It used to be so simple. In the mid-1990s cruising the internet involved a lot of barren websites and empty chatrooms. But these days even trying to merge onto the information highway involves steering through tons of high-traffic websites and even computer crashes. That’s what happens when everyone slows down to rubberneck at “The Yum Boys Part II” file at XTube.
Far away from any porn site pile-up Thomas Waugh, a professor of film studies and sexuality studies at Montreal’s Concordia University, is studying a copy of Inches Magazine.
“I hadn’t seen one in a long time,” he confides. “What an anachronistic object this is! I can’t believe skin magazines have lasted this long as objects.”
With internet and online technologies radically changing the way people experience porn, Waugh wonders if printed porn may someday be completely overtaken by the newer, more interactive formats.
Ironically, it’s the porn that determines which formats survive.
In the 1980s, consumers were offered a choice between VHS and Beta video recorders. But when the adult film industry collectively decided to release its movies in the VHS format (whose tapes had more space than the shorter but higher quality Beta ones) they effectively killed Beta technology.
Blu-Ray disc technology seems poised to suffer a similar fate since porn makers recently announced they were sticking with DVD. (Blu-Ray is to DVDs what CDs once were to vinyl: a new digital way to store more information for sharper, fuller sound and images.)
According to Wendy Donnan, HARDtv’s VP of programming, the future of gay erotica involves merging interactive, online porn with its simultaneous live broadcast on TV.
She’s referring to HARDtv’s Mar 1 launch of Boyscondo TV Live, a new spin-off of the popular website. The result, she promises, will be a hybrid digital cable/internet program that Donnan says “has never been done before and completely merges the internet and television.”
The concept is equal parts television’s Big Brother, website sex show and the computer game The Sims.
According to the Boyscondo website, the action takes place in a condo where “over a dozen condo boys with visiting guests” are watched by “over three dozen cameras 24/7.” Donnan says viewers can go online and “watch what’s going on on TV and actually interact and see what [they’re] saying at the bottom of the screen and see how other people are interacting, what people are saying.”
For Todd Klinck, co-owner of the “fantasy video” production company Mayhem North, making porn is an extension of the “digital revolution.”
He describes his product as “very homemade. We hire models, we bring them in. The audience gets to meet them. We shoot stuff in the private location in the club and then the audience watches it live on the big screen as it’s happening.”
Klinck believes the future of gay porn lies in “a pay-per-view concept, as opposed to paying once for a hard product in your hand.”
Which is not to suggest that sex toy technology hasn’t made marvelous advances of its own of late.
“The torch has been passed and a new generation of consoles are perverted. The circle of wank begins again…” reads a website announcing the coming of the Wiibrator, a vibrator version of Nintendo’s game-playing, wireless joystick, the Wii.
Heralding a new way to “plug ‘n’ play” and calling itself “the ultimate iPod acsexsory,” the OhMiBod is “the first insertable, music-driven vibrator which utilizes advanced microchip technology to transform your favorite music into mind blowing, body bending orgasmic bliss.”
Suki, the OhMiBod’s founder, says she got the idea after receiving “my two favorite stocking stuffers of all time-my iPod mini and a pearl rabbit vibrator.”
Though Klinck is reluctant to speculate on the specific shapes future pay-per-view porn may take, he says power-to-the-people sites like XTube will likely figure prominently.
They “get the technology into everybody’s head,” he says; not to mention into average people’s hands.
“You can plug in a pretty high-qu___ality webcam and shoot something on your bed with somebody and it can be uploaded live simultaneously to a YouTube-type site. So the people making porn can have less and less technical ability and there’ll just be more,” Klinck explains.
Professor Waugh agrees. He says the future of gay porn lies in “non-commercial virtual formats for erotic experiences and fantasy [like XTube]” that have a “global dimension that San Fernando glossy materials don’t.”
But if, as Waugh says, “people’s fantasies and desires are much more resourceful than corporate marketing,” why do people still need a web-enabled Motorola KRZR K1m cellphone to watch porn when they’ve already got two hands and the greatest home entertainment system of all just six inches below their naval?
Well, in these STD-obsessed times, it is the ultimate in safe sex.
Then there’s the natural allure of using new technology to fulfill old needs.
Cave men drew dirty pictures on the wall with charcoal. The Japanese erected a big, black cock to honour the gods of iron. When the camera was invented, people started taking pornographic pictures. The minute they invented the movie, people put sex on screen. Any new means of communication will almost immediately become an outlet for sexual expression.
For erotic explorers ramping onto the information highway of the future, the trick won’t be navigating yourself through all the offerings. It’ll be keeping your hands on the wheel.