Adriana Chechik is The Squirt Queen. This is both a widely accepted fact within the adult industry, and the title of one of her recent films. Several weeks ago, the wildly popular porn performer tweeted cellphone footage of herself squirting on a public escalator. It was a firework of liquid all over the moving metal stairs as she masturbated in squealing delight. A few weeks later there was a tweeted GIF of her from a mainstream porn film squirting out of the window of a moving car, like a drive-by with a water gun. Not only does Chechik squirt—ecstatically and fountainously—she can do so seemingly anywhere and at any time.
So, I was somewhat surprised when I got her on the phone to talk about the popular genre of squirting and within seconds she said, “I will probably break a lot of hearts out there, but in my opinion, and for my body, it is definitely pee.”
Chechik’s star has risen right along with the squirting genre, which has erupted, geyser-like, in recent years, according to several industry sources. In 2017, Pornhub reported that squirting was among the tube site’s top 20 video categories. In mainstream porn, squirting is often treated as a counterpoint to male ejaculation. But in Chechik’s experience, she is sexually stimulated to the point of uncontrollably, and orgasmically, urinating during her squirting scenes. “If you don’t drink water, it doesn’t come out clear and it does smell like pee,” she said, noting that she drinks water and Pedialyte ahead of squirting scenes.
The Pedialyte is hydrating and, she says, “it tastes like warm sugar” coming out.
The controversy over whether or not squirting is pee has persisted for decades. In recent years, some researchers have attempted to distinguish it from “female ejaculation,” the expulsion of roughly a teaspoon of milky fluid that has components not commonly found in urine, and which many have suggested arises from the Skene’s gland, the so-called “female prostate gland.” (Note the scare-quotes because these terms exclude trans and non-binary people.) The phenomenon of squirting more often seen in mainstream porn is associated with the prolific, sometimes sprinkler-esque propulsion of liquid from the urethra during sexual activity. Just a few very small-scale studies have specifically analyzed the contents of “squirt,” as distinct from female ejaculate, and suggested that it is akin to diluted urine.
Most notably, in 2014, French researchers behind a study of just seven women concluded that squirting was “the involuntary emission of urine during sexual activity.” Although, the researchers did note that there was often a “marginal contribution of prostatic secretions” in the fluids. This particular study incited giddy media coverage, some of it with a whiff of mocking superiority. Understandably, many sex educators, feminists, and, of course, squirters themselves revolt at this kind of coverage, seeing it as an attempt to minimize, medicalize, or just plain mock women’s sexuality.
This debate has often felt somewhat beside the essential point: If people are doing something that feels good, who really cares what it is? But attempts, governmental and otherwise, to censor squirting porn precisely because it’s argued to be urine has proven that people do care, and consequentially so. More recently, after hearing enough women porn performers casually talk about douching or chugging water before squirting scenes, it seemed to me worthy of attention, not as a means of definitively addressing the purported “pee or not pee” quandary, but rather to explore what it’s like, what it even means, to perform squirting on camera.
Of course, it doesn’t mean any one thing. It can be anything from peeing on command to the phenomenon that researchers prefer to call female ejaculation. But the reality of the wide range of experiences behind squirting in porn has implications for the many of us who, given the sorry state of sex education, inappropriately rely on an entertainment medium to understand the basic mechanics of sex and form expectations around what pleasure looks like.
And, given the genre’s rise in popularity and the demand for squirting scenes, there are also implications for the pressures on performers—and, sometimes, according to Chechik, their health and safety. That includes accidental bowel movements from straining so hard—all in the name of trying to squirt.
Many, although certainly not all, of the mainstream squirting performers Jezebel spoke to for this article described the on-camera act as a form of involuntary urination. “The goal is to squirt as much as possible in the scene so we’re definitely making it happen a lot of the time,” said Abella Danger, another popular performer who recently won Pornhub’s Top Squirting Performer award. Kanye West even designed a $75 Yeezy sweatshirt commemorating the win, and which depicted her posing sexily in front of a toilet.
For her, making it happen means showing up “with a bunch of water, a bunch of Pedialyte,” she said. Danger says of her own experience squirting, “I drink a lot of water, so it’s very clear and doesn’t taste like pee. But I definitely know it’s pee.” She added, “You’re getting fucked so hard that you, like, pee.” And, for her, it isn’t orgasmic, but it does feel good, because “peeing feels good.”
Lena Paul, who has appeared in films such as Squirt-a-holic 2, describes her on-camera squirting experience as a combination of peeing on cue and being stimulated to the point of peeing uncontrollably. She says she squirts at home, but much less voluminously, and with more pleasure. “In pornography, however, I’m not necessarily there to enjoy myself,” she said via Twitter DM. “I’m there to ensure the product is delivered at the best level possible so I do, indeed, chug water.”
But just because performers chug water before these squirting scenes does not necessarily mean that it’s pee, according to Emmanuele Jannini, a full professor of endocrinology and medical sexology in Rome. He conducted a study of a single “representative” subject who was able to produce both female ejaculate and squirt through sexual stimulation and found that the former was “biochemically comparable to some components of male semen” and the latter had the components of diluted urine. (Again, it was a lone case study.) “This fluid is so hypotonic, which technically means that the concentration is very, very low,” he said. “It is more close to water than to urine.” He adds, “It’s something in-between.” Even if “squirt” is produced by the same basic mechanism that produces urine, he says, it’s not necessarily urine.
