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THE ILLUSION BROKERS
Imagine there’s a whole other world at your fingertips. It’s a world most people know nothing about. All the same, it’s there, inhabited by people – overwhelmingly female – who spend many hours a day in it. It’s a world where commerce thrives. In fact, nothing BUT commerce thrives there for all else wilts like a bloom in the midday sun. The selection is limited but the merchandise is precious. What’s for sale are feelings and ideas. Feelings of triumph that turns to disgust and ideas best described as idée fixe. But the main article for sale is illusion and it sells like hot cakes. You couldn’t sell a thirsty man in the Sahara a glass of water faster than you can sell illusion in this world. Like a car company that makes many models of the same make, illusion here is sold under many guises.
First and foremost, there is the illusion of power. The illusion of power is what allows a man to continue on a spree, it allows him to speak to fellow human beings in rude and arrogant tones, it allows him to lord it over the illusion vendors – though the illusion brokers, of whom more later – remain immune from exploitation. The illusion of power allows a man to roar like a lion and to feel he is the captain of the hearts of many.
The second most important illusion on the market is the illusion of reality. Yes: men flee and scuttle into this totally artificial world of women, into this fundamentally surreal world to buy an illusion of reality. This defies reason at first blush but it makes perfect sense. When you are indulging in an activity which is a priori illusory, you must first suspend disbelief and shell out some money to buy back into reality. Turns out that buying the illusion of reality is a lot easier – and in the very short term more gratifying – than actually living reality in everyday life. It sounds convoluted but it will become clearer as we peel back the layers. The illusion of reality is mainly expressed as a very convincing sensation that whatever is occurring in this surreal universe could – perhaps? one day? if I play my cards right? - carry over into real life. It never does, of course, but with the illusion of power and reality, only one more component is needed for the man to lose himself in the vortex of this bizarro construct and keep spinning until the end of his days - or at least until the bank account is sucked dry.
This last and most difficult illusion to sell is the illusion of love. Strangely enough, most men enter this alternate universe actually looking to buy this illusion first, as they escape their world of wives, families and . Yet despite being pushed aggressively by the vendors and roundly supported by the brokers, this illusion is tough to attain. You can easily believe you are powerful and surrounded by a reality as hard as a knock on the head but it’s tough to buy into the notion that you are actually loved.
Nevertheless, many do eventually buy into it. An endless stream of ego stroking, of sweet talking, of playful teasing, of undivided attention and of sexual tension which one feels is unique and special, will do the trick. This is the ultimate triumph of the vendors and an even more impressive coup by the brokers, the architects who devised and designed this extraordinary world. In planning it, they knew one thing above all, as every successful sales person has known through the ages: the product is only the ultimate expression of a desire already present in the mind of the buyer. And in the case of this particular world, the desire is built in. All you need to learn and practice is how to tap into it and how to continue selling the triumvirate of illusions that will keep the desire humming forever, ramped up to the max, an endless supply of horny old men, randy students jerking off feverishly in mom’s basement, wound-up, pent up middle aged gents eager to snatch the last bit of youthful vim and squirt it into a napkin while feeling powerful, real, loved and virtually enabled to fuck that youthful, creamy skinned, shaved, pouting chick on the other side of the lens.
The world I am talking about is called My Free Cams (MFC) – a sub domain of a larger internet enterprise called “camming”. Camming involves young (and not so young) females in front of their , often in their own home, undressing, fondling their breasts, inserting objects into their vaginas and all other orifices at the express commands of their clients (often called “guests” or “members”) who tip and send gifts for each action performed as they check their wish-lists. So much for a titty flash. So much for a pussy flash. So much for gagging on a dildo. Incidentally, gagging till the model’s eyes fill with tears and saliva runs freely from her mouth seems to be high on many a wish list, as does anything to do with anal sex. In the camming world, simple manual masturbation, while still often performed, doesn’t deliver as much voltage as some more degrading or acrobatic feats. Camming, in short, is a form of client-directed porn where the member gets to write the script and move the camera. And if the illusions work as they should – in most cases they do – the whole act is complete.
Most North American, British and Australian girls work from their homes. Girls in Eastern Europe usually work out of a studio, which means that they make substantially less after the studio and the website owner (broker) grab their cut. Despite this, a model will still earn more than at most other jobs a young women could get in that part of the world. This leads to feelings many performers describe as “empowerment”. This is basically the feeling that one is adequately rewarded for services rendered and obviously cuts across many industries. I’m certain that the plumber or the electrician or the dentist whose appointment book is full feels a lot more “empowered” than one who has to endlessly scuffle. It is also clear – mainly in Central and Eastern Europe – that cam girls can achieve a far higher earning potential than in almost any other career, considering their age and qualification. I would venture to say that in a country like Romania, a cam girl can earn as much as a middle aged professional man or perhaps even more.
