Thursday, April 30, 2009

Online Play

Today I bumped into an article , written by Penny Seauterau : "the Healing Potentials of Cybersex", published in the Second Life News Paper. There is no direct link to the article , but you'll find it in the Red Light section of the SLNP website ; the date is April 28, 2009.
Overall an interesting read, especially as I agree with Miss Seauterau that it is a worthwhile quest to wonder about the why of online philandering. The Pearl being what it is, I think no-one will be surprised to see me promote an article that tries to break a lance for the core activities of the Great House, but I have some critical remarks nonetheless, which I will discuss later .
Let's first throw some light on the things I agree with . Miss Seauterau comes at times very close to the reasons why I personally have been engaged in erotic roleplay for almost two years. Most people experiment at some time in their online lives, but two years is generally considered a long time. Avatars have no expressions, but if they did, I'd probably see incredulous stares, mixed with condescending amusement. The words "pervert" and "nympho" pop up, blinking with angry neon red letters. "How on earth," I'd see them thinking, "can someone keep interested? Surely every possible way to describe the process will have been exhausted after a few months ?"
Which brings us to the core of online sexuality : descriptions, words. Even SL with its convincing avatars and photorealistic skins has only added spice. And indeed, we see that silent poseball hoppers -they use both hands, Miss Seauterau- engage in what I would call animated porn. Nothing wrong with that, no animals are harmed in any way, but it is not cybersex. Not in my book. My book is full of words. And it is interactive. You do not know in advance what your partner in crime will say or do. An interesting partner does the unexpected and finds new ways and phrases to make it all worth while. So, returning to the statement that at long last, all descriptions turn stale and predictable, I am reminded of some of my collegues, who use scripted objects -I call them quoting machines- to recite pre-written paragraphs. How appealing.... not.
If that is all the effort they put into the engagement, I can truly sympathise with the feelings of ennui and disappointment of their customers.
To paraphrase Miss Seauterau, writing arousing words has existed for a very long time. I just have to remind the reader of Ovid (yes, I promise to publish more) . I can imagine not everyone feels the same excitement as do, when reading acomplished phrases, and I am the last person to claim that you have to. On the other hand, there is no need to call me an over-excited freak either. The brain is Man's crucial sex organ. It is, has always been and will forever stay so. can I help it that I use my brain more than other people ?
All by all, Miss Seauterau's article is a very useful reminder what it is all about.
Some criticism is at its place , however : as the central theme revolves around her debilitating ailments, she unintentionally raises the impression that cybersex is only an accepted and viable alternative if "the real thing" is impractical. In other words, unless you are bedridden or hideously deformed, there should be "no need" for the virtual playgrounds.
I remember hearing similar arguments against masturbation. I still encounter people that at best ridicule masturbation as equivalent to the toupet, or else claim that it is harmful. It isn't. It is a private thing I loathe to discuss, but so are all things I do in the toilet and bathroom. Or bed. Or bus. Or ...
Toupets aren't ridiculous either, by the way.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

well, are we adults now ?

Well, the Lindens have lifted part of the veils of uncertainty around the "Adult region" dabate. You can find the main article here (at the time of writing this, the heading of said article stated it was still being edited) and a FAQ list here .
Note that I say "part of the veils". The wording of both documents leaves much to interpretation. reading the list of criteria , for instance, we can safely assume that the Pearl does not "advertise or publicly promote" extreme violence, photorealistic nudity or explicit sexual acts. Pearl ladies do not hip around naked, engage in public fornication or decapitate innocent bystanders. But what is "publicly promote" ? there is a picture of our Dungeon on the premises. Is that promotion of extreme violence? Are the pictures of the other rooms promotion for sexual acts ?
Clearer to the eye is the rule that using sugestive search terms in the description of parcels can result in "Adult" designation. The Pearl calls itself a brothel and thus refers explicitely to sex. We do this, because we want to attract a public that is looking for that kind of entertainment. We do this also to warn people what they may expect to find. Not doing this is not an option, in my mind. Judging the examples quoted in the text, we would otherwise pass muster as "Mature", although the remark about the use of sex poseballs is annoyingly vague. Do our skyboxes qualify as "backrooms" ? I think not: our private rooms are not publicly available and therefore do not "publicly promote". the point is moot, of course, as we would still use the search tags, and on that point at least, the lindens are clear.
Supposing that at some point we would be branded as "Adult", what consequences would this have ? I can be brief about that : a lot of nuissance.
First off, an Adult parcel would have to be relocated to an Adult region. If the Mayor of Victoriana refuses to stamp the Harbour sim as Adult, we would have no option but to move. Would the Mayor be that cruel ? well, it is not a matter of cruelty, but economic sense. i will refer here to the second item on the list of nuissances : only age verified avatars (or people with payment info on file) are able to enter an Adult region. That would mean that some potential renters wouldn't be able to enter Harbour.
A nuissance for us too : some of the ladies and customers have no payment info on file, let alone age verification (which so far has always failed for me, as it is America-oriented and refuses to believe I do not live in a USA state). I can't be sure, but the recent mishaps where people could no longer enter Harbour because of an accidentally changed setting might be a foretaste of the havoc an Adult status change would create.
Bottomline : we would probably be tagged "Adult" and will need ways to adapt to the changed circumstances. I would also suggest that ladies and visitors alike start changing their payment info status , which seems the easiest way to keep your freedom of movement. If not you might find yourself mightily restricted when the Lindens implement this policy change.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ovid (or why men never change)

