In The World Of Fake Celebrity Porn, One Man’s Destruction Is Another Man’s Salvation

Jessica Alba

A fake pornographic photo of Jessica Alba.

I’m looking at an image of Jessica Alba. Her almond skin appears silky smooth and her pearly white teeth look just as perfect as they do in all those red carpet photos I’ve seen of her over the years. Although in this photo one side of her beautiful face is smashed sideways into a couch cushion. And even though her mouth is open, it’s not a smile. It’s more of a gasp. Then there’s that something about her eyes too. There’s a slight cringe around them signalling an experience of both pleasure and pain.

As my own eyes scan the length of her naked back, following the ridges of her spine leading down to one of the most perfect asses I’ve ever seen, I discover why her eyes convey pain: there’s a big cock working its way into her.

This image of Alba bent over a couch getting analized is, of course, a fake—although that’s impossible to tell even when examining it close up. It is perhaps an exemplary example of what some would call “art” in a subculture of pornography known as celebrity faking.

It is a subculture I first became familiar with while doing research for my novel EPIPHANY JONES and one comprised of two distinct groups: the fakers and the fans. The fakers, many wielding a talent most graphic designers and art directors could only dream of, merge the headshots of celebrities with the bodies of porn stars. Dozens of fakers make thousands of images that offer a level of wish fulfillment that Hollywood would never dare grant.

The fakers, often working in total isolation and under extravagant pseudonyms such as Lord Hollywood, Knight in the Wired, and Pirate Duck, post their works to online forums where other fakers and fans critique them. Sometimes on the most popular forums the fakers will engage in competitions known as “duels” where the latest fakes from two fakers go head-to-head, the community of fans voting which is best. Most fakers practice their craft without any financial award. They simply fake because it allows them to take the controlled fantasy that is Hollywood and present it in a more exposed, forbidden form. The best fakers rise to rock star status in the forums. They have massive followings numbering in the thousands.

One such fan is Mr. Charles. When I meet him in a Starbucks I see he’s in his late-40’s and dressed in a casual suit whose blazer seems just a bit too baggy, as if his small pot belly was once fifteen pounds heavier. He’s graying around the temples and wears thin, black wire-frame glasses. He looks like your average accountant—or a dad at a parent-teacher meeting.

Mr. Charles has a wife and two daughters. But he hasn’t seen them for over a year.

“You don’t realize it when you’re on the path,” he says. “You don’t realize how it’s not just something you do any longer only when you’re bored, but something you do because you need to do it. Daily. Hourly.”

Mr. Charles began surfing fake celebrity porn forums five years earlier, when his wife and two little girls were out of town one weekend. He doesn’t remember how exactly he came across his first fakers forum, but he thinks he landed there after searching for sexy images of Jessica Alba on Google. He had just watched a movie of hers on television and wanted to masturbate before going to bed.

The images he found on this first forum were titillating leagues beyond what any of the bikini snaps he had hoped to find could be. There were hundreds of images of Alba in every conceivable position: missionary, doggy, cum shots, double—even triple—anal.

He masturbated four times before bed that night.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” he says. “Remember when you were thirteen and just discovered masturbation? How good that felt? How powerful? It was like that.”

Over the next several years Mr. Charles would return to the forum, and other forums like it, at first weekly, then daily, then sometimes hourly. Even at his job where he worked as a well-paid marketing executive he began to browse the forums when the colleague he shared his office with stepped out for lunch.

“I just needed more,” he says. “My wife became unattractive to me. These images were more than your normal porn. Suddenly I could have any of the young actresses I saw in movies and on TV at any time and in any position.”

Mr. Charles says the hyper-realistic fake images he masturbated to made him feel like he was actually engaging in the most private, intimate, and erotic moments of the lives of his favorite stars like Natalie Portman, Jessica Alba, and Jennifer Aniston—an engagement Hollywood always teased through its sexualization of women, but would never actually allow.

On his laptop he shows me some of his favorites. He’s not shy about showing the images in a packed Starbucks. Among a folder of 900 images is the one of Jessica Alba, face pushed into the couch cushion, ass in the air, cock going deep. The pseudonym on the photo is the mark of a prolific faker known as “Black Magnus”.

“This is the one image that changed everything for me,” Mr. Charles says.

Mr. Charles tells me that two years ago he happened upon this particular fake of Alba for the first time. He had never seen it before even though it was by Black Magnus, his favorite faker. Mr. Charles first stole a peek at it when he got to his work computer in the morning and logged into one of his favorite forums. The image of the cock deep in Alba’s ass—the mix of pain and pleasure on her face—burned in his mind for the next three hours. And when his colleague stepped out for lunch he could no longer wait. At his desk Mr. Charles pulled out his dick and started masturbating to Alba, bent over on the couch, getting pounded.

And then his colleague opened the office door.

Mr. Charles had forgotten to lock it and his colleague had forgotten her purse.

“She actually screamed,” he says.

The resulting investigation led to Mr. Charles’ dismissal. Unbeknownst to him, his company had begun recently tracking the web history of all its employees. His browsing history was all there: Alba analed, Portman drinking cum, former Disney starlets in missionary, doggy, and cowboy.

“When your bosses see you’re looking at pornographic images of some very young actresses…well, I would have quit in shame if they hadn’t fired me,” he says, but notes that he never viewed fakes of underage actresses. “Matter of fact, faking underage stars will get you immediately banned in most forums.”

Mr. Charles came clean to his wife and promised to get help for what he now realized was an addition. But the resulting depression from his firing, the loss of trust from his wife, and his inability to find another job—combined with his promises to stop looking at fakes, but his powerlessness to do so—led to her leaving him ten months later, taking his two young daughters with her.

