The car, that most mechanical of devices, brought on a sexual revolution. The VCR another. It is no surprise that "tech" brings "touch." This is why it should not surprise anyone that the newest trend sweeping sl's escorting industry, is voice.
Voice is touch.
In the last week, several escorts I know who swore they would not do voice ever, have started offering voice. At least two club owners I know are offering voice to best customers. Another escort that swore she would die before doing voice, told me about her travails setting up a team speak server. Voice is showing up on more and more escort ads. Voice is hot. How hot? One "sl real girls" provider has started "verifying" girls based only on voice contact, instead of requiring cam.
Voice has hit the sl sex industry. Voice is part of the new sl that is coming, and displacing old sl.
From the escort's side, the big incentive for voice is price and demand. Men who say "I am not paying real money for Linden," with a smirk the echoes across the screen, when asked about sl sex, will pull out the credit card for voice. Or offer to send to pay pal. The standard rate for voice is 1500L for :15. No menu this or that, no haggle, and no quibble. People pay for real in an entirely different way and with different money than they pay for virtual. When virtual is another giant step forward, we will see if the gap closes. More money, more customers, more control.
The weakness is that it is a huge crack of light in the escort's wall between SL and RL. It is also something that ties them to particular working conditions. I have sl escorted in public places, a bookstore, a college coffee shop, anywhere there is wireless is a fertile field for escorting. It doesn't matter if there are other people in the next room over, or at the next table over. In fact, one client got rock hard as I just described how I was doing what we were doing in plain view of so many people. That isn't happening with voice.
The other weakness for the escort is the very upside the client wants: voice is your full attention. I know a player who claims to be able to run 5 cheap hookers at once: 300L for :15, four at a time. She said she can work two hours of this, no ads, no clubs, just red light zones, and clear over 3K per hour consistently. That is a rate that most escorts would envy as an all together rate. Think of what she does as cattle class sex, to use an airline industry term. People are shopping for sl sex more and more on price, price and price. Which means that they no longer get the full attention of the customer service people.
So while voice cuts out the ability to multi-task, quickly duck away for something to drink, or even wait and day dream, the big a plus is the length of sessions. Many sl only sex sessions are :15, and :30 is normal. Vox sessions, an hour is far more common, and :30 is what :15 is to sl sex. Double the rate, double the time, and less trouble finding clients. This means that making 20K per day is something that is not out of reach for a good vox escort. Think about it 6K per hour is 24 USD per hour of escorting. It is very seductive. It is also the kind of money that starts putting income taxes as a real possibility, after paying for play. Even one hour a day, is enough to pay for a great deal of play, and more than that, starts to make paying tier a breeze.
We now touch on a topic which is either very very hot, or a non-issue, depending on which slice of sl you are from. Namely, men who present as women and escort. In the red light drop zones, this is a hot issue. It is not a paradox, but an obvious insight that the less a man is willing to pay, but still pay, for sl sex, the more devalued the product, the more likely he is to really need to feel there is a rl woman on the other side. He's not willing to pay for this mind you, for him, it is a demand. I asked one, who I had serviced once: he said he was against it because it was deception. I asked him if it would be ok for me to call up his wife and chat to her about what he did with his spare time. He was not amused.
Voice may or may not assure you are talking to a woman now, in six to nine months it will mean exactly nothing. I'll leave it to others who know the state of the shelf better than I do as to what various voice altering programs do. The only thing that runs on my Mac that I know of is "Voice Candy", and that is a toy. No one not really super into mechanical furries would pay anything to make it with that mouse voice. However, a sound friend of mine showed me a series of high end audio "plug ins" for either PC or the Macintosh. They do not run in real time now, but will do so rather soon, he said less than a year possibly. The result was startling, there was no trace of the original voice.
These strip the overtones from a voice, the signature if you will, and then run it through a "throat model." The result is what the person would sound like, with a different body, even one that is non human. While the hardware to run this in real time is beyond the reach of many people, it is not an unbearable amount. In short, voice is only going to be an answer to real identity for, at most, another year. After that, what you hear is all there is.
But the bigger issue for escorts is that many of us do not have sexy voices that match our avatars. Many, many, many of us are 45 year old married women. With children who demand attention.
The age is a problem, however, that is already easily fixable with some software that is commonly available, I've had the same sound friend show me how a bit of mixing, a bit of pitch alteration, not a dramatic amount, but a small amount, and some judicious use of a graphic equalizer can, in skilled hands, freshen up and disguise the overt flaws of a voice. Particularly too much smoking. Perhaps you would be surprised at how many people here, smoke, and smoke more playing sl than they would rl.
But the rl demands. Well the solution is that voice sex on sl tends to be scheduled, rather than the walk in norm of sl only sex.
In short while voice is in, voice also opens another wall for the escort: she has to talk about her rl, and the scheduling problems of rl, in a way that for sl sex, she did not. Hence prices are firmer and schedules stricter. As long as demand is high, this will stay the case.
It also means that sudden we have to make the choice: vox escort as our rl selves, or find a way to "talk in character." This problem, of having a character who lives with a particular voice, is not strange, but rather normal.
For the customer the real advantage of voice is that it opens up an entirely new avenue of interaction. As phone sex, the product we are talking about has been around, well, since before I innocently asked about 1-900 numbers from staying up late and sneaking some extra television in. My parents knew that no such ads ran on any time slot when I was supposed to be watching television.
However the combination of voice and sl is different, because it is reinforcing existing action. Phone sex of old is a kind of "this is what I would do if I were here." Cam sex is phone sex with more demonstrative bits. However, vox sl sex is not the same thing, because the action on the screen is doing it for you. You never say "I would kiss your cock," because your avatar already is kissing his cock. What does disappear is emoting. You emote with voice. Hands drop away from the keyboard, there is the occasional mouse click to shift bed position, or drive excite. But other than that, it is voice emotes that make sl vox sex its peculiar thing. I'll provide a kind of free fantasy transcript of a sample session over on Raise the Red Lantern when I can pull one together.
In fact, while I have been typing up this article, I've had two requests for vox, and scheduled two sessions.
With crumbling prices for sl only sex, and the need to break through to a higher level of touch, expect vox sex to continue to explode. The old rites of text sl sex, will continue onward, but, I think, as technology and acceptance grows, one on one vox will probably be accepted in the sl sex community before voice chat is even rolled out, let alone "debugged" and degriefered.