The TCest community is a fan fiction group built around continuing the tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) mythos. For many TMNT was a show from their childhood, now being remade into a film with Will Arnett. For those within the TCest community the stories about the relationships between the turtles have never gone away, and many have penned their own stories about how the turtles interact with each other.
The reason TCest stories differ from other TMNT fan fiction stories is based around the perceived sexual nature of the relationships. TCest is short for turtle incest. TCest explores the possible sexual relationships between the turtles and how these would play out. It has carved its own niche in the slash fiction universe.
For many in the community the joy of TCest stems not only from the sexual exploration of the turtles relationships’, but also the emotion that these couplings evoke. Like most of the slash community, those writing these stories often have a preferred coupling and similar themes will run throughout the stories. Many TCest writers express a preference for keeping all the brothers together and exploring how the emotional and physical relationships play out.
What follows from here is an interview with the admin of one of the bigger TCest communities on deviant art, as well as some snippets of stories and comics published by TCest writers.
Can you give a brief overview of the history of the fandom?
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird back in 1984 as comic book characters. In 1987 it became a popular cartoon series and then from there several live action films were created. In 2003 another incarnation of the TMNT cartoon franchise appeared on television; this one more closely matching the edgy grittiness of the original comic book. After that a number of other incarnations appeared on television and then a CGI film was released in 2007. In 2012 Nickelodeon began running a new TMNT CGI series on television.
With the advent of social media fans of the TMNT were able to share their thoughts, their fan art, and their fan fiction with each other. There are many sites that host TMNT fandoms; deviantART, Live Journal, Fan Fiction.net, Pizza and Scrolls, and Stealthy Stories just to name a few.
As with any fandom people split into groups based on topical preferences. You will find groups who support OCs (original characters), groups who prefer the Turtles as brothers who have adventures, groups who like the romantic notion of pairing the guys with canon females, groups who prefer to pair them with canon males, and then groups who prefer TCest – Turtle Incest.
By my rough estimates about 64% of the people in the TMNT fandom support turtlecest.
How did you originally become interested in the turtlecest group?
I enjoyed watching the original cartoon series but became an actual fan of the franchise with the airing of the 2003 series. I liked the more mature overtones, I liked the new body design, and I liked how well they developed the characters’ personalities.
I discovered turtlecest quite by accident. My nephew wanted a particular TMNT toy and I couldn’t find it in the stores so I started looking online. I happened upon some fan art and was surprised by how good it was. With my interest piqued, I began searching for more and discovered that there was such a thing as fan fiction as well.
I soon learned that the skill level varied greatly from author to author and artist to artist. Then one day I found a TMNT story that was set in an alternate universe. It was accompanied by some very nice art and I started to read out of curiosity. It was a multi-chapter short story and was so beautifully written that I was literally enthralled. The story was based on the premise that the brothers were also lovers, and that fact was a large part of the plotline.
After I read that story I started trying to find more turtlecest. By and large the art and literature based on the premise of the brothers being together as more than just brothers was exceptional. Much better than stories based on the Turtles finding lovers outside of their family, as most authors of turtlecest keep the main characters’ personalities intact.
Since I prefer to read good literature and peruse good art, I started joining turtlecest groups in a number of online communities. Thus a fan is born.
How big is the turtlecest fandom?
It would be hard to give you exact numbers because of the fact that the fandom operates within so many venues. Many of us belong to groups on numerous sites, so coming up with an individual count would be impossible.
There is also the lurker factor; people who secretly enjoy TCest but don’t join the groups as members or watchers. We’ve even found that TMNT fans who publicly protest turtlecest are privately devouring the topic! It’s like a supermodel that espouses healthy eating and then locks herself in the bedroom to gorge on chocolate – a guilty pleasure.
There are close to 2,500 members on just two of the sites that support the turtlecest fandom. There are large communities on Tumblr, Fur Affinity, Inkbunny, ff.net, Stealthy Stories, and many others. Basically the number of fans is in the thousands.
Each year the Adult Fan Fiction Awards invites members from across the various sites to nominate and then vote for their favorite fan written TMNT based adult literature. Other groups have yearly or twice yearly competitions for art and/or literature using themes within the turtlecest model. They are all well-attended.
Have you encountered much protest about the TCest fandom? What are the criticisms?
For the most part the creators of turtlecest art and fiction put warnings and mature tags on their work. We are very courteous to those who don’t care for the subject and place our creations into groups dedicated to pro-cest, or into group folders labeled ‘pro-cest’.
