Hunter Moore Makes a Living Screwing You
Hunter Moore is trying to screw a 20-year-old woman on my lap. It's after 2 in the morning, we're squashed in a stretch limo with 11 others, stray limbs jumbled onto the vehicle's floor like a pile of sticks. The California-based revenge-porn profiteer and his rail-thin companion, a Long Island dance teacher, are reclined on our legs, their necks on my knees, as the 26-year-old alternates between making out with her and another blond girl to his right—a 21-year-old from Philly who will later call this "the wildest night of my life." Across from his best friend, Carlos Jacome, a Colombian-ginger wingman also sandwiched between two girls, Moore playfully pushes the women together so he can kiss them both at the same time. But the dancer is growing jealous, so she cradles his head possessively and coos at them both, "My baby."
Singular attention can be earned, apparently. "Can we fuck right now?" Moore whispers to her face. "C'mon. Real quick."
Hunter Moore is the unrepentant founder of Is Anyone Up, a virtual grudge slingshot of a website that gleefully publishes "revenge porn" photos—cell-phone nudes submitted by scorned exes, embittered friends, malicious hackers, and other ne'er-do-well degenerates—posted alongside each unsuspecting subject's full name, social-media profile, and city of residence. Over the past 16 months, the site has been a source of public humiliation for pop-punk bassists, a Maple Leafs forward, an Ultimate Frisbee champ, an American Idol finalist, and the founder of Dream Water. ("Obviously didn't make Smart Water," Moore zinged.) Should you mistake these targets for adhering to a code of heartbroken vigilantism or entitlement schadenfreude, let it be known that the only guides Moore follows are the law and Mark Zuckerberg's principle that the greatest online power is the people you know. "At the end of the day, people just want to see their friends fucking naked," he offers. Now he posts nude schoolteachers, young mothers, American military members, little people, and, recently, a disabled woman in a wheelchair. It's worth noting Moore often advertises with the tagline "Pure Evil."
Naturally, Moore has spawned a legion of enemies. After posting images of the daughter of a major GOP campaign donor, strangers tried to climb over his home fence. Last spring, Bamboozle organizers threatened to arrest him if he stepped on festival grounds. In July, a San Francisco–area woman stabbed the Sacramento native in the shoulder with a pen, a wound that required surgery and left a caterpillar-size scar. Facebook instituted a universal ban on the site; Moore enjoys telling everyone that he responded with a picture of his dick. Anonymous has targeted his site, as have other savvy hackers; he now pays a security firm five grand a month to ward them off. And there is a steady stream of death threats, which has Moore mulling over moving back to New York, where he has lived in two separate spells. He could really use a doorman. "I'm scared I'm going to get fucking murdered in my sleep if someone finds out where I live."
Although Moore isn't giving out his home address or cell-phone number, which he has changed every month this year, the self-employed entrepreneur isn't hiding. The opposite, actually: Moore travels across the country DJ'ing clubs, widely promoting his personal appearances. This is partly because he insists he's a straw man. "People want to point the finger at me, but I didn't fucking raid your house and take your phone," he says. "I don't see how I'm supposed to be sorry." But more so, it's because he's constantly playing chicken. Threaten a lawsuit, and Moore will post your threat. Cry about the emotional distress he has abetted, and he will belittle your concern. "After a couple of days, literally, nobody gives a fuck," he says. "We've all masturbated to you or laughed at you, and it's done. It can't get any worse." Confront him for posting your nudes on Anderson Cooper's show, and he will just repost your boobs the following day with the headline, "The Girl Who Confronted Me on the Anderson Cooper Show."
This behavior is classic trolling, which has drawn him an online army of adoring defenders. Moore has 35,000 Twitter followers; his site has more than 91,000. One woman named her child after him. Three things fangirls have tweeted at him in the past week: "If you had aids, id still fuck you just to say i have aids and that i got aids from you"; "One day I'm going to have Hunter Moore tattooed on my stomach with an arrow pointing down that says 'God Was Here'"; "I wonder how many girls have tried to steal @Huntermoore used condoms."
