The rumors of Second Life’s demise are apparently somewhat exaggerated as Linden Labs, creator of the popular virtual world, announced that profits are comfortably over $100M per year and that Q1, 2011 was their best quarter to date. The online 3D community that looks like a game (but isn’t a game) arrived in 2003 and has been the subject of both accolades and ridicule by the media and gaming community alike. Carrying both the promise of a free frontier for innovators and creative thinkers as well as a stigma for giving seedy, weird sex fantasies a place to take root, Second Life does not give the users missions or objectives the way a typical game would. Instead, the user has tools with which to interact with a virtual world and is free to develop their experience there according to their own personal interests and level of commitment. Within it, a virtual economy exists that turns real US dollars into an in-world currency called “Lindens” (worth roughly $4 USD per $1000 Lindens) and encourages trade and commerce.
Second Life surprises the tech world with its longevity (the most common reaction you may find is “that’s still around?”), but has also failed to revolutionize real-world business and education the way some interested and possibly over-excited tech pundits predicted. Never the less, news of strong revenues has raised an eyebrow or two, proving that money can be made by giving people a chance to dress up like demon werewolves who dance to techno music at BDSM clubs.
One last week informed me that according to the website AlterNet.com, one of the smaller towns in Indiana has the distinction of being the kinkiest city in the United States.
(And it was interesting to find out just who on our staff already knew of the town’s “charms” - although they assure me that it’s “by reputation only!”)
Roselawn, just a little northwest of Rensselaer - or southeast of Chicago if you prefer, actually beats out New Orleans and Las Vegas for the top honor. The town apparently boasts a thriving (and family friendly!) nudist resort, the Ponderosa Sun Club, which hosts a yearly pageant called “Nudes-A-Poppin,” emceed by none other than “famed” porn star Ron Jeremy.
(Does the fact that I’ve never even heard of him mean I’ve missed out on something?) ...
Continuing the prominence of mid-west locations on the list, the AlterNet list ranks Chicago itself at ninth.
If intellectual activities are your thing, you might be interested to know that for three days each October, Chi-Town’s Kinky College (a “Pansexual BDSM Institute of Higher Yearning”) allows you to get your masters’ (or master’s) degree in all things kink.
Now wouldn’t that look great on my resume?
If, like me, you’re really into culture and history, you can also check out the Leather Archives and Museum in Rogers Park. LA&M is a library, museum, and exhibit space devoted to leather, sadomasochism, and alternative sexualities. It also hosts erotic film screenings and houses a collection of old time sex toys and lascivious devices.
Quimby’s bookstore boasts an extensive collection of erotic comic books and magazines, and to help you relax after a hard day of study there are three nearby leather-friendly bars, Touche, Jackhammer and the Granville Anvil.
Chicago hosts “Shibaricon,” an international rope bondage conference. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend as I’m tied up that week!...
James Franco’s latest project is making a documentary about BDSM and fetish porn site Kink.com. [Warning: Link is oh so very NSFW].
On “Conan” to promote “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” Franco doesn’t mention the Kink.com site by name. However, he briefly describes the project: “I’m making a documentary about pornography,” he said. “There’s this amazing facility in San Francisco. It’s at this old armory and they do everything in house, they build their props in house, so I’m making a documentary about that.”
Kink.com was formed in 1997 by Peter Acworth while he was earning his PhD in finance at Columbia University. When the site became successful, he dropped out of the program. Kink.com bought the San Francisco Armory in 2006 for $14.5 million for use as a production studio, despite local protests and opposition from mayor Gavin Newsom. The city later ruled that Kink.com didn’t violate any laws or zoning requirements.
Presumably, TBS (and 20th Century Fox) wouldn’t want Kink.com sharing in their airtime. However, Kink.com may also be trying to keep the project under wraps. A tweet from Kink.com actress rain degrey from June 26 read: “Kink.com is all aflutter today because James Franco is here shooting his new movie. All these girls want to f*ck him! lol.” However, the tweet was later deleted.
Franco told Conan O’Brien that he’s long had an interest in porn and those who make it, but quickly learned that it wasn’t one of his talents after he and a girlfriend shot footage of themselves having sex. ...
The Florida Boxing Commission has dropped a cease-and-desist order issued in April against the Shefights.net website that features women pummeling homeless men and other male volunteers.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation said investigators determined the "pugilistic events" depicted on the website do not fall under the commission's jurisdiction because they don't meet the definition of a boxing match.
The commission originally was in the corner of attorneys suing the site's creator, J.P. Florida Productions LLC, on behalf of two homeless men in St. Petersburg who were paid $50 for submitting to "12 minute beatdowns" by women trained in mixed martial arts.
The beatings, which took place in the garage of a condominium near Tropicana Field this year, involved punching, kicking and whipping.
Attorneys from Southern Legal Counsel Inc. representing the homeless men allege one of them was hogtied and suffered broken ribs and a dislocated jaw.
The website's attorney described the bouts as a form of sadomasochistic expression.
"This is not a boxing match by any imagination," said attorney Luke Lirot, who represents Shefights founder Jeffrey Williams. ...
"They strapped me up like this in ropes," says David Brezger, raising his hands over his head. "Put me up in a tree and whipped me with a whip...they kicked the crap out of me."