I ask Mr. Charles if he still looks at fakes, but judging from the amount on his laptop I know the answer is—

“Yes.”

And when I ask him why?

“Why does an alcoholic need a drink?” he says.

Years before Mr. Charles’ firing, and halfway around the world in Italy, there was a 17 year old boy named Marco. Marco had, not unlike most teens, always felt “different.”

This difference manifested itself in extreme reclusiveness, something that led most of his all-boys class to pick on him about to no end. Instead of socializing Marco would spend lunch hours drawing comic book heroines in a notebook, most of the time with their clothes torn to shreds.

“I couldn’t explain it then,” Marco says. “But I drew these fake people with their clothes off because I wasn’t good at having real relationships—much less feeling comfortable around girls. I think the drawing of the obviously unattainable fake comic book superheroes was a way to release my teenage sexual frustration. Plus I always liked to draw.”

But Marco’s reclusiveness and his inclination to drawing unobtainable women may have also lain in something deeper: his relationship with his mother. A year earlier his father had run off with the woman he hired to clean their house, leaving Marco and his mother to fend for themselves—something his mother wasn’t much good at.

The more his mother withdrew from life the more panic attacks Marco found himself having at school, which lead to increased bullying from his classmates. Self-harm via cutting and a bout with bulimia began.

Things came to a head shortly after Marco’s eighteenth birthday when his mother killed herself. Marco’s father didn’t even show for the funeral.

“I knew I should have been mad at my father, but all my anger went towards my mother.”

Over the next two years Marco’s self-harm increased. Drug use and thoughts of suicide became a constant problem. Any job he managed to get he quickly lost. But it wasn’t until Marco reached a critical point one night before his twenty-first birthday that things hit rock bottom.

“The thoughts of suicide had become so prevalent I could literally hear them in my head,” he says. “I don’t know what stopped me, but I managed to and I walked out the door and made it to the hospital.”

Upon his release from the hospital Marco was referred to a treatment center where he attended cognitive behavioral therapy sessions for six months.

“But it wasn’t until I did an extra session with an arts therapist that I began to turn the corner,” he says. “She was the most non-judgmental person I’ve known. She asked what made me happy and I just answered, ‘Drawing unobtainable women.’ And she said, ‘So do that.’”

And Marco did. He began drawing his comic book women again—getting better with each passing month. He soon could hold down a job at a local Internet café where in his free time he began messing around with a pirated version of Adobe Photoshop, which he discovered he was amazingly adept at and which allowed him to create more lifelike superheroes than ink on paper could.

“I’d show my Photoshopped drawings of superheroines to a friend I made who worked late shifts with me at the café,” Marco says. “To my surprise he had no shame in admitting he loved the topless ones. He even had me print some out for him. We laughed about it, but I did. It made me feel good.”

The next week his friend came in with a memory stick with several hardcore pornography images on it as well as multiple photos of Keira Knightley, Shakira, and Mila Kunis.

“‘You think you can make me up an image?’ he said to me,” Marco says. “It was a challenge since it was manipulating existing images. In many ways it’s much harder than just drawing your own. The first wasn’t that good, neither were the next five or six or so—with cartoon art like you find in comics you don’t need to worry about lighting, but in creating photorealistic images the ability to match lighting and shading is what makes it.”

“But I got good fast and my friend soon made me aware he had been sharing my images on online forums. When I checked them out it was odd. There were dozens of comments praising my images and there was also this big community of users who liked the same stuff I did. I felt not only accepted but respected for the first time in my life.”

Over the next year Marco made dozens of fakes, his reputation on the forums growing with the release of each one. He started winning duels with other fakers, which gained him even more praise. And though he knew that plenty of his fans on the other end of cyberspace were only looking at his images to get off, for Marco he was creating those images as both an emotional release of past harms and also in recognition of his personal acceptance of who he was.

“At first I would just sign the images with my real initials, because I was no longer ashamed,” Marco says. “But the more I made, the more people online started requesting their favorites. They’d especially love my Natalie Portman’s, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s, and they really liked Jessica Alba’s, who I always liked from Dark Angel. At the same time many of my fans also said I needed a better pseudonym, like the other great fakers had, than just my initials.”

And what pseudonym did he choose?

“Black Magnus,” he says, adding that the recognition and encouragement of his talents—it gave him a confidence that, just a few years earlier, he could never dream of having.

It’s that confidence gained through creating celebrity fakes, Marco says, that enabled him to fully kick his addictions and self-loathing. “I know many might not consider it ‘art’,” he says, “But that therapist was right: it has the power to change your life.”

[Note: A version of this story originally appeared on Vice. All names and pseudonyms in this story have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. The fake images in this story are posted as examples of other fakers’ works and were not created by “Black Magnus”.]
Michael Grothaus

About Michael Grothaus

Novelist and journalist Michael Grothaus was born in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1977. He spent his twenties in Chicago where he earned his degree in filmmaking from Columbia and got his start in journalism writing for Screen. After working for institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, Twentieth Century Fox, and Apple he moved to the United Kingdom where he earned his postgraduate degree and began writing for The Guardian, Fast Company, VICE, and others. His debut novel is EPIPHANY JONES, a story about sex trafficking among the Hollywood elite, based on his experiences at the Cannes Film Festival. It will be published by Orenda in May 2016. Michael is represented worldwide by The Hanbury Agency in London, where he lives when not traveling. His writing is read by millions of people each month.

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