Johnny Marathon is trying to attach his dick. He’s standing stark-naked on a cobblestone road in Provincetown, a cigarette between his fingers, and he’s having a terrible time putting on his penis.
RAINBOW WARRIORS: Second Life’s version of Provincetown.
“Anything there?” he asks.
I move in closer to check. Nothing but a Ken doll–like lump.
“You’re still dickless,” I report.
“Damn,” Johnny curses.
We’re in a GLBT-friendly 3D cyberspace environment modeled after the Cape Cod vacation destination. Specifically, we’re hanging out in a corner of the quickly ballooning virtual “metaverse” of 600,000-plus digital residents called Second Life (SL) (see “Does Your Life Suck?,” News and Features, July 15). Second Life Provincetown doesn’t have a Crown & Anchor, a Bayside Betsy’s, or an off-season. It does, however, have a sex-organ-selling shop called Xcite!, which is where Johnny was coming from when I ran into him. (In SL, genitals have to be purchased and then attached to a human-shaped body, which makes the process of sexualization sort of like playing with a cyber-porn paper-doll.)
“What you will see, while not actually a ‘replica,’ tries to remain faithful to the look and style,” explains SL Provincetown owner Dillon Speculaas (real name: Dillon Jonas), before leading me on a personal tour. Considering that the first person I met here was a naked guy in search of manhood, I’d already say that the recreation is pretty faithful.
There are plenty of other similarities with the “real” world. A Commercial Street–styled shopping district of narrow walkways and wooden-planked decks. Pastel hues. Mewing seagulls. Rainbow flags. A gallery, a candy store (salt-water taffy coming soon), and a beach. A life-size cutout of a shirtless, crotch-bulging man peeking out of the Welcome Center window. There’s even a recreation of that well-known oceanfront landing-pier cruising spot, Dick Dock.
Speculaas runs SL Provincetown with his partner Getme Somme. (“He had no idea he’d become so active in SL when he made up that name!,” explains Speculaas over e-mail.) They collaborated on designing the place with land developer Kamael Xevious, who’s also responsible for building “the first real place for gay men to meet in SL,” a virtual Turkish Bath called Haz Pazzar. “Especially in the commercial areas, I wanted to capture the closeness and ‘crowded’ feeling of the original,” explains Xevious, who spent ten weeks over the summer constructing SL Provincetown from scratch. “One of the things that we couldn’t do was recreate a lot of the exact buildings,” he adds. “Many of them were copyrighted or had trademarked signs and graphics that we couldn’t duplicate.” So there’s no Lobster Pot. No Spiritus Pizza. And nothing named after the bear-friendly leather-bar the Vault.
There is however Babylon, a cavernous nightclub that Speculaas hopes will soon be retooled and renamed after an actual place in Provincetown. “We would love to have the blessing of a real-life club,” says Speculaas, a New Yorker who hasn’t been to his imaginary property’s namesake since he was a child. “But it’s difficult to pin anyone down on-season.” While there’s no Pilgrim Monument — SL’s height restrictions prohibit a structure that tall — there is a striking marble memorial to hate-crime victims engraved with over 150 names, an outdoor shrine that Speculaas hopes will stage talks by real-world speakers and educators.