Tune in, log on, get off 

There’s a scene in the 1993 B-movie Demolition Man when Sylvester Stallone, a man of the ’90s transplanted to the future, gets a taste of sex in the 21st century. His partner is seated on the other side of the room, and the sweet lovin’ is delivered via a pair of headsets — with no physical contact at all.

Is this just a science-fiction fantasy or a plausible scenario? Perhaps we’re edging closer to the latter, considering the latest hi-tech gizmo to enter the adult world: Internet-controlled sex toys.

Yep, phone sex is officially passé, and cybersex has reached a whole new level. Launched last March, High Joy Products (highjoy.com) has devised a way for lovers or random strangers to get their mutual jollies with the click of a mouse.

It works this way: You and your partner must buy one of the High Joy products, which ain’t cheap, including the iVibe Rabbit for women ($129.95) and the iVibe egg and sleeve for men ($89.95).

For those of you who’ve yet to encounter a rabbit vibrator, it’s a truly frightening looking apparatus — a giant dong filled with rotating “pearls” and a little bunny that does naughty things with its ears. On many models, the rabbit has a disturbing little smiley face etched onto its mug. Apparently it’s the most popular vibrator on the market, and even made a cameo on Sex and the City. A few of my friends who own one have professed their undying devotion to the little bugger, but I just can’t see how anyone could get past that creepy smile.

Anyhow — once you’ve acquired your tools of pleasure, you sign up for a membership level based on your current commitments; there’s a special membership just for couples, and one for singles looking to find someone in chat rooms. You can also buy a webcam and microphone, adding real-time audio and video to the mix.

From the company’s press release:

“HighJoy.com community members can independently control the speed and rotation of another’s Internet-enabled device. Members with webcams can even watch the effect they are having on their partner for increased interaction. Both devices can also function disconnected from the computer as stand-alone sex toys.”

For those who are understandably a little gun-shy about rigging up their hoo-ha to however many amps of electricity flowing through the average home computer, a little reassurance from the FAQ:

“High Joy Enabled® products are not connected to your computer as a power source. The cable connected to your computer is only transferring data. High Joy Enabled® toys are powered by batteries; just like the leading stand-alone products on the market today.”

A nugget of wisdom from a friend who first told me about the phenomenon: “You know it’s NASA that comes up with most of this technology [video — Beta — handheld video cameras — interactive DVD] but it’s really the porn industry that finds a way to apply it to our lives and improve humankind.”

So there you have it: an opportunity for long distance couples to stay in touch — literally. And given the broad spectrum of online dating, there’s no shortage of couples who’ve met over the Internet, or affairs that take place online but never materialize in the flesh.

But is this a great new invention for lovers on opposite ends of the country, or yet another step toward the marginalization of personal contact?

Plenty of computer-chair intellectuals have waxed poetic over the idea that the Internet — and technology in general — is making society more reclusive and impersonal, and decreasing the value of real human contact. Today, we have lovers’ quarrels via text messages, maintain online friendships through AIM, and now we can even pop off a few mutual O’s without ever even laying a finger on our partner.

Is it weird and icky or groundbreaking? An intrepid reporter, I decided to delve deep into the world of online chatting to find out what Net users think of this new technology.

My first attempt landed me in a German chat room, but I don’t know how to say “creepy grinning rabbit” in German. Second try, I find the screen name “MTwriter” has already been used. After making a mental note to taunt my co-workers later, I settle with “MTwritergirl.” Here’s a partial transcript of what transpired in a room on spinchat.com:

MTwritergirl: so, what do you guys think about these new Internet-controlled sex toys

bootylicious2_3: is there anybody around the age of 13-16

TheMozman: mt is nasty

MTwritergirl: thanks to new technology you can control your partner’s sex toy via the web. what do you guys think?

*hotbabe*: thats cool

DarkDogbert: wow coool!!!

FrankY_RaY: well at least you two will be syncronized jkn jkn jkn

Boy4u26: wierd

(Private message) Hot_Male: why do u wanna try it out

Azfer: any girl wan sex?

DMC3: MT r u hot?

(Private message) Boy4u26: are you hooked up to it right now?

ARWEN: green day is alright no nirvana though

TheMozman: i farted

Well, that was educational. Let’s try again elsewhere.

MTwritergirl: what do you guys think of the new internet-controlled sex toys?

PLAYBOYangel: is ther any 1 who wnts to tlk 2 a playboy angel in privite

MTwritergirl: they allow two partners to control each others’ sex toys via the web, even if thousands of miles apart

apuva: thats amazing :D

Liza99: really

ZOLA: thats sick

adam-antboy: what happend to the good olfashioned wank?

MTwritergirl: do you think it’s a good development for couples?

Liza99: yes

PLAYBOYangel: hi is ther any boys who wnt 2 hav fun

MTwritergirl: or does it further contribute to the marginalization of human contact?

Liza99: yes

ZOLA: mar wha?

(Private message) Peter_Holland: are you using one right now?

(Private message) mouse_boy: what do u look like?

So, apparently these folks aren’t interested in stimulating conversation.

Color me shocked.

Sarah Klein is the culture editor of Metro Times. Send comments to sklein@metrotimes.com

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