Pink Madness (and the Girls That Needed Me)
"I am fine and tired of this feeling. Come see me, hugs! ;-)"
THE OLD DAYS OF PORN SPAM were the quintessence of vulgar. Lurid and aggressive, a graphic battle—right there in your inbox—between salacious ‘watch-me-now’ copy and in-your-face gynecology.
These explicit emails diminished over time as ISPs hired Andrea Dworkin-like programmers to vaporize the solicitations into a digital black hole (that pulsated somewhere in the air above Florida) before they could reach your inbox.
And so as quickly as they’d appeared—they vanished. It was as if all promoted sexual activity (on the internet) had gone the way of the dodo.
Like those Nigerian emails that informed me that a prince had died and left me millions, the porn spam wasn’t anything I missed. Or even considered. I mean, I’d never needed prompts—digital or otherwise—to masturbate, so life’s eternal beat pounded onward.
Cogs of desire
Pornography and technology are inseparable. Shortly after the Guttenberg press completed its first run of Bibles, the clunky apparatus switched out its plates and began printing porn.
Centuries later, in the 1970s, the desire to no longer skulk around x-rated film arcades galvanized VCR technology. The same with the streaming of video on the Internet in the mid-90s; it was the porn industry that forged the technological breakthroughs that eventually led to Netflix and Hulu.
Porn is a confluence of three planetary impulses: Publishing and distribution are Mercurial. Innovation is a Martian activity that also employs Venus’s son Priapus as a hired hand. While pornography itself, as a form of sensual excitation is a Venusian compulsion. Because Mars and Venus are complementary forces in astrology—in a yin and yang sort of way—you can see why innovation and porn are bedmates.
With the discovery of the outer planets and the sometimes arbitrary reallocation of ancient planetary rulerships, Uranus came to be associated with technological advancement. While Pluto assumed jurisdiction over porn. The Uranus assignment makes sense, given the exponential time-busting leaps that technology has achieved post the Industrial Revolution.
And with the advent of the internet, and considering the billions of dollars associated with the ‘adult industry’ (and its history with crime syndicates) Pluto has come to be aligned with pornography. OK, I suppose—but still, when it comes down to the sensual chakra’s marriage to the sexual chakra, there’s nothing like the fundamental criteria.
What we resist persists
If you want to comprehend why pornography grips the culture’s imagination with such intensity, you’ll want to round up a copy of Jungian insurgent James Hillman’s essay Pink Madness: Why Does Aphrodite Drive Us Crazy With Pornography? This study was originally delivered as a lecture by Hillman in the early 90s.
For years you could only acquire this talk in transcript form from shrinks who had access to unpublished material at Hillman’s Spring Press. Later, an audio version was released, and then finally the talk (edited into an essay) was blended into the stellar Uniform Editions, in the book Mythological Figures, published shortly after Hillman’s death in 2011.
Hillman’s argument in Pink Madness, for all of its shrewd eloquence, is at heart a tale of retribution that evolves into a celebration of Aphrodite's indictment against the goddess Hera’s domestication of the psyche.
To confine sex to the procreative drive within a marriage, Hera makes sure that Aphrodite’s wanton love of physical pleasure is marginalized. Aphrodite and her offspring, Eros and Priapus, are shuttled away and swathed in plain brown paper wrappings; sequestered by religious zealots and anti-life advocates.
In Pink Madness Hillman, gives voice to Aphrodite’s complaint (and revenge), detailing her hegemony in specific detail. As punishment for her exile, the goddess announces to the reader:
I shall invade every nook of the contemporary world that has refused me for so long with a pink madness. I shall pornographize your cars and food, your ads and vacations, your books and films, your schools and your families. I shall be unstoppable. I'll get into your T-shirts and underwear, even into your diapers, into teenie boppers, their slogans and songs, and into the old ladies and gents in retirement colonies, on walkers in San Diego and Miami Beach. I’ll show you—by showing, until your minds are fuzzed pink with romantic desires, with longings to get away-trysts, nests, sweets. That is, the civilization will be crazed to get into my preserve, my secret garden. I will excite your entire culture so even those attempting to cure their neuroses, as well as their sober psychoanalysts, will have nothing better to talk about than desire, jouissance, seductions, incest, molestations and the gaze into the mirror. Remember what gaze you call advertising, I call fantasy.
The rise of streaming tube sites in the early aughts—that featured all-you-can-watch porn—24/7—for free—decimated the old school pay-to-view business model. A new generation of algorithm-savvy porn entrepreneurs was hatched. This meant there was an even smaller chance of receiving the old-style polychromatic porn spam.
I mean, the tube sites didn’t need to solicit you because there was nothing to sell; Aphrodite’s son Priapus was no longer locked up behind the password-protected membership sites. He was free to roam amongst the masses (and your browser).
