By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
When Allen Stein created his first sex machine nearly a decade ago, he didn't know he'd end up in the webcam porn businessor that his creation, Thethrillhammer, would get displayed at the Museum of Sex as the world's first internet-controlled adult toy. A dot-com bubble refugee living in Seattle, Stein has spent the last eight years crafting luxury sex accessories for rich, powerful women whose busy dayplanners preclude dates, but not sex drives. Most recently, he's been getting back to his roots in teledildonicsa burgeoning movement that connects computers, sex toys, and lovers across the worldby starting a new site called SexMachineCams.com.
If Stein's focus on all things plugged into the wall sounds familiar, it should. The Voice last talked about sex machines when we interviewed Tomcat, the head of Kink.com's popular porn site, Fucking Machines. What Stein proposes to do takes women mounting electric partners one step farther than the one-way voyeurism of Fucking Machines: SexMachineCams.com positions them in front of webcams and makes their sex machines interactive, controlled by viewers on the internet. In addition, Stein has started offering trial shows in which he hooks up porn stars to a Thethrillhammer and then lets customers go wild on the controlsi.e. a keyboard and mousefrom across the internet: for a price, of course. He's hoping his new site will soon be a hub for teledildonic information, Stein explained over the phone, but in the meantime he's letting customers get intimate with the machines to get 'the kinks out.'
Q: What will SexMachineCams.com offer that a site like Fucking Machines doesn't?
A: The main thing we do is lend another level of intimacy to online sex through interactivity. People being able to reach out over the internet and bring women to orgasmthat's one of those Eureka! moments. When my wife and I started doing this years ago we were sitting here, and we'd set up a studio in Tampa, and we happened to notice via the webcam there was a girl sitting on one of our chairs. We typed to her, Do you want a ride? So we sat here 3,000 miles away in Seattle, Washington and brought this woman to orgasm over the internet. It was just the coolest thing.
Q: Ok, let's talk logistics, because these are big machines. Normally women who perform for webcams can work from home. Instead, do you have a studio set up and the performers come to you?
A: We're actually setting up studios around the world. We have one in New York City, our main feature studio is in L.A., and we also have one down in the Dominican Republic, where they have lots of problems with sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. We think it's a good idea to go to these countries where we can pull the girls off the street, give them a safe place to come work, where they don't have to interact with people on a one-on-one basis, but can do it virtually.
Q: In the U.S. you're working with both porn stars and webcam performers. How do they react to the machines?
A: It had a lot of Wow! factor for them at first. They're going, You're kidding me, right? Viewers can actually fuck me with this? They like it because it allows them to reconnect with their fans, but the lack of control takes a lot of getting used to. I find when they let go and relax, it's just like having sex with any other partner. The nice thing is, if someone's speeding up the machine too fast and they don't like what's going on, they can just get off.
Q: So what's the advantage of doing a machine show instead of a solo one, business-wise?
A: People spend a lot more time in one of our shows than they would in a normal session. Usually they go in, they do their business, and they get out. With our shows, they stay much longer: 20, 30 minutes. They play with the machines and develop a rapport with the girl. So that interactivity translates to more dollars. Right now, we're not charging any more than a normal show: $5.99 a minute. We did studies: can we charge $11.99 a minute? Yeah, but people aren't going to stay in the show as long. For a lot of girls, this is their bread-and-butter, their job. So having the added value of teledildonics is great.
Q: What kind of response have you gotten from customers participating in these early shows?
A: They were totally into it. When they figured out they could actually drive a sex machine they were floored. Remember, most of these are private shows, one-on-one. People can come in and watch through voyeur mode, where someone else is driving the machine, since we can't have people fighting over the controls, but other people are more than welcome to come in and spy on that show. Voyeur mode costs about a third of driving the machine, and there are usually around five voyeurs watching a show at any given time, just sitting in the chat room section.
Q: Has anything ever gone wrong? Have machines or customers ever gotten out of control?
A: Physically, we haven't had any injuries in over eight years. No one has orgasmed to death, though some have come pretty close. The machine in the Museum of Sex in New York, the first Thethrillhammer: if we have a fuck-off, that machine would win. There's something about that machine, it's just amazing. People can't fake it on the Thethrillhammer That first one was built on an old gyno chair from the 1920s . The new ones are more comfortable, mostly round, black leather, with memory foam and a back massager. I get a lot of inspiration from the Museum of Modern Art.
Q: Do you really think your site's appeal is just about connecting with women? Isn't there also an element of machine fetishism?
A: Absolutely. Sometimes, it's about the closed-minded homophobia of men. They just don't want to see another guy in porn. Then there are the guys who are just really into the machinesit's a weird niche. Where do I fit in? I've always been preoccupied with the fairer sex and orgasms. I found a perfect job where I could be an orgasm broker. I can help people riding these machines have orgasms, but I can also help the people around the world controlling these machines are having orgasms, too. I'm just trying to give.