Covid Porn Has a New Theme: Getting Jabbed

Dressed in a red and white nurse’s cap and a bikini with red X’s on the front, Porsha Parker waves a syringe full of thick, white liquid in front of your face. She pushes a tiny amount out of the needle, letting it bead at the tip. “Everyone loves a cum vaccination,” she whispers.  

That clip was originally meant to be a simple cum-eating instructional—and technically, it still is. She teases the viewer with squirts from the syringe, telling them to open their mouths, inviting them to imagine it dripping onto their tongue. But considering a rise in discourse around the Covid-19 vaccines—as the unvaccinated fill up hospitals, and conspiracy theories continue to spread—she gave the scene an inoculation twist. 

“I wanted to tie in the nurse outfit with something, so why not try something different and have them injected with cum,” she told Motherboard. 

In March 2020, days before the pandemic was even declared a pandemic, coronavirus-themed porn was going viral, with performers incorporating surgical masks, clean suits, and apocalyptic vibes into their content. It was all anyone could talk about; might as well make some porn of it. And in the early days of the vaccine rollout, getting vaccinated could get you laid: people cruising Tinder and Bumble added “vax 4 vax” and OKCupid added vaccination status to their matching questionnaire.  

Eighteen months later, we’re struggling with low vaccination rates —and whether mandating vaccines could stop deadly variants like Delta from sending us back into lockdown. Porn, always a cutting edge social barometer, has turned another bleak cultural moment into boner fuel. 

With titles like “Is your Sperm a COVID 19 Vaccine, Boss?” and “LOCKDOWN! THE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE IS IN THE ASS,” many of these aren’t actually about needle play or medical fetishes. The prick, usually, is attached to the dude—and the serum is semen. Everything else is up to your imagination. 

Some, however, are about getting (or fantasizing about getting) literally jabbed. Medical fetishism encompasses a wide range of kinks and yens: one could be turned on by latex gloves, catheters, clamps, stethoscopes, anything you’d find in a hospital. Even with just a nurse’s uniform, medical fetish can cross over into whatever you want. 

Adult performer Viva Athena started shooting content with her boyfriend Dr. Grey during quarantine; when they realized that Covid-themed porn was a new trend, they started new channels on several platforms under the name “Covid Couple,” using masks, gloves, and clinical dirty talk to make their content. 

“I think another reason why we did those videos, was because it was our way to incorporate these now daily items into our video work, without the scariness of why we began using those items in the first place,” Athena said. 

As a plot point and film genre itself, Laura Helen Marks, porn scholar and professor of English at Tulane University and author of Alice in Pornoland, sees similarities between vax themes and horror. 

“In terms of porn that dabbles in themes of disease, viruses, vaccinations, antidotes, and the like, these themes are grappled with quite directly in vampire and zombie porn,” she said. “This is no surprise, as mainstream media uses the same narratives to deal with those themes. Vampires and zombies are the result of a virus or contagious disease.” 

In Beyond Fucked: A Zombie Odyssey, directed by Tommy Pistol in 2013, humans trying to survive the plague that’s turning people into the undead test each other before sex; they also have to prove that they’re “clean” before they can enter clubs. In The Walking Dead: A Hardcore Parody, directed by Joanna Angel also in 2013, humans fuck zombies and zombies crave semen, but cum is a kind of antidote-slash-silver bullet. (Some people are hesitant to get vaccinated because they think I Am Legend, a 2007 movie about zombies starring Will Smith, was somehow grounded in truth as a warning that vaccines cause zombification; something that’s both wildly false in reality and also just not what happened in the film.)

Closer to the naughty mad scientist genre of a lot of vaccination porn today, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde parodies also deal with themes of “the desire to fuck around but also the hesitancy and fear of contamination,” as Marks puts it, where mystery potions and antidotes come into play. Vampire porn, too, toys with the ideas of spreading a transformative condition through close contact. Both of these were generated by, and play off of, 19th century fears of spreading STIs.

