For those of us of a certain age, our first exposure to the concept of videophones was The Jetsons. In this cartoon, set in the future, the characters made calls to each other with a full complement of video service. Calls to relatives, the boss, friends – you name it, it included video.
It all seemed very straightforward and innocent. I was a kid watching these cartoons, so it did not occur to me that these videophones could be used for more nefarious activities. Did this occur to anyone? Given the opportunity, the technology to connect with each other through visual communications, was it just a matter of time before we ripped off our clothes?
It’s been said that it seems as if webcams were invented solely to allow people to pay to see someone else naked. And here we are now, five decades after those first Jetsons episodes, and we’re finding the impulse to strip down on camera to be irresistible. Sure, they’re used for all kinds of “legitimate” applications such as conference calls, visits with family, and the like. But it’s the sexy stuff that keeps us online and on camera for hours on end. And sure enough, it was the sexy stuff that got me to buy my first webcam and get online for video chat.
It started with a random email. It was from a guy who had come across an adult profile I had somewhere. He asked if I had ever done webcam work, and said he thought I’d do well with it. At this point I only had the vaguest sense of what a webcam shows was, having maybe seen them beckoning from the side of a web page or a flashing banner. My computer didn’t even have a webcam! But this was intriguing, offering perhaps some entertainment and maybe a bit of cash, so I stopped by the Best Buy on my way home and picked up a webcam.
And so I was off to the races. But what to do on the webcam? I mean sure, I knew what to do for the sexy part, but about the time leading up to that? Most cam channels required hanging out in a public area and chatting with potential customers until someone would take the plunge and “go private.” But that time waiting in the public area, do I just sit there? It seemed like I should be doing something, not just sitting there.
Two ideas came to mind, and these have both continued to be my staples. The first was to turn on the webcam while I was getting shaved and showered in the morning before work. As long as I was in the public area of the chat site I’d need to keep the camera positioned just above the waist, but if someone wanted to go private I’d just pivot the camera down for the full show. Given that I find showers really erotic, this seemed like a good approach – after all, I needed to shave and shower anyway, so why not invite an audience and maybe get some thrills and a few bucks?
The second was to turn the webcam on while I was cooking in the kitchen. It lent itself particularly well to something requiring time but little attention, like slow-cooking oatmeal or pasta. Sometimes I’d even add ironing into the mix, which I wasn’t sure of at first but found as long as I was just in my underwear I’d get an audience.
Indeed, these odd settings – particularly the kitchen – attracted some interesting viewers. There were guys (and a few gals) from all over the world, and we’d talk about all kinds of stuff. It was highly social and I really got a kick out of it. Downside was the private shows were few and far between, but the between times were fun and entertaining. Before long, I’d developed a small following, asking either “what’s cooking” (in the kitchen) or “what underwear today” (in the shower). And before long I was trying out the various webcam show providers.
Then things got really fun when I discovered the Flirt4Free webcams. The big difference between the Flirt4Free cams and the others was that Flirt4Free allows nudity in the public areas of the sites, and that there is the ability for the viewers to give the performers tips. This fit my exhibitionist tendencies; whereas the other cam shows had a rigid wall between public and private areas, between clothed and naked (with penalties for violations), Flirt4Free allowed me to get naked pretty much whenever I wanted. I didn’t need to wait for someone to take me private.
The tipping added to the fun. Whereas with the other shows when viewers would ask to see my stuff, all I could do was try to persuade them to go private. With Flirt4Free, I could offer to give them a peek or get naked for a tip. I strip for tips I’d tell them. In the kitchen I’d start off with my tank top and underwear, and with each tip remove a piece until I was the naked chef. Eventually I traded the tank top for an apron, and found that a lot of guys are turned on by a guy wearing an apron… especially if that’s all he’s wearing.
But then one day I tried to log in to Flirt4Free and they said my account had been disabled. I contacted customer service and they wrote me a terse reply, stating I no longer fit their profile. It stung, not just because they owed me money (which I was able to get paid after a lot of wrangling), but because my pride was wounded.
* * *
Maybe the problem with Flirt4Free was I was spending too much time chatting without tips or going private. Sure, I had a decent amount of private sessions and tips, but probably not as much as other performers. The performance metrics weren’t up to snuff so to speak.
But for me, the friendly free chat (with the occasional drop of trou) was the fun part for me. I enjoyed talking with the regulars, guys from all over the world – learning a bit about their lives, the places they lived, sometimes a bit about what they did for a living. And in deference to my kitchen theme, one guy even sent me recipes.
I keep in touch with some of these guys, through email or Twitter or Facebook (you know who you are!). Sort of modern-day pen pals. As a kid, I had a few pen pals through a show called “Big Blue Marble,” whereas now the matchmaking is made through the cams.
Watching the Jetsons, who would have thought a few decades later it would turn into connecting in real time with a guy in Romania sitting in his underwear? Technology is full of surprises!
And these days I log onto Cam4, just for fun.