Unfortunately there are militant factions in every fandom who seem to care less about the fandom and more about pushing their own moral agenda. These anti-cestors can become quite vicious, doing everything from posting ugly comments on a person’s work, to attempting to organize people for ‘spam’ attacks.
We work very hard not to respond in kind because our TCest fandom is basically about love and its ultimate power. The hate can become very personal and injurious though, and is hurtful to the person who it is directed against. Our community stands strong and fast behind its members and when the hate talk or attacks go beyond the bounds of the sites rules, we report the anti-cestor. A number of them have been banned from web sites because of the vitriol.
Criticisms run the gambit with the most popular one being that incest is wrong, that the Turtles are brothers. Others feel the need to tell us that homosexuals are unnatural, that we are all gay and doomed to burn in hell for our sin.
This is an example of some of the comments an artist received on a piece of work that showed Leonardo and Raphael standing next to each other, and on the wall behind them a large red heart has been drawn:
“WAIT this is supposed to b them dateing? (ur gay then)!”
“this is disgusting. they’re BROTHERS!!! I would be ok if they weren’t then fine, but they’re BLOOD RELATED! Would you have secret love for your damn sibling???? sick sick sick.”
“What psycho nonsense is this. Can’t people like you leave a perfectly good action show alone without screwing it up with your sick psycho fantasies. Save that for people in the but house.”
These comments are exactly as they were posted by the anti-cest haters. Keep in mind that these people went hunting for pro-cest works.
Most of us find this type of attack laughably pathetic. First off, these are comic book/cartoon characters – they aren’t real. Secondly, even the creators have said that the Turtles might not be blood related. Thirdly let us not forget that they began as turtles, and turtles in nature do have incestuous relationships and during mating season, if the need is great and there are no female’s available, males will mate with each other.
We’ve also found that a great majority of the anti-cest protestors have created their own fan art and fiction which includes what we refer to as a Mary Sue, self-insert, OCs.
The art and writing is often of poor quality (see above examples of comments) and usually includes the OC sleeping with whichever Turtle the creator has a crush on.
Turtle brothers who are having sexual relations with one another is a part of nature, women screwing turtles is not, it’s bestiality. That particular sin seems to be acceptable to the combative anti-cestor. I theorize that some of the bitterness over TCest has to do with the anticestors unnatural lust for a fictionalized character and that seeing that character in love with his brother makes him off limits and inaccessible.
Could you elaborate on the pairings within the fandom? Are there preferred character match ups?
Any pairing goes! Actually all of us have our particular favorites, which we call our One True Pairing (OTP). There are groups within the fandom dedicated to each pairing, as well as groups dedicated to OT4, the concept that the brothers would not break off into pairs, but would love each other equally.
Every person in the fandom has their own reasons for believing that a certain match-up is the best one. For example there are a lot of fans of Leonardo/Michelangelo and Raphael/Donatello. These are based on the belief that these characters are true opposites and therefore complement each other, bringing out the best part of their mates.
Then of course there is a preference in seme and uke within any pairing. A large majority of the fandom prefers to see Raphael as the topping Turtle, based on his ubermasculine personality. Likewise many fans see Donatello as being the ultimate submissive, and therefore cast him in that role frequently.
Another factor in pairing choice has to do with the potential drama and angst that can be wrested from the brothers in question. This is particularly true with bringing Leonardo and Raphael together. Both are seen as alpha males who fight for control in almost every interaction. The 2003 cartoon series played on that tendency, and the 2007 CGI movie went as far as showing the brothers in a vicious physical altercation with their weapons as they battled for superiority.
How do the turtle characters differ and how do they stay the same with the official canon?
I think I can safely say that keeping the Turtles in character is extremely important when we create a piece of turtlecest art or fiction. In fact many of us add something to our warnings about a character behaving out of character (OOC) when we create a piece that moves the character far from the excepted norm.
The reasons that we love these characters are because they are a rich and robust feast for our imaginations. Their creation story and their challenges are the stuff historic tragedies are made of, and their victories are straight out of classic tales.
Their story line pits good against evil while showing us all of the elements that make up life. Within each tale you’ll find drama, mystery, adventure, romance, longing, angst, greed, despair, humor and love. The possibilities for an artist or author run the full gambit because of these components.