“As far as the current pandemic is concerned, the obvious erotic aspects are vaccination = the ability to fuck around again and hook up at will,” Marks said. “But I think there’s more to it than that, considering the stuff outlined above. I imagine a lot of the erotic tension in vaccination porn is that pleasure in being nasty.”

As a medical fetish, Covid porn, and vaccination porn as a subset, is building on a long history of the adult industry’s handling of personal and community health—in the real world as well as on-set. In March 2020, the Free Speech Coalition asked all porn sets to halt production to slow the spread of the virus; all major studios stopped shooting, at least until California lifted restrictions on mainstream film production in June. Many studios didn’t reopen until well after that, as a matter of safety. They’ve been implementing test-and-trace programming for decades: performers have to show documentation of negative STI test results every two weeks through the PASS program, or risk losing work (or in the worst case, shutting down all sets if an outbreak seems imminent.) Public health experts concede that most workplaces could learn something from the adult industry’s handling of Covid. When the devastatingly rampant disease they were battling was HIV, producers tried to make safe sex sexy. 

But there was always a paradox present in the stigmatization and eroticization of protecting oneself, whether it’s been birth control, pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP), or vaccinations. 

“I believe femdom within itself can help our submissive/slaves get the vaccine”

“On the one hand you have (at various points in history), stigma against people who use PrEP (“PrEP sluts“), women who carry condoms or use birth control, etc., and on the other hand in porn it is precisely these ‘slutty’ kinds of people who are our favored characters,” said Marks.

There’s an aspect to the fetishization of vaccinations that’s used to try to shame people for choosing to protect themselves proactively that’s gone on for more than a century. During Montréal’s smallpox epidemic in 1885, anti-vax doctor Alexander M. Ross tried to shame the medical community and people who trusted them by insinuating that they were deviants transfixed by this new magical medical cure. He described pro-vaccination doctors as worshipping the smallpox vaccine as their “true and only fetish” and proclaimed himself the only doctor “who had dared to doubt the fetish” of vaccination. (Years later, smallpox was eradicated by the vaccine.) 

Ross was likely using “fetish” in its original meaning—a charm that holds blind power over people—but at the time, the word was already evolving into more sexual connotations. Richard von Krafft-Ebing published Psychopathia Sexualis a year later, which pathologized just about everything sexual proclivity under the sun, and wrote extensively about “erotic fetichism” as obsessions about locks of hair, shoes, feet, silk—anything inanimate, and even things like smells and specific arrangements of rooms. More than 100 years later, we have people like Tucker Carlson and Marco Rubio calling public health interventions (in this case, masks) a fetish—not in the charm way, but as a way to make it seem dirty or perverted to want to protect yourself. 

Even though vaccine content is popular now, Athena doesn’t see it sticking around forever. But responding to dark moments with humor or horniness is an evergreen impulse. 

“I’ve noticed a lot of times, trends in porn are a direct reflection of how the human brain fetishizes or sexualizes current events, no matter how taboo or grim the event is,” she said. “I think the allure is that sex is a release for a lot of people, and when we crave that release, our brain might conjure images of current events, which leads to searches for videos that will satisfy that need/curiosity/release.”

Some pro-dommes are educating their clients on the benefits of getting vaccinated—including the privilege of seeing them in-person for sessions. Parker sees a similar advantage in online dominatrixes’ content swaying minds toward public health. 

“I believe femdom within itself can help our submissive/slaves get the vaccine… they will pretty much do whatever their Domme tells them to do, so if we make that a ‘slave task’ or a form of ‘tribute,’ they’ll do it,” she said. 

“I think this type of content definitely helps normalize getting vaccinated for Covid/people getting over their fears,” Athena said. “For people to see Covid themed porn videos online, even if they don’t click on it, I think it does spread awareness on Covid, where it makes it more real. At the end of the day, we are all walking on this complex, confusing world, going through this pandemic, while also living in a reality where Covid-themed porn is a way to help get people vaccinated. I’m just happy to be a part of all of it.”