… Continued from “Lanny Found” …
Anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m an adamant perfectionist. I hate when things are done in a shoddy sloppy way and particularly in Second Life, which is a totally visual medium, I expect precision. I judge venues all the time by things like floating trees or furniture (a lot of people in SL seem to have no depth perception whatsoever), misaligned prims, and lack of taste. One thing I found out about Crito early on was that he shared the same aesthetic and was equally ferocious about making things right, which made him even more attractive to me.
As time went on we got into working on the dynamics and rules of our Dom/sub relationship, something that was very important to me as I totally enjoy the submissive role and doing any and everything I can to please my Dominant partner. In virtual worlds there is a system that can be implemented in the viewer called RLV (for Restrained Life or Love Viewer) which lets one voluntarily allow objects and other avatars to assume control over them (like poses, animations, immobility, etc.). Using this system greatly enhances bd/sm play in SL as one does not have to just pretend to be controlled, restrained, captured, or whatever, but can actually be forced into such situations by an approved person or persons (or scripted objects). Crito had had some experience using this system before meeting me, but had not used it as extensively as we were going to be doing, so it was my pleasure to be his tutor and “guinea pig” as he developed more skill and experience in that area.
Also together we began the job of terraforming, landscaping, and decorating his new Roman-themed region. The idea was that this was to be our HOME first and foremost, but open to the gay male adult public as a place to visit and play. We did a lot of shopping, finding furniture, toys, interior decorating and outdoor play area items. I was familiar with a lot of vendors so we went on shopping sprees to get only the best quality content for our home.
We had so many projects to work on we both wanted to keep ourselves organized and be able to work together fluently both online and offline, so we got into the habit of using voice (both in-world and on Skype) pretty quickly and I also set up an account for us to keep an active project/to-do list on a third-party site (called Wunderlist).
Not far into the process, of course, Crito wanted to come up with a name and a logo for the endeavor and we threw ideas out to each other. I thought it was appropriate to keep the name and the symbols in the ancient Roman theme, and I came up with the idea to call the venue Terra Lascivus (which literally means, “Land of Lasciviousness (or lust / licentiousness)” — pronounced lah SEE woos, by the way. I also thought it would be a good idea (and Crito agreed) to put up marble plaques around the region with Latin phrases, particularly one at the main entrance which would serve as a motto for the region. I proposed the legal phrase of VOLENTI NON FIT INJURIA, which means “To those who consent no injury is done.” This fit in perfectly with the venue, which was to be a sexual playground for adult gay men, often including bondage and S&M activity. As such activities are not acceptable to some, we wanted to make it clear that we believed strongly in the premise that what consenting adults do together is totally acceptable so long as there is no coercion.
Early on Crito made Lanny his business partner and co-estate manager, making it clear that they were equal partners and everything was not “his” but “ours” (though in my submissive role I still thought of everything as HIS, including and especially myself).
I can say, without equivocation, that the weeks and months that followed were the happiest I had ever been in a long long time, both in Second Life and outside of it. To say that we had things in common would be a gross understatement. We were continually delighting each other, laughing, making plans together, building, and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. We were always saying or typing the exact same things at the exact same time — so much so that it became a private joke between us, always completing each other’s sentences and bursting into laughter each time it happened.
Lanny did not love Crito, he worshiped and adored him. Every day I could not wait to log in and be with my Sir and try to make him happy. My greatest wish each day was to kneel at his feet, cater to him, and be available to him.
We were always listening to a music stream on the region and certain songs took on significance to us, demonstrating how we felt about each other and our life together. When they would begin to play we would stop whatever we were doing and start dancing around together, enjoying every moment of the camaraderie. We loved to dance to Rhianna’s S&M, of course, but one song is particularly memorable to me. Crito found the link to a particular tune and sent it to me to play, saying, “This is for you, boy,” and together we danced around the patio while it played. I still enjoy dancing alone to that song in SL whenever I need to cheer myself up, though the memory of us dancing to it together can bring a tear to my eye as well, owing to the strong feelings we were experiencing at the time.
