Welcome to 2018, where it’s becoming the new normal for a consumer to send gifts to their fave porn performer.

Since the dawn of this digital porn era, adult performers have taken to massive online retailer Amazon.com to create a public wishlist of items they most want. These items range from functional items—like hand sanitizer wipes and cat food—to high-end laptops, TVs, and watches. Some porn performers make their wishlists a little more personal, including items like groceries and even Christmas gifts requested by the performer’s kids.

Related: How Many People Are On Porn Sites Right Now? (Hint: It’s A Lot.)

Once they create their wishlist, performers will then post the link on their social media profiles in hopes that their fans will buy them groceries or their favorite hand-picked goodies. But why are anonymous fans willing to spend so much cash to buy items for their favorite performers in the first place?

False Sense of Connection

Men’s Health sought out to answer that question when they interviewed three top adult performers. They discovered what items are on their wishlists, why they have them in the first place, and what they think the appeal is for their fans. The result? It all comes down to looking for a personalized connection.

They found that most porn performers use their Amazon wishlist as a self-branding tool, posting products that their audience can expect to see in their next explicit video. Fans can then use the wishlist to make their sexual fantasies come true. If a consumer buys an item like lingerie or a sex toy for their favorite performer, and they use it in their next video, that fan often then feels a connection to that performer.

“They get a little thrill when they buy things like lingerie sets that they then see worn in productions,” according to porn performer and director Kayden Kross.

Related: Are Porn And Prostitution Really That Different From Each Other?

Adult performer Jenna J. Ross agrees. “I think one of the reasons why [fans] enjoy the wish list so much is because it makes them feel like they’re part of the experience. They get to buy us something and then they see it on camera and they’re like, ‘I got that, that’s mine!’ It makes them feel involved,” she said.

Compare it to buying something intimate for your partner—it’s intimate, and perhaps even satisfies a sexual fantasy, which can create a connection between you and your partner.

The issue here is that fans aren’t actually connected with these performers—the relationship is still that of adult performer and pornography consumer. The relationship hasn’t changed, and the process of buying gifts for a favorite on-screen fantasy can be toxic and unhealthy and ultimately fuel loneliness.

Desire for Attention

Another reason fans purchase gifts for their favorite performers is in hopes of getting their attention. Some porn performers take to social media to outwardly thank their fans for their gifts, and the more a fan spends on that performer, the more likely it is that they’ll get special attention in return, usually in the form of a tweet or shoutout on Instagram.

“I’ve had people who try to buy a whole wish list just to try and get my attention,” Kross. “I think what fans like about it is it allows them to get the attention of performers without feeling like they’re buying it with direct cash… It feels less transactional by a slight degree.”

Related: When Porn Wasn’t Enough For My Partner, He Turned To Prostitutes

Although this may seem “less transactional”, Amazon has taken some action to put an end to what they consider “bartering”. Back in 2013, adult film actress Tanya Tate received an email from Amazon saying that her wish list had been deleted because, she was told, it was being used for “bartering purposes”. Tate explained that the description had instructed her fans to “Send me gifts and I’ll send you a thank you or pictures of me wearing this dress or lingerie”. Amazon stated that this violated their terms of service by creating a wish list intended for the use of family and friends for bartering purposes.

Why This Matters

People say that porn is just fantasy, that it isn’t connected to real life, and that they are able to differentiate between their porn interests and real interests—but issues like this tell a different story.

Pornography consumption already creates a false sense of connection to the performer on the screen—going through the action of buying your favorite porn performer gifts is bound to deepen that false sense of connection. Men’s Health sums us the matter by stating, “When it comes down to it, the items that go on a wishlist are purely up to the performer and her individual needs. But for fans, it’s a way to get closer to the women they love from afar without practically begging for a restraining order.”

Fulfilling wishlists as a way to continue a sexual fantasy is clearly a way that consumers are trying to connect their digital life to their real life. Does that sound healthy to you?

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