I would submit that this feeling of empowerment is as illusory as the feeling of “love” and “power” the men feel in the girls’ virtual rooms. The dollars are real but the mechanism with which they are earned is not. Put simply: if your money is earned in a world that is a vortex of moral confusion, a world that creates a sweaty virtual reality (a contradiction in terms), a world that robs clients of their dignity - then the value of this empowerment is greatly lessened and, I would even say nullified. Of course, one can claim indifference (“well, I just put two thousand dollars in a bank, my kid eats better than his playmates and I can take a seaside vacation, so what do I care?”) but this is the attitude that contributes to the all-round moral confusion surrounding this industry. The fact remains that for every dollar earned by a performer, there is a client who has bought a virtual service based on a lie. It’s a very sophisticated lie and it most certainly doesn’t absolve the client of responsibility just as a gambler isn’t absolved of his addiction just because the casino lights are extra alluring. Nevertheless, were the virtual service fully to be revealed to be a lie (“the girl does NOT love you, you do NOT have power over her, her room is NOT real and you will NOT attain anything but a fleeting release, followed by guilt and doubt”), I’d guess that the health of the industry would be in precarious straits.
Perfect commercial transactions are win-win. Imperfect commercial transactions are “win” for the vendor and “lose” for the buyer. Transactions in the camming world are at best in the imperfect category but I would venture to say, most are lose-lose. The “win” column of empowerment and self-confidence, based as it is on a lie, cannot in the end be a “win” proposition. And the client will forever be stuck in the “lose” column as he tries to chase the fata morgana of gratification extracted at the price of shame, financial loss, emotional turmoil and an aching dependence on a virtual creature wrapped up in lies and illusions.
It is very important to keep in mind that this world is not comprised of two parties but rather three: the vendors (the girls), the buyers (the “members” or clients) and the brokers. For the brokers, any transaction conducted in the camming world is – without a shadow of a doubt – win-win. They get their cut no matter what moral morass either side of the lens has to wade through. There could not be a more skilfully designed commercial internet enterprise than a site like MFC – more so than other camming sites. Unlike similar websites – still very profitable enterprises for the brokers – MFC allows unparalleled access to, and interaction with the models. There is the PM (private message) system first and foremost. A model can either freely allow access to her PM box or she can charge a nominal fee for it but in either case, it’s easy for a client to speak to the model directly, outside of the confines of her virtual room. This tends to create an illusion of an immediate bond with the girl. (once again, the emphasis is on the word illusion. The girl might be talking to 20 clients simultaneously on the PM system, playing with herself for the benefit of men in her room and checking her email at the same time) The feeling of bonding is undoubtedly one sided. But, as I pointed out in the beginning, an illusion it may be but it’s a very powerful one. If a client was a moderate tipper to begin with, he is inclined to increase his tipping exponentially once he feels he has “bonded” with the model. MFC also has internal mail which, in the absence of having access to a model’s email address, provides the client with yet another avenue for private messages or requests. All private sessions with models – i.e. sessions for which the client pays a premium and where he has the model’s undivided attention away from her room – are recorded and can be accessed by the client at any time. It’s easy to picture a situation where a client is already enamoured of a model via her public room, via private messages, via pictures sent to him by email, via MFC mail…and now he can watch his sessions again and again whenever he chooses. MFC also provides a “lounge”, accessible to premium members (and premium membership is very easy to obtain) where clients post pictures of models and discuss their performance. The lounge is an extraordinary window into the delusional mind of the “member”. It is a chaotic place, where messages are exchanged at the rate of one per second or more, where models are pilloried and put down or, conversely, glorified and praised. In the mind of a “member” there is nothing more exciting than visiting – or being guided to – a room where a girl has just started a public masturbation session, a.k.a. a “cum show”. It is a metaphorical and literal race to the bottom.
Of course these MFC lounge chants are not that different from what goes on in various porn forums – discussing the merits or the flaws of various starlets. The difference is one of degree and self-awareness. On a regular forum, the pace would be slow, the exchanges far less frenetic and – most importantly – it is understood that regular pornography is a one way street. There is no illusion and no delusion. The client simply consumes a product made by a professional (the porn star). In the “lounge” and the camming world in general, there is really no product to consume if one shatters the illusion that there is any connection whatsoever between this world and reality.
