Who doesn’t love a good emoji? When words fail to describe just how hilarious something is, we can simply send this:
Or how about this to talk about Jennifer Lawrence’s role in The Hunger Games (get it)?
But what’s completely lacking—and in an age of sexting to boot—are emojis that express our sexual desires. I’m sure many of us have asked—especially in hot’n’bothered moments of trying to send a sexy text to your lover—“why doesn’t someone design some naughty emojis?” Well, Flirtmoji have answered all our sexting prayers with their fun and creative sex-positive emojis. I connected with the creators Jeremy Yingling and Katy McCarthy to chat about their awesome enterprise, the power of sexting, and those plagiarism accusations.
How did you get the idea for Flirtmoji?
J &K: Here’s a good refresher on our mission. But to summarize, here at Flirtmoji, we think sex is good, natural, important, and fun. We believe that good communication and good sex are inextricable.
Humans have always been sexual creatures, and now we’re sexual creatures with cell phones and wifi connections. We are sexting. We are sending pictures of our cocks and pussies and naked bodies to each other. We’re watching, and talking about, porn. We’re making homemade sexy videos and posting them to Tumblr. And we are using eggplant and whale emojis in desperate bids to sexualize texts.
Despite all this sexual activity oozing out of our lightning ports and headphone jacks, the app stores for Android and iOS do not permit sexual content. Why are we allowing tech companies to define our sexualities through their misguided and repressive parameters? We shouldn’t.
That’s why we’ve created Flirtmoji, a visual language that’s playful, inclusive, and optimistic. We believe in the immense capacity of symbols to communicate complex (and sometimes intimidating) desires, concerns, and flirtations.
How many emojis have you designed so far?
J: We just released number 300.
Walk me through your five categories: Teen Dream, Toyland, Fetish 101, Hotel Suite, Party Time, and BDSM.
J: Before launch, we’d drawn many emojis before we thought to organize them into packs. At first, our thought was to have a “queer” pack, a “bro” pack, and a “girls’ nite out” pack. Then we realized how limiting and exclusive that was. So instead, we picked these big themes and found something sexy for people of all identities within each one.
A pack of five vaginas has recently been released, and emojis of “penises, butts, boobs, and other beautiful naughty bits” are set to follow. What happens when you run out of body parts?
J &K: We’re still drawing and finding so much diversity and interest that I don’t think we’ll run out for a long time. It’s more a question of public interest… Will the public ever tire of tiny, bright icons of genitals?
Flirtmoji is too explicit for the Apple Store. I’m personally not one for censorship. Clearly you’re not either. Care to comment?
J: Clearly, the App Store guidelines are problematic. But Apple also finds commenting on them problematic, so it’s in Flirtmoji’s best interest to just smile and wink (read more on the mission page).
Let’s talk about sexting. Do you think it’s becoming more mainstream?
K: Sexting is basically becoming a standard thing to do on your cell phone. A study published earlier this fall found that eight out of 10 people between the ages of 18 and 82 had sexted in the year prior to the study. Happily it seems that, unless you’re a politician sending pics of your junk to extramarital partners, culturally we’ve destigmatized sexting. Which we think is a very good thing.
What kind of things do you think sexting reveals about people’s relationships?
K: Who knows! I mean, what would Freud have to say about sexting? I think creative sexual communication, across any medium, is one of the finer joys of life. Sexting is the contemporary love note. A sext is free, it’s private, it can be funny, it can be exciting and arousing… I don’t think it’s a necessary part of a relationship but it sure is fun.
Do you sext?
J: I do, but I’ve got a flip phone. So I either take a camera-phone photo of the Flirtmoji on my computer screen and send it, or I have to rely on the tried-and-true four-letter words to express my desires.
K: I go through phases. Last year I used Flirtmoji like a drug. I was single and dating and was UNBELIEVABLY amazed by how easy it was to get into sexy conversations with Flirtmojis. Now, I’m in a relationship and also a sort of a photo + weird erotic poetry moment.
Do you each have a favorite Flirtmoji?
J: I think I give a different answer for this every time. Today, when looking at them all, I just can’t get over Katy’s dick pizza.
K: I’m into this pussy crown, developed by Jeremy. It pretty much describes my mood today.
Can we talk about the plagiarism accusations. Some of those vagina emojis looked eerily similar to [artist] Erin Tobey’s, but I think you guys handled the situation like pros. Is this a case of “no publicity is bad publicity” or are you genuinely rattled?
J: Definitely rattled. I recognized some of Erin’s vulva art, and I could see a few of ours were plagiarized, but also knew I’d never be so immoral or stupid as to steal so brazenly. So I knew I did wrong, was unsure exactly how, and meanwhile the Internet rage machine started churning, retweeting #vulvagate. But ultimately, with Erin’s help and grace, it’s been resolved and the experience has taught us invaluable lessons about identity, transparency, and humanity.
What’s next for you guys and for Flirtmoji?
J: As far as new artwork, there are lots of sexy stones left to unturn. We’re also releasing an iOS App by the end of the year.
Main image courtesy of Flirtmoji.