June 2023

Thug Shaker, Ambatukam, Brandon The Barber, And The Covertly Racist History Of Thugposting

White Boy Posts Gayest Meme Ever, Asked To Stay In The Discord Server

Thug Shaker, Ambatukam, Brandon The Barber, And The Covertly Racist History Of Thugposting
There’s a barber in Atlanta named Brandon who cuts men’s hair while completely nude and business is booming. “The Erotic Barber” is his moniker and he’s no small business man. In fact, he’s been hustling online for years, starting on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, where he first went viral for his advertisement-like story that read “FULLY NUDE XCLUSIVE CUT” that he proclaimed “WE ALL HAVE FANTASIZE BOUT IT.”

For gay, specifically Black men, he’s likely right. In America, the Black man’s relationship with his barber is embedded in pop culture and memes. Therefore, for the gay, Black man, it’s easy to imagine that “grabbing the barber’s dick” could be a fantasy for many.

And for a while, Brandon the Barber’s clientele was just that—gay, Black men. However, in recent months, his clientele has become increasingly white, increasingly straight and, possibly, increasingly racist.

Enter Will: Brandon the Barber’s first, straight, white guy in the chair. For any onlooker, it’s surprising to see Will there. He looked no older than 18, with long, brown hair and some of the deadest eyes ever seen, exemplified by when he looked into the camera and said, “‘Boutta get blessed by Brandon,” in a monotone, awkward voice.

Of course, the strangest thing about Brandon’s first, straight, white guy in the chair was that he paid full price for the “FULLY NUDE XCLUSIVE CUT,” a contradiction that even Brandon was aware of but didn’t fully question outright. Instead, Brandon just shuffled around Will, with his d*** out, giving him a fade “that ‘boutta take all y’all wives.”

The comment section of Will’s “before and after” haircut video was filled with LOLs, but also, skepticism. Many were wondering the same, simple question: was this kid doing it for the meme? And if so, was Will an undercover “hood irony” admin, well-versed in the suspect practice of “thugposting?”

For those unaware, “thugposting” is the practice of posting “thugs,” as in, to spam “thugs” on timelines, subreddits and servers. In this context, the term “thug” is equivalent to a gay, Black man who is coded like a straight, Black man within a piece of adult content. Therefore, thugposting is all about tricking and forcing others into watching gay, Black adult content. Additionally, it’s about tricking others into using the covertly racist term “thug.”

This checks out with the meme that “thugposting” got its name from: the now-famous, gay adult series Thug Hunter. The centerpiece of the video’s fetish is a white camera man who finds “thugs” in “real life” who he pays to do the “thug shaker.” He walks around a stereotypical, urban “hood” and “hunts” for Black men who will do the “rump shaker,” as in, doing a naked twerk with their jeans down at their ankles.

Based on this, thugposting is about subverting the hyper-masculine expectation of Black men in American culture, essentially embarrassing them and demeaning them like the raunchy cameraman in the Thug Hunter videos does. In the minds of the “thugposters,” the average, straight, Black man is a testosterone machine, a Chad among incels. So when a straight-coded “thug” is revealed as a gay man, it’s automatically deeply absurd and therefore funny to the thugposter. 

Enter the “thugposters.” Despite seeming like white, right-leaning, high school-aged boys, the alleged history of thugposting attempts to dissolve from that perception. It allegedly started on the /leftypol/ Discord server which is based on (but purportedly has no true affiliation with) 8chan’s alt-left board /leftypol/. According to the Discord’s Fandom-based Wiki, thugposting started in 2016 when users started spamming a “Black Guy Twerking” video as a bait-and-switch prank. The videos would look like hentai, but when clicked on, they pivoted to the Black guy twerking, wearing a snapback, all oiled up in his dusty man cave.

Going into the 2020s, “thugposting,” as stated, was named after the “Thug Hunter” adult videos that were uploaded to explicit websites in 2020 and then, discovered and used by /leftypol/ Discord trolls who eventually got “gulagged” for “Posting black gay adult content.” Years later, it’s hard to tell who these original thugposting trolls were given the anonymous nature of Discord users and the private (and often untraceable) nature of Discord servers. Given the left-leaning nature of the server, it’s hard to imagine that they were alt-right, however, going into the 2020s, thugposting spread to the alt-right side of 4chan where slurs and racist ideologies became associated with the “thugs” in a more obvious manner.

Regardless, just like the identities of the /leftypol/ thugposters, the /pol/ thugposters are just as anonymous. Even though it’s easy to imagine them as straight, white boys with all the time in the world to emmasculate Black men, it’s hard to say for certain that they truly are that phenotype. However, given the thugposters whose faces have been revealed, it makes it easier to infer the rest of the group.

The most notable thugposter who’s been exposed (besides Brandon the Barber’s Will) is the admin of the now-infamous Thug Shaker Central Discord, Jack Texiera, who back in April 2023, was arrested for leaking classified Russia-Ukraine war documents to the community, likely in an attempt to gain clout and generate infamy within his userbase. Texiera, who had a username with the n-word in it, was surrounded by Feds in his front yard in Texas when he was handcuffed and taken into custody. He was just 21 years old and barely a part of America’s National Guard at the time, which is where he somehow attained the important documents. With all this in mind, he’s the one representing thugposters globally in the mainstream media and possibly, not being far off from the breadth of the lot.

Again, Will and Jack are just two examples. It’s difficult to generalize all thugposters based on only two individuals, especially when thugposting has become so mainstream in 2023. Two of the biggest memes on TikTok and Twitter this year are Ambatukam and Animan Studios. One uses the orgasm noises of an OnlyFans model and the other is basically the Cartoon Network version of thugposting, packaging the genre into a seemingly innocent animation of a man named Axel walking through Harlem.

On TikTok especially, the age range of people engaging in Animan Studios and Dreamybull-posting is likely young, however, it’s hard to say what race they are. For instance, fans of the Twitch streamer BruceDropEmOff (who is a young, Black streamer with many young, Black fans) are huge proponents of Brandon the Barber memes, so much so that they convinced Bruce to get a haircut from Brandon, following in the footsteps of the notorious Will.

Despite being Black, many of Bruce’s fans are not exempt from covert homophobia, with some going viral on Twitter for microaggressions like, “him actually being a great barber is killing me.” While covert racism is inherent in the word “thug” (and therefore “thugposting”) covert homophobia seems to be the main throughline across all thugposters.

Again, though, it’s hard to say for certain if thugposting is overall racist. It seems inherently racist and born from racist tendencies, however, the idea of a barber who gives nude haircuts is inherently hilarious to any internet fiend who likes the weirder parts of peak capitalism, where you can pay a guy to give you the perfect fade while staring directly at his sack.

While Brandon the Barber might be hilarious and overall, a pretty wholesome guy, that doesn’t mean that the “thugposting” umbrella that his memes have been forced under should be forgiven. In pieces, the memes that make up thugposting could likely prove themselves as funny in a vacuum where their seemingly problematic correlation didn’t exist. For now, though, they’re cursed by their history and fanbase which appear to be some edgy kids that haven't gotten bored yet.

click here to read this article in the June 2023 Meme Insider issue.