As for the empty water bottles collecting on certain porn sets, Jannini said, simply, “Without water, no fluid. We are unable to create water ourselves, we need to drink.” But also, he says that he generally tries to trust women’s reported experiences of squirting. “Several of my colleagues believe to know better than women, which is quite ridiculous because the majority of them are male,” he said.
Riley Reyes, who doesn’t bill herself as a squirting performer because she doesn’t want to feel pressured to fake it, understands squirting as this sort of in-between substance, based on what she’s read. “It probably varies from body to body,” she argued. “Vulvas are unique.”
Similarly, porn performer Larkin Love said that, for her, squirting is “incredibly erotic,” and she does not experience it as peeing, noting that she can squirt with an empty bladder. (It’s worth noting that the 2014 French study had participants empty their bladders before it collected samples of squirt.) But she believes that urine can sometimes come into play for some squirters. “There’s a really big urge to dissect that aspect of the female orgasm and I think that comes from a fear of female sexuality—this desire to pick apart something that is obviously giving the female participant a huge amount of pleasure,” she said. “It’s calling it filth, it’s calling it scatological.”
Deborah Sundahl, author of Female Ejaculation and the G-Spot: Not Your Mother’s Orgasm Book!, prefers not to even use the term squirting. “‘Squirting’ is a porn term and I feel it’s a very adolescent view of the full flowing feminine fountain,” she said. “This clear liquid that smells literally divine, okay, is what women do when we’re aroused sexually, when we’re connected to our partner, and when our environment is making us feel good.” Sundahl takes issue with attempts to critically analyze the composition of this “divine” liquid. “Think if we dissected the male orgasm like this. Let’s dissect male ejaculate,” she said. “Let’s see how much urine is in it. Let’s really put it under a microscope. This approach to female sexuality has to stop.”
There is a lack of rigorous research on the distinct phenomenon of squirting—as opposed to the much better-studied phenomenon of female ejaculation—in part because some researchers have deemed it to be unworthy. “I do not see a reason to study squirting, because it is mixed with urine,” said Beverly Whipple, a sexologist famed for popularizing the G-spot and who has studied female ejaculation for decades. “It is not an experience that I see as normal.” Although she added, “It may not be abnormal.” Whipple continued, “It is not an authentic sexual experience,” she said. “It is urination. Some women do it controllably, some women do it uncontrollably. It’s not a separate phenomenon. It’s urination.”
What makes an “authentic” sexual experience, though? Even if one subscribes to the theory that squirting is “the involuntary emission of urine during sexual activity,” it might not be correct to think of water-chugging performers as “faking it.” Maybe performers are setting themselves up to authentically experience an involuntary phenomenon. As Danger puts it, she’s not deciding to unclench her urinary muscles and pee during sex, she’s deciding to stimulate herself in such a way that she is forced to, at least as she defines it, pee during sex. She is voluntarily summoning an involuntary experience, much like if you stick fingers down your throat, you are likely to involuntarily gag (which, for some people, is itself a sexual experience).
You could argue that, from the “involuntary emission of urine” perspective, squirting is inauthentic because it caters to men’s desires around visual proof of women’s pleasure, which is how many squirting performers describe the genre’s appeal. You could even argue that the fantasy of squirting applies a “male” or penis-based model of pleasure to women’s sexuality. But many women, like Chechik, who experience squirting say that it is highly pleasurable. Does that not in and of itself make it authentic? Sex educator Anne Hodder-Shipp, who is skeptical of attempts to draw sweeping conclusions from any small-scale study, including those on squirting, put it like so: “If fluid squirted out of you before or during orgasm and didn’t smell like pee... then that sounds pretty fucking authentic if you ask me.”
Lux Alptraum’s recent book, Faking It: The Lies Women Tell about Sex—And the Truths They Reveal, which in part explores our societal distrust of women’s experiences around sex, was initially inspired by her frustration at that attention-getting 2014 squirting study. “This is something that gives women pleasure,” she said in an interview. “Maybe it is urine, maybe it’s not, but this interrogation and desire to undermine something that gives women pleasure really frustrated me,” she said. “And this desire to pick apart women’s knowledge of their own bodies.” She’s not convinced that it is urine and, regardless, as she puts it: “If it is just pee and you have arousal induced incontinence, who cares? If it feels good, great.”
As Alptraum sees it, the only potential downside of the portrayal of squirting in porn “is if it creates this unrealistic idea of what female ejaculation is supposed to look like, or how common female ejaculation is, or how easy it is to achieve for everybody.” But, she counters, “We shouldn’t be turning to porn to learn about these things. When we rely on porn to be our expert resource on female ejaculation, that’s a problem.”