That's how Brezger describes his "beatdown." He is among an unknown number of homeless people in St. Petersburg, Fla. who say they were recruited for videotaped beatings by attractive women for the website Shefights.net.
Homeless advocate G.W. Rolle told CBS affiliate WTSP he discovered what was going on after repeatedly seeing homeless men in Williams Park with injuries. "Broken ribs, fractured skulls...I think that's wrong and I think someone's going to die if they don't stop this," says Rolle, who took photographs of some of the injuries.
Two homeless men, George Grayson and Kyle Shaw, with the help of Southern Legal Counsel, are now suing Jeffrey Williams and others associated with Shefights.net. They're seeking damages for emotional distress and money for medical bills. Lawyers for the two homeless men said the website sells videos starting at $2.99 for a two-minute "sparring session" clip and increasing in price to $33.99 for a 33 minute clip of two women beating a man.
The lawsuit, which was filed April 1 in a Florida court, contends the beatings violate a state hate crimes law that specifically protects the homeless and that the producers are exploiting the poverty of transients for whom any cash is hard to come by. "What type of society would allow this to happen?" said Neil Chonin, the lawyer for the homeless men. "This company preyed on people who are desperate."
Chonin and area homeless advocates said there are many more men who were assaulted in exchange for cash and that some were injured so badly that they were hospitalized. According to CBS affiliate WTSP, a judge recently ordered the website manager, Jeffrey S. Williams, not to take down the website or erase the videos in question so the evidence could be preserved for trial. Williams said via e-mail Tuesday that his accusers are trying to pressure him through public attacks. "My side will come out in court," he wrote in the brief statement.
Joe Kriegesmann believes he has a business model that can work in St. Louis -- one that will fulfill a niche and be the only business of its kind in the state.
Selling it to city leaders and residents might be a hurdle, though.
Kriegesmann wants to turn an empty warehouse along Gravois near Benton Park into a S&M club, not a Sam's Club. He wants to provide an outlet for those who engage in bondage, dominance and sadomasochism.
But many of his critics can't get past the BDSM hurdle. It's immoral, some say. Not in my backyard, some say. Flogging, whipping and biting could spill out into the streets, say others.
While it may not have been big business, BDSM has been around a long time. It has been dated back at least to the ninth century B.C. in a religious area in Sparta. And it still has a pretty big following.
Massachusetts has at least 25 fetish or BDSM clubs. Alabama, at least eight. Arkansas, at least four. Don't expect to find any in Utah, though. As far as profitability, that's anyone's guess.
Kriegesmann, who is seeking the city's blessing, started off on the wrong foot, because of the way he has gone about trying to establish his business, critics say. They say he has lied, applied for the wrong permits on purpose and sidestepped public meetings. ...
A DALLAS man lost an appeal today to save his swingers and teen rave nightclubs after failing to convince a court that the two premises could be defined as churches.
Glen Hudson's clubs, The Playground and The Darkside, were both operating in areas zoned for a church, mosque or synagogue. Last week a judge temporarily shut down The Playground after Dallas lawyerss argued it was really a swingers club.
During today's hearing, Mr Hudson defended his clubs and called the city's efforts to permanently close them an infringement on his constitutional rights.
He claimed his non-profit organisation NRG Mission was using The Playground, and The Darkside was a dance hall that also served as a youth ministry and outreach program.
But opposing lawyer Melissa Miles provided evidence that the two clubs were anything but saintly, showing that The Playground allowed patrons to have sex while watching pornography. Narcotics officers reported that drug busts were common at The Darkside. ...
S&M sex master John Hopkins appeared in court this week and will proceed to trial next month. Hopkins, 45, was arrested in February after allegations arose that he had enslaved a 27-year-old woman who had responded to his Craigslist ad for S&M sex and then traveled from Wisconsin to Williamsburg to live with him free of rent.
Hopkins, an audio engineer, is charged with dozens of felony and misdemeanor sex crimes, including rape in the first degree.
The victim, who did not show up to court earlier this year, reportedly admitted that the initial encounter with Hopkins was consensual and that the two had an online correspondence before she came to Brooklyn. However, after living in his Williamsburg apartment for a week in February, the victim reportedly called her mother, who contacted the NYPD.
Police found the victim chained to a radiator and curled in a fetal position in Hopkins’ apartment.
Kings County Supreme Court Justice Patricia Di Mango said that despite evidence from both sides that the sex may have been consensual, the question is if the victim ever said “no.” Di Mango, however, did release the defendant from jail on his own recognizance pending trial, which is set to begin on Sept. 20.
Trial was delayed in June because the victim had left the city and was unavailable to testify, according to reports. Prosecutors from the Kings County District Attorney’s office were reportedly unsure of her whereabouts. The woman reportedly had a blood-alcohol level two-and-a-half times the legal limit four hours after she made a police report claiming she was being held as a sex slave, a defense lawyer said.
Hopkins’ attorney, Andrew Stoll, had said that Hopkins and the woman knew each other for two years and had a consensual relationship. The woman even wanted to return to the apartment after Hopkins kicked her out for excessive drinking, Stoll said.
“It stretches credibility beyond the breaking point to say that from the get-go she was being held against her will,” Stoll said. “I cannot imagine there will be a conviction here.”