SmutTok Is Where Horniness Thrives & Tumblr-Era Anonymity Dies

Gone are the days of secret fanfics — Gen Z is thirsty on main.

Ariela Basson/Elite Daily; Getty Images, Shutterstock, Amazon, Payten Jewell

Romance novels have done wonders for readers’ imaginations. For years, authors such as Zane and Sarah J. Maas have created erotic universes for people to get lost in — or awaken their desires to sleep with that one hot fictional character that’s left them breathless with every passing chapter.

In the early 2010s, millennials — or awkwardly placed zillennials such as myself — turned that fantasy into a thousand-word fan fiction on Tumblr, comfortably hidden in the shadows of a faceless profile. That method was, and still is, every creative introvert’s wet dream. But now, thanks in large part to Gen Zers on TikTok, there’s a new literature space that’s bringing their most sensual thoughts to the forefront: SmutTok.

SmutTok, a niche subsection of BookTok, is a community dedicated to erotic romance. There, readers can share their unfiltered reviews on lusty novels, while also revealing a roster of recommendations for those looking for a certain level of smut.

There’s never been a more radically accepting place to be truly horny on main.

As two SmutTok readers tell Elite Daily, the comforting embrace of the fandom has encouraged them to discuss their naughtiest desires without shame... faces fully on camera. There’s never been a more radically accepting place to be truly horny on main.

For content creator Payten Jewell, @pjandbooks, it’s helped her feel “free” to explore the once hidden depths of her sexuality — especially as someone who wants to be an author that readers like herself are gushing about.

“SmutTok’s that girl. This community’s so intimate, yet I and other women can exist in this space freely and safely. That comforts me,” Jewell, 23, tells Elite Daily. “Once I decided that I wanted to be a romance author, I thought: ‘Why bother hiding or being embarrassed? I might as well rip the Band-Aid off and grow an audience while I’m at it.’”

As someone who formerly wrote erotica (both original ideas of my own and submissions from anonymous readers) on Tumblr as a teen, I can relate to her vigor. It’s clear she wants to be the sole author of her own love stories — so did I at 14. However, our approaches were vastly different.

Instead of being on camera, I’d be tucked away in the darkest part of my room, writing short erotic fiction as my “muse playlist” — complete with slow burns like FKA Twigs’ “Papi Pacify” and Deftones’ “Sextape” — lowly hummed in the background. With every draft, I allowed myself to lean into an unbridled lust, opening up in ways I didn’t feel I could if my real name or face were attached to the work. That was my empowerment: being as anonymous as I could. Clearly, SmutTok is veering in a new direction.

SmutTok: A Horny History With A Shot Of Spice

Readers’ on-camera liberation didn’t begin instantly. SmutTok mostly started with off-camera praises in 2020, such as readers posting seconds-long blurbs of the spicier scenes they were reading in a novel. While some would show a still image of the scene, others highlighted certain sentences — mostly filled with lusty dialogue and the occasional “good girl” whisper — that made them blush.

This arc slowly progressed to (still faceless) recommendation videos, where readers would favorably speak of the books that had the right amount of slow-burn angst and smut that fed into their specific kinks — that perfectly delicious je ne sais quoi.


It wasn’t long until readers began to show their faces while gushing about their favorite erotic books. The #SmutTok hashtag, which has more than 930,000 posts and counting, is now riddled with these horny moments: readers fawning over main male characters (or “book boyfriends”), chaotic jokes and the revival of the term “cliterature,” creating spice scales — which have leisurely graduated to “wet-ometers” — to measure how pleasurable a sex scene was to them, and even more dirty talk.

For Jewell, it didn’t take her long to perfect SmutTok’s “horny on main” cadence on her own account. She’s created a layered spice scale, praised works such as Lillian Lark’s Entranced by the Basilisks and the enemies-to-lovers luster of Ana Huang’s Twisted Hate, and launched a series where she jots down her “unhinged notes” about a certain book she’s reading, fittingly titled Chaotic Notes.

Have Things Gotten Too Horny On Main?

This is all quite the contrast from the internet’s earlier fanfic days. On literature sites such as Tumblr and A03, which many have lauded as superior compared to published books, fans embrace smut and romance fan fiction in a much quieter manner. It’s rare to ever see a user on either site openly flaunt their personal desires — or any identifying detail, for that matter — to their audience. So, is SmutTok’s distinctively loud rejoice of spicier romance too horny, as some critics have suggested?

In a way, SmutTok is our unfiltered locker room.

Jewell doesn’t see it that way. “Even though we’re being incredibly personal, we’re still exploring our most intimate thoughts in the fiction,” she says. “We’re operating in this fictional gray area of being open about liking a kink or dirty talk because of a certain character in a book, and then openly wondering if we’ll still be into that in real life. It reminds me of how men have their locker room talk. In a way, SmutTok is our unfiltered locker room.”


Cassidy Gladieux (@cassglads), a 22-year-old freelance writer who wrote about how SmutTok became her safe haven for Her Campus in 2021, has a similar stance. “I don’t think SmutTok readers are too open,” Gladieux tells Elite Daily, adding the subsection is “fine” when it’s geared towards a mature audience. “I think it’s good to openly talk about sex, because it’s still seen as such a taboo topic. In schools, sex ed is still so limited, and these books can create genuine and mature conversations.”

There’s A Beauty In SmutTok’s Unabashed Openness

Being horny on main isn’t a new concept; in fact, it’s a tale as old as time. In the last decade, social media users — from celebrities to popular brands — have turned their accounts into threads of thirst comments and “redacted” fantasies about their crush that are naughtier than a short erotic poem. (It’s all in the hidden details, of course.)

That’s not to say people aren’t being just as kinky on their secret pages. But the notion still stands: Those explicit thoughts are freely roaming in public, just one click away from a user’s profile picture. That’s the heartbeat of SmutTok, a climactic pulse that content creator Hillary (@bookishhill) summed up simply: “I don’t know how to tell you guys this, but we are all extremely horny.”

And in case you need a recommendation — because what’s SmutTok for if not spreading the word about spicy books? — no piece of fiction has had Jewell more rattled than Sierra Simone’s Sinner. “Sierra Simone is the queen of erotica,” she says. “At this point, she’s long overdue for a crown. In Sinner, she literally paired a Black woman with a billionaire. Who doesn’t love a Black girl getting spoiled?”

The novel is “delicious,” according to Jewell. “She gave us details, she did her character work, and the spice? So impactful for aspiring writers like me.”