by Alphaville Herald on 25/03/05 at 6:49 pm
Diamond Hope, Post Six Grrrl
When I first met Diamond Hope she was standing in Walleye sim wearing shorts, white boots and a skimpy white halter top, a pistol strapped to her right thigh. A ribbon of thong peeked out from below her shorts, inviting my imagination. My imagination, I’m not ashamed to say, took off.
I’ve never had an interest in cybersex. I still don’t. But since I was rezzed I’ve always been intrigued by how a screen-bound collection of pixels that only look half life-like can stir a certain amount of RL desire.
Di and I talked for a moment and I found myself wondering, How do I compliment her on her looks? And in Second Life what does that even mean? Imagine: “You’re a very good-looking girl, Di.” (Translation: “My, what facility you’ve shown in manipulating those appearance sliders, Ms. Hope.”)
I found myself facing a whole raft of questions, not just about what lay beneath those skimpy shorts, but about myself and whether it was me or my av that was feeling the faint tug of virtual attraction. Was it virtual at all? And just what was it possible to create with the delicate touch of a slider? To answer my deep philosophical queries, I decided to go straight to the source.
As faithful readers of the Herald will have noticed, this newspaper has a content-sharing agreement with Marilyn Murphy, publisher of Players, SL’s in-world erotica magazine. Each week, we feature a new Post Six Grrl drawn from the pages of Players. So I IM’d Marilyn. Was she interested in meeting a fresh face? Would she consider her for a Post Six photo shoot? And, most importantly, could I watch?
Soon enough, we were wandering around the Players Shack (the Players Mansion having been torn down some time ago). After stripping Di down to her thong, Marilyn cast her weather eye over the av before her. “Did you purchase that shape,” Marilyn asked, “or did you do it yourself?”
“No, it’s my own,” Diamond replied, looking slightly shy.
But Marilyn was pleased: “You did a good job.”
Marilyn studies her subject
I wondered out loud how long it takes to get a girl ready to shoot. “Frankly, it depends on how well I get on with a girl,” Marilyn said. “If she needs a major overhaul, I sometimes just make an av for her. Now I just turn girls away if they are not up to it. There’s just no time, and there are a lot of nice well done avs out there now, not like the old days.
“Frankly, Diamond is pretty good just as she is.”
But some study was necessary.
“Go into appearance please,” Marilyn directed. “Go to torso in shape and tell me the number on your breast gravity. It’s right below breast size.”
Diamond Hope’s breast gravity is 47.
“Good girl,” Marilyn said. “Excellent. So many think perky breasts means no gravity, or very little, but the way the Lindens set it up, that is so not the case.”
“Now go to legs and tell me what the muscle number is.”
Diamond Hope’s leg muscles are 80.
“The break at the knee is very pronounced at 80. Make that 50,” Marilyn instructed. “You rock, hun, you did way good on her. Whose skin do you wear?”
“Good, hers look good nude.”
Like all good SL snappers, Marilyn runs on local lighting. In order to get a better sense of how her girls will appear in the pages of Players or the Herald, she spends an hour or more posing them against various background light sources, then logging off to look over her snapshots in a freeware photo editor. (“I don’t have Photoshop,” Marilyn says. “I am a computer tard.”)
Marilyn’s selection of backdrop light sources
Getting the light right
“Almost all the custom poses break an avatar,” she tells me. “One place or another it bends the av or doubles it up. Doing nudes is harder cuz you have to hide those breaks.”
While Marilyn is off, I take the opportunity to chat up Di — in my best journalistic style, of course.
Diamond Hope: wow
Walker Spaight: the making of a Players girl!
Diamond Hope: very interesting
Diamond Hope: wow
Diamond Hope: WOW
Walker Spaight: she is pretty impressed with you
Diamond Hope: wow
Diamond Hope: it’s all i can say… wow
Walker Spaight: you never thought when you joined SL that you’d be posing for a mag, did you?
Diamond Hope: no never!
Diamond Hope: thx to you!!
Walker Spaight: hehe, i didn’t know i had such a good eye.
Diamond Hope: lol
Walker Spaight: what do you usually do in here?
Diamond Hope: i usually work security at da penthouse
Diamond Hope: otherwise i hang out with my sl family
Walker Spaight: Security? a little girl like you?
Diamond Hope: i like the weapons and shields… it’s interesting stuff
Walker Spaight: is it a tough job? do you get much trouble?
Diamond Hope: no
When she gets back on, Marilyn puts up three billboard-sized pictures of Security Guard Diamond Hope. “Definitely the close-up is the best for eyes,” she says. “To me the eyes are a big fat deal.”
The many faces of Diamond Hope
Marilyn takes some more shots, logs off again. When she gets back she does a brief interview with Diamond that I’m not privvy to. “It’s kinda private,” Marilyn explains.
“np at all,” I respond. I’m just here to watch.
The shoot itself is over almost before we realize it. “Shooting for the Herald is relatively easy, it’s just a portrait and two pics,” Marilyn says. “Now for the magazine we would be here for two hours,” — we’ve been there for more than an hour already — “then a make-up session for anything I don’t like, and then more if needed. But Players should be known for beautiful girls and good photography, so I work it hard.”
The finished product(s)
Work it Marilyn does. Her magazine’s tagline, “Totally made in Second Life, by players, for players,” exemplifies her ethic. This is all taking place in a virtual world, or a “game” if you will, populated by residents that can be thought of as “players.” The fact that Players is a 99-percent in-world production, though, doesn’t answer the question of what happens after publication, when its presentation of Second Life’s most alluring avatars is designed to leak over to the other side of the client-server divide.
I ask Diamond, in RL a full-time mom who lives in the Midwest, whether this is something she’d ever do outside of SL. No way, is the answer. “One fun thing in this job,” Marilyn puts in, “is finding girls who would never do such a thing and getting them to pose.” She has shot Jade Lily in the past, she brags, but her biggest coup was probably Nyna Slate. “Nyna is miss PG,” she says, “and very well known, top ten forever.” Marilyn, who has never had a Linden before, wants Robin bad. “Lindens buy Players, though,” she notes.
I leave the Players Shack with more questions than I had when I arrived. Diamond is one of the hottest av’s I’ve met in Second Life. (I get a little surprise when I click on the 1st Life tab on Diamond’s profile. Still hot, but very differently so.) Despite what I’ve seen, I’m still not ready for a virtual relationship with anyone (unlike other members of the Herald staff). But I have to wonder what my attraction means. And I’m not the only one wondering this kind of thing.
Is it Walker Spaight I see strolling over grassy meadows arm in arm with Di (not that she was offering), or is it Walker’s typist? Is it time to build a virtual bedroom in the Herald office tower? What’s it like for Diamond’s typist, a stay-at-home mom with two kids to take care of? Is SL a way to get away from it all, to be something she’s not in real life? “SL for me is an escape from RL stresses,” Di tells me later, “which can be quite overwhelming at times. But mostly it’s a place I can meet my friends and online family, and just have a good time.”
SL isn’t exactly a game, but it’s not much more than a bunch of pixels floating around between 500 or so servers out in California. Or is it more? It certainly stirs more emotions than that description would imply. There’s real money floating around in there, why not real emotion, then? For many, what happens on the Grid stays on the Grid. But the connections that develop between av’s and the people behind them can’t be taken so lightly. There will always be moments when what we experience in the place we call Second Life will be complex enough to also affect what happens Off the Grid.