Welcome to Rule 34, a series in which Motherboard’s Samantha Cole lovingly explores the highly specific fetishes that can be found on the web.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stops the mail, so the USPS slogan goes—but sometimes, a bored and horny housewife can, in porn tropes at least.
The United States Postal Service, long underfunded and under-appreciated, has accelerated its slide into a threat of collapse due to terrible decisions made by the new postmaster and the Trump administration. It’s a mess, and in an election year when more people than ever are going to vote by mail-in ballot to avoid coming into contact with a deadly virus at the polls, it’s terrifying.
In early August, Twitter user @BonniePuns put into words something we all felt deep down: only a mass effort of making the post office sexy could salvage it, now.
People in uniform—cops, firemen—are a common porn trope, so it’s no surprise that mail carriers are hot again. I’ve probably seen more of William Harper Jackson’s Good Place character Chidi in a tight little mailman uniform in the last month than any other image—and in the episode he wears it in, Kristin Bell’s character admits a sex fantasy about fucking a mailman.
Now that it’s in danger, everyone’s got a boner for the post office, but the thing is, slipping packages on doorsteps and mail through slots has always been sexualized.
Like the stripper-cop trope, the mailman-meets-horny-resident has been around forever, too. The trope used to be the milkman stopping in every day to visit the bored housewife, but that shifted to the postal worker when milk delivery became obsolete. One of the most popular examples of this in pop culture is attributed to the show Kids Say the Darndest Things, where one of the kids says, “I don’t look like my Mommy or my Daddy. I look like the mailman.
In a more modern example, Paige Steele plays a pissed-off customer who makes the mailman come inside and watch her test the dildo he just delivered.
Interestingly, there’s a notable lack of women mail carriers in mail-porn, even though there are lots of them in real life—slightly less than half of carriers are women, and women have been letter carriers since at least 1845.
Even with years of porn and film and TV examples, horny mail goes back farther than that. Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky’s 1953 song “Dear John” was about sending a breakup letter to let a soldier know he’d been cucked back home by his own brother, and became shorthand for dumping someone via letter. Brian Hyland’s 1962 “Sealed With A Kiss,” the Marvelettes’ 1965 “Mister Postman“—these songs all eroticized descriptions of the act of sending and receiving mail, in a time when getting a letter that smelled like your lover was probably the hottest thing imaginable.
Here in 2020, things are a little different. We slide into DMs, not mail slots, and our mailboxes are mostly virtual. And with precarious funding and incompetent leadership, the post office is in trouble.
Inspired by the “sexualizing the post office” tweet, TikTok user Siete White bought a mail bag from the USPS store and paired it with shiny black short shorts to twerk on a mailbox:
She told Buzzfeed News that the bag sold out after her post, which got more than 605,000 likes. “It’s empowering to know, wow, I made a 15-second-long video and people actually went and used their hard-earned coins to go and make their own individual difference,” White said.
Others on TikTok and Twitter took a page out of K-pop stan fancam playbook and made video mashups of postal workers delivering mail and petting dogs to “WAP” and “In the Party” by Flo Milli:
Much like artists who coped with Covid-19 lockdown by sketching toilet paper and hand sanitizer Corona-chan waifus and sex workers who sold nudes to raise money for Australian wildfire relief efforts (2020 has been so weird), people are turning their concerns about the fate of the USPS into art.
Alexandra Kiselyov, a graduate student studying television writing and producing, is also selling art in exchange for proof of USPS support—but instead of nudes, she’s taking illustration art commissions. While they aren’t necessarily sexualized, she was inspired by others doing similar fundraising campaigns. For every $10 or more spent on USPS stamps with proof of receipt, she’ll illustrate whatever you want.
“I wanted to give people incentive to buy stamps for the USPS, primarily because I’m extremely concerned about mail-in voting and what the Trump administration has been doing in the background,” she told me. She’s concerned about the state of mail-in ballots for the election, but also since she runs a small business through eBay, she relies on the USPS to ship to customers.
“I’m eternally grateful to those that did purchase stamps, and I hope people will continue to support artists and the USPS in the future,” she said. “The most important part is that people are learning that the USPS is in dire straits, and that small businesses and rural communities are going to be affected by it.”
Cosplayer Katie Simrell told me she decided to do a postal-themed look after being inspired by the @BonniePuns tweet. “Immediately I thought about how I could make a cosplay from this idea to raise money from the USPS,” she said. “Making silly lewd/sexy costumes out of innocuous characters or inanimate objects or ideas or… govt agencies apparently (lol) isn’t a new idea of course.”
The USPS doesn’t sell uniforms, so she found an old one on eBay, and like White, she bought the messenger bag from the USPS store. A matching blue and red microbikini and ingenious stamp pasties complete the look.
Like Alexandra’s commissions, sending proof of purchase from the USPS store got you a lewd photo in her USPS-chan outfit, as does proof of texting “USPS” to 50409—which returns a Resistbot that automatically emails your local representatives to urge them to support the Delivering for America Act. Simrell said her DMs exploded with purchase receipts, she said, “which could either be a great sign of people really wanting to help the USPS and they love the idea, or equally, people just being horny.”
The response has been mostly positive, which surprised her. “Usually I brace myself for a torrent of misogynistic or mean-spirited comments but there have only been a few small outliers,” she said. “The most baffling response has been the handful of political retorts. Somebody tried to say ‘the dems are offering nudes now to join their party,’ I guess trying to demean me? Or as if the USPS is a service that only one political party can use.”
Urging individuals to buy stamps and art commissions probably won’t, in itself, save the post office. The job of funding one of the country’s oldest and most important institutions is a lot bigger than OnlyFans can handle. But if the postal worker ever goes the way of the milkman, future generations could find themselves jerking off to a lot more UPS and FedEx porn fantasies.
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