"I think it's time you gave us something more hardcore".
It was Scaramouch, the editor of this digital rag. "A longer form piece, something that'll really show us what Second Life is all about, through the eyes of it's first gonzo journalist. Tell me, what do you spend most of your time there doing?"
My fingers paused over the keyboard - it's the same goddam stupid request Editors always ask, to 'get under the skin' to 'peel back the layers'. Only two weeks on the payroll, and already this jackass was wearing thin on me.
"Mainly, I fuck strippers" I replied, truthfully. After all, why lie? A beat, and then...
"OK then - how about the "Ten Best Escorts in Second Life"? We LOVE those Top Ten lists".
It was either continue to type, or punch my fist into the screen. "Do I get an unlimited expense account? In Linden Dollars?"
And so it was decided. I would spend seven days on a road trip - call it "Fear & Loathing in Second Life" - taking in ten of the best escorts the Lindens have to offer. It's a hard assignment, but someone had to do it.
FANTASY ESCORTS - Sunday 10.23pm
Fantasy Escorts breaks me in gently, with it's country club atmosphere, and familiar girls. One of the regulars, Lyndsay, was - long ago now - my very first intro to the world of party-on-demand , and so I return. My luck's in, because Lyndsay is here, in scarlet mini, ripe and ready to pluck. I watch for a while as she greases the pole, then I ask her to grant me the same favor.
As we go up to her room, I remember why Lyndsay is my appetizer of choice - sweet, gentle on the tongue, and easy on the stomach. "Tell me what you want, baby" she croons, and I know that whatever I ask for, I will get. Thirty minutes later, I'm drained but exhilarated. It's begun. One down, nine to go.
THE BARBIE CLUB - Monday 9.47pm
The next evening I walk into The Barbie Club and it's like deja vu all over again. Business once took me to London, and Peter Stringfellows' club, and The Barbie Club has that same scent in the air - chrome polish, used bills and stale coke.
On the stage was Synful, a raven-haired, statuesque Goddess. I like looking at and talking to tall women, but I don't often go with them for two reasons. Firstly, you need a couple of pillows for a boost to properly do them from behind, and that is just infatalizing. And more worryingly, I often wake up in the morning in panic that the big body in the bed next to me is a man.
Nevertheless, as we moved from strip club to jungle room to boudoir, I couldn't help but admire the careful way she maneuvered me for her maximum pleasure. And when Synful came, she cried out with an animal ferocity that almost convinced me.
THE ESCORT ALLIANCE - Monday 11.22pm
If ever a pimp on Speed envisaged a Walmart of strippers,The Escort Alliance might come close to that vision. Don't be fooled by the name - this is no guild for working women, it's the very definition of a flesh market. Pictures line the walls to display the menu on offer, and a simple touch brings you the Dish of the Day.
I wandered for awhile, watching the freaks, before deciding on the flame-haired Jade. She arrived breathlessly, and thanked me for rescuing her from a mundane bacherlorette party. Jade was gorgeous, sexy and willing, but somehow my heart just wasn't it it. We quickly and roughly played out the scene, before calling it a night.
READY OR NOT CLUB - Tuesday 5.11pm
Now pay close attention, because this is important. This is me sitting in the Ready or Not Club, not so much a strip joint as a strip hangar, where some fine ladies generously offer lap dances to the endless procession of unworthy frat boys who make up the in-crowd. I fucking hate the in-crowd, and it takes all my strength not to pare the togas from their bodies, with a long-handled bowie knife I keep inventoried for just such occasions
But that's not the point. Because this place - this moment - is when I first met Selene. I know that doesn't mean much to you now, but in the coming weeks, it might. I paid for a private dance, and while she talked, I drowned in her French accent. Though I felt the blood pounding through my heart, I sensed this was a girl to look at, but not touch. And when she was finished, we were friends.
AMSTERDAM - Tuesday 6.45pm
I needed somewhere to counter the sweetness of Selene, and so I chose Amsterdam - Europe's fuck-you to the rest of the world, which spread its legs wide in welcome. By 5 o'clock, it was teeming with window shoppers, and the little Dutch girls were already on display. Everything must go, discounts for cash, no layaways. The girl on the right told me it was her first night, and I believed her. But popping virgins always makes me antsy, so I settled for Madeline, a pig-tailed redhead with an ass that called to me like a Siren to a mariner.