My own story is fairly typical. I would also say it’s fairly simple and the narrative is probably repeated many times daily on MFC. I first got on the site about four months ago. Like most men, I was no stranger to internet porn. Not a huge consumer but I had purchased memberships on different sites through the years and had masturbated to the images of hundreds of women. Aside from a moderate foot fetish, my sexual tastes are fairly pedestrian. I am a meat and potatoes kind of guy when it comes to sex: in my fifties but still very excited by female beauty, by shapely breasts and nice skin and good teeth and a pleasant smile. The current trend in porn towards gagging and choking and hair pulling and peeing and even vomiting is beyond my understanding. Vomiting? That has got to be one of the most unpleasant sensations and one of the most unpleasant spectacles to witness. How did it ever become sexualized?
Although I had seen occasional pop-ups advertising web cam sites, it had never occurred to me to check them out. They were just another internet annoyance. Then, in May this year, I somehow surfed onto a Dutch web cam site by fluke and stayed for a few minutes. What I saw absolutely entranced me. Here were gorgeous young women, performing LIVE as directed by their viewers. The rush of excitement that I felt was completely out of proportion with what I saw. No gagging, no violent sex…just shapely women doing their thing, conversing with clients while either masturbating or simply touching their breasts, or, sometimes even fully dressed and not engaged in overt sexual activity. Why did I suddenly feel so incredibly excited? Why did I have an erection stronger and harder than anything porn had given me the previous two decades? Why did I feel a tingle of excitement akin to what one feels when starting a relationship with a new woman? I had obviously peeked behind the looking glass of the magic illusion. Those women with the silky breasts and milky skin and blinding smiles and wide open legs and swollen vaginas were mine to be enjoyed. Mine to play with. Mine to love. Mine to fall in love with. Potent stuff.
At first I didn’t dare to do anything but lurk, perhaps type in a line or two of greeting. I was not just fascinated but scared. This was REAL! (except of course it wasn’t!) Several times I was asked by ladies in different rooms if I wanted to “take them private”. I sure wanted to ogle their private parts while playing with myself but didn’t have the balls to press the “private” button which would take me into a one on one situation with the model, enable me to direct the action and time my climax any which way I wanted. And, of course, cost me anywhere between a minimum of $30 to perhaps as much as $60. In the cold light of day, even $30 for five minutes of masturbating is a pretty steep price, especially considering that membership at a good porn site costs that much per month and that there are now “tube” sites where porn can be viewed or downloaded for free. But that’s in the cold light of day. In the hot light of the night when web cam decisions are taken, when the brain is bamboozled into accepting this mock world as reality, when the erotic desire wells up – your bank account doesn’t seem all that important. It’s a complete reversal: the lithe blonde behind the lens is real and your bank account is not. So I made the plunge, purchased enough tokens (MFC currency) and took my first model private. I only lasted about a minute but extended the session to a decent enough length not to seem cheap and selfish to the model who was doing her best to convince me that she, too, was having a great time and that she, too, considered me sexy and could hardly hold back. Now, of course in the cam world – let’s face it, in the real world too – a woman’s orgasm is the great unknowable. It’s quite possible that the girl in my first and subsequent “privates” did indeed achieve climax and enjoyed the session…though probably not to the extent she claimed she had. Or it’s possible that she faked all of it or part of it. It really didn’t matter. The fact was, I had just gone through my first “private show” (please note the emphasis on the word “show”) and I had achieved a better erection and a stronger climax than in decades.
To say that after the session I was conflicted would be an understatement. I went to bed shaking all over. I had just “had sex” and “cheated” with a real, live woman (except not really) I could hardly sleep at all and – brimming with feelings of guilt – couldn’t wait to get back to my computer. An addiction had set in.
Over the next few weeks, I started spending hours and hours on MFC. It never reached a point of neglecting my work completely but it certainly sapped my energy and my will to truly engage in life, for all my attention was now focused on the virtual world of young naked women there to do my bidding. I visited the rooms of American, Canadian and European women and although I liked many of the Russian and Romanian girls, the language barrier prevented me from coming back to them very often. I liked not just to have sexual “fun” with the models but also to chat and joke and josh around. This was much easier with girls whose mother tongue was English. And for obvious reasons, it also strengthens the illusion of being desired, since the model has a whole slew of phrases, terms of endearment and sweet talk that a non-English speaker can’t command.