Crito acquired an application for his cell phone that allowed him to log into Second Life while he was at work and he would sometimes log in during the middle of the day to visit and chat with me. He only had text (no picture), but even so I would fly to wherever he was logged in and lie down at this feet, pressing myself up against him as closely as possible as we talked, even though he could not see me or himself. I would wait every afternoon on the patio for him to log in when he got home from work (and he would sometimes shout, “Honey! I’m Home!”), and would almost jump out of my digital skin with delight and desire when he rezzed in front of me and I could rush to his side, embrace him, then kneel at his feet.
As we got more involved with our Dom/sub games, Crito would come up with ideas to entertain me in his absence. Often he would put Lanny in restraints with hidden timers before he logged off for the evening and the bondage would have to be endured that evening and part of the next day until the timers elapsed. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. To me, the effort a Dom puts into such things is crucially important. It’s like an extended embrace, saying “I’m thinking of you, even though I am not present, and you are MINE.” He would sometimes put Lanny on display, in bondage, for visitors to come across — sometimes only a collar leash, other times more severely restrained in bondage devices. In addition to showing his love an affection, this had the effect of intriguing and entertaining guests, so by word-of-mouth the presence and reputation of Terra Lascivus would grow. At some point we discovered an item that can be set to “throw” an avatar to a specific location, and he would set traps for me to stumble into so that I would be unexpectedly thrown into a display cage in the yard, or onto a piece of bondage equipment. Sometimes these had timers, other times they simply had to be endured until he logged in to release me. In either case I loved every minuted of it and loved him all the more for wanting to make me happy, catering to my fetish, and showing he was thinking of me all day, even though he was away at work.
After some time had passed Crito asked me if we could have a serious discussion and we went to the balcony of the main house and got comfortable on the Dutchie bed to snuggle. Once we were settled and embracing, Crito asked Lanny if he would be his SL partner (which, in Second Life, is essentially a proposal of marriage). No one had, in all my years of Second Life, ever even hinted at partnering officially and I was elated that he had asked me. I couldn’t have been more excited or pleased. In fact, it was good that we were not using voice at the time and instead were text-chatting, because I got very emotional and sobbed as I enthusiastically typed Yes! Now we were more than friends, project partners, co-region owners, and lovers, we were married. I could not have been more happy or proud. When he went through the process of instituting the partnership and his name appeared in my profile (something I had never before experienced) I teared up all over again, and for the next few days I continually looked at his and my profile pages over and over just to be able to see his name in my profile and mine in his.
Gradually the work to create the venue Crito wanted was coming together. After I did the terraforming he worked on the landscaping, adding the trees (he loves trees), the roads, and other outdoor features, while I worked on the buildings and interiors. A lot of what I was doing was removing prims. The buildings, particularly the main villa, were beautiful but primmy as hell and I spent many many hours removing unnecessary prims and remodeling in order to give us more prims to work with to furnish and decorate. Since the region was only a homestead there were only 3750 prims available.
Like any large structure, furnishing was an issue because furnishing takes prims (of course) so I was always looking for ways to fill rooms with attractive content. The goal was to look expensive and lush, so carpets and wall tapestries and large works of art were employed. At one point a large first floor enclosed room was seeming empty and boring, so I got the idea of removing the entire outside wall and putting up a railing, creating a beautiful open-air parlor which provided a view of the northern piazza and fountain, a park, and the ocean beyond.
Crito purchased one of those large mesh male nude statues and at first a copy was put out by the pool and deemed “Our Mascot” by Crito. Shortly after that, one of us (I can’t remember which one) got the idea of putting a larger copy in the atrium of the main villa. As it turned out, there were two figures in the set, one a mirror of the other, so I had an idea and had him rez both copies and then arranged them close together, one a bit smaller than the other, so they appeared to be lovers. I also used a few light-emitting prims to add area lights and color. It turned out great, and was a striking sight when coming into the villa from the front entrance. I really loved that display.
Eventually, when enough of the project was completed, Crito decided that we should start taking some rest and recreation time and we began to go out to weekly dances together, particularly Regi’s dance at RegiMade and Cody & Billy’s weekly beach dance in Boystown. Each time we went I was filled with happiness and pride to be Crito’s boy and be seen with him. We got a lot of attention and both of us thoroughly enjoyed it. In addition we began taking exploration tours of the Grid, usually going to places I suggested that Crito was not yet familiar with. We also had fun going on shopping expeditions together to find things for the region.