"We all want to be him," insisted Charlie Rittenhouse, a 25-year-old fanboy acquaintance from Islip, Long Island, minutes before we all climbed into the limo hailed outside Moore's Webster Hall birthday party. "We all fucking do."
Internet, this is what you've created.
Is Anyone Up is a NSFW blog devoted to capitalizing on the vindictive potential of smartphone technology. Five days a week, the 16-month-old site updates with 20 to 30 individual posts of nude 18- to 30-year-olds who, however foolishly, never intended their sexting images for public consumption. Most of these amateur self-portraits are posed with shower curtains or linen-cluttered backdrops. Many include recognizable faces. All appear beside screenshots of their Facebook or Twitter accounts, with their full names, cities, and states blasted in Google-searchable headlines. Every naked body is actively subject to ridicule, both by commenters and Moore, who chooses animated-GIF "reaction shots" to accompany each nude. For example, a dark-haired vamp is rewarded with Jersey Shore's Vinny and Pauly D eyeing each other over milkshakes on a pixelated loop; a small male endowment incurs Jerry Lewis silently guffawing again and again.
Adding insult to injury is the site's dominant idiom. The archetypal submission is perhaps best exemplified by a February 2012 post of a young woman from Orlando, Florida, who had photographed herself with one breast exposed, tugging her bottoms provocatively low to reveal the plea "I'm Sorry Felix" written on her left hip, flanked by pointy red-Sharpied hearts. Felix apparently did not accept the apology.
This spirit of retaliation is dutifully pumped into the site's unofficial anthem, "Revenge Porn!" an electronica track from goth-rainbow duo Blood on the Dance Floor. "Cheated on me and broke my heart/Gonna show the world your private parts," sasses BOTDF co-frontman Jayy von Monroe over a gym-playlist house beat. The manic chorus twists the knife. "You always said you'd die to be fay-mous/You never thought it'd be because of your ayy-nus." This three-month-old single, which mentions Moore by name, is available on iTunes.
The porn site also directly inspired Eskimo Callboy's "Is Anyone Up," a skank-metal grave-rave hybrid by six German guys with an amusingly simple translation of the blog's fundamental purpose ("Your pussy/Your boobies/On the World Wide Web"), as well as a Forget Me in Vegas pop-punk tune by the same name, the Warped Tour's pip-squeaky answer to Rollins Band's "Liar." It's an obviously cynical synergy. For one, the demographically young site skews toward a similar under-35 audience who, according to online analytics tool Alexa, tends "to consist of childless men browsing from home who have no postgraduate education“ and ranges from 150,000 unique visitors on a Sunday to 240,000 on a good weekday, according to Moore. (Traffic-analysis monitor compete.com has the January 2012 audience peaking around 188,000.) For two, the site first built its name by publishing band-dude dong shots; eventually opportunistic alt-musician types started self-submitting nudes, in the hopes of publicizing their bands.
The first breakthrough took place on February 2, 2011, back when the site had only 7,000 Twitter followers, Moore published shirtless nudes of Zack Merrick, bassist for the Baltimore pop-punk band All Time Low, whose name immediately became a Twitter trending topic. "That pretty much sealed the deal for me as far as nudes," Moore recalls now. "People were going to come to my site now for that shit." The same month, Moore was passed photos of Passion Pit's bassist showing off his schlong and posted them. Immediately, representatives from Columbia Records, the synth-pop band's Sony subsidiary label, got involved and threatened to sue.
Such corporate muscle was initially intimidating. "When I first started—probably about six months in—I would get scared," Moore admits. "I didn't know the law and didn't really know anything." For a while, he honored removal requests. "At first, I was just throwing Hail Marys out there. Then I got fucking wise. I found out the laws, and I was like, 'Fuck you.' I put creepy Passion Pit guy right back up."
