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Most teens of the early AOL chatroom era, or the mid-to-late-1990s, experimented with cybersex or had their sexual initiations online, in chatrooms with names like “Bored housewives over 30” or “Naughty wellhung surfer boys 18 .” In 1996, AOL had 5 million subscribers; by 2002, it had 25 million and was the biggest dial-up service in the country.
Chat had never been more expedient or accessible, so it was only a matter of time before people started using it for sex.
(I was 15, and it was the intermission of my camp’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; I was Helena, he was Lysander, and that’s all you need to know.) I do, however, have a very clear memory of the first time I had cybersex. His AIM handle was Frank Zappy, and I believe he claimed to be a married man from Queens.Then one day, he started telling me what he wanted to do to me if he met me, and I, picking up on his cues, told him what I (or “Dana”) wanted to do to him.Of course, I had no idea what I was saying; much of what I said was based on what I had seen on General Hospital and read in Jackie Collins paperbacks.“I feel like everyone who talks about it now and is like, ‘Oh me and my friends would do that all the time’ are covering up that they were probs kind of turned on too.” Like many relationships that start online, these interactions were marked by a patented, often outrageous dishonesty.“I lied about my age, my location, my gender,” one of my coworkers told me.