Imagine: You meet this really hot guy. You seem to vibe. He follows you on Instagram, and a notification pops up. It’s time to flirt! You tap on the icon.
“I may need to see the booty,” he has typed. “Fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.”
Your face falls. A couple of seconds pass. They feel like years. You have an urge to throw your phone away.
For a moment, you’re confused. Are these sentences supposed to be sexy? Did you accidentally flirt with a 17-year-old? An AI robot who has been fed pornographic scripts? Or with the very recognizable lead singer of a famous band?
This week, a 23-year-old model named Sumner Stroh caused social media havoc when she claimed on TikTok that she had been having an affair with 43-year-old Maroon 5 lead vocalist Adam Levine. (In an Instagram post, Levine denied any affair took place but confessed to using “poor judgment in speaking with anyone other than my wife in ANY kind of flirtatious manner.”)
Accusations of celebrity cheating are so common that they barely rate a mention. But one particular detail in the screenshots Stroh posted of their alleged conversation made this example go viral. Stroh claimed that Levine asked if she would have an issue naming the third child his wife, Behati Prinsloo, was expecting after her.
Cue the floodgates of public outrage. And then, other women started claiming that Levine had flirted with them, too. Dana Omari, who runs the popular Instagram account @igfamousbydana, shared DMs that Levine allegedly sent to another model, Maryka. (Levine hasn’t publicly commented on these claims.)
“Watching your ass jiggle on that table will permanently scar me,” one message reads. “I’d do anything for it. I’d buy it a steak dinner and whisper sweet nothings into it.”
The mixed metaphors, the insinuation of violence? What are you doing? If I were to be sexted like this, I would have a lot of questions. Why would the sight of my butt “permanently scar” anyone? Is it bad to look at? And why would I want someone to buy my ass a steak dinner? It does not have a mouth; it cannot eat. Furthermore, if someone were to whisper sweet nothings into my ass, I would not hear them. My ears are up here.
These texts don't seem that sexually persuasive, and they also immediately reminded me of the extremely cringe texts Jeff Bezos sent Lauren Sanchez in 2018. Remember: “I love you, alive girl. I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon.” This was also a very confusing sentiment — particularly the odd epithet, “alive girl.” I recognize that this is a pretty clear reference to a person's scintillating joie de vivre. But the wording is so awkward; by emphasizing someone’s aliveness, one might be implying that everyone else is dead, which is false. Or drawing attention to the fact that the textee could one day be dead. Why would you do that? Are you Dracula?
Another text Bezos sent to Sanchez read, “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.” Full points for enthusiasm! But I have some notes.
Look, I know not everyone is a writer. Jeff Bezos is approximately 90 billion times wealthier than I am, and his considerable skills lie in other arenas. But is it so hard to think back to when your fourth-grade teacher told you not to join so many clauses together with “and”? This is basic stuff.
It’s not surprising if famous people don’t excel at sexting. First of all, they have never had to work in the coal mines of flirtation, begging for even a morsel of attention from any passing soul. They are often naturally good-looking, possess talent and charisma, and understand power. If they ask someone for something, they usually get it — even if they don’t deserve it. No typing out a stupid message on Tinder and deleting it out of sheer self-loathing (“nice hair. where;d u get it”) for them! The rest of us normies have to at least try to have good chat.
A recent video showed King Charles getting frustrated about a pen. That’s not a person who has to go to the bodega to get paper towels, you know? He has other stuff to do, like being rich for no reason. Perhaps that’s why the infamous leaked audio of him talking amorously to now–Queen Consort Camilla in 1989 lacks spark. The “Tampongate” scandal saw their sexually charged conversation secretly recorded, transcribed, and published by tabloids all over the world. In the snippet, Charles expressed the wish to live in Camilla’s pants (I find this to be a bit Ratatouille-esque, but OK, we all get the general concept). Then, he went on to joke about transforming into a tampon. “Just my luck!” he apparently said, exhibiting a worryingly pessimistic streak. “My luck to be chucked down a lavatory and go on and on forever swirling round on the top, never going down.”
Some people have rightly made the point that nobody’s sexts would stand up to public scrutiny. “There is no way to sext without sounding cringe to an outsider,” one tweet read. They’re designed to be read by a small audience, typically one person, within the context of an existing, pre-charged rapport. Each to their own, obviously! What floats your boat may sink my ship! etc. And sexting with someone famous probably lends an inherent frisson to the proceedings. Let’s take Tiger Woods’s alleged 2009 messages to Jaimee Grubbs, a server whom the golf player was rumored to be involved with. The New York Post published the supposed transcript, which included the lines:
Jaimee: I drove out for the night to surprise a friend with a present for there birthday
Tiger: what kind of present your naked body
A critic might say there’s something childish about changing the subject from benign day-to-day activities to nudity, not to mention the strangely ba-doom-tshh cadence to the rejoinder. A grammar stickler might sniff at all the missing punctuation and capitalization. But let’s not be snobs about it. Plus, in the dead of night, do these things matter?
Later in the transcript, there’s a line that arguably anybody could use with a decent chance of success. “you just need some attention from me,” the New York Post quotes Woods as allegedly saying. Which seems fine! It’s committed, direct, but mysterious enough to invite more conversation. Not bad at all. Soon after that, the pièce de résistance: “quiet and secretively we will always be together.” Wait, did Sylvia Plath write this?
Some people have argued that there’s nothing unusual about these types of texts. Some have even argued that they are “perfect.” As long as you’re not harassing someone and you’ve secured the appropriate consent, you should express your desires freely, creatively, and however feels correct for your unique and wonderful self! But should any famous person decide that they wanted to, say, DM me right now (haha, jk…), I have a couple of tips. Try not to channel a teenager. But compliments are always good. Flattery never hurt anyone! “It is truly unreal how f–king hot you are”? Hard to be mad at that. ●