Digital chemsex publics: Algorithmic and user configurations of fear and desire on Pornhub

Kristian Møller Jørgensen

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In recent years, chemsex has emerged as both a subcultural vernacular and an orientation device for gay health promotion. Chemsex loosely describes gay men using certain drugs to extend and modulate group sex practice. In line with hegemonic responses to gay sexuality in general, most research has been grounded in problematisation, with discourse mostly returning to the question of containment. Drawing on porn, platform and critical drug studies, this article offers a corrective approach by defining a networked, cultural study of chemsex that is attuned to how chemsex erotics operate in many different (digital) intimate publics. Assembling algorithmic search suggestions, 41 videos and 450 comments, the article finds that the videos and comments found through the search function are vastly different than those found through user-generated playlists. Two competing publics form around the fear/desire-response to drug use: a cautious erotic of disinhibition and a counterpublic erotic of transgression.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2021


  • counterpublic
  • disinhibition
  • drugs
  • gay
  • platform studies
  • porn
  • Pornhub
  • transgression


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