society have placed on us is harmful in a lot of ways,” she says. “With audio porn, you don’t have to worry about being yourself in a potentially uncomfortable or unsafe situation.”

Evidently, with so many positives, the demand for audio porn is only set to keep rising. So, whether you’re a regular porn watcher or not, there’s no harm in seeing what all the fuss is about – with the potential to feel your sexiest self in the process. 

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