Let’s Talk About Sexts

Why I can’t resist scouring the leaked lechery of rich, powerful men.

Photo illustration of known sexters Jeff Bezos, David Boreanaz, and Kevin Durant
Jeff Bezos, David Boreanaz, and Kevin Durant Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images; Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; Andy Lyons/Getty Images; rootstocks/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

When the wild saga of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos’ divorce first kicked off, I wasn’t very interested—until I heard there were texts behind the whole affair. It’s getting harder these days to become too invested in the personal story of a feudal master with crushing corporate power. But to hear that this same man finds time—between shooting his money to Mars—to send lurid, thrillingly debased texts to his paramour, Lauren Sanchez? That is something I’d like to see. And thankfully, those texts didn’t disappoint:

I love you, alive girl

I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon

I basically WANT TO BE WITH YOU!!! Then I want to fall asleep with you and wake up tomorrow and read the paper with you and have coffee with you.

It was great to see that Bezos, a newspaper owner, finds a measure of intimacy in the crinkles of newsprint. But better yet, it’s good to know that a titan who otherwise so ruthlessly dominates the world bumbles into odd constructions like “alive girl” in his personal messages and lets himself go in all-caps gusts of passion. He’s weird and gooey. Your heart almost melts. Plus, the progression of intimacy offered with his promise to “show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes” is hilarious to imagine playing out in real time.

The thing is, I love reading powerful dudes’ dirty messages. It’s not just poor old Jeff, who’s now squaring off against a guy named Pecker over a despicable sextortion attempt by the latter’s media company. In a world locked in the increasingly tight control of the ultrawealthy, it’s a wonderful relief to see these same stupid-rich moguls and celebrities fall over themselves in their most primal pursuits, giving in to prurience and the same sad prowl as the rest of us. Every time some famous person’s weird texts have come to light, the lascivious stanzas call to me. There were former Australian Assistant Minister Andrew Broad’s messages with his “sugar baby”:

I’m a country guy so I know how to fly a plane, ride a horse, fuck my woman … I pull you close, run my strong hands down your back, softly kiss your neck and whisper “Gday Mate”)

There was this from Australian cricketer Shane “Horny Warnie” Warne, with something you should know:

Thinking of you and yes very very horny today!! Big kiss xx

There was Angel himself, David Boreanaz, and his VERY EXCITED texts with Rachel Uchitel:

OMG !!! I can’t wait to FUCK you! I want my puma soooooo bad, you are soooo fucking HOT!!!.

And many, many other examples.

But let us not limit ourselves solely to horny texts, because to do so would miss an amazing universe of horny social media, from reply guys to DMs to comments to celebrities’ old tweets, like this classic (which is somehow, blessedly, still up) from Golden State Warriors pariah Draymond Green, dating back to when he was still playing at my alma mater, Michigan State:

It’s one of those classic athlete tweets that pop up every time there’s a big game, but hornier than usual, although this doesn’t even compare to fellow Golden Stater (for now) Kevin Durant’s, um, affection for Scarlett Johansson:

Not to mention Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who in the past has tweeted both about what he loves (“I want some good wet Ahh pussy”; “I love that kinky shit”) and what he does when he gets what he loves (“I knock pictures off the wall when I fuck”; “I just ate her he kissed her and ate her booty”). All of these tweets have been deleted, but thank goodness we once knew them.

There’s a kind of house style to glean from all of these messages: random all-caps, punctuation creativity, extremely odd euphemisms, incredibly gross pet names. (To be fair, plenty of us have those too.) The syntax regularly resembles that of a Chuck Grassley tweet—imagine that guy’s horny texts—or a second-grader tapping away at his mom’s smartphone. One wonders why it all comes off as so deranged. Then again, when was the last time you were perfectly articulate while worked up?

At any rate, screeds like these are a joyful glance at the unvarnished celebrity id before PR reps come in to clean things up. It’s this possibility for slip-ups before cleanup, and their ensuing rapid spread, that has made leaked messages such a modern phenomenon. It’s not like previous generations didn’t have their own lechers with gross, publicized exploits, from Grover Cleveland to Bill Clinton, but the sheer breadth of access to our elite’s lewdest, truest communication is unprecedented. Think about it: The Reagans had their love letters— wherein Ronnie called his better half “Mommy”—turned into a best-selling book. If cellphones had been in wider use back then, would we have also gotten a glimpse of Frank Sinatra talkin’ sexy to Nancy? Imagination yearns.

Perhaps the Patient Zero of this new era, at least for me, was Tiger Woods. The initial infidelity reports and car-crash saga were arresting all on their own, but when the leaked texts arrived, transcripts online for the taking, it was an unbelievable adventure. For the first time, I think, I personally beheld a real, sick deluge of celebrity carnality. “Put my cock in your ass and then shove it down your throat” is really a swinging image from the greatest golfer in the world, while in retrospect, “After i cum you better start sucking my cock to get it hard” was the likely precursor to the popular “nutted but she still sucking” meme. Tiger was not the first big celebrity-skin text scandal, but he might have been the most significant for how prolifically and weirdly he sexted. There were so many to parse, so many of them bizarre, culminating in the “Have you ever had a golden shower done to you” inquiry, concerning a subject that has made an unexpected resurgence in our culture thanks to one of Woods’ own golfing buddies. The stream keeps gushing.

Is it unfair of me to so readily consume material? Perhaps I should be more sympathetic to folks who didn’t grow up in the same screen-infested universe I did and were destined to fumble around with the ever-changing rules of digital communication. Plus, some people I know would say I’m jealous these people all clearly have more sex than me. You could likewise point out that I would not like my own after-hours messages examined. Which, fine, but let’s also consider that nothing I’ve ever done, or probably ever will do, influences as many people or commands the same reach as anything these folks do on a daily basis. Indeed, it may be precisely the pedestals these people stand on that causes their incoherent libidinousness. Many have attempted to psychoanalyze it, but take it from the ruling class itself, as in a famous missive from former British MP Andrew Griffiths, who claimed his power was an “aphrodisiac” and that it made him irresistible to the ladies. Besides, the sexy texts I enjoy most have been mostly harmless—I obviously take no joy in the more repugnant instances.

And I’ll tell you what, these leaks may be temporarily embarrassing, but most of these people are fine. Everyone’s rooting for Tiger again. The star athletes are still star athletes, the actors are still acting, and everyone is still sending their pics through Dropbox or whatever. Meanwhile, you are probably a lot less fine. The least you owe yourself is the terrible joy of glimpsing how the world’s rulers have dicks for brains. It’s fun, I swear.