As he soon discovered, Moore isn't legally held responsible for the user-submitted content to his site, thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a federal law that protects Web hosts against legal claims arising from hosting third-party information, including libel or invasion of privacy. ("No provider or user of an interactive-computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," reads the CDA's actual text.) It's this same powerful protection that prevents website owners from the venom posted to their comments sections and Facebook from being held culpable for users' words. The person lawfully responsible for possible offenses like, say, defamation of character or slander is the party who submits the photos to Moore's site—the jilted ex, the vendetta-settling former friend, Felix.
Is Anyone Up is also shielded from third-party copyright violations by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's Section 512. This means that Moore isn't directly responsible if an external user—even one who's obtained photos through a possibly criminal act like hacking—has submitted material to his site that belongs to someone else. But, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Mitch Stoltz, to keep this legal protection, Moore must "honor formal requests from the copyright owner to take the material down." Moore brags he doesn't, even though he gets "about 50" DMCA requests a day. "I get the one e-mail from them, and all I reply back with is 'LOL,' and then I never hear back from them again." (Assuming he's telling the truth, this negligence could eventually contribute to the site's undoing.)
Although these two protections allow a lot of freedom, Moore is understandably careful about underage content. He compares an image's embedded EXIF data, which includes a file-creation date, and cross-references that timeline with the subject's dates of birth, along with a separate age-verification process. "We Google everything about everybody before we put them up," he explains. He has access to another additional safeguard. "My uncle is a cop, so I can check how old everybody is and their records and shit."
Invariably, mistakes are made, especially when the submitter is dementedly conniving enough to alter file data. That's what Moore says happened last July, when he unknowingly posted underage nudes, and the female subject contacted him "freaking out." That same day, he pulled down the time-stamp-manipulated photos, acknowledged in a separate post that the error was "my fault," reported the guy to officials, but as per usual, launched a public retaliation spree by publishing the creepazoid's e-mail addresses, photograph, full name, and cell-phone number. To this day, a screenshot thumbnail of that guy's Facebook profile sits on Is Anyone Up's submission form alongside the warning "He submitted underage content, will you be replacing him here?"
Such cautionary tales don't stop approval-seeking minors from self-submitting. "I have little girls e-mail me naked pictures of themselves like, 'I hope you like me,'" Moore says. "It's really bad." It's the one area in which Moore seems to show a glimmer of personal responsibility. He talks about establishing a nonprofit that would educate minors about the potential consequences of underage sexting. "Some of them think it's funny to put them on my site. They don't realize: Not only are you fucking over that girl, you're fucking over your life, too. You're going to be a sex offender for the next 10 years when I report it—not only are you fucked, your whole life is fucked. That's my main goal, but people don't want to hear about that stuff."
Then again, the noise drowning out that stuff might be the squealing minors proudly claiming Is Anyone Up as an ambition. For example, an arbitrary search for the site's Twitter handle and the number 18 brings up "i hope your [sic] still there so when i turn 18 i can self submit myself :]" (March 25) and "Can't wait til I'm 18 so I can happily self submit to @is_anyone_up and hopefully one day fuck @Huntermoore" (March 27). It gets soul-scorchingly redundant from there.
"Oh, I love that shit," he says. Laughing. "I love it." I ask about this on two separate conversations two weeks apart just to be sure, and his response is remarkably consistent. "To be perfectly honest, I think it's fucking awesome that people want to be on my site when they turn 18." The underage ambition to be nude on his site is cool, just not the unlawful execution. "It's kind of disgusting but amazing at the same time." They probably don't even mean it, he contends. "It's the Internet," he dismisses. What about in real life? "If some fucking 14-year-old ran up to me off the playground and was like, 'I can't wait to be on your site,' I'd be like, 'All right, I think it's time to shut down the site.' Yeah, wait, are 14-year-olds even on playgrounds? Anyway, whatever."