Negotiations were made, and suddenly we were on a balcony overlooking the Aegean. My friend Gaz swears there's something about being blown in the great outdoors that brings you closer to whatever god you may worship, and for a moment I believed him. Whatshername slowly faded from my mind, at least for tonight.
KAREENA'S PUSSYCATS - Wednesday 8.37pm
Kareena's Pussycats is an honest-to-god old fashioned titty bar, where the bump and grind is interrupted only by hearts falling from the ceiling. A nice touch. After four nights on the town, I was looking for a break, so I told the owner Kareena I was a writer, and just needed the tour.
She gave me a girl named Nothing, which was appropriate because that's exactly what I got. Never tell them you're anything other than a guy looking to party. After one dance upstairs for pictures, I was kicking myself, because Nothing seemed just the kind of dirty slut I always enjoy. I asked for one last photo and she seemed surprised when I stripped. Now she knows better. If you go see Nothing after reading this, tell he she still owes me one.
KITTENs - Thursday 6.10pm
I started early, planning to get two in on one night, but maybe I had started too early. Kittens was almost deserted, apart from Pussycat, a blonde vixen in an outfit that made me realize that school session might be in. But as I tried to make small talk, she told me of how she spent her spare time in "Gorean slavery roleplay as a panther", and I thought, to hell with this shit. I had other places to be. But I tipped her before I left, so this still counts as one of the ten, in case you're counting.
THE BIG EASY - Thursday 10.22pm
Before going to The Big Easy, I changed into my longcoat. It was the new place in town, and I'd heard it had class. A mansion cut straight from the streets of Old N'Orleans, where boys could be boys, and girls could be bought. I was soon introduced to Taimarra, displaying a tatt with the word "Brat" and a chain with the phrase "Slut". But you know what they say - don't judge a skinmag by it's cover, but by how many of the pages stick together. And Taimarra sure knew exactly how to get a guy steaming.
By the time we'd finished, she'd had risen to the top of my pole, and the top of my list, a classy babe for whom I can give no stronger recommendation. Tell her Gideon sent you, and she may work you a deal.
As we shared a final moment, I thought again of Vanessa, of the night we'd spent together long ago and how it had fucked with my head. I decided that it was time to confront my demons. But not tonight.
SHOWGIRLS - Friday 8.11pm
I'd been dreading Showgirls, because I knew Vanessa danced there. I hoped she would be on furlough, but as I walked in, I saw her on the table, and knew I was lost. She didn't recognize me - or pretended not to - which helped, but not much. Showgirls is one of those joints where membership has its privileges, and a monthly stipend brings dividends on the back end. But I was on Scaramouch's expense account, so was ready to pay through the nose.
I passed on The Dungeon and The Jungle, so Vanessa took me to the Egyptian room, where the ancient dead looked down as she brought me alive once more, her lilting accent sticking in my throat as I stuck in hers. At one point, she berated me for taking pictures without asking, but I knew in the end, that would be all I would have left to remind me of her.
THE RED CLUB - Saturday 11.55pm
My final night, and I still hadn't been able to shake off my night with Vanessa, so I decided to go out with a bang. More specifically, a gang bang. I hit The Red Club where I found just what I was lustinglooking for - three lovely ladies, with no-one to turn to. From left to right, that's Tawny, Starlight and JC. By the following picture, I was no longer sure who was who, navigating by taste and smell alone. And who the hell cared. For a short time, I was living the dream of Second Life - "our true intent is all for your delight".
And so it goes. Seven days, ten escorts. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a decent refractory period. This is Gideon Televison, Superstar™, signing off from Second Life.
Well, this piece put quite a cathouse amongst the pigeons. If you read the earlier version of this story, you'll now see names and faces have been changed to protect the less-than-innocent. One guy contacted me - let's call him Mr Ed - fuming that one of the women was his wife, and that I'd misrepresented the little woman who, god forbid should be considered an Escort, just because she picked me up from a stage in a strip club and took my money in exchange for sex.
Ah yes, it's truly a world of fantasy.