Lust in cyberspace

"I just want to say one word to you. Just one word - pornography."

Courtesy of GQ Magazine

"I just want to say one word to you. Just one word - pornography." If The Graduate had been set a little later, Mr McGuire's advice to young Benjamin Braddock might have been quite different.

Plastics came and went, but for years adult entertainment was the bubble that wouldn't burst. Amateur adorable teens and horny wet-pussy sluts were drilled, beasted, pounded and slammed until the industry grew into a £7bn behemoth.

Porn panders to man's most urgent, base desires. In the Eighties, through the power of VHS a  chap could invite sexy Asian babes right into his bedroom. Then - sound the trumpets - came the internet: the portal to a cyberverse of sin where every proclivity could be embraced, every kink and idiosyncratic thirst amply and repeatedly slaked.

So how did we get to a point where, last year, Hustler magazine founder, Larry Flynt, could, like the banks, go cap in hand to Congress and ask for a £3.5bn bailout?

Now, Mr Flynt has an eye for a bit of PR. But the crisis is true enough. With content available for free on websites such as RedTube and PornHub, and the economy going down, punters began to question the idea of paying. Already exhibitionist celebrities - did I say Paris? - were releasing their own material, and even content, that was originally bought and could easily be 'shared'.

"We lost 30, maybe 40 per cent of our income over the last few years," Anna Span, Britain's first female porn director, tells me. "The worst culprit is file sharing, which is no different from theft."

New government initiatives are beginning to address piracy. But the industry as a whole has recognised that to make products which they can be sure people will pay for, they need to evolve: high definition; three dimensions; interactive sex with teledildonics... Welcome to the future of porn.

Let's begin, as most things now do, with the iPhone. Hottrix, the company that set up iBeer, has established a site for sex apps, The home page boasts that more than ten million apps have been downloaded in its first three months. Once you've downloaded the icon into your iPhone, you are treated to list upon list of possible categories to peruse: hairy pussy, high heels, gonzo, MILF, teen, white panties. There is an assortment of video teasers and photographic stills. Click on any, and a message explains all of it can be yours for a subscription of $8.25 (around £5.40) a month.

There are reams of companies angling for a piece of the action - inevitably, one is called iPorn -  most of which can be streamed to other smartphones. Playboy and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (not technically porn, but, you know what I mean) are among the more popular choices.

Onscreen, the ante has also been upped.

First, is the way adult material reaches you. Video on-demand systems enable you to download your movie of choice instantly. Or, you might buy a set-top box through which you can stream endless content. One of the best is FyreTV: you can stream as much content as you want, from a choice of some 20,000 titles for around $10 (roughly £6.60) a month. Currently only available in America, FyreTV comes to the UK later this year.

Second, is the quality of the product you receive. Piggybacking the success of Avatar, American company Bad Girls In 3D announced this year that it is developing an online library of movies to be viewed in three dimensions. You'll need the kit: a 60ins 3D TV, server and shutter glasses. The site wasn't live at time of writing, but check for progress.

Third, is the new wave of products that enable you to interact with what you are watching. For some time you've been able to phone or message a girl and command her to perform whatever you desire; check out, for example, Increasingly, the viewer can become more closely involved.

The High Joy is an internet-enabled device through which a vibrator can be controlled from anywhere in the world. You manipulate the speed, rythym etc of the vibe via your computer, she simply plugs her toy into her USB port and holds it in place... "The High Joy is, of course, great for couples who are apart," says Regina Lynn, author of The Sexual Revolution 2.0, "but it also works well in interactive porn set-ups."

More daunting are machines such as RealTouch. According to its site, RealTouch is a "virtual sex experience which combines haptic [touch] technology with encoded adult videos". Which is to say, the lucky viewer places his manhood in the RealTouch box, which is about the size and shape of a white rabbit; he then starts one of the special films, which will have been shot from a first-person perspective - so, when the actress goes down on the actor, she appears to be kneeling at the viewer's groin. The RealTouch then responds to cues from the film - and will activate a system of lubricated rubber bands to simulate fellatio. Created by NASA scientists, it costs £100 from

"A new wave of adult video games is also coming out," adds Regina. "Sophisticated games with cameos from real stars, like BoneTown with Ron Jeremy." What is clear is that times they are a-changing. Whether any of this will be an improvement is moot - there will always be room for early Pirelli calendars - but one thing is certain: there's a hulking contingent of adult entertainment bigwigs pushing sex tech in the quest to find the ultimate 21st-century money shot.

Original article published in GQ Magazine, in February, 2013

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