Here's what it's like to be a 19-year-old college sophomore and learn your lacy pink panties are displayed worldwide on Is Anyone Up. You open Twitter one afternoon while doing homework, check your reply column, and—oh, no!—instantly start to cry. Your iPhone rings. Friends are on the line, using their soft, concerned voices. Some kid you sorta know from Poughkeepsie, whose band was recently signed, tweets at you, "Nice tits!" which is a megaphone to mutual friends that you're naked on the Internet. Your Facebook account turns into an unwelcome string of gross notes from pervy zombie mouth-breathers and douche bags you hated in high school. By the next morning, you have 600-plus friend requests, 400 brand-new Twitter followers, and countless raunchy messages concerning your body parts.
At least that's more or less how Kristen, who asked to have her name changed in this story, remembers the immediate aftermath. One Thursday, the New Paltz student came home from soccer practice to find herself locked out of her online accounts. When she got into her Facebook account again, her chat icon was goading personal information from acquaintances on her friends list—she'd been hacked by a stranger. Three hours later, her name was a headline on Is Anyone Up.
Four weeks after the post, we meet up at a tiny Midtown Starbucks. "What bothered me the most was the fact that a complete stranger was the person who submitted them," she says, flattening a tear on her bottom left eyelid. Pink nails, pierced nostril, she's a cute blonde in town from upstate for half the day, helping her mom with a conference; she's terrified of her parents finding out, and the excuse for our surreptitious conversation is shoe shopping. The bright side: The photos on the website are tasteful posterior shots and one dreamy black-and-white semi-nude torso. Kristen swears the faceless photos had never been sent. Saved in her e-mail, they were intended to be gifts for the long-distance "kid who I have been seeing, who I've been in love with on and off for years." Unfortunately, few people believed her that a hacker had excavated the nudes, including him. "He didn't want to talk with me anymore."
At least they weren't worse. "All my friends were like, at least you're not the girl shoving fruits and vegetables in places they shouldn't be," she says, feigning comfort. "Everyone was like, 'They're very artistic!' I'm like, 'Oh. My. God.'
Kristen could've, in theory, subpoenaed the IP address of the person who submitted her photos, or been the one to test in court how far the DMCA shield extends to Moore's site. "My friends told me, 'You'd be the one who saved everybody!'" she says. Money would be one obstacle, but the unwanted attention would be another. "Then I'd be the girl sitting up there with Hunter on Anderson Cooper. And no."
Without New York City, none of this would have ever happened.
Four years ago, Hunter Moore moved from California to Brooklyn, to take a cheap Williamsburg room on Grand and Lorimer. "I lived right here," he announces as we crawl past by his old address in a black cab heading to Manhattan, during rush hour on his birthday. Jacome is seated between us; until now, they'd been debating who would be top and bottom if they were gay lovers. "I used to come here, and my dinner would be—wait—oh, no, right there—and I would get Sour Patch Kids and some fucking seltzer water, and that was my dinner. That's how poor I was."
If you needed to build a biographical composite of a sketchy stereotype, you could do worse than Moore's oft-repeated résumé of worldly positions: high school dropout; hairstylist for a fetish-porn site ("All updos and shit—Renaissance-themed stuff"); guy who offers up "weird shit I'll never tell" to pay his phone bill; owner of a Sacramento-based sex-party company; winner of a $250,000 retail-store sexual-harassment case that allowed him to loaf around Australia until he pissed away all but $13,000 and came back to the States. When Moore returned from Sydney, an ex-friend—aren't they all in his case—was staying with a woman named Sara, "this girl I was fucking in love with. She was, like, this model. I never thought I'd fucking meet her." His friend, now ex, demanded he visit. "She knew I was fucking obsessed with this chick. I literally got on a plane, flew from Sydney to San Francisco, and then hung out in Phoenix, and then to New York. Just to fucking see this chick." For a guy who likes to say that having sex with girls is easy, but getting them to leave takes skill, this seems out of character. "Remember I was obsessed with her, dude?"
Jacome looks over. "He really liked her a lot."
