Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sex and the Single Avatar in Second Life XIII – I Interview an Adventurous Journalist

 Hey, we are journalists that makes us the most curious people on the Grid!

Caroline Resident

          Recently, after having retweeted my first story about sex in Second Life (SL) I was contacted by Caroline’s Travels (AKA Caroline Resident) who asked me how could I write about sex inworld without mentioning her own blog, Second Life Adventures which is about sex and fun in SL. 

          Well, I’ve never professed to know it all. (Significant Other’s eyebrow arches again.) So, after checking Caroline’s blog out and realizing that no study of sex in SL would ever be complete without either mentioning it or speaking with Caroline, I asked for an interview. 

          Caroline readily agreed and we arranged to meet to discuss who she is and her views on sex in SL.

          Caroline is a self-described “Single bi-woman who explores the grid, writes about it and makes some money with it.” 

          Which seems very ordinary until one sits down and starts to talk with Caroline about who she really is and what she does. 

          We meet in a club where Caroline sometimes works as an escort after she has just completed an appointment with a client. 

          I begin by asking her what brought her to SL in the first place. 

          Laughter erupts from Caroline as she explains how it was such a long time ago that she’d really would have to think about that one. She thinks it was during the big hype in 2007. Caroline believes that she must have read something in a paper about it and just was curious about it. She then got stuck here.  (I think many of us had a similar experience.) 

          When we had met previously to discuss arranging the interview, Caroline had said she’d been attracted to the “naughty bits” inworld because that’s what people were attracted to when she wrote in her blog.   I ask her if she had any reservations about that initially.  (Caroline certainly doesn’t have any now!) 

          Her reply is no, not at all.  Caroline is a very liberal person anyway. She admits to having hardly any inhibitions about sex at all. Her original SL avatar was also quite active sexually, but her current avatar (To whom I’m speaking.) gave her the opportunity to go beyond that. Her original avatar was too well known in other parts of SL and other environments which would have been limiting so she became Caroline’s Travels. In another words, she has been clear from the beginning that she would discover the naughty side of SL, hence no reservations at all. 

          Caroline had no trepidations about being nude the first time, having sex, or coming out as an escort.  She adds that there are actually still things she has not explored yet. Next, Caroline will be dating couples with a friend of hers. 

          The swinger lifestyle inworld is something that Caroline is very curious about. How it feels how it is and if it actually exists. She’s not talking about the usual sex regions were everbody has sex with everybody else. Caroline’s talking about liberal couples who are into that sort of lifestyle. 

          I ask her when she says liberal when describing herself does she mean SL or Real Life (RL). 

          Caroline laughs again as she replies that she knew I’d be asking this question.  (Am I that predictable now?)  She answers affirmatively that she is very liberal in RL too. Caroline has had certain experiences with the swinger lifestyle in RL, however she would never be an escort in RL. That’s were she draws the line!

Our interview turns to Caroline’s business venture in SL, Siemens Media.         

The business is about creating advertising media Caroline explains. The main one is Second Life Adventures for now. The idea is to create compelling and entertaining content, and sell advertising space to inworld companies. So far her revenues come from an affiliate program from Linden Lab.

Does she make a living?

 Well not enough for a RL living Caroline admits but enough to finance her second life, her hobby actually. So for a SL resident she’s quite well off, but not enough to support her real life.

          Caroline doesn’t consider herself a full time SL resident.  She has a RL family and a RL job.

I ask Caroline what are her impressions of sex inworld.

Caroline’s reply is that well, just like in RL, there is a lot of diversity. From really bad and boring pixel porn to really great emotional and passionate experiences and everything in between. Most of the noobs (Sorry she loves that expression!) look for the lower end of pixel porn, because they haven’t realized yet that SL’s not a game and that there are real people behind those funny little avatars. As soon as they start getting deeper into it as a world and not as a game the attitude changes

Does the emotion and passion occur in RL for Caroline as well is my next question.

Caroline answers that she’s had girl friends in the past in SL. And, yes, the emotion is real when such relationships are established in SL. In casual encounters it’s different, she continues, there she would call it arousal not passion. Caroline concludes saying yes, she’s not made of stone so it does carry over. Sometimes there is physical release and pleasure for her in RL too. 

