There it was on Craigslist, the ad that would change not one, but thousands of lives. "Ravers over eighteen: Make $250 to get naked and model for us! Are you a raver?" (Yes!) "Do you like getting naked?" (Hell, yes!) "Do you believe sex is good, there's nothing wrong with porn, and that YOU are one of the most beautiful, wonderful things that you can share with the world?" (Is this Ms. Jenkins' ESL class? 'Cause you are really speaking my language!)
Oakland-based Nakedraver.com bills itself as being a different kind of porn site, one more focused on the enjoyment and celebration of sexuality than simply being an electronic semen spittoon. Launched little over a week ago, this Ecstasy-soaked smut factory has big dreams of being the be-all, end-all hub for those who like rave culture and all the brazen nudity that goes with it.
Don't expect fake boobs and suggestive pouts: this is an amateur site, and while there are a few "models" who could probably do something for you, for the most part these are everyday people. They're young and nubile, of course, but some of the models look like that person who sat behind you in freshman English -- you know, the one that all of a sudden one day showed up with green hair. The whole business brings to mind that great old amateur porn from the '50s: plump girls with heavy eyeliner, hardened Midwestern features, and big ol' gaps between their front teeth. The folks on Naked Raver ain't that tore up by a long shot, but have the same general aesthetic. There are an equal number of male and female models (at the moment, five of each) who all start out fully clothed in the photos and gradually shed layers and add dildos.
"I don't think people should hide their sexuality," says AJ Cook, the affable, backwards-baseball-hat-wearing, 25-year-old "CEO" of Naked Raver. "I think that it should be opened up and shared with people. It's something that every human deals with and every human thinks about, so why should we try and hide that from each other?"
And AJ will share it with you for $6.95 a month. Yep, it's one of many DIY porn sites that have sprung up on the Net, either in the name of the promotion of uninhibited sexuality or in the name of money disguised as the promotion of uninhibited sexuality. (Check out guests.nakkidnerds.com or raverporn.net.) Cook says his project is geared at generating money both for the models and for "harm-reduction organizations" like DanceSafe, those folks who test Ecstasy for its purity at raves. Sixty-five percent of the site's profits goes back into the business or to life support for AJ. The rest, he claims, will go to nonprofit rave organizations chosen by the models.
"Rave organizations?" you ask. "Why should I spend my hard-earned porno bucks on a bunch of serotonin-fueled, pacifier-sucking, glowstick-wielding kids with gigantic trousers?" Because, my friends, this subculture has garnered enough negative attention to spark the RAVE Act (Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy) which could sail through the US Senate any day now. It piggybacks on the ill-conceived "crack-house statute" that makes a felon of anyone who owns property used for drug activity. That law has received a lot of flak, particularly when homeowning grandmothers were being hauled down to the station for the behavior of their wayward grandkids. The new law is targeting raves, holding promoters accountable for any drug use at their shows. If it passes, and it looks like it will, then what's to stop the statute from being applied to any public or private music event? Good gawd! No promoter in his right mind would ever risk putting on a show.
Okay, back to porn. So the real question is, what makes a naked raver different from, say, a naked indie rock guy, or a naked black-metal chick?
"The rave community is very open about their sexuality," says Cook, who grew up gay in Tennessee -- something that would send any of us straight onto the E-train to Sasha & Digweed Town. "It's more of a family, and when you become more of a family ..."
You start having sex with each other?
"Ha-ha," he laughs. "I wouldn't say that. You just accept the family's values."
Okay ... so we're all one in the gigantic pulsating yoni that is rave culture, but c'mon, isn't this just a bigass money-making machine? Cook points out that models get $250 a shoot: way more, he says, than other sites. They also get the unheard-of deal of keeping all the profits from any videos they make. "Making this site, I've seen the terrible realities of porn," he says. "It very much saddens me. That's why we put so much emphasis on our models and making them feel comfortable and making them feel that they are getting what they are worth. I know people that have been paid $100 to do a video and they have no rights to that video. That happens every day in the industry. That's just terrible, in my opinion. A lot of people are greedy for money, and they'll do anything to get it, even if means hurting somebody."
So what we have here is a kinder, gentler Net pornographer. "I haven't really thought of myself that way," Cook says. "I just think that people shouldn't keep their sexuality from one another."
Hear, hear. Now pass that glow-in-the-dark lube, homes.
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