by Alphaville Herald on 22/09/08 at 8:27 am
Real girl catfights, theatre, and eroticism
by aurel Miles
There’s going to be a showdown
Sports is one aspect of SL that has always baffled me. Writing about sex in Flatland, one is always mindful of the old cliché that the largest sex organ is between the ears. In my 18 months here in Flatland I have seen that stereotype proven true over and over again. Every form of sexual discussion and representation imaginable exists here. And honestly, what goes on behind the screen with the avatars on any of the sex sims is of very little concern to me. Fact is, people gather consensually in this virtual community and engage in group fantasy, intellectual exploration or discussion of all things sexual and seem to find it satisfying on one level or another. I find the phenomenon interesting and, as I have said before, I think most of it is probably pretty healthy. Thinking about sex is normal some of the fringe stuff might be freaky or might, in rare cases, indicate a serious problem but for the most part, it all amounts to open discussion of an adult nature and nothing more than that. (What people do in the privacy of their own 3-d bedroom is not something I need to speculate about.)
I think of it as being very similar to reading Dan Savage’s column, Savage Love; chances are you won’t do most of what you read about or see represented but you will probably discover some practice you never heard of before and, if you’re inclined to be repressed, sex here makes most sex in the round world look pretty darned wholesome.
SL sports on the other hand, have always seemed to me to be much more abstract than any other form of Flatland entertainment. Completely rooted in the physical world, athletic competition seems like the one area of life in 3-d that is not transferable to SL.
private facility in Astorg
But thinking you know everything about anything is always a mistake and my thinking I knew what works in Flatland and what doesn’t is proof positive of that. I’ve never been much of a sportswoman in RL so SL sports did not interest me. It never occurred to me that it might not be exactly what it I assumed it to be – a dull discussion of athletic moves for people who are interested in the sport in RL.
Researching an unrelated story one Sunday morning, I bumped into three women shopping who invited me to a wrestling match. Turns out there are a few wrestling clubs in SL. Not wanting to be rude, I accepted the invitation and visited one of the women’s groups.
The surroundings were pretty much what you would expect. The mats are animation generators that create boxing moves and they are as effective as any other animators in SL. I found a group of varied and interesting female avatars who are all interested in physical contact with other women – exactly what I would have found at any of a hundred other active areas in Flatland.
Wrestling gear in Sunset Arts
Garbo Szondi owns an island where a league of women wrestlers competes most Sundays. I asked Garbo and then “Battle Queen” Traci R to tell me about their favorite SL pastime and here’s what I found out.
aurel Miles: How long have you been involved in wrestling in SL?
Garbo Szondi: hmm, almost a year
aurel Miles: and how many women would you say wrestle at your club?
Garbo Szondi: 30 or more.
aurel Miles: how long have you owned the club?
Garbo Szondi: 9 months maybe?
aurel Miles: Do you have any plans for the future?
Garbo Szondi: well, I have ideas. I don’t like these very muscular, masculine looking girls. I would like a real girl catfight. I have thought about starting a girl catfight no androgynous wrestlers allowed.
aurel Miles: why is that? Can you elaborate?
Garbo Szondi: They look like men. It’s supposed to be girls
aurel Miles: Would you keep the regular matches? For the girls who do look manly?
Garbo Szondi: well, I won’t disallow it, I mean whatever, if they like that sort of thing.
aurel Miles: But as a spectator – you’d prefer more feminine girls, is that right?
Garbo Szondi: yes and as a fighter, I like catfights.
Wrestling gear in Helicopter Plane
Traci shed a little more light on what motivates female SL avatars to wrestle and, perhaps not surprisingly, it all leads back to a familiar place.
aurel Miles: Traci – can you tell me a little about wrestling?
Traci Rozenmann: Sure, hon, what do you want to know?
aurel Miles: What is it you enjoy about it? Is it strictly role play?
Traci Rozenmann: For the most part. The SL mats aren’t competitive. They need good RP to have fun with it. I personally enjoy the body contact of grappling with another girl on the mat…it turns me on. And I love ‘making up’ later
aurel Miles: so it is a particular type of eroticism.
Traci Rozenmann: Not with everyone, but most of the girls I know that wrestle in SL do enjoy that.
aurel Miles: Do the winners tend always to be winners?
Traci Rozenmann: Some girls enjoy losing, and they always lose. Some girls prefer to win, so there are randomizers such as simulated dice to determine who wins or we just take turns
aurel Miles: can i ask what general field you work in in rl? Is it very physical or not at all?
Traci Rozenmann: I’m an engineer. Not very physical
aurel Miles: do you think that’s typical?