Have I gone soft in the head ? Why on Earth did I organize a public reading with poems from a 2000 year dead poet ? Surely his literary drivel must be just as dusty as what's left from the man's bones! And he wrote Latin! The language of mouldering old tomes filled with religious rants about the number of angels on a pinhead. I'm sure they grew people in cauliflower beds in those days, so what on earth is a Roman poet doing at a house of ill repute ?
Well, probably because the man himself was of ill repute. Augustus banished him because the man's lifestyle and poetry rubbed the wrong way, given the emperor's campain for improved public morals. Well, rumours have it that Ovid in fact had a passionate fling with the emperor's daughter, which -if true- would explain why Augustus never called him back from exile. A discussion about that would get us too far, but you get the point: Ovid was past the cauliflower stage.
Publius Ovidius Naso is a name that sooner or later appeared on the menu of many a classical student. His most famous work, the Metamorphoses is usually the dish of choice and possibly caused his dusty reputation among the easily distracted and bored youths that had to wrestle through its pages. Ovid wrote this later in life, however. He earned his first fame as a young man with poems about his dealings with his mistress Corinna. Later on, he even wrote a love manual, cynically instructing the male reader in the arts of seduction and adultery (to the great annoyance of Augustus, who had made adultery a punishable offense)
But enough of history. Allow yourself to discover why those present at the reading soon had the chains that held them to their chairs cut. The man was timelessly witty and his naughtyness still inspires. let me introduce you to him and his Corinna :

It was hot, and the noon hour had gone by:
I was relaxed, limbs spread in the midst of the bed.
One half of the window was open, the other closed:
the light was just as it often is in the woods,
it glimmered like Phoebus dying at twilight,
or when night goes, but day has still not risen.
Such a light as is offered to modest girls,
whose timid shyness hopes for a refuge.
Behold Corinna comes, hidden by her loose slip,
scattered hair covering her white throat –
like the famous Semiramis going to her bed,
one might say, or Lais loved by many men.
I pulled her slip away –not harming its thinness much;
yet she still struggled to be covered by that slip.
While she would struggle so, it was as if she could not win,
yielding, she was effortlessly conquered.
When she stood before my eyes, the clothing set aside,
there was never a flaw in all her body.
What shoulders, what arms, I saw and touched!
Breasts formed as if they were made for pressing!
How flat the belly beneath the slender waist!
What flanks, what form! What young thighs!
Why recall each aspect? I saw nothing lacking praise
and I hugged her naked body against mine.
Who doesn’t know the story? Weary we both rested.
May such afternoons often come for me!

We are all Adults ! Ehrm... are we ?

You probably heard it. If you didn't, I recommend waking up from your winter slumber. The Lindens are busy implementing changes that will introduce a new concept. We had "Parental Guidance" (PG) and "Mature", now a new status will be defined to discern regions (and later parcels) from each other : "Adult". In brief, Adult regions will be reserved for places with sexualy explicit material.
At the core of this development is the idea that visitors should be able to decide whether or not they want to enter that club where people are tortured, raped, maimed or undergoing a whole range of other eyebrow raising activities. The Lindens are not forbidding sex per se, just making sure everybody knows what (s)he will find at the other end of the teleport. While this sounds laudable, one of the measures proposed did cause me to blink. Several times. Adult places might be forced to move to a new, Adult Continent (nicknamed "Ursula"). From blinking it was but a small step to worrying . Would the Pearl be forced to move ?
The answer is likely "no". First off, forced moves would only be enforced on land that is controlled by the Lindens (i.e. the Mainland) and we took up residence in a private sim. Unless the Mayor of Victoriana decides to lose us, there is no reason for us to move. Second, part of the Pearl ethos is that we do not publicly show sexualy explicit material. Private rooms where explicit activities do take place do not count and our rooms are far away from accidental view. It takes quite some effort to reach them and the security system keeps prying eyes away.
That still leaves questions about what exactly would be the difference between "Mature" and "Adult". Admit that this is not evident at first sight. Let's quote Blondin Linden :
"Are there any clear, uncontroversial, unanimous agreed, examples of activities which are "mature" but not "adult"? ANSWER: Nude beaches, Dance clubs with "alcohol" and dancing, combat sims, lingerie shops, private builds with furniture and accessories."
I suppose the Pearl would qualify as a private build and therefore "Mature". The definition of this boundary is far from clear, by the way, as freely admitted by the Lindens. Does it matter if the Pearl should be marked as "Adult" ? Yes, it does, judging this quote, also from Blondin Linden : "Adult content can not be advertised on non-Adult land, so if you want your content found, it needs to be on adult land."
"Found" in this context is "found in the Linden search engine"; we do want to be found, so if we are marked Adult, either the whole sim should be Adult or we must move. We may take it for granted that residents in Victoriana harbour will react squeamish to the idea that their parcels can be mentally associated with the extreme debaucheries that cling to the whole concept of "Adult". To be honest, so would I. An "Adult" Pearl would be avoided by our target audience and ridiculized by the people that frequent the other establishments.
To be scrutinized, closely....