Sometimes, “squirting” as it manifests in porn is definitely, inarguably, straightforwardly just peeing. Chechik estimates that about 10 percent of the time she simply pees on cue—as opposed to getting stimulated to the point of, as she describes it, uncontrollably urinating—in order to simulate squirting. She has no delusions about the sometimes unreal reality of creating sexual entertainment. “Because we are actresses,” she said, “there is that aspect where you do have to act and you do have to pretend.” There is a signature move involving a quick back-and-forth rubbing of fingers across the vulva that is used to disperse the urine and make it look more believable, according to many performers.
Sometimes, a douche is instead used to insert water into a performer’s vagina to simulate squirting. (A similar technique, using cum-like lube, is occasionally used to fake creampies.)
Jiz Lee, who works predominantly in queer indie porn, hasn’t experienced the pressure for liquid fireworks, and has performed both the milky fluid and sprinkler-esque phenomena without feeling any need for simulation. But Lee, who uses the pronoun they, argues that there is nothing wrong with some theatrics. “Porn is performative and, real or not, still part of a job,” they said.
The possibility of pee being present during a squirting shoot is accepted fairly nonchalantly in the industry, said Paul, “given that we deal with so many body fluids.” As longtime male performer Derrick Pierce put it, “As long as it’s clear and I don’t have to smell urine, I don’t really care.” Although, he added in a tongue-in-cheek manner, that there’s a bit of a mental game at play for him: “My rule of thumb is if that girl is working with some other guy, she peed on him. If she’s fucking me, she squirted.”
The practice of chugging water ahead of squirting scenes—to help facilitate either straight-up peeing or the involuntary release of whatever you prefer to call it—can actually be a serious problem. That’s because drinking an excessive amount of water leads to overhydration, a critical medical condition. “I’ve been on set when girls have gotten sick or thrown up or dizzy or you just see them starting to act weird and say kind of funky things, it’s like a brain fog,” said Chechik. “I’ve seen that a lot.” She added, “The squirting culture if a very weird culture to me.”
Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise studies at Wayne State University specializing in overhydration, says this is perfectly plausible. When someone drinks too much water, she explains, they develop dilutional hyponatremia, in which “blood sodium levels get too low” and it causes “all of the cells in the body to swell.” She described it as a “life-threatening condition” and added, quite graphically, that when the brain swells more than five to eight percent, “it runs out of room in the skull and so the brainstem is pushed out into the neck.”
Chechik has experienced overhydration herself, in fact. The first time, she was having trouble squirting during a shoot and, as she put it, “the director was yelling, ‘Squirt now, squirt now, do it now, do it now!’” She felt the pressure of the costly production, and the crew’s need for a paycheck, which is often contingent on a shoot wrapping successfully, so she kept drinking bottles of water. “Not only did I get nauseous and threw up, but my muscles—this will frequently happen to me and that’s when I know, okay, stop drinking—but your body tenses up,” she said. “You can’t bend your knees or your elbows or turn your neck without feeling stiff.”
Hew-Butler says these are “classic symptoms of life-threatening” overhydration and are considered signs of “serious brain swelling.” She noted that these symptoms are classically seen in athletes who overhydrate. In many ways, Chechik is an athlete—or at least a stunt artist. She is massively enthusiastic about pushing her body to the limit in the name of both sexual entertainment and personal pleasure. Nowadays, Chechik carries salt cubes with her to set in an attempt to help re-balance her sodium levels.
The desperation to squirt doesn’t just show up in excessive water drinking, says Chechik. “I do a lot of anal, but the most I’ve ever had girls poop on me have been in squirt scenes, because they’re trying to make it happen and push so hard,” she said. In these cases, she says, it’s often women who are desperately trying to voluntarily pee during sexual activity in order to simulate squirting. “It’s so bad,” Chechik said, noting that she’s personally seen it happen nearly two-dozen times. “It’s always when your face is right there, too.”
None of the other performers I spoke with reported witnessing overhydration, or accidental bowel movements, during squirting scenes. So, Chechik’s experiences should likely be taken as an extreme anecdote from one of the industry’s most prolific performers within the genre. But, in her experience, she said, “I do think it’s a problem with young girls and I know people are getting sick. You don’t need to squirt a million times to have a good squirt scene or a good orgasm.”
Squirting has undoubtedly been a major boon to Chechik’s career. “It’s gotten me more shares and guys being like, ‘Yo, check out this girl, look at this,’ but, also, you know what, it kind of sucks now,” she said. “It’s very rare to go to set where they don’t ask me to do it.”
She estimates that of the 20 scenes she does a month, only one or two are “normal” scenes, as she puts it. The rest are squirting shoots, which leave her feeling much more exhausted. “I upped my rate because of squirting scenes, because people don’t realize, and fellow performers will say the same thing, it’s easier to prepare for anal than it is for squirting because it’s just a toll on your body,” she said.
That said, when she’s off-camera with her boyfriend in her private sex life, Chechik doesn’t need to chug water or Pedialyte in order to squirt. There is no pressure to do it on cue or time after time, and it doesn’t need to be cinematically explosive; it’s just pleasurable and fun. “I put tile floors in my house so I can do it at home,” she said. “When we were remodeling, I was like, ‘We cannot do carpet.’” Someone suggested laminate, she says, “and I was like, ‘no way—that will get so ruined.’”