Recorded cybersex chat
Then one day, he started telling me what he wanted to do to me if he met me, and I, picking up on his cues, told him what I (or “Dana”) wanted to do to him.
Of course, I had no idea what I was saying; much of what I said was based on what I had seen on General Hospital and read in Jackie Collins paperbacks.
“I think I probably was truthful about my species, but beyond that I just fed everyone lies.” More often than not, these lies would backfire in absurd, hilarious ways: One of my best friends, for instance, once sent an image of Mandy Moore from her desktop when she was asked for a photo by a chatroom paramour, at which point he “politely informed me there was a copyright notice at the bottom of the photo.” Without Skype, Facebook, or any identity verification system to speak of, the adult AOL chatrooms made up a universe that was almost completely void of accountability.
Even if someone didn’t believe that you were, say, Stone Cold Steve Austin or Mandy Moore, it almost didn’t matter; you might have been lying, and your partner likely knew you were lying, but because he or she was probably lying too, no one seemed to care.
Most teens of the early AOL chatroom era, or the mid-to-late-1990s, experimented with cybersex or had their sexual initiations online, in chatrooms with names like “Bored housewives over 30” or “Naughty wellhung surfer boys 18 .” In 1996, AOL had 5 million subscribers; by 2002, it had 25 million and was the biggest dial-up service in the country.
Chat had never been more expedient or accessible, so it was only a matter of time before people started using it for sex.
But I later discovered that I was not the only pre-adolescent haunting the AOL adult chatrooms.
“This was a way to have a brand new sexual experience without having to take the same risks you took in a real meeting.” Unlike phone sex or late nights in bars, meeting someone in an AOL chatroom for a little at-work afternoon delight was essentially free, or at least the price of a dial-up Internet connection.
And for those who were too nervous to put themselves out there in real life, cybersex was a conduit for experiencing the pulse-racing high of anonymous sex.
It was easier to be anonymous on the Internet back then, to flirt and wink and experiment behind purposefully misspelled, sexually charged screennames like seksikittee69 and bigboi17 that weren’t tethered to a public Facebook account.
While technology like group video conferencing existed, it was painfully slow and not readily available.
“I feel like everyone who talks about it now and is like, ‘Oh me and my friends would do that all the time’ are covering up that they were probs kind of turned on too.” Like many relationships that start online, these interactions were marked by a patented, often outrageous dishonesty.