The big


Forget traditional Valentines. The millennium is coming and cybersex is

reaching new heights, forging unimaginable ways to get those hormones

racing. So don your cybergoggles and sticky gloves and let us take you on ajourney through future sex, from virtual titillation to sci-ti sex moments, via writer A. L Kennedy’s rocket trip to ultimate satisfaction. Hold on, the countdown begins here...

t is Valentine’s Day in the year 2020. You're balming your lips up for a good old- fashioned snog when your loved one calls to say they’ve missed the last space shuttle and it’ll have to be virtual slap ’n’ tickle instead.

What is a spage-age boyl or girl supposed to do? According to the ‘experts’, sex in the future will mean never having to say ‘your candlelit dinner’s in the robodog’. Thanks to the technology that brought us such labour-

12 The List 7-20 Feb I997

saving/time-wasting devices as the microwave, the home PC and the Sony PlayStation, cancelled dates will no longer mean cancelled nookie. If all you read is true, the absence of a flesh and blood partner will be no barrier to a meeting of sweaty bodies and excitable minds.

The assembly line of products designed to take sex into the let century is growing fast. Teledildonics (geddit) will put separated lovers in touch on Valentine’s Day in a way BT never could. The recipe for this dish ofdigital love is a


computerised body suit through which users can ‘feel’ the remotely transmitted touch of their absent lover. Other developments with designs on future sex include the virtual sex worker a disease-free, digital prostitute that clicks and beeps away to the client’s content an orgasm- in-a-pill, and various X-rated versions of the virtual reality goggles currently used by computer and video games-players.

These tech-sex toys are unlikely to be available on the high street for another twenty years, but that doesn’t stop the world speculating about what scientists have in store. Cybernookie has been covered by everyone from Elle to ladmag Loaded.

At ground level we’ve got little further with cybersex than the souped-up porn of CD-ROM cyberbabe Virtual Valerie, whose Barbie Doll limbs are just a few mouse clicks from heaven for a generation of plooky adolescents.

Liverpudlian actress and stand-up comedian Margi Clarke is one woman who’s been touched by the wandering hands of cybersex. In one episode of her brassy pop-sexology TV series The Good Sex Guide, the sassy Scouser bed- tested a virtual reality body suit lined with electrodes designed to stimulate the erogenous zones. Sounds like a good alternative to a night in with Noel's House Party, but and this is the million dollar question was it any cop?

‘lt’s like a body vibrator,’ says Clarke of the suit designed as a prototype by a UK-based company. Mmm, sounds interesting. ‘Well you don’t really have to wait for the future for that,’ she says. ‘You can actually go and get one of those anyway. Down the 50p shop.’ Ah yes, that kind of vibrator. Maybe this gear isn’t as future- funky as it looks. ‘It wasn’t that powerful.’ admits Clarke.

One development the Scouse sexpen is keen to see go wholesale is the aforementioned orgasm pill. The pharmaceutical answer to the Orgasmatron in Woody Allen’s film Sleeper an orb-shaped device passed round parties like a reefer, delivering orgasm on demand the pill is being hyped by the US media as the next big bang for future sex. Whether we’ll all be pill- popping our corks by the year 2000 is anybody’s guess. And ’scuse me, didn’t somebody already invent this pill and call it Ecstasy? Whichever way, Margi Clarke is first in the queue for product-testing. ‘We’ll ’ave that one,’ she says. ‘Maybe the scientists are on to something good for a change.’

So if and when no-strings-attached thrills with orgasm pills, hot-wired body suits and digital partners become reality, will we be ready for it?

‘I think at the moment possibly not,’ says Sheila McLean, professor of law and ethics in medicine at Glasgow University’. ‘We still have a society that’s pretty strait-laced about sex.’

She does however have hopes for the future: ‘lt’s possible that by doing this sort of thing [cybersex] we can remove the risk of disease, and it might liberate people to explore sex a little more openly.

‘Most people do have sexual fantasies, which may or may not be about the person they’re with. If what you do is just make this fantasy slightly more realistic you’re not necessarily changing the nature of the bond that they already have. It might simply heighten people’s capacity to enjoy a sexual experience. And if it became something that was marketed it might be something which we are less ashamed to talk about.‘

Who’s first for those goggles?

Margi Clarke is at the Pavilion, Glasgow, Fri 7 Feb. See comedy listings for details.