The characters themselves differ enough to whet a creative person’s deepest appetite. With Leonardo you have Dedication, from Donatello you get Intellect. Raphael is Passion and Michelangelo brings us Insight. Master Splinter embodies Devotion, April O’Neil supplies us with Loyalty, and Casey Jones shows us Perseverance.
As pro-cest artists and authors we use and expand on the fact that the brothers are truly devoted to one another. They have developed a level of trust through the years that you won’t find in most married couples. Because they already love each other deeply, taking them the next step and having them become physically loving seems logical.
Have there been any infamous haters?
Over the years there have been, for want of a better term, feuds. Some of them have gotten fairly heated. We don’t force turtlecest on anyone, we post warnings, and we have a live and let live attitude. We don’t post ‘cest on sites or groups that state an aversion to it, nor do we actively seek out people who have expressed negative opinions on the subject and try to force our beliefs on them.
I wish the opposite were true. I don’t want to get into specifics or name names because stirring up the old controversy is undesirable. We often find that a polite, “Thank you for your opinion” isn’t enough to stop someone from taking things too far and we aren’t part of this fandom or this community because we want to get into arguments.
What is the fanbase like?
The makeup of this community is much more diverse than people might expect. Because the concepts and situations are meant for a more mature audience, we work hard to prevent anyone underage from viewing the material.
That being said, the age range stretches from those in their late teens to people in their sixties. There are students, professionals, artists, writers, scientists, engineers; you name it. The community appeals to both men and women, though there are probably a few more fans amongst the female gender.
Humans like romance and they like the concept of true love. Turtlecest gives them that, which is why it’s so appealing to such a broad range of people. Our community is comprised of people of many different sexual identities, including hetero, gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and even a-sexual.We are an open, loving, and non-judgmental group of people, and therefore safe.
How big a part of your life do you feel the tcest community has become?
Like most people, I like to ‘hang’ out with friends; people who are like minded and with whom I’ve shared experiences. I probably spend a couple of hours a day responding to notes and emails, working on the groups that I help to administer, perusing the newest postings, and writing.
After a long day at work this is how I relax. For the most part it’s a stress free environment and it is fun. The people who participate in the turtlecest community are witty, intelligent, funny, insightful, and immensely talented. I can’t imagine a better group of people to interact with.
What follows is several short passages from some TCest stories, with the original links included.
The Desirability Quotient
“Ya’ know, of the four of us, I think Donny would be the one ta snag a girlfriend first,” Raph said out of the blue.
“Where the shell did that come from?” Mikey asked, turning his head enough so that he could see Raph.
Lying partially draped over the purple banded turtle in question, Mikey had been nearly lulled to sleep by the gentle rise and fall of Don’s chest. Now he was wide awake and staring at Raph. When his brother didn’t look at him, Mikey glanced over at Leo and caught his eye.
Leo shrugged and then waited, knowing that Raph would finish the thought when he was ready. The brothers lay together on a pile of mattresses that Mikey insisted on calling their ‘nest’.
Don barely opened one eye, too comfortable and relaxed to do more than that. Foursomes were his favorite thing, but they tended to be very draining.
“If we were four human brothers we would’ve been dating by now,” Raph said, continuing his idea. “We probably would’ve been competing ta see who could get laid first or which of us could bring home the hottest chic.”
“No contest dude,” Mikey said smugly. “Not only would I have been a total jock, but I’m the best looking one of the bunch.”
Master Splinter drove them daily with physical and mental exercises; this he said, was an exercise of the heart. If they wanted his blessing to be together as more than brothers, they would have to prove that they would not play favorites.
They were not to sign their names. It didn’t really matter; the penmanship alone told him who had written each one. With a sigh he began to read his first note.
“I love you because you never seem to get mad at me. Don’t know why; I can manage to piss everyone else off but not you. It’s not like I’m trying to upset everyone and somehow you always seem to understand that about me. I know I’ve scared the crap out of you and I’m not trying to do that either, it’s just I can’t avoid trouble, it ain’t in my nature.
“I love how you fuss over me when I’m hurt and tell me how you wish I would be more careful. Nothing you say ever makes me mad either, and you know plenty of words. It’s just that I know you’re saying them ’cause you’re scared and concerned and I love you for that.
“I love you because you’re gentle and strong and try to give us everything regular people have, even if you have to stay awake for days to do it. I love your no nonsense attitude and your soft smile and the glow in those dark, brown eyes. . . ”