Traci Rozenmann: I don’t know…I’ve only managed to set up one RL wrestling match with another girl. That was a lot of fun.
So there it is, were back to sex. The idea of physical contact, competitive or otherwise is erotic and, for some, sports has that element as much as any other, more explicit, expression of eroticism.
The Virtual Wrestling Alliance seems to be an SL continuation of that time-honoured wrestling tradition – wrestling as theatre.
The application for people who want to participate in wrestling with the VWA includes the following questions:
Do you know how to do any of the following:
change your environmental settings?
change your camera position?
change your graphics settings?
activate and trigger gestures?
wear a hud or other attachments?
create a new notecard?
disable typing animations?
Why are you interested in joining the VWA?
What do you hope to bring to the organization?
Have you attended any of the shows or seen them on Metaverse TV?
All of which tells me it’s about putting on a good show and being skilled at navigating the SL platform.
Eric Stuart – Davey Jones Locker
SL Championship Wrestling is about theatre in much the same way as RL wrestling is about theatre. Larger-than-Second-Life avatars gather to trash-talk, boast, knock each other around and do the usual wrestling stuff without any risk at all.
I spoke to Eric Stuart, manager and head builder at Second Life Championship Wrestling.
aurel Miles: Can you tell me a little about your organization?
Eric Stuart: The SLCW brings entertainment-based wrestling to life through a combination of animations and scripts. Besides obvious differences from real life to Second Life, we come very close to replicating the same experience here.
aurel Miles: would you say it’s more theatre, more sexually influenced? or more social?
Eric Stuart: Well, there’s little along the lines of “sexual influence”, as I’ve seen many erotic wrestling corporations in SL. Our main goal is to provide entertainment based action in the ring, not unlike many federations in real life. We’re a very social group, with over 45 members on our wrestling roster, and I guess due to the nature that it’s more entertainment and less competition (at least in ring), then it may apply somewhat to a theatrical styling as well.
aurel Miles: so it’s theatre and a social thing
Eric Stuart: Yes. There is a high level of interaction from all aspects involved, from the wrestlers to the fans, and everything is meant to put on, to put it the way that many have claimed, one hell of a show.
aurel Miles: Is that why you got involved?
Eric Stuart: Actually, I got involved at the very start. I’ve been here since the start of the SLCW and have worked closely with it’s growth.
aurel Miles: what are your hopes for the organization?
Eric Stuart: Well, the SLCW has done nothing but grow, and I can say many of us are very happy to see where we’re at. Almost every other federation that’s tried the same thing have fallen short, if they’ve even started at all. We’re getting great new wrestlers all the time, our product continues to get better, and our fanbase grows with every show.
aurel Miles: So this is a business?
Eric Stuart: In many aspects, yes, but we’re non-profit. We don’t charge our wrestlers to perform here, nor do we charge our fans to watch the shows. Still, it holds many of the same truths as a business. We have a direction we’re taking with many things, we have to keep an air of professionalism, and we have to deliver a great product. Not unlike many other businesses, to include the theatre. Every Wednesday and Sunday (soon to be Saturdays instead) we put on an hour to an hour and a half long show here. We’ve created many things to add to the feeling that the matches are as true to form as they can be. The wall back there plays videos for our wrestlers as they come out, allowing them to have their own entrances. Truly one of our greatest features that we’ve added.
aurel Miles: how long have you been around?
Eric Stuart: We’re just hit 7 months a few days ago.
aurel Miles: what gave you the idea?
Eric Stuart: Actually, to be honest, I joined on after the idea came about. I’d seen many other federations like this come and go in SL without any chance of them getting off the ground. I did a search and found the SLCW when it was nothing but a small box with a ring inside. I offered my services and joined up with them, and ended up becoming management soon after. Almost everything in here is my build.
Wrestling Republic in Sunset Arts
From what I’ve seen, SL wrestling takes one of two approaches, it is either a replica of RL entertainment wrestling, (and there is something really appropriate about faking something that is already fake – it’s classic post-modern art, really) or it is thinly veiled eroticism. There is a tradition in the communicative arts of equating wrestling with forms of homoeroticism and that is certainly evident in SL wrestling. There are a number of clubs that are all male or all female – there might be furry clubs but I never looked for them. For some it is a hobby echoing a hobby in real life, for some it’s just a different kind of hook-up, another fetish.
There are a lot of people in SL who don’t come to Flatland for sexual amusement education or visual art, socializing is a big deal of course – where would SL be without the ability to communicate globally? Just the same, in my travels, everything I’ve seen that involves an expression of physicality in the abstract comes back to one of three things; visual art, theatre or some idea of erotic play. Wrestling fits. When I find something that doesn’t – you’ll be the first to know.