This free porn business model was something I never understood. The only advertising that appeared on the tube sites were options to enlarge the size of my penis with special pumps and pills. Being blessed in that department I’d no interest.
But most bizarre, and Mercurial was the occasional ad for Forever 21 that would appear randomly as a pop-under on your browser. You’d only catch the promotion after you’d jettisoned away from whatever porn extravaganza you were ‘researching’. To this day I still wonder if the clothing retailer ever knew the traffic they were paying for was coming from X-Hamster.
The girls are back in town
Porn’s Mercurial side also shares the planet’s ability to shapeshift and change up directions. Often through trickery or mimicry. And so just as quickly as porn spam had disappeared from my junk folder—it was suddenly back! But transformed by etiquette and a new, quieter, tone.
These new communications were softer and, well, more feminine—in a demure and coquettish sort of way.
Gone were the eye-popping penetration close-ups. Suddenly archness and the decorum of invitation were arriving regularly from (what I’d imagined being) Russia.
Each missive appeared as if delivered with a dainty plop. And there was only ever one email per day (no need to get pushy). And always in the early morning hours (5 PM Moscow time I figured).
Over time I looked forward to the novelty of these emails. I would click on my spam folder first thing in the morning, in search of my invite, while drinking coffee and ignore any work-related alerts.
I described this new form of porn spam to my friends as, “Euro Girls With Problems.” The emails’ usernames always featured female monikers like Sofia, Melania, Althia, Marta, Alessandra. Innocuous but subliminally—phonetically—promising when you consider how the ‘ah’ that finished the name echoed the sound of post-coital regulation.
The Girl emails were totally void of imagery and the text was always limited to just four or five sentences and was usually signed off with the word “hugs”. And then a winking face emoji—but the old ASCII kind generated with keystrokes, ala ;-)
These emails were composed for single older het men that shopped at Home Depot, attended tailgate parties, and still considered The Dallas Cheerleaders ‘hot’. Very much like the email I’d received this morning from Martina.
Martina’s email included this message followed by a URL:
I stay alone in my apartment and have problems with my Jacuzzi. See pics of it and, of course, some my nudes.
This was some charming old-school quid pro quo. You fix my Jacuzzi and I will show you my nude photographs. The implication being that post-plumbing repair and nudes-viewing, well, “We’re both adults: Let’s fuck!”
In the email’s subject line, Martina had casually mentioned, but in a dominatrix tone, that she was “looking for a real man”, the kind of man, I imagined, that could repair hot tubs.
But it was the close of Martina’s email, with its Sylvia Plath-like dissonance that bothered and impressed me most—it read:
I am fine and tired of this feeling. Come see me, hugs! ;-)
Because I have related, at different times in my life, to be “fine”—but also tired of feeling fine—I considered the email genius.
Too, imagine that sentiment on your tombstone.
About a month ago my ISP (Comcast) informed me (via email) that they were raising the rates on my high-speed internet service. This was a substantial increase and when I called to complain I was told that the improvements in service were actually worth more than the price increase and “no, we don’t have any special promotional discount rates at this time.”
Typical the experience of fuck-you capitalistic mishegas, shortly after Comcast’s rate increase—with its pledge of better Comcast everything—my email inbox became inundated with spam.
Obviously, my email address had been ‘sold’ amidst Comcast’s network improvements (read: efforts to increase their bottom line for stockholders, as if the rate increase wasn’t enough).
This hobbled an account that I’d held for over 25 years with Comcast and with nary a whiff of spam making its way into my inbox. Now my Girl emails began to show up bookended between spam messages for ‘Miracle Gummies’ (a CBD-laced candy) and George Forman grills.
I mean chronologically, the Girl spam would always arrive right before the Forman grill spam and right after the gummy bear marijuana spam.
Soon I couldn’t separate the three experiences. In fact, the other day when I was shopping at our local weed dispensary, I flashed on repairing Martina’s Jacuzzi while browsing the case of edibles that displayed all of those colorful miracle gummies. What’s in store for me the next time I decide to grill a steak?
One Shade of Pink to Rule Them All
It’s fascinating to consider that it is the female deities from mythology—Aphrodite, Sophia, Fortuna, and the three Moirai that hold the dominion of life’s fiercest and most recalcitrant powers—those of sex, wisdom, fortune, and the thread that weaves us into the tapestry between life and death. Fuck Zeus’s thunderbolt pyrotechnics—that’s just foreplay for life’s biggest adventures.
And that’s why when a Euro girl with naked selfies asks you to come over and fix her Jacuzzi you ought not to dismiss her request lightly. As the Bible notes in Hebrews 13:2:
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”