When the emotion and passion don't occur, is it just because something didn't click with someone I ask.

Her reply is that no, it’s the other way around.  When it does occur it’s because it was
special and very arousing. There always need to be some sort of "click with someone", that a minimum requirement for sex in any world Caroline concludes.

          In one of Caroline’s recent blog posts, she described herself as a “kept woman” in her relationship with a new friend, Kris Summer.  I refer to this story when I ask about her limits and inhibitions and that she seems to be continually challenging these for herself.

How far will Caroline go is my question.

Caroline replies that to be honest, she doesn’t know.  But there are some red lines she won’t cross. 

There is also one topic Caroline has never touched on. That is BDSM, and not that it would be beyond her limits.  But, first, she simply doesn’t understand it and second, it doesn’t make her curious.  Caroline’s just not interested in it.

When she writes about something and the topic is "not her thing" then it’s not authentic anymore, it’s writing just to write. Her readers expect authentic stuff, adventures she’s lived, not stuff she wrote about because it’s popular.  (I applaud Caroline’s authenticity and sincerity here.)

My last question is about what Caroline thinks the future of SL is given how SL 2.0 might affect things.

Caroline replies that it is a good question and she doesn’t have the answer. She feels that at present they’re develop a new platform, and if it is as good as they say it is, SL will slowly but surely die.

She continues saying to compare it to RL cultures. The real world develops the same way.  Five minutes ago (in historical terms) Greece was the thing, then Rome, today we have to rescue what is left of both.  Virtual worlds move much faster than real ones.

Caroline just hopes that she can get her inventory transferred over, all of her planes and shoes. 

          Our interview comes to an end and mindful of Caroline’s time, I thank her and take my leave.

          I come away impressed with this woman.

Caroline is clearly an adventurous SL journalist who enjoys exploring inworld and having her adventures while being a successful businesswoman.  She is very comfortable with her own sexuality. 

          There is a business part to what Caroline does but that and being an escort are secondary to her original purpose of bringing her stories back to her readers. 

I can relate to that!

          Caroline has further adventures planned inworld.

          She is presently undertaking a voyage to the continents of SL.  She feels the trip helps her love the freedom, space and the infinite possibilities of the mainland without having to teleport. Now private estates seem so small to her. 

          We will hear more about her relationship with Kris and possibly her forays in Gor and with furries. 

          Caroline’s further adventures can be found on her blog which I strongly recommend to all!  I know that I’ll keep reading!

          Her blog also has guides on noobs, sex, and Gor for the interested!

           Her Twitter handle is @Carol_Resident .

          She can be found on Google+ at Caroline’s Travels in Second Life. 

          I’d like to thank Caroline for her time, candor, and hospitality in meeting with me for this interview.  

          Who knows?

          You might see a story from me about accompanying Caroline on her voyage across the Grid!

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Becoming a Scribe-in-Residence in Second Life

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Ray Bradbury


          As many of my regular readers know (My thanks to both of you!) I’ve always been looking for a position in Second Life (SL).

          However, I gave up looking for a paid position inworld a long time ago.  They’re even harder to find than one in Real Life (RL) these days.  

          And, like many a RL blogger, I once had visions of quitting my day job and becoming a fulltime blogger.  (Significant Other turns suddenly and looks sharply at me.)

          But, I’ve always been a pragmatist and risk adverse to a certain extent, so I won’t be giving up my day job until I know I make a go of this.  (Significant Other looks relieved and stands down from an attack stance.)

          Yet, I still have the aspiration to become a fulltime blogger.

          To that end, I’ve been looking for work, even non-paying, in SL.

          I feel that as a writer I will benefit from the experiences, obtain new material, and develop new perspectives. (One would be amazed at how running around nude can change how you look at life.  Not to mention how life looks back at you!)

          You’d be surprised how difficult it is to obtain even non-paying work inworld.  (We’ll ignore Significant Other’s comment about talent being a qualification regardless of the pay rate.)

          Until recently when I was offered the role of scribe-in-residence at a sim I’d recently blogged about.

          I’ll be able to integrate this role into my regular blogging activities and hopefully be able to expand my readership. (How difficult can it be to get past two?)

