19-year-old British cosplay geek Belle Delphine sat in a vat of scented bathwater. Took a couple of cotton-candy pink pictures. Then sold individual vials, now renamed “Gamer Girl Bath Water,” for $30.
It sold out within days.
Because of this new level of notoriety (i.e. salty people reporting her) she’s been banned from Instagram.
Which didn’t happen when she promised her 4 million followers that she’d start a Pornhub account.
Or when her underage, braces-on-teeth-Lolita-self was doing ahegao (that loopy orgasm face à la Japanese anime).
Despite the fact that she’s shown in the same types of lascivious poses as many other IG models…
And despite her Gamer Girl Bath Water being sold with health disclaimers that “this water is not for drinking and should only be used for sentimental purposes” (awww) …
She’s an easy target because her glamour is bright as hell.
But don’t write her off yet.
In a recent Rolling Stone article, sex educator and writer Lux Alptraum said she “views Delphine’s brand as a kind of performance art. ‘It feels like a really fascinating commentary on what it means to be a woman on the internet and how you manufacture an audience, and what is and isn’t rewarded. She’s saying, ‘I’m gonna be a sexual commodity, but I’m not gonna deliver on that.'”
Belle Delphine’s been sex-worker adjacent for a while now, so it’s easy to blithely categorize her as yet another soft-porn Twitch model wearing neko ears.
But this is what’s so incredible about Belle Delphine: she’s not selling sex. Not really.
Instead, through the savvy use of weaponized femininity, she has lured a notoriously misogynist gamer-boy culture into her subversively meta space:
Belle Delphine is a glamour witch, trolling as a sex worker.
On top of that, she has convinced a lot of them to pay her for the *privilege* of her trolling.
Play on, playgirl.
Glamour doesn’t play by the rules…
For a huge swath of the population, the concept of glamour has been defined for them by a bunch of lily-white Madison Avenue marketers.
But glamour is, and always has been, how those without access to mainstream modes of power (women, people of color, LGBTQ, etc) can slip in through the side door.
Therefore, glamour is, and always has been, incredibly threatening to the the establishment and its minions.
After all, what happens when those below you in the hierarchy are bypassing your toll road on their route to gold and riches?
What happens when a young lady decides, “I have 4 million followers on Instagram and instead of just making Instagram rich…I want to make some coin as well…MY WAY.”
That’s exactly what Belle Delphine did.
As a woman in the gamer culture (where the mere presence of a woman researching female-centered tropes in video games results in years of rape and death threats), she was going to be called a dumb slut, a whore, or worse.
She was going to be seen as an uppity bitch if she dared fought back.
Her trolling her followers is a giggly middle finger to those who would exploit her.
The Pornhub videos are a perfect example – yes, she delivered on her promise to create an account. But she’s created some of the most corny, literal, pseudo-porn videos possible.
In one video, titled “PEWDIEPIE goes all the way INSIDE Belle Delphine,” she does the following:
If you go on actual Pornhub and look up her videos, they have predominantly negative ratings. And yet, a whole lotta people, who know nothing of Belle Delphine, are going to click on her video, because it’s rare to see such a poorly rated video on Pornhub.
Win (again) for Belle Delphine.
Glamour subverts the rules…
Most people go for faux glamour. This faux glamour, espoused by Hollywood and profit-hungry corporations looking for fail-safe influencers, encourages complete objectification, dehumanization, and commodification of bodies…in particular the bodies of the disenfranchised.
Belle Delphine’s glamour is what I categorize as true glamour. It’s where you take what makes you, you…and you double, triple, quadruple down on it so hard that even your momma can feel it.
But you also go hard on what makes you palatable to the mainstream. If you’re a cute, thin, white girl like Belle Delphine, you lead with that. You use those aces to get access.
In the same Rolling Stone article as above, Japanese adult performer and cosplayer Hase says “‘I think her choosing to be a Kawaii [Japanese for “cute”] cosplay girl, rather than an actual porn performer…” (Belle Delphine’s sexier content…is limited mostly to topless shots for her premium Snapchat followers and is not explicit)… ‘has made her successful and appeal to more of a mass audience.'”
This tight rope between luring people in with easily digestible aesthetics/cultural signals, and then lulling them into accepting the edgier parts of you.
It ain’t easy.
I don’t know Belle Delphine, but she’s tapping into an egregore in such a razor-sharp way that she can monetize her trolling.
Her talismans: her pink gaming controller, her collection of wigs, stockings, ears, and all the accoutrement of cutesy Japanese hentai.
That $30 bath water is some powerful materia magica – no doubt it probably work better than a lot of other stuff if someone wanted to do glamour magic. After all, in it is (allegedly) infused the DNA of one who has bewitched a legion of gamer boys to consider her a goddess, despite her benign trolling and subverting of their expectations.
Glamour is essential, boys and girls
As I mentioned in my article calling out the Dalai Lama for being irrelevant, glamour is essential in this brave new world, where 80% of the Internet will become video in the next 5 years. There’ll be such multimedia overload that it’ll be difficult to stand out in what will look like Mendelbrot fractals of aspiring social media influencers and micro-viral content.
There are lots of gorgeous girls besides Belle Delphine. What sets her apart from the rest of the pack is that she had some sort of instinct for glamour.
For true glamour.
How interesting that it’s only when she started capitalizing on her niche glamour that the establishment decided to start pulling the plug.
True glamour is a bit much for them, I suppose.
Next time: I’ll go more into detail about this glamour dichotomy between doubling-down on your uniqueness vs. working with mainstream ideals – using a comparative case study of Marilyn (the 80’s singer, not Monroe) and Boy George.