If you are going to understand sex on Second Life, then you must understand Phat Cats. Phat Cats is, and has been for some months, the meeting place for heterosexual couples on SL. It is the nexus of sex on Second Life. It is not a mature parcel, it is even a "PG" sim. The people who quote the 18% statistic about sex in second life are missing two important points. The "direct sex" industry, to which I belong, is smaller than, and subsidiary to the indirect sex industry. Romance and sex make people happy, and while the direct sex industry brings people momentary touches of joy and bliss, the hope of most people is to have, not a moment of passion, but a life of love.
Sims are, ultimately, a reflection of the people who run and create them. This is true of the major mature clubs, and it is very much true of Phat Cats, Charity and Dilbert are, in fact, the bride and groom on the top of the mythical cake. They are the kind of romance that Second Life could promote. Charity was ill for a very long time, and they met through Second Life, married here. Not long ago, Dilbert met Charity irl, and now they are putting a deposit down on their first house, and have sold their interest in Phat Cats. Their voices and picture show that yes, they are very very much in that kind of love that we see in movies and read about in novels, and sometimes get to experience ourselves.
The club itself is a big box: a large open space for dancing, and places to sit and rez. Dilbert is the primary DJ, and his taste in background jazz is a key reason for the clubs success. The club is voice enabled and Charity and Dilbert are at the center of the converstion.
In my line of work, I get many men who want free sex. I tell them to get dressed up, learn to be gentlemen and go to Phats. The skill of chatting a lady up, introducing yourself, and creating a bubble of conversation which becomes an enveloping world, is one that works in both rl and sl. It is a skill that is rewarded at phat cats, as the converse, the clumsy approach is penalized. (You know the clumsy approach, "have you had sl sex? I am very curious about it. I think you would be perfect for my first." And it's other varients)
The pattern of sex around Phats is to go, hope to meet someone, and then head out to one of the smaller, less laggy and crowded ballrooms, or to a romantic spot, or sometimes to a private apartment, so eager are the participants. It is a story told a hundred times, a thousand times: boy meets girl, boy dances with girl verticle, girl decides that boy should get a chance to dance horizontally.
Of course for every hopeful flowering, there is, almost, one sad parting. The challenges of a life, even a second life, together, are great, and so many seeds fall, germinate, poke their first leaves through the soil, and then wither. It is not something that any mere club can change.
I could write for pages on the stories of people passing through Phats, or the disappointments of people who have wanted to build a competitor or rival. I could write for pages on what I have overheard. But the question I was asked several times while writing this article is what do I, an escort, feel about phats and other similar places.
This question often misses what I think is an important point about what I do, and what other escorts do. We don't sell love, love is not for sale, even if money can help you buy a skin, or even an island, it cannot make you want to love someone. An escort sells sexuality, and to some extent knowledge about SL. The better escorts are not just providers of "real time interactive adult entertainment," but advisors on this strange world of ours, who help their clients navigate it.
Thus what goes on at Phats does not really impinge on my world directly. Yes there are men who go meat market shopping at phat cats, and they show up at my doorstep looking for freebies if they wash out at phats. But is that Phats fault? Not that I can see. Is it mine? No. It is the fault of shallow men who can't think of anything better to do than go around telling women "well I want a friend with benefits" as the second IM out of their keyboard. It is also true there are people who pass through Phat Cats and think that voice will make it easier for them to score RL. I don't think this will be the case, because many women I know don't want to chatter away in open voice, any more than they want to chatter away in open text chat. Pushing voice on a girl too fast is more or less the same mistake as talking about a free cock too quickly. The men who aren't willing to pay the emotional price of sex with a girl, are also not willing to pay the monetary cost of sex with a working girl. What a surprise! I would never have guessed there were bottom feeding men!
Instead, it is more important to realize that Phats gives people the ability to meet, and many professional as well as personal, connections come out of Phat Cats. The bits and pieces of my own history trace through there, as do many other people. Women meet other women as friends, find out about fashion. People of all sorts meet business contacts.
Phats is also, in a way, like me. We are both on the front line of civilizing people to SL. Phats has a marvelous collection of freebies, and I've used their dresses as the base of outfits. Teaching newbies who are stuck in playdo, not just in body but in spirit, how SL is a game of people, not a game of things, is something that Phat Cats does a good job of. Orientation Island? Almost useless. For all practical purposes, Phats was a "community" to introduce people to SL, before such a thing existed.
So I leave you with this thought. While it is the strip clubs, escort clubs, orgy rooms and the like that are focused on as the source of "sex" in SL, It is very likely that as many actual acts of sl sex, and more acts of rl sex, will happen tonight, whose roots go down into the soil of Phat Cats than at several of the big orgy rooms.
And from here, that is really the way it should be.