          Oh, you’d like to know where?

          Fair point.

          I’m now the scribe-in-residence at Devilhand, the recently established BDSM community in SL. 

          Devilhand seeks to be a safe refuge for practitioners of the BDSM lifestyle inworld.  They also plan to offer training and to match dominants with submissives.

          The grounds consist of a large castle in the classic B-movie style (I happen to love B-movies!) surrounded by a small village with woods and a small mountain with caves.  My office (Yes, I have an office.  How else am I going to reside?) is located in a garret (De riguer for a starving artiste.)  It’s bare save for two desks.  (I plan to be very busy.)

          Facilities at Devilhand include a dungeon, conservatory, ball room, and assorted private rooms with varying themes.  All these are intended for visitors to enjoy themselves as they see fit.

          All of this resides on a full sim. 

          The Devilhand team consists of Steve, the owner, Ama, his submissive, who co-manage the facility; kennaKat, the social manager; and Dariana, the marketing manager. 

          They’re all engaged now in preparing Devilhand to become the premier BDSM community inworld straddling (No pun intended.) both SL and RL.

          My responsibilities will be to blog about the Devilhand community and its activities along with however else my scribbling can help.  I even have a scribe outfit which is left over from my visits to Gor.

          I’ll incorporate these duties into my regular blogging.  So have no fear of that stopping anytime soon.

          Pushing the edges of the envelope has always been a hallmark of how I write so expect that to continue. 

          I also plan an ongoing series about RL BDSM players in SL and Devilhand will serve as my base of operations for that.  Stay tuned for more details!

          I’d like to thank Steve and his team for this great opportunity and I look forward to working with them!

          I also hope that my current and future readers will enjoy my stories!         

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year in Second Life

Wish you luck in the Year of the Sheep!

Traditional Chinese New Year Greeting


          Here we are, ready for another festival in Second Life (SL)!  (Not to mention Real Life (RL) too!)

          The Chinese Lunar New Year is upon us once again! 

          And for the sixth year in a row, Perryn Peterson, Mayor of Mieville and impresario extraordinaire, is celebrating the event in style.  (Truthfully, I think this is the only way Perryn knows how to do anything!) 

          This year is the Year of the Sheep in the Chinese Zodiac and in keeping with this,
Perryn has planned the festivities in a pasture with lots of sheep about!

          The festivities will be centered around the weekly Mieville theme dance and will be held here. 

          The Lunar New Year celebration will take place on Saturday, February 21st from 6:00 to 8:00PM SLT.

          Perryn is beside himself this year as so many holidays are “squooshed” as he puts it into a narrower time frame.  But, he has never met a holiday he couldn’t or wouldn’t celebrate.

          There will be more to come!

          Come and celebrate the New Year with Perryn and the Mieville gang, I guarantee that you’ll have a great time!

          You may even run into me!         

I’d like to thank Perryn for his enthusiastic help in assisting me with this story.             

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

More pictures of the festival site can be found on this Flickr page.

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Interview with a Pastor in Second Life

 The church is not a campus but a community. Pastors are not CEOs; they are shepherds.

Dillon Burroughs


          I’ve done several stories of late about religion in Second Life (SL).

          Not the role playing type of religion done by several sims. (Nothing wrong there as long as everyone is respectful of everyone else’s beliefs.) But, the Real Life (RL) version which exists inworld.

          In my initial search for God in SL, I first encountered Her (Significant Other nods approvingly.  Believes I may actually becoming more open minded.) among the good people of the First UCC congregation who are maintaining an actual RL ministry inworld.

          In hanging around with First UCC, I learned and blogged about their various ministries and how people go about finding help inworld. 

          I also managed to blog about their beautiful gardens.  (Which I highly recommend to anyone seeking a contemplative and meditative experience inworld.)

          While researching that last story, I met the pastor of First UCC, Jerome (“Jer”) Newstart . 

          During our interview, we touched on a few subjects other than the church gardens.  (My fault, I have a very bad habit of going off topic.  Significant Other’s face reads ‘What else is new?’) I knew there were some great material for another interview and Jer graciously agreed to meet me at some future date.

