My Pornographic Doppelganger

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It's always good to hear from old friends, but imagine my surprise when a former college roommate asked me via email whether I'd written this: "I Hit Her—And She Liked It." I followed the link to Jezebel, the online women's magazine covering celebrity, sex, and fashion, and there found a grainy image of a woman in rapture and an accompanying article that straddled, among other things, the borders between fiction, memoir, and pornography. At the top was my byline.

Soon I was fielding emails from other concerned friends who had assumed, understandably, that in order to make rent I'd started moonlighting by writing scarlet letters. Some were okay with the erotica, but concerned about the sadistic bent of the piece, which explores the wonders of what they used to call carnal flogging. The novelist Angela Carter termed the Marquis de Sade a "moral pornographer," and that's what I'll have to call my namesake, who concludes his piece, "Only she can show you where and what to hit. In this setting, your sexual vocabulary expands because of your partner's needs, not your own. You don't need to know the story or unpack the pleasure. Just do as you're told."

After a week of urgent Facebook blasts, I finally convinced my friends that there are two Alex Hoyts, that I have no connection to Jezebel, and that I don't even own a riding crop. But it's hard to fully clear your name. For potential employers, landlords, and mothers-in-law, the clip continues to drift through cyberspace, a search engine away.

Twinned with my fear of being Googled is the ease with which I can Google the other Alex Hoyt. A quick background check shows me he lives in Brooklyn, plays the trumpet, and enjoys a colorful nightlife. He's also popular, and as I contemplate the substantial size of his Google footprint—and the 764 people who have commented on his story—I have to admit this guy's going to be around, a permanent source of confusion at parties (and concern in job interviews).

Such cases of mistaken identity must be as old as porn, and perhaps there are other promising starlets named Jenna Jameson who never made it, or other Hugh Heffners steered away from working in the publishing world, or at least one real live Dirk Diggler who can't find any line of work.

Twenty years ago I would never have met this other Alex Hoyt; today our online collision seems inevitable. I've thought about Facebook-friending him, primarily to see if he'd be agreeable to each of us going by his full name. That's how assassins are identified—Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth—and what better way to resolve this assault on each other's identity? Then we can go our separate ways, until some wayward Jezebel reader comes across this piece and forwards it to my Brooklyn doppelganger with the question, "Did you write this?"

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Alex Hoyt is a freelance writer and digital illustrator whose work has appeared in The AtlanticNational Geographic, and Architect.

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