In a simpler time, the Internet's sexual potential ended at porn and online dating. Today's Internet, both more labyrinthian and better organized, offers a far greater wealth of dirty tricks. Squeaky-clean companies like Apple have watched their most sophisticated technologies become appropriated as sex toys. Dating sites offer services that would make a porn star blush. And porn stars themselves are now not only available to look at, but to "touch"—all you need is a broadband connection and an easy-to-order device that arrives in an inconspicuous cardboard box.
Following a highly amusing weekend trolling for what's new in online smut, The Daily Beast's Rachel Kramer Bussel presents eight of the Internet's best new sex Web sites, apps, and downloads.
Leave it to Apple to quantify “good in bed.” An app called Passion, released in July, uses “all of the iPhone’s distinct features such as the microphone, accelerometer, and many others to determine an accurate score” for your sexual prowess. The triple-tiered rating system measures duration (how long you can last), activity level (how much you're “into it,” using the accelerometer), and the intensity of orgasm (decibel-wise). Then it graphs your official score, which you can later compare to others’ scores around the world. I tested out Passion with my boyfriend. Our "activity level" was high enough that we accidentally turned off the Passion app (note to self: buy iPhone armband) and because of this, scored only a 1.8. (I would have given us a 9.)
With just shy of 60,000 entries, this site lets you record each of your individual sexploits like a notch on a virtual bedpost. A map of the earth on the homepage tracks where each entry is coming from so you can see where, when, and how other people are getting off all over the world. The map even has a filter option that allows you to view, say, just lesbians, or couples who recently did it outdoors, providing a fascinating, almost anthropological real-time survey of global sex patterns. As of this writing, a gay male couple had just made love in Greenland, the Spaniards were using condoms the most often, Portugal was having the most sex per capita, and someone named Foi Otimo was getting laid on a miniscule South Atlantic island called Edinburgh.
Dipping its toes in the shallow end of human sexuality, Beautiful People is a dating site that weeds out the hideous, the weird-looking, and the jarringly asymmetrical. “Do looks matter to you?” the site asks. “Do you want to guarantee your dates will always be beautiful?” The site’s selection process keeps out the ugly among us (though ugly folk are still allowed to browse) by only allowing applicants to create a profile once they’ve been “voted in by existing members of the opposite sex.”
An insta-hookup device to make George Orwell proud, the Grindr iPhone app tracks your movements via GPS and shows you pics of people in your immediate vicinity who are looking for a booty call that very minute. See a picture you like, and you can instant message that person to ask if they want to hook up. Playing to stereotype, Grindr is made specifically for gay and bisexual men, and markets itself as completely anonymous with no registered accounts or electronic trails left behind—no fuss, no names, and no second “dates."
This Web site bills itself as “the Internet's first confidential online sexual history log” and allows you to keep track of your sexual exploits with a computerized record. You can chronicle your number of partners, their nationalities, their respective “hotness,” whether you orgasmed, and what positions you used (butterfly, cowgirl, doggy style, etc.). Using Excel-like functions (this is probably the only sex Web site with a function called “Create Reports”), you can make graphs, note your STD tests, and instruct the site to analyze your sex habits and forecast your likelihood of contracting any of a variety of various venereal diseases. Indeed, preventing the spread of STDs is the site’s stated purpose—Laurie Davis, founder of eFlirt Expert, notes that "sometimes an STD lies dormant for a period of time before symptoms show. If you do have a scare or unpleasant doctor's appointment, you can go through your calendar to track things more effectively."
Because dildos don't have Amazon reviews, this weekly compendium of sex toy evaluations covers everything from finger vibrators to the “candy stick,” which sounds innocent until you see just how large it is. Bloggers give their takes on everything from massage oils to BDSM toys to lingerie. Many of the reviews are CNET-grade in their earnestness and technicality. The Duet cock ring from Vibratex, for instance, "is made out of elastomer, which is very stretchy and phthalate-free. The bullets come out of the elastomer sleeve for further cleaning and battery replacement. Both bullets each take two standard LR1130 batteries (also known as 189 or AG10 batteries)."
Cybersex went 2.0 long ago, back when fans of the massive virtual world Second Life quickly realized they could make their avatars do some very dirty things together. So it was only a matter of time before someone launched an online realm dedicated solely to sex. Red Light Center, named for Amsterdam’s famous prostitution district, is a 3-D virtual world where you can get a lap dance from an impossibly proportioned stripper, visit a raunchy sex club, and perform in an adult film all in the same afternoon. You can sign up as single or a couple; one real-life couple met online here and moved in together after attending a virtual wedding on the site.
Porn collection need a little freshening up? The Real Touch is a sex toy for men. It's akin to the Fleshlight (you'll have to look it up) that "synchronizes via USB to an extensive online library of adult movie titles." The device then physically simulates a variety of experiences (blowjobs, handjobs, footjobs, anal sex, vaginal sex) in coordination with what the actress on screen is doing. According to their site, “Inside the RealTouch, several motors power skin-soft belts... These soft, pliable belts squeeze and stroke the penis in conjunction with the action on screen. A lube reservoir and a warming element provide radiant warmth and a natural level of wetness that simulate actual penetration.” At a hefty $199.95, you might want to ask for this one for Christmas.
Rachel Kramer Bussel is the editor of Peep Show: Erotic Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists, Bottoms Up and over 25 other erotica anthologies, and hosts and curates In The Flesh Reading Series.