          Since then, thanks to Becca (“Bec”) Kellstrom, a RL and SL minister, I learned a few other things that were happening at First UCC which convinced me that there was more of a story to tell here. 

          So, I scheduled another meeting with Jer and recently met with him in his office for our next session.

          Now, for those of you who may be wondering why I’m blogging about a church group so much instead of my usual fare about night clubs, nude resorts, ancient ruins, festivals and whatever else comes my way, here’s why.

          First UCC is a unique community inworld.  It bridges the gap between RL and SL. Others may do this but here’s the key difference.

          At First UCC, people are being helped. Really helped.  Real people are coming in with RL issues and being helped.  Recently, an inworld friend had a close RL relative who was seriously ill and needed counseling, First UCC sent me a ton of information plus instructions on how to reach out to UCC churches in RL for help to forward along when I asked for assistance.

          When I had my recent loss in RL, the time a member of the community spent with me was very helpful in getting me past a bad spot. (Significant Other nods in agreement.)

          This is real.  We’re not talking role play here. 

          I’m not dismissing all the creative builds and fun communities out there across the Grid.  There’s nothing wrong with any of that.  In fact, it’s very helpful in its own way.  And, yes, others do good work inworld too.

          What First UCC offers is a virtual refuge for people who need one in RL or who simply find worshipping inworld easier to do than outside.  This is what makes them different.

          This interview is with the man who made this all possible.

          (Full disclosure here.  I’m not associated with UCC in RL.  I belong to another organized religion which would probably prefer that I were associated somewhere else and would be willing to negotiate a dispensation for me with Her if I offered to leave but they’re stuck with me!)

          There were three topics on my agenda for my meeting with Jer.

          The first was what Jer calls the migration effect or how who we are in RL affects who we are in SL and vice versa.

          The second was Jer’s feelings about First UCC after its recent first anniversary.  (OK, maybe not so recent but RL’s been hectic lately and the second one hasn’t happened yet.)

          Finally, I’d learned that First UCC would soon be setting up satellite congregations in other virtual worlds (VW) and I wanted to learn more about these.

After settling into Jer’s office at First UCC, we begin the interview.

          I start by asking Jer to summarize for me his thoughts on what he calls the “migration effect.”

          Jer begins saying that we are all the sum of our experiences.  Those experiences shape us in profound ways, but often in ways that are subtle as well.  So, whom we essentially are logs into SL and, represented by our avatar, engages in activities and experiences, in-world.  On logging out, our SL inventory goes to the SL servers and all else disappears, but our experiences migrate out of SL with us, added to the totality of who we are.  We are the aggregated experiences that we have in both worlds.

I ask then if there really is no veil between who we are in RL and inworld?

Jer replies that In terms of shaping our total being, no there is no veil that he can see.  If we were able to utterly disassociate the experience sets that would be pathological. 

          My next question is if Jer has seen examples of the migration effect in his inworld experiences that he could share.

Jer replies in the affirmative.  He has encountered many who use their SL experience to augment their RL experience.  If, for example, one is forbidden an experience in RL, they may elect to have that experience in SL.

In the case of this ministry, Jer continues saying, many who have been hurt by religious communities in RL, find they can add that experience in a positive way to their lives in SL.

          My last question on this topic is what's the overall effect of the migration effect on a community like First UCC?

Jer answers the first thought that crosses his mind is "enrichment."  He believes that the existence of a caring, supportive, non-judgmental community provides a set of experiences that first, enriches the life of that person, and second provides a means of offering support to aspects of their lives in RL that are much broader.  In other words, acquired comfort and support are manifested in better living in RL.

The converse is equally true, Jer adds.  Those who have ideas, dreams, and aspirations find a place to explore those, and kindred spirits willing to engage in thinking about them.

          From the migration effect, we move on to discussing his thoughts and impressions looking back on the recent first anniversary of First UCC.
          Jer begins by saying his first thought is, "God must be grinning!"  They have had a year that has yielded new friends, a solid ministry that welcomes all, and opportunities to engage in support that extends even beyond those who participate.  In the latter regard, Jer is thinking of the two children First UCC has "adopted."

Then Jer adds that First UCC have been accorded the honor of being named a full ministry,  no "experimental" label is now needed, by their Conference in RL. 

