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"The Man"


July 1997 | Updated Monthly


Let me be upfront. is preverted with a capital prevert, and _highly_ unsuited for children, the elderly, those with pets, heart conditions, and anyone else with a shred of human decency. We here at SurReview have only seen it because someone we know was contracted to write some Javascript. That disclaimer aside, is a Thailand-based live video conferencing pronography website that gives us a funhouse view of the future of sex: a melding of man and machine both fascinating and horrifying.

Before you get too excited, the URL doesn't work yet. The whole site is in serious beta (as will become clear, there is more here to debug than JavaScript) and the operators are paranoid enough about the authorities that for now it functions on a need to know basis -- if you're a big consumer of internet pornography, especially one with 'exotic' tastes, the odds are that they know about you and will be sending you a sales pitch shortly.

Some history: Jeff Ballentine was a graduate student at MIT's department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences during the mid-eighties, researching ways to overcome paralysis by mimicking nervous system function with artificial electrodes. After being expelled for allegedly distributing experimental psychoactive drugs to undergraduates, he bummed around Europe and Asia for a while, eventually gravitating to Thailand where the political climate was tolerant of his more esoteric research. Rumors have it that he got involved in the Thai sex industry, providing customized chemicals and electrical stimulation to enhance the pleasure of those long jaded by the appeal of raw Thai flesh.

Ballentine has put that knowledge to use at It's a live video-conferencing site, where 'fleshpuppets' perform a wide variety of sexual acts. But instead of performing a set show, or being told what to do, the fleshpuppets really are puppets -- their 'strings' are electrodes subcutaneously implanted into their muscles. By using a custom-built controller to control the signals those electrodes send, you can make the fleshpuppets move almost any way you want; rub, stroke, massage, jab, punch, or writhe on command. As an added bonus, pressing the F3 key (why the F3 key, I wonder?) injects your fleshpuppet with a large dose of Noratrazol, a drug that causes spontaneous orgasms in women.

The system is not perfect: the controller has a moderate learning curve, and the movements are often clumsy. Once my fleshpuppet's right arm convulsively jerked upward again and again, sort of like a black power salute. Since there's no control over the tongue, if you want them to speak you have to tell them what to say (undoubtedly they're well trained), but all in all this is so close to mind control it's frightening.

On top of this basic setup there are a few extras. If you get tired, there are pre-recorded programs. And you can record a favorite sequence of actions as a macro, to be replayed again and again -- by repeated application of this, one could theoretically work up some pretty interesting modern dance routines, just like Stelarc.

Future plans include pairings of fleshpuppets -- it's impossible to control two at once, but one could be either set on autopilot, left to their own free will, or be controlled by another person. Perhaps this will be a great aid to couples separated by space -- if they can't be near each other, at least they can telefuck each other each other through fleshpuppets in a dank room in Thailand. Maybe it's better than phone sex -- who knows? And no doubt those interested in gender-blurring will rapidly colonize this niche of the pornographic ecosystem as well.

One suspects that this job is hard on the fleshpuppets; all of the ones I saw had a few bruises. Although only God knows where those might have come from in the Thai sex industry, I imagine most of them came from I have no doubt that much of the appeal of fleshpuppets is S&M oriented -- the ability to make one of the fleshpuppets grab herself and squeeze, harder and harder, through cries of agony, until she nearly passes out from the pain, undoubtedly appeals to someone. Perhaps

It is proper SurReview protocol to write a paragraph exploring the future implications of all this; however, I don't think I can. Pornography has always been a big motivator of technology, and I'm sure this technology will be even further exploited. Maybe they'll move into snuff, and let you kill someone for a little extra. What's next? Horses? Strippers hooked up to Nintendo game controllers? I'd rather not think about it.


Is there something missing in your life? Do you spend long, lonely nights alone with only Comedy Central and a cheap bottle of scotch? Do you know that there's something out there that will make your life complete? Is that something is a lovely female Russian amputee? If so, you are in luck -- has arrived, designed specifically to cater to all your Russian amputee needs.

Russian amputees? Talk about niche marketing. I wonder who this site is really trying to cater to, the 'I'd love to order a Russian mail order bride, but aren't they out of my price range?' crowd or the 'Nothing starts me off right in the morning like a good Russian amputee!' crowd. Actually, they're not mail order brides. You can pick one out over the internet, but you have to go to Moscow and shell out $1500 for the tour.

The women themselves are mixed. The featured woman, Oksana #14, is beautiful, and a number of the others are quite lovely. But many of them look like younger versions of Madeline Albright or older versions of Paula Jones, and at least one bears a striking resemblance to Christopher Penn.

Unfortunately, there's not a wide selection of amputations -- the ladies' are marked with codes indicating their missing limb -- almost always it's part of a leg. I'd hope, if this place was hoping to cater to exotic tastes, they'd show a little more imagination. It's too bad there are no women who are 'amputees on the inside' -- missing a lung or a heart valve or something -- for those men who just have to have an Russian amputee but don't want to be superficial about it.

But there's more than just pictures of hot Russian amputees waiting for YOU! There's advice on handling your Russian amputee -- "Do not violate laws for her favor", "Speak slowly. Use simple sentences.", "If she exhibits any amoral behavior, return her to Russian and notify Frantana".

I can imagine the conversations: "Well, Joe, I'd love to go fishin' today, but that damned Russian amputee exhibited immoral behavior again, so I've got to crate her up and ship her back Russia. It'll probably take all afternoon."

Plus, helpful informational tidbits -- did you know that Russian women have such features as:


Next time I get sick of the nonviability of all these four-limbed American women, I'll know where to go.


Copyright 1997
James D Thomas