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 Life on 200 Words a Day
Flesh-Flashing

 It appears that for the last couple of weeks two briefly pornographic videos, one real and one only wishfully so, have been drawing copious catcalls from internet search engines. One video is called Tammy NYP. It supposedly shows a sweet Singaporean 17-year-old girl and her 21-year-old boyfriend engaging in grainy but ordinary sex. Singapore is not quite a country. It’s a money-making outer circle of hell where disorder is an offense against the national mission statement. The difference between public sex and sex made public is therefore somewhat grainy for a place where morals are run out of a 19 th century English parlor’s playbook. That may explain the video’s popularity. It brooks convention on multinational levels. I looked for it but found only a few descriptions, a couple of still but uncompromising photographs of the lovebirds, and many deceptive links designed to jack up visitor counts or lead to the video—for a fee.

The second video goes by the suggestively bogus name of Bukit Batok, which also happens to be, or so say the geographic rumor mills, the name of a Singaporean neighborhood. That one purports to show two individuals, also technically under age, giving a park bench reason to wince. The video doesn’t exist (at least it didn’t until capitalizing copycats of its nonexistence began flooding the Internet.) The video ghost originated in the wily calculations of a Tammy-inspired web hack who figured that if he flooded