Hairy armpit model from NaughtyNatural

Photo via Nikki Silver

Meet the ‘queen of hairy feminist porn.’

This article contains sexually explicit material.

Nikki Silver has a cat named Chicken.

It’s one of the first things I find out about Silver during a video chat. Chicken is named for the cat in Diane DiMassa’s Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist comic books about a radical queer feminist trapped in a constant rage spiral and that fact alone is a clue as to why Silver stands out from the stereotype of a porn producer and adult industry star.

It’s no surprise, either, that 28-year-old Nikki Silver has been called the “queen of hairy feminist porn.” The adult films and photos she produces for NaughtyNatural.com, the website she’s run since 2013, are not necessarily feminist-themed. That is, there are no naked suffragettes, kinky protest sex, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg parodies (though dear God, if someone can make that happen, please, I would be forever grateful). Additionally, she admitted that in terms of her supply and demand, “I cater to men because that’s where my money comes from.” 

So where does Silver’s feminist ethos come in? Her pornography focuses on the female orgasm and a reclamation of the natural female body. “It’s really important to me to promote body acceptance and for people to be comfortable with their skin,” she said. And then there’s the fact NaughtyNatural.com is an entirely women-run company. “I do everything—literally everything—myself. I taught myself editing. … I am a woman and I am running the site, so by supporting it you are supporting a woman who is self-producing.”

Silver recently branched out from porn and published her first coffee-table photography book, Unshaven: Modern Women, Natural Bodies. The book’s beautiful portraits of hairy women range from artful to erotic and usher the emerging hairy armpit trend—as seen on Miley Cyrus and a series of social media campaigns this year—to a place of legitimacy.

Tiny empires like NaughtyNatural challenge the myth that the porn industry, from producers down to models, are rolling in millions of dollars. Instead, Silver and her colleagues are the porn equivalent of a small-press book publishing company. “If porn is something you love, it’s not something that you have to be making a ton of money to do,” Silver said. As with any other indie scene, there’s a lot of collaboration between artists. Silver said that she shares a programmer with realist queer and lesbian porn site Crashpad.com and is offered a lower rate than what corporate clients pay. A director from Kink.com has dropped in to direct a couple of Silver’s videos. Alternative porn is as much a movement as a subset of an industry. 

Some of alternative porn’s biggest movers and shakers fled the mainstream adult industry to carve out new models of sexually explicit content that reflect their own values and tastes. Silver is no different. She started modeling and performing in adult films at 18 and typically shaved her abundant, dark body hair. But when she discovered that it was actually possible to make money by doing hairy porn—mostly for fetish and hairy-specific sites—she didn’t look back.

Almost any porn site offers a section for photos and videos of hairy women, but the stand-alone hairy sites that feature original content and extras like blogs and model profiles are few. HippieGoddess.com was the standard bearer before NaughtyNatural started dominating the market, alongside sites like WeAreHairy and ATKHairy. 

The typical hairy porn fan tends to fall into one of a short list of categories: either they identify with a subculture (often hippies), they are fetishists, or they are older—which Silver attributes to the fact that women did not remove body hair nearly as much or as frequently as they do today. “The guys who are, like, 50 and up, when they were coming of age hair was a lot more common,” said Silver. “The first girl they slept with, or the first porn they watched, that woman had hair.”

Statistics from Pornhub back up the idea that its older men who tend to prefer hair on a woman’s private parts. According to a July analysis of porn consumption among millennials in collaboration with Mic, Pornhub visitors between the ages of 18 and 34 said they were 51 percent less likely to enter the search term “hairy” than visitors over 35. In a separate March study examining differences in porn tastes based on age, Pornhub found that users over age 55 were a stunning 1,852 percent more likely to enter the search term “hairy pussy”:

Our 55+ group is all about embracing old age. Searches like ‘very very old granny,’ ‘soft,’ hairy pussy,’ and ‘hairy’ showing significantly more popularity here again indicates that older people are more drawn to visual representations of bodies that are more like their own, perhaps now less than traditionally ‘perfect’ bodies.

‘Hairy women are sexy’

“Sometimes people ask me if I’m a hair supremacist. It’s not like that,” said Silver. “I dislike anything that is society telling people what to do, especially when it comes to controlling women’s bodies. I just like to put forth more visibility that hairy women are sexy, to combat the idea that hairy women aren’t sexy. A lot of people have never seen a picture of a conventionally attractive woman with body hair.”

The models on NaughtyNatural do tend to match mainstream beauty standards apart from being unshaven. But besides showcasing pretty girls, the feminist porn model embraced by Silver requires more than just a warehouse of images. It also involves seeing the models as full human beings. On NaughtyNatural, the blog is one of the most active areas of the site; highly engaged users comment not only to suggest models they’d like to see but also to offer politicized rants against the hegemony of hairlessness and tiny, girlish bodies in porn.

In a caption for a recently posted “casting couch” video in which Silver takes on the role of the creepy porn svengali exploiting an “inexperienced, naive young model,” she reassures her viewers not to worry because “it’s all consensual and planned out!”

That’s the beauty of feminist porn: Even when it’s marketed primarily towards a male audience, it tends to attract the kind of guy who worries as much about whether his jerk-off material was made with good labor practices as whether his coffee beans are part of an economically sustainable farmer co-op. Feminist porn isn’t just about featuring women who don’t look like Barbie dolls; it’s also about reveling in the erotic joy and playful mischief of women who are gathered together at someone’s loft shooting dirty movies. There’s nothing sexier than a woman who is passionate about what (and who) she does—and Nikki Silver is making it her life’s work to spread the word.

Photo via Nikki Silver

Mary Emily O'Hara

Mary Emily O'Hara

Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.