For those of you just joining us, this is a very big deal. 

A RL organization, a religious group, is recognizing a virtual community as having the same legitimacy as a church down a RL street. 

As Jer puts it, as far as the Southern California Nevada Conference is concerned, this is a church.  It just can't be driven to by car. 

(Let me put it another way for those still trying to get their heads around this.  Imagine if the Congress of the United States recognized part of SL as the fifty-first state? With me now?)

Jer explains what First UCC will do next. They will begin to work toward getting standing for non-traditional ministries just like RL churches do with local associations in the months ahead.  In other words they will look at how RL churches become affiliated with the UCC and then find ways to customize those so that this ministry can be replicated.

          (I think I just got a scoop here!)  

          As we move down my list of agenda items, Jer anticipates my next topic and begins to discuss establishing congregations in other VWs. 

Jer starts by saying that First UCC has been given a parcel in InWorldz and have had
some conversations about being a religious presence in Littlefield.  He thinks that they we are about ready to explore how "satellite" ministries might offer additional ideas for serving and a template of sorts to allow other UCC churches/groups to join with this effort,

Staffing these additional locations is what Jer hopes to accomplish in the coming months.

I ask Jer if he’s worried about possible dilution of his efforts here in SL?

Jer replies no because they won't let that happen.  They’ll have to see their way clear to staffing before expanding in material ways.

I next ask if Jer’s looking at other virtual worlds is a possible sign of concern about SL's future?  Does he worry about SL 2.0?

His reply is that he does not worry about SL 2.0.  It would be really terrible business strategy to kill off the goose that laid the first golden egg, so to speak.  He thinks Linden Lab (LL) is positioning to become a force in multiple universes.  (I sure hope he’s right here!)

Thanks to the Open Sim initiative, Jer believes, it is clear that the Metaverse has arrived.  If the concept of interconnectedness mirrors that which the electronics industry and some software projects have piloted, then there is no reason for apprehension, he explains further. 

          As our interview draws to a close, I ask Jer about future plans as he looks ahead to the second anniversary and any concerns that he might have. 

Jer replies that being a futurist with regards to virtual universes is tricky.  It's rather like defining the parameters of an amoeba. But, that yes, they do have plans.  They want to concentrate on two things.

First, Jer explains, they want to build a core of clergy and lay folks who understand this technology and its possibilities.  Then, with increased "person power" they'd like to substantially enhance our ability to engage in fellowship ministry.  Much of what is done by way of assistance happens at events adjacent to worship.  Recognizing that, they'd like to enhance the number of socializing opportunities here.

Jer adds that this really follows on the early on recognition that for many First UCC is "safe space."  The logical expansion of that sort of service is to find ways to enhance the First UCC experience.

As for any concerns for the future, Jer says that it’s not really a great concern, but he is, with his colleagues, beginning to think about senior leadership for this ministry when he is out of the picture.  He has learned a lot and continues to do so.  He wants to be sure that what is accomplished does not end with his tenure.  There is a lot to do here just to maintain what they have.  It requires some acquired skills and a means of passing those on.

Jer ends jovially saying that hopefully that is not a pressing concern!

Jer believes this will require their being intentional and it is why he am careful to make this ministry a shared leadership environment.

          We come to the end of the interview, I thank Jer for meeting with me and his candor in answering my questions.

          I take my leave and let Jer get back to shepherding his flock.

          One can’t be but impressed with the work that Jer and First UCC have done in SL.

          I’ve worked with large Fortune 500 companies in RL that had more resources, both financial, and technical, that couldn’t attain the level of community involvement inworld that I saw and continue to see at First UCC. 

          Some RL companies spent a lot of time and money and built ghost towns that no one ever stayed around in.  Others couldn’t organize the espirit de corps necessary to even get started despite lots of brave talk initially.

          Jer has managed to bring together two skill sets.  Those needed to be a successful leader and those found in a creative VW builder both technically and socially.  Rarely in RL, have I met anyone with all these skills. 

I look forward to learning about of Jer’s and First UCC’s virtual successes and my readers can look forward to reading about them!

I’d like to thank Jer for his time and hospitality, in meeting with me for this story.       

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!