My casual experiences with VR porn is something everyone can learn from

My casual experiences with VR porn is something everyone can learn from

SexMay 17, 2017 By Sean Sullivan

A woman is undressing, speaking something incomprehensible in a thick Slavic accent as I watch from a couch. She giggles with horny stupidity, bends down and takes off my pants. My heart pounds, legs stretch and eyes dilate wide to make sure I don’t miss a single detail of what’s about to happen. Then something sinks its claw into my left foot and purrs. I look down expecting to see my cat and remember, “That’s not my penis.” 

What makes people willing to risk being caught in such a ridiculously compromising situation? What makes VR porn so special? I had to know.

When my exorbitant Oculus Rift arrived about one year ago, I was electrified to experience “the next generation of gaming.” Virtual reality was a childhood dream of mine, from The Matrix to my bedroom. Hovering under the surface of the excitement was one practical use I was more curious about than any other. A pubescent dream that showed up after everyone else went to bed and the world was quiet: VR porn.

I’m not alone.

Pornhub isn’t just a fine purveyor of salacious videos. The tube site also collects and presents the best masturbation data around. In Spring 2016, Pornhub launched its VR vertical with a modest 20 videos. One year later, it’s grown to a library of over 2600 titillating experiences and averages 500,000 daily views.

I look down expecting to see my cat and remember, “That’s not my penis.”

Statistically, there is someone somewhere right now wearing an overheated $800 virtual reality headset, sweatpants haphazardly folded around their ankles, their jaw dripping towards the floor, while sitting in a big-and-tall PU leather chair. The only sound is a rhythmic, almost melodic, repetition like an unhinged ceiling fan. It’s best not to think about it.

Almost every person I’ve made wear my Oculus — I clean it — has commented on the sense of presence: that the black leather couch, the play of shadow and light dancing between the vertical blinds, the sound of Ben Wa balls ringing from a vagina just off-screen, is real. What’s merely code seems tangible enough to grasp in your hand.

The first video I found put me in a changing room, lying on a bench while a cheerleader with an aquiline nose and crop top initialed “BJU” asked, “Have you ever been with a girl before?” I nodded. My throat tensed up and I heard myself let out a cartoonish gulp. “This isn’t real,” I thought. But it felt real. She had depth, fully proportioned as if she was just two feet away from me. In one sense, she was.

In VR you’re not the audience; you’re on stage.

Typical porn is voyeuristic. The excited viewer spies on an intimate act between two — or three, or four, or five, or more people. You watch from a privileged position like some omnipotent scoundrel. But it’s 2D, flat as the monitor on which it’s projected. In VR porn, instead of sitting in a theater and greasing your hands with a thick wad of butter, you’re a part of the movie and have a 3.4 oz TSA approved bottle of lube.

When the clearly mature cheerleader looked into my eyes I felt nervous. It was an unexpected intimacy. “I’m looking at a real person, who exists, who has hopes and dreams, who has friends and family, a home, maybe a dog or cat, and ... now she’s stripping.” It was empathy. I looked into the eyes of the 4.33 GB licentiously rendered soul and saw a window opening into an orgasm.

The vast majority of VR porn videos are shot from a man’s perspective, typically a man who’s involved in a ménage à trios — with two women. The man sits — mirroring the sweaty animal at the computer, i.e. not moving — while the women maneuver him like a sex doll.

Fewer videos are shot with a woman wearing a camera strapped to her cranium, while a white-collar bronco ties her to a bedpost. There aren’t many, but I immersed myself in one — for research purposes. I wouldn’t call it enlightenment, but “uncanny” might be the right word. Ladies, I now know what it looks like to have a muscle-bound stud panting over you. It was a bizarre but illuminating experience. I learned something. Something I can’t forget and don’t need to repeat.

VR solidifies your sexuality quickly; I might be a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.

After touring the world of VR porn I made my girlfriend try. I needed her expert advice. I knocked out the hard questions, the ones that initially perplex or disturb first-time VR viewers. I turned to L, “Is this infidelity? Is staring into the eyes of digital eroticism a betrayal of our relationship?” L laughed. “No. [VR Porn] is weird … but no. It’s not cheating. It’s porn.”

There’s no human connection with the BJU alumni. It’s a temporary hypnosis. The illusion breaks as soon as the experiencer comes — or your grandfather taps you on the shoulder and says, “My turn.”

Innovations tied to sex don’t spell “D-O-O-M,” though cultural critics love to hear themselves say otherwise. People aren’t going to stop having sex, relationships aren’t going to end, humanity isn’t ruined because someone decided to masturbate to a 360-degree 3D video. Japanese cuddle cafes threatened humanity long before VR became a consumer device.

“Is this infidelity? Is staring into the eyes of digital eroticism a betrayal of our relationship?”

VR porn may galvanize the opposite effect, arousing viewers and changing their attitude towards sex. It’s hard to look a person in the eye and view them as an object unless you’re a true misanthrope, even when they're a pre-rendered video. It may make VR owners crave intimacy as much as release: the connection between two people that can’t be simulated by an overpriced piece of hardware.

That is until the newness wears off. After owning an Oculus for a few months, the novelty of VR porn numbed and I remembered first impressions aren’t worth much.

The first time I saw porn — regular porn — I was waiting in line outside my grammar school when my friend Billy said, “Hey Sean, look at this.” He had printed pictures of Britney Spears he found on Google. “You can go on the Internet and type ‘britney spears naked’ and find stuff like this.” I can? I can! At that moment I began puberty.

In the same way that faithful day eventually desensitized me to the infinite catalog of Photoshopped nude celebrities, VR porn’s attraction eventually waned. It became quotidian, average, in the only way porn can.

Once any desire wears off you wonder what the hell you were so excited about.

VR porn is just porn plus one. If I observe myself as a test subject — a completely unscientific approach unless you’re Albert Hoffmann — VR has not ruined traditional porn for me, it hasn’t affected my sex life at all, it hasn’t lead to misogyny or misandry. I don’t feel any different. Except poorer. It has given me a sense of possibility, but overall VR porn’s impact on my personal life has been one of curiosity, that soon gave way to indifferent acceptance. Now my Oculus spends its days collecting dust.

Maybe in the future VR porn will motivate people to abandon relationships and lock themselves in poorly lit rooms, but the future isn’t now.

According to some want-to-be-prophets, VR porn will become interactive, like a choose-your-own-adventure story for adults. Generation Z will wear feedback suits, have virtual sex with people they meet through World of Warcraft, and machines will perfect the art of reach-arounds. So say the starry-eyed dreamers. I have no problem with the glass half-full approach, but I like to reserve judgment until the cup is in front of me. None of the aforementioned is happening anytime soon.

What you can experience through VR porn today is watching yourself fuck through the eyes of a porn star. It’s another way to get off, a cumbersome way, but who doesn’t like a challenge? What is initially mind-blowing gradually wears off, though the sense of intimacy sticks with you long after you’ve wiped the lenses.

If VR proves anything, it’s that human sexuality and the means of satisfying one’s libido will never be exhausted. Well, at least until you return to your senses and remember you’re genitals are out in front of a computer. I’ll leave you with some parting advice that I learned the hard way: If you happen to bend some cardboard to slot your phone or buy a beefed up PC for a VR headset, put a post-it note in front of your webcam; and close the door so the cats can’t get in.