"We ended up falling in love with each other," Moore admits. A modeling-agency contact had access to a Manhattan penthouse, where they lived for seven or eight months. Is Anyone Up started when, soon after he'd broken up with Sara, he started seeing a married girl who had sent him nudes. His friends wanted to see the pictures, his iChat wouldn't work, and the chronic insomniac already owned the domain Is Anyone Up, so he posted them there. "It wasn't what it is today," he says. "It's evolved into something very scary." Would that have happened if he hadn't broken up with Sara then? "Maybe not if I was still with Sara because I was just so obsessed with her."
"I think she had an important part," Jacome says. "You know how many people say, 'Don't ever stop doing what you want to do because of somebody else?' He's always been like, 'Be who you want!'" This one was different. "At some point, you got caught up with her, and then you got heartbroken. After that happened, you were like: 'Fuck it. I'm gonna do me for the rest of my life now.'"
"I dunno," Moore says blankly. "To get like me, you have to have your heart ripped out and shit on." He likes to recycle this quote. "It's a luxury for me." Whoever it was—a teenage love named Rachel, Sara—he's grateful, he brags. "It takes something away from the equation. I can focus on my work, and I know where I want to get, and I don't have to follow some rules of a relationship or somebody nagging me. All I gotta do is fucking get my work done, make money, go out the next night, fuck somebody, repeat."
Is Anyone Up's most consistently popular features are Moore's first-person "stories." Focused on graphic sex escapades, they're physically explicit to the point of gagging disgust, reveling in a post-fratire misogyny that makes Bukowski seem like a pockmarked Emily Dickinson. For example, Hunter Moore on female eating: "Whenever I walk into a girls house and notice a half eaten pizza on the stove and in my head I'm like this girl better have a brother or a dog." Hunter Moore on wooing: "I have a penis, and i tell her to add me on Facebook, i notice her breasts are very large in size and my penis likes that so i like her." Hunter Moore's indelicate infinitive for sex with a woman: "to bang the guts out." Hunter Moore on threesomes: "Only two people really wanna fuck each other and one is a lingerer." That story's title is also a spoiler: "When I Realized I Like Butthole."
"Everyone compares my stories to Tucker Max," Moore says. "That guy is a fucking liar." Moore thinks his great genius is his willingness to live the role of a real revenge-porn protagonist. "I'm actually fucking people over. It's real people who you can actually basically reach, and be in contact with, and be like, 'Oh, my God, Hunter rubbed his scabies dick on your face, ha ha ha ha.'" (Like I said, gagging disgust.) "I just think that I can brand 'Hunter Moore.' That's pretty much what the whole point of Is Anyone Up was: me. But I didn't have an audience, so I had to post naked pictures to get that audience. Now with my stories, I am slowly branding me." Branding me by fucking you. And you. And you.
One of the great unsolved mysteries to Moore's abiding sexual popularity: Why would any woman who has read this megaslut critiquing a former conquest's vaginal smell on the Internet, with names and faces and links, want to subject herself to that? Hooking up with the Situation on Jersey Shore might be one way to broadcast your loss of self-respect and boost your popularity at the same time so that you might, perhaps, get recognized in Atlantic City. But screwing a dude who posts his partners' dirty underwear?
"People will do anything for the extra couple followers on Twitter," Moore says. "Honestly, what other fucking reason? You know who I am. You know what I do. It's been a little over a year now of me fucking doing this. It's fucking weird. I'm going to Portland in a few days. And I have about 25 different threesomes with other girls who want me to take pictures of them while having sex with me." He has been arranging some of these on Twitter; you can go see for yourself. "I'm going to make a couple thousand dollars off these girls. All I see is dollar signs." He sees dollar signs in the page views he'll get by writing about these situations, using their real names and actual photos and describing their scents, and that will convert to ad revenue in some arbitrary account. "The girls don't give a fuck because they're kind of seeing dollar signs—or cool factor online. The more people you have following you or subscribed to you on Facebook or Tumblr, people are going to think you're cooler."
