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My first insight into the wonders and possibilities of the web came in 1996 when my boyfriend at the time told me that he had seen the most awful thing of his life online. What he had seen was a series of photos taken by a girl and her lover... after they had murdered her husband
In order to prepare to edit a documentary I shot last summer (and was too emotionally frazzled and/or biased in the aftermath to edit at that time) my editor has asked me to explain the genesis of the project. How it came to be. Which, I realize, requires me to explain the genesis of my relation to that wonderful thing allowing me to communicate this to all of you right now: The Internet.
As late as 1995, I still had no real experience with the net. My use of computers was limited to word processing and some really lo-tech games. I preferred pinball & shooting games (where there's a "real" hand-held "gun") to any video game, save for an arcade version of Mrs Pac Man, which holds a special place in my heart, surely having to do with the fact it is one of the only games that I'm actually "good" at. (High Score at the late Pac Man Arcade, Pasadena (RIP) circa 2001)
My first insight into the wonders and possibilities of the web came in 1996 when my boyfriend at the time told me that he had seen the most awful thing of his life online. What he had seen was a series of photos taken by a girl and her lover... after they had murdered her husband, they proceeded to cut off his head, hands, feet, and genitals, and pose the parts in different humorous tableaus, smiling and posing with the various pieces. The guy posting the pics was a right-wing Christian, militant about the first amendment, and believing it to be important to show the hideousness of this sinful world in all its ghastly glory. My boyfriend told me that I did NOT want to see these images, no matter how much I may think I did. I believed him, and by the time I changed my mind, the pics had been taken down, and replaced with the autopsy report for Nicole Brown Simpson. No pics. I was disappointed.
In '97 I moved to Los Angeles and got a job working for an internet sex toy company, JT's Stockroom. It was actually the first adult toy store on the web, starting as an all-text e-catalog around 1988. At this time the shop was run out of the apartment of the owner, and everybody did all the jobs. I worked in shipping, leather manufacturing, and customer service. Part of my job was linking the site to other sites, so this enabled me to spend a good amount of time searching the porno-web.
It was at this time that I first discovered the Stile Project, a busy hive of all things porno and gore, with some flash-animated games and random jokes thrown in for good measure. It was there I encountered the Random Image Generator. It was there I discovered a most strange masochism in myself.
I'm a sensitive girl who has always played tough, in an effort to flex the much-needed muscle of toughness that sensitive people, such as myself, seem to need to develop in order to not be annihilated by the breeze of this world. Or, perhaps I'm an incredibly insensitive girl, who, still able to experience a shred of feeling, seeks to obliterate it from myself by force.
10 minutes a day on the Random Image generator was my formula. There was no way of knowing what I was going to get. Sometimes a beautiful woman, sometimes a close up of a healthy vagina, sometimes a close up of a diseased and festering vagina, sometimes a man with a metal post rammed through his skull, sometimes a man with his face blown half off, sometimes a joke, sometimes a cute kitten. Thank god for the kittens.
Everything that I do in my life has to fulfill a certain criteria of interestingness, and there are always multiple motives, conscious and unconscious, for everything. For example, my working at the Stockroom was, quite simply, a way to make money, however, it was also borne from a desire to work in the sex industry, and working in the sex industry was a way for me to explore things within myself. It gave me a certain access, and it also went over well in storytelling. Really, what I did was work an office job, however, an office job at a sex toy company is immediately more interesting than an office job at an insurance agency. And mine is a life that has been extremely preoccupied with making the "most interesting" choice in any given situation. Both for my own experience of living, and for the sake of others. Who are these others? The audience. Those that may see or hear the stories of my life.
The working at the sex toy company lost its "interesting" status when I started graduate school for Theater direction and amateur boxing, simultaneously. With these new, and most physically active, developments in my life, the Internet job, and the Internet itself, was almost completely deserted. Maybe I was occasionally using email at this time, but not often. Occasionally researching or image searching. Word processing.
Following an injury which took me out of boxing and made me realize the value of health insurance, I returned to the Stockroom full-time after 3 years of absence. 3 years of internet abstinence.
Full time. Working on a computer. Paying bills. Working on a computer. Sitting there. Working on a computer. Same spot, all day long. Working on a computer.
Again, I was responsible for linking the Stockroom to other sites and generating traffic by any means necessary. Again, I had a free pass for searching the porno-web. Exploring and exploiting its now vast reaches and resources. This time I would fully enter the net. I would get caught in the web. Obviously, I haven't' gotten out yet.