According to the “Anshe Chung is a millionaire and you aren’t” press release, Ailin Graef was born and raised in Hubei, China, but is currently a citizen of Germany. Please make a note of that fact, as it will be on the quiz.
The story so far: sex sells, and nothing sells like sex. It’s the oldest profession in our world, and the the most popular in Second Life. The preponderance of sex workers is one of the few things about Second Life that genuinely makes sense to me, once I wrap my brain around the fact that people consider sitting at their computers and wanking and/or typing dirty while making their avatars do quasi-erotic calisthenics qualifies as sexy. It feels like cheating to meif you’re going to do, do it for realbut that’s just my own disconnect between meatspace and polygon-based environments. When I make the leap of faith, then sure, yes, absolutely. If it’s a make-believe world in which you can do whatever you want, and you’ve harbored fantasies of whoring, then why not? It certainly results in some entertaining debates, as the self-appointed protectors of Biblical morality desperately wag their fingers in disapproval. Are certain types of sex immoral, as has been suggested? To paraphrase Woody Allen: yes, if you’re doing it right.
I’d imagine the exoticism of pixellated sex work is proportional to the mundanity of one’s (real) life. If you’re stuck in a small town in Iowa, then being a stripper or domme or even just a garden-variety prostitute in Second Life has gotta be one of the most exciting, transgressive things everespecially if you can be, you know, the opposite sex. That most of the female avatars are being run by males is not a secret, let alone a well-kept one, and the (relative, it’s all relative) openness about it is rather progressive of Second Life as a culture. Hell, when I was a closeted teenage boy I always played the Valkyrie in Gauntlet, so I understand taking whatever opportunities are open.
Now halfway through my king-killing year and having lived in San Francisco as female (with my name legally changed and an “F” on my driver’s license) for the better part of the decade, the City’s physiomuscular culture makes the ersatz option of Second Life unnecessary. A number of my friends are past/present/future sex workers by choice, and they proudly describe themselves as whores. If I were to join the ranks, it would not involve sitting at my computer hoping my DSL doesn’t futz out. [PSA] If you’re a sexual tourist planning a trip and such details are important to you, there are two corners I’m aware of at which you can be relatively certain the streetwalkers are genetic females: 17th Street at Capp, and 22nd Street at South Van Ness. Bear in mind that those prostitutes tend to be a bit druggier and less therefore hygienic than the tranny working girls in the Tenderloin, so the latter are a safer option. Besides, as long as you’re in Rome… [/PSA]
Even virtual millionaires gotta start somewhere. In an interview with
Fortune magazine in 2005, Anshe Chung says she started on Second Life…
…as a private entertainer, somebody people who are bored or lonely could seek out for company.
Let’s assume that the private entertainment was not in the form of card tricks or a Parcheesi marathon. She was a sex worker, an escort, a whore. You know, virtually. Fine, swell, terrific, go her for being open about it at the time, even if it’s not part of her official history now. (I’d wager that Stallone doesn’t list Party at Kitty and Stud’s on his bio. Or Rhinestone, for that matter.) I really hate that the Sydney Morning Herald chose to refer to it as her “kinky” past, since the use of words such as “kinky” and “perverse” to refer to anything sexual is a major peeve of mine, but never mind that, and note the picture they use. As I rambled about before, the sex appeal of the Anshetar has always been an unabashed selling point. And she sure makes Yoga look good.
So. A CNET interview with Anshe in Second Life gets derailed by griefers and their zombie hordes of pink phallus-like objects (aim for the head!). When pictures and videos of it start spreading on the interweb, Anshe Chung Studios start cease-and-desisting like mad. Specifically, the strongly worded emails come from the CEO, the somewhat lower-profile Guni Greenstein. Here in meatspace he’s Guntram Graef, the husband of Ailin Graef. He invokes copyright. At first. When that doesn’t work so well, he admits that it was a mistake, which is kinda cool. He then proceeds to blow it in the worst way possible, first by weaselly saying the pictures are
clearly defaming and constitute a sexual assault. I think everybody at Anshe Chung Studios believes in how important it is that the press can report on events and facts without censorship. This does not mean that it is appropriate to distribute pornographic material that people created to harm a woman.
Ah, one of the favorite words of the scoundrel: “appropriate.” Godforfuckingbid we be inappropriate as defined by the Gunester. And we all know that involving noodlety and/or representations of naughty bits is pornographic and harmful, right? When the interviewer says “Dude, it’s obviously a joke, what the fuck is your deal?” (I’m paraphrasing), the Gunish One pulls out the heavy artillery:
I think what many people in the U.S. and Australia have not been aware of is that Ailin is Chinese, and showing photos of her that have been manipulated into hugging huge penises and stuff like that is quite devastating in this culture. But even according to American standards, I think imagery that shows penises forced onto a woman is a gross sexual assault and by far not a parody.
Clever bastard, I’ll give him that. There’s still enough anti-smut sentiment in the world, especially in nipple-anxious America, that he can’t go too far wrong for his purposes by constantly associating the words imagery and assault, even if saying the penii are “forced” onto her makes as much sense as saying that the Weekly World News “forces” space aliens onto the current President. And maybe there’s a certain credulity-straining logic to it from a Second Life standpoint, where what is two-dimensional and made up of pixels is treated as just as real as things made of flesh and bone (and latex and silicone and whatever that material is on the business end of a Hitachi Magic Wand). Doesn’t mean he isn’t so full of shit he squeaks when he walks.
It’s the first half of the above quote that makes me want to kick him square in the make-believe ‘nads, though. So fracking condescending, imperialist, and culturally chauvinistic. See, the griefing and subsequent reproductions thereof were especially horrible because nobody realized that (in spite of all the media exposure) she’s Chinese! And sex is
bad devastating in “this culture!” And, as we all know, there’s no culture more sexually demure than…um…Germany.
Yes, she was born and raised in China, but according to her own damn press release, she’s a German citizenand one who has not only engaged in sex work in the past, but has talked about it, and continues to use sexuality for her business. Now, I’ll admit that I don’t know anything about modern Chinese culture, either in Ailin’s native Hubei nor in Wuhan, where the Anshe Chung Studios are at least partially based. But I’d daresay that Ailin has established herself as an independent, self-determining woman, and the obviously doctored photos and/or the press conference images probably didn’t put her at risk of being taken out into the street and executed as a harlot, or whatever devastating effect it has in “this culture.” Still, when backed into a corner, her husband plays the ethnicity card, dredging up stereotypes of the docile, sheltered Asian woman. Despicable. Square in the ‘nads, I say. (The ‘nads he had to pay extra for, of course, since genitalia aren’t supplied with the free Second Life membership.)
Though I find him worthless from a philosophical standpoint, I’ll admit that a lot of my distaste for the man comes from an irrational reaction to his Second Life avatar. They almost always creep me out, but his goes beyond the usual Uncanny Valley queasiness and into active animosity. I would want to slap that virtual, pixelicious, not-real face even if he hadn’t revealed himself to be such a prick. Maybe it’s because people who look like that in real life have a tendenency to annoy me, and his statements have only confirmed the Sensitive New-Age Guy thing, which is usually a cover for the worst kind of smugness. (As opposed to my queer San Francisco Mission-hipster smugness, which is of course the best kind.) Maybe I should be grateful to him for justifying my hatred.