Some of Hunter Moore's bullshit is a pose, some of it's troll bravado, but some of it is a little scarier, an echo of a viral hive mind where individual welfare always trumps common good. I ask what he thinks of cyber-bullying. "People are probably going to want to fucking kill me after I say this. But if you are quote-unquote being cyber-bullied, you should just fucking kill yourself." He continues: "My site is different. If you're posted, and people are like, 'You're fat; kill yourself,' I can understand why people are hurting themselves over it, which I hope to God never happens. But these kids who have never even been posted on my site, who are getting called a 'faggot' from a couple bullies at school? They're just weak-minded people. The shit I went through? Fucking 10,000 times worse than these fucking kids—the kid who made that video who went viral?"—he's talking about Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old Lady Gaga fan from Buffalo who made an It Gets Better video but then took his own life—"Are you fucking kidding me? He's, like, a good-looking kid. Who got called a fag every day? There's something wrong, I feel."
I ask what he went through that was so much worse. "Dude, I got jumped all the time," he says. "I got made fun of all the time. For me, I got made fun of for my nose forever. I have a very ethnic nose. You know what I fucking did? I don't give a fuck, I still got my dick sucked with it. But I hated my nose. I felt insecure about my nose. And all it did was make me want to be even better-looking. So I made a bunch of money, and I got my nose done."
Hunter Moore, the guy who will insult your vagina in front of the world, got a nose job.
"I do not want anybody to ever be hurt by my site—physically," he says. "I don't give a fuck about emotionally. Deal with it. Obviously, I'd get a ton of heat for it. But—I'm gonna sound like the most evil motherfucker—let's be real for a second: If somebody killed themselves over that? Do you know how much money I'd make? At the end of the day, I do not want anybody to hurt themselves. But if they do? Thank you for the money." I ask him to clarify. He adds that he'd remove the content or "do whatever I could to help the situation." By money, does he mean by traffic or because he'd be famous and then, no matter what happened, cash in on that fame? It's all very short-sighted. "The more traffic I'd have that day, I'm going to get paid for. So if someone fucking killed themselves? Do you know how much hate I'd get? All the Googling, all the redirects, all, like, the press"—here he sounds like he's stifling a yawn; it is morning—"I'd get paid for, for that day. And whatever."
There's now a cyber-bullying bill inspired by Jamey Rodemeyer in the New York State House. Specific language about "disseminating embarrassing or sexually explicit photographs, either actual or modified" is included, though the legislation only pertains to minors. "I don't want to get famous for people killing themselves," Moore says. "Wish I didn't attach Hunter Moore to the site, to be honest with you." Yet the following week, Moore let ABC's Nightline come to his house.
Increased national attention may very soon push policymakers' to decide that online harassment isn't an issue limited to children. Hunter Moore could very easily be a catalyst for curtailing online freedoms. "Anybody who looks at [Is Anyone Up] site goes, 'There's no way that this can exist,' and yet it does," says California-based intellectual property lawyer Denise Howell, who co-hosts the podcast This Week in Law. "Sites like this may be the trigger point for more sweeping legislation that comes in and says, 'Yes, we want immunity for site holders—but there is a point at which you cross the line.'"
The blond girl in the limo from Philly—she ended up the main character in "The Moment I Almost Went Gay," a Hunter Moore story about vaginal cleanliness. Another girl from that night was a casualty; Moore posted her dirty underwear. The dancer he tried to fuck on my lap did naked backflips at the after-party and then sobbed when Moore told her he has a girlfriend of three years, which he does. (They don't have sex.)
The night after the birthday limo ride, Moore beat up Jacome. The next day, Moore posted a photo of his swollen hand to Twitter. After five years, they're not friends anymore. Alan, Moore's 60-pound cat, has assumed Jacome's role.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- Seventeen Millennials Arrested as Police Bust Elaborate Credit Card Scheme
- Video: Brooklyn Flag-Burning Protest Erupts in a Few Almost-Fights
- The NYPD Has Installed Cameras Across the City So You Won't Be Tempted to Set Off...