Slowly more people were discovering TL by word of mouth, and we had a few regular visitors, but Crito decided it was time to start advertising, so when the opportunity came up to have a booth at the Gay Pride celebration he jumped at the chance and purchased a nice size space and I proceeded to build a small example of the region inside, along with large photo murals on the walls. In the back I made a replica of the outdoor Roman bath and put a life-size cutout of the two of us embracing inside it. Of course, we made a freebie package to give away including landmark, information, pictures, and a couple of prizes. Later in the year the Second Life Birthday Party provided an opportunity to place advertising for gay venues into a large photo tower and Crito paid for a section of that as well, where I created a slide show of pictures of the region.
Time passed, as time has a tendency to do, and we continued to enjoy each other’s company, continued to build and tweak and improve the venue, and I was the happiest I had ever been in Second Life to that point in time. I lived on a gorgeous region I had helped create, I had a handsome, charismatic, kind, generous, sexy and stern but loving Dom and partner, and I was having the opportunity and getting the fulfillment that comes from being able to play the submissive role in a D/s relationship which gave me pleasure.
But alas, as relationships have a tendency to do, trouble began to brew in paradise. Quarrels began to develop and feelings began to turn from happy to hurt. Even now, still feeling the submissive role in this story, I feel the urge to take all the responsibility for the discord (I can be moody and cranky and difficult, even sulky, and that takes patience to deal with). But hindsight being 20/20 I think a good portion of the problem was frustration, and maybe to some degree a bit of insecurity, on Crito’s part.
It’s important to explain because, unless one has experienced it personally, there is no way to understand or even conceive of the difficulties that can arise in a Dom/sub relationship that makes frequent use of RLV. As much fun as it can be for the submissive, the RLV system can get very complex and frustrating for the Dominant. There are dozens of overlapping and conflicting possibilities and there are a hundred ways for things to fail, all of which can be annoying and frustrating for the person who (by virtue of his role) is supposed to be in control of things. Truly, if one does not have a tremendous amount of patience and can keep a sense of humor about it, it can be very much a fun killer.
In addition to that are the inherent difficulties that arise in any virtual relationship. Despite all of our best intentions and feelings of love and companionship, the fact is that the very important human contact factors are missing from the equation. The sense of touch is zero, and avatars (so far) are monotone and deadpan, never expressing the thousands of facial expressions and body language movements that are necessary in intimate relationships. Only if both parties use voice frequently can any modicum of true emotion and inflection be introduced into the relations. Text communication is woefully lacking as we all know, and misunderstandings can easily arise based on personal feelings (causing false interpretations) and from insecurities on the part of the recipient (the famous, “What did he mean by that?” dilemma). Sometimes no amount of smileys or other attempts to simulate expressive intent can prevent false interpretations of what is said.
And finally, a lot of the tension stemmed from the simple fact that I mentioned way back at the beginning of Part 1 of this post; namely, that Lanny was not the original “me,” he was an alt. When you exist for a considerable length of time as one persona you accumulate a history and encounter a lot of people. When you then switch to another persona, trying to hide your identity, eventually old associations will poison the situation. Despite your anonymous new persona you are still YOU behind the screen. You still have the same thoughts and feelings, you still have strong opinions one way or the other about certain people who you WILL run across again (Second Life is big but not that big), and the same tensions and prejudices will rear their ugly heads eventually.
In my case my constant enjoyment and desire was the ability to be of service. Nothing made me happier than being Crito’s boy, supporting his efforts, making him look good to others and feel good about himself, to make myself available for his pleasure, offering my skills and experience using SL to help make his vision of a popular playground come to fruition. Despite that, more and more often I started to hear two repeating complaints: “I know you think I’m an idiot,” and “I don’t know what to do with you any more.”
