Female masking, put bluntly, is really fucking weird. The hobby consists of men wearing latex masks of female faces, usually looking into a webcam, creating confusing scenarios where they talk to themselves in character, then taking the mask off without revealing their face. Strangely, considering there’s a lot of latex involved, sex doesn’t seem to be the focal point here. Instead, female maskers enjoy the sensation of being a completely different person at their own leisure. I came across femalemasklover when I was Googling the topic and quickly became enamored by the soft doe eyes staring back at me.
VICE: Hey Chris. Actually, what should I call you? Chris or Jessica?
Chris, aka Jessica: Chris is OK.
Cool. So, is Jessica just the name for your masked persona?
Yeah. It’s also the name of my best friend, so that’s where the idea came from.
Does your friend know about it?
Yeah, she knows. She’s cool with it.
Alright. So, explain to me exactly what female masking is.
Well, I think it’s basically a big community of people who all share an interest and a fascination with wearing masks of female faces.
Where does the fascination come from for you?
Well, like almost every female masker, I think it started for me with movies and television—like the old Mission: Impossible show.
What happened in that? The bit where Tom Cruise has the latex mask?
No, that was the film. I mean the TV show back in the 70s and 80s. They had a team of agents, and one was an expert in disguise with masks, and then, from time to time, the female agent was wearing a mask, too, which was kind of a turn-on for me as a teenager. So yeah, it started then.
Is there a sexual element to it? Like in the same way that people derive sexual pleasure from latex, for example.
I would be lying if I said no. Sure, it is a fetish kind of thing, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Have you ever worn the masks while having sex?
Nope, never had sex with one on.
Ah, that’s a shame. Well, what else is there to it?
It’s more the opportunity to be another person entirely and even become another gender. When you’re wearing the mask, you can act completely differently than you normally do. You can be everything you want to be.
So, becoming unrecognizable is part of the appeal?
Definitely, but you see, these masks that I wear are still recognizable as masks. The coolest thing would be a mask that nobody would recognize as a mask.
As in a full-face transplant, basically?
Kind of, but you can never take a full-face transplant off. That’s the thing: it’s cool to wear the masks, but I wouldn’t want to look like that all the time. Putting on and taking off the mask is part of the experience.
Yeah, I noticed a lot of the YouTube videos involve the taking off and putting back on the masks. What’s the reasoning behind that?
I think that comes from all those masking sequences in the movies. That’s the thrilling part, the part that everybody wants to see—who’s under the masks. I think most maskers just copy their unmaskings from the movies, but when I’m doing a video clip, I always think about how I would like to see it.
And how is that?
Oh, it varies too much to say one in particular, really.
How about your favorite mask or persona that you adopt while wearing the masks, then? Or are you always Jessica?
No, Jessica is just the name for chatting and writing emails. I don’t think I have a favorite persona, and that’s the thing—you can do something different every day. You can be the shy secretary, the sexy agent, or the normal housewife—it depends on how you feel that day.
What about your viewers? Which video has had the best response?
Well, I think the most seen video was Changing Disguises, but I don’t think it had anything to do with the video itself.
I was going to ask whether you ever go out in a mask, but I guess not.
No, because I’m afraid of how people will react. You see, I had a lot of bad comments on my YouTube channels. I had to take down Changing Disguises for a while, so I think I’ll just do it with the privacy setting.
I understand if they think that I’m scary or creepy and if I didn’t have a fascination with masks, maybe I’d find it creepy, too. It’s their right not to like it, but then they could just click it away and say, “Man, that dude is strange.” Instead, they have to bash me publicly. Maybe they have too much time.
Yeah, fu*k you, anonymous internet commenters. Do you cross-dress when you’re not wearing the masks?
If I’m wearing the mask, I’ll try to make the illusion as real as I can, so I just take something out of my girlfriends’ wardrobe—it’s a blessing that we’re almost the same size—but I don’t cross-dress other than that, no.
What does your girlfriend think about your masking?
Well, she supports me, but she’s not as fascinated by it as I am. Actually, when I think about it, she’s not fascinated by it at all.
Aw, so it’s a solitary hobby, then. Is there not a female equivalent? Women wearing male masks?
No, strangely, not at all. There are a few videos with girls wearing male masks, but I think that’s only a party thing.
What do you look for in a mask?
They have to look as real as possible and they have to have a nice face. That’s it, basically. There are a few masks out there better than mine, but you can only get them in the US and they’re way too expensive for me.
What would your perfect mask be if money wasn’t an issue?
There’s a masking company called CFX and they make their masks out of silicone instead of latex. They have a mask called “Sandra,” which is my dream mask. In terms of celebrity masks, I think it would be cool to be Jessica Alba or Angelina Jolie, but if you have an unknown face, that face can be anybody. So, from a fantasy standpoint, the unknown face mask is far more interesting to me.