Through the law of diminishing returns, I got over the initial shock and now spent time with models without the initial feelings of guilt and shame, not to say almost horror! I found that suddenly, in my mid-fifties, I could have two orgasms a day – for the first time in about thirty years. I did transfer some of that energy into my own bedroom and onto my wife, but only a small percentage. I simply enjoyed masturbating to the sight of a different woman’s private parts every day much more. This is the classic symptom of addiction to internet porn, except it had never happened to me with actual porn, which I found boring. I probably would have stayed on the site had it not been for the fact that I started developing a growing emotional bond with a specific model. Despite red flags popping up in my head like dandelions after a spring shower, I kept visiting her room, showering her with tokens and anxiously awaiting responses to my private messages. After a few days it dawned on me that I actually enjoyed hanging out in her room and chatting with her even more than masturbating to the sight of her spread legs. The illusion was now complete. If I wasn’t careful, I’d be ensnared in her virtual world for a long time to come. Incidentally – and this is not my original thought but something I read on an internet forum once - it is worth keeping in mind that the definition of the word “virtual” is “that which is not”.
(“He read virtually the whole book” = he did NOT read the whole book). It took some strength but I made a clean break. I deleted my account on MFC, which at this point had accumulated lots of “friends” and some pretty exciting footage from private sessions. Deleting the account meant I no longer had access to all this but it was the only way to go if I was going to resurface in the real world.
Long story short: I lasted about three weeks before sinking right back in. And this time, I was hitting everything double hard: spending hundreds of dollars, visiting dozens of rooms a day, wasting hours and hours each day. My day consisted of taking my dog for a walk, having breakfast, then logging on to MFC, spending at least three hours, then a quick bite, repeat the process, evening dog walk, dinner and MFC again till all hours. Needless to say, my work suffered as did my – by now almost non-existent – relationship with my wife. And then, after about a week of this madness, I stumbled into L.V.’s room. L.V. was 22, a single mom from Washington, DC. At first, she just seemed to be an exceptionally nice, bright young woman with an infectious giggle, a penchant for a dry self-put down and for a funny line. We exchanged a few P.M.’s and she did something which the previous models hadn’t yet done: she laughed at my jokes, encouraged me to tell her more, she listened to my music online and told me how much she enjoyed it. She also gave me her email address and we began corresponding a few times a day. Naturally, I tipped her and I sent her some money now and again – but not a lot and not as much as I had previously spent on models whom I didn’t care for at all. Still, she sent me sexy pictures of herself, gave me the password to her gallery on another site, told me about her life and generally made me feel like I was “the” guy. Not that I ever fell for it completely – I saw her work her room with 30 men in it with the same panache and humour and intelligence she demonstrated one on one with me. But as I outlined at the outset – that is irrelevant. What was relevant was that I was caught in a total illusion bubble. I believed. I trusted. I hoped. I clung. I sent money. I wooed. I courted. I felt I was loved, I felt I was powerful, I felt this was REAL. Every night when I went to sleep, I imagined L.V. meeting me, kissing me, making love to me, tossing the rest of the world overboard, pledging exclusivity. Of course I had lucid moments, many of them. But they were beginning to get lost in the labyrinth of lies and giggles and hopes and pictures of a slim, petite twenty two year old body and a moist twenty two year old loin. An illusion as old as the world itself had gripped me: the illusion of a middle aged man making febrile love to a woman younger than his daughters. But old as the illusion is, nothing is as adept at creating and maintaining it as a skilfully designed web cam site.
At a certain point, just as I was about to take leave of my senses (and after many disastrous moves, such as writing a song and making a video for L.V. as well as inviting her to spend a day with me….oy fucking vey!), I visited her room one final time, dropped $120 in about an hour, logged off, deleted all her emails and pictures and went for a long night time walk with Hugo, my poodle/Aussie Shepard cross. Hugo was enjoying the cool air and I began to enjoy it with him. We walked for about an hour and when we got home I knew that I would never log onto MFC ever again. That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought of L.V. since – actually, I do think of her often. L.V. herself is, I am sure, a very nice young gal in Washington. And I’m sure that she is very sexy and wonderful in real life too. But it doesn’t matter, for whatever it was that made me fall in lust and made my palms sweat and made my heart pound and made my legs tremble and my loins hurt again like a 16 year old, that blue ball causing, dry throat inducing, quivering idiot producing image on my monitor might have called herself L.V. but it was not a real person. It was a virtual person in a virtual world that exists on the other side of the lens and that produces spasms of virtual power, echoes of virtual love and visions of a virtual reality. Those visions will eventually disappear one way or the other. But the empty bank account will remain, as will a man physically weakened, spiritually cracked and morally confused.
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