Of these two, the first one hurt me the deepest as it was totally false. While I thought I was donating my expertise and experience with SL problems in the spirit of love and support and the need (and satisfaction) of being supportive and instructive, instead it was apparently being interpreted as criticism and condescension. For him to even think I was judging his skills and talents as “inferior” or “stupid” shocked and hurt me.
The second part, “I don’t know what to do with you any more,” I now can understand more clearly and empathize with.
I have had boys of my own in SL and I know from experience that after the initial excitement wears off it begins to become more and more difficult to come up with activities and a sort of “performance anxiety” starts to set in. Because the Dom cannot read the mind of the sub, and the very reasons mentioned above (lack of actual physical touch and reactions, no body language or inflection) begin to cause doubts to arise in the Dom’s mind that he is “doing it right” or “doing it well enough.” Couple that with the aggravations and delays caused by RLV problems and you have a perfect recipe for fear, doubt, and frustration.
One day the frustration peaked and during a heated verbal exchange I lost my temper and blurted out, “If you don’t know what to do with me then why am I still wearing this collar?” In my head it sounded like a good argument that would lead to a re-evaluation of our respective roles, but in his anger Crito unlocked the collar and logged off. I was totally shocked and devastated. Only a person with a submissive nature would understand, but to me that was the ultimate rejection. In addition, he did not return the next day and it became apparent to me in my grief that I was expected to go away.
In retrospect I could have stuck around and tried to resolve the situation, but among my many weaknesses I am stubborn when my feelings are hurt and I retreat into myself and clam up and sulk, feeling resentful. I had no desire to detract from or damage the beautiful venue we had created together, so I picked up only a few costly no-copy personal items around the region, sent an IM to Crito about what I had taken back, then vacated the property and logged out. I’m not ashamed to say I cried all night and most of the next day from loss and self-pity.
A couple of days later I tried to log in but I could not do it. I could not bear to even look at Lanny without his collar. I could not bear to be in-world and not be able to sit at my partner’s feet, be his boy, feel the love and support that I had been enjoying the past months. So, as melodramatic as it arguably was, Lanny was destroyed (or committed suicide, if you want to equate it with that). I deleted the Second Life account, deleted the email account, closed the Skype account and scrambled the passwords on everything so that there was no way for me to log back in during the the 30-day buffer period. If Crito communicated with Lanny after that I never saw it, because Lanny no longer existed.
For the next couple of weeks I stayed away from SL, frequently falling into a tearful depression over the whole situation, but eventually I logged back in with my primary account and got on with things as Caliburn.
Many guys are only in Second Life for what they call “just fun – no drama.” The translation of this is that they don’t intend to invest any emotion or aspects of themselves into their avatar. Instead they just want to bum around and (basically) fuck. They use their AV as pixel porn to have a wank, and that’s the extent of their investment. Some of us want more. We want to find that one special partner who understands us, accepts us, is always our advocate, our companion, our confidant, and our best friend. Someone we can trust — even in the treacherous, backbiting, IM-gossiping, misunderstanding-laden environment of Second Life — and look forward to the future with. But I’m pretty certain at this point (after nearly eight years and several relationships) that because of the inherent communication problems in a virtual world, sustaining that level of intimacy is next to impossible. No matter how good the intentions of both parties, eventually the environment undermines the process and things fall apart.
Nevertheless, that does not mean it’s a waste of time trying. I did have something worthwhile for a time, which is much of my motivation for finally getting up the courage (or audacity if you want to see it that way) to document it here. Crito was a fine upstanding fellow and he treated me extremely well and made me truly and deliriously happy for a time, and I’m grateful for that. That is something you can’t put a price on. It’s rare and invaluable and worth taking risks for or suffering feelings of loss to experience.
I know if Lanny still existed he would say, “Thank you, Sir.”
There is a large album of photographs to accompany this post on my Flickr® account. As always, you can see better versions of the pictures if you also have an account there, and you must have the “Safety Filter” turned off in order to see any moderate or adult-rated pictures in the album.
ADDENDUM: Please note that this post refers to the original Terra Lascivus Gay Male Resort that Crito and I created together, but which no longer exists in Second Life. There is a new business venture that has no connection to myself known as Terra Lascivus Gay Resort, which is quite striking visually and worth a visit. You can find the website [here].