By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Standing in an adult dance club in Second Life, my virtual cleavage spilling out the top of my virtual lingerie, I am soliciting for sex. Okay, Im practically begging. New avatars appear on the dance floor, glance around, and before they can even start shaking their virtual hips, Im sending them instant messages: Hey, hows it going? Wow, you look hot tonight. Im lonely and naked. Are you feeing horny?
In the name of full disclosure, I should probably admit that Im not actually poised in front of my computer with one hand down the front of my black, lacy panties (the preferred undergarment of my cybersex persona). Im not even licking my chops in anticipation of an encounter with some beautiful avatar, who will take me to a private room, strip down to her well-rendered skin, and let me click all her clickable parts. No, Im just sitting at my deskone cyber transcript away from finishing the research for a paper on cybersex linguisticswearing my flannel pajamas, scribbling in a notebook, and drinking a Diet Coke. Kinky, I know.
The point is, whatever the reason, Im desperate. Just like in real life, meeting people online can be really hard. But its already late; Ive got a deadline. Im not expecting great cybersex. I just need something. And I need it now.
So here I am, throwing myself at my fellow Second Life-ers with all trite, awful pick-up lines. When I spot a hot, emo-boy avatar wall-flowering it on the side of the dance floor, I even sink so low as to ask him, Hi, cutie, do you come here often? Maybe I shouldnt be surprised that he doesn't answer me. Nobody does. This is Second Life, right, the land of all things sex? Hell, Im in an adult-themed club. Im young and Im female (then again, ostensibly so is half the Second Life population) and Im ready to go. What am I doing wrong?
After more than an hour of tacky lines and cold shoulders, I give up. Deadline or no deadline, this is embarrassing. Im about to sign off when I notice a man in a pinstripe suit dancing next to meone of the few avatars in the crowd I havent solicited. Nice suit, I instant message him, my mouse already hovering over the X at the top of my Second Life window. Needless to say, five minutes later were cybering. And not dull, hokey, Im-doing-this-for-research-but-God-this-guy-could-use-some-pointers cybering. Real, hot, down-on-the-ground-give-it-to-me cybering. In my line of work, thats rare.
The moral? If this were an after-school special, Id have to say that the key to meeting a good cybersex partner is to stop trying so hard and be yourself. Thankfully this isn't, so the key is: theres definitely such thing as being too forward. Hey, baby! I'd like to use your thighs as earmuffs, is bound to be an unsuccessful opener in almost any encounter, real or virtual.
The best advice I can give is this: once youve found yourself in a situation to pick out a cybersex partnerthat usually means hanging out in a social spot, like a club in Second Life or a busy AOL chat roomtalk to your potential playmates. Strike up a conversation, preferably on a topic that doesnt involve sex, at least not right away. Pinstripe suits will do. Or stir-fry. Or potted plants. Its possible to flirt over just about anything.
For those cyber-ers used to the more fast-paced world of public chat room sex, this approach may seem old-fashioned. Totally contrary to my experience in Second Life, it is possible to lounge around a chat room, dole out cheesy pick-up lines to other users with interesting screen names, and find yourself windows deep in cybersex offers. If youre a girl, or at least appear to be one, that doesnt hurt either.
Still, actually taking a few minutes to chat up your potential cybersex partner will do two crucial things: 1) Itll show them youre not a creep, and that youre willing to put time and energy into the experience--which in turn will make them trust you more with their imaginative fantasies. 2) Itll give you a chance to scope out whether the person youre talking to is interesting, intelligent, and well-written. Those arent just qualities to write home about (Mom, I had online sex with the nicest boy the other day!); they often translate directly to how good a cybersex lover your potential mate will be.
So the next time you want to pick up a partner but dont know where to start, find a face in the crowd. Send over an IM, and let your own charm and intelligence shine through. Think of it like buying a sexy stranger a drink, only cheaper.
Last week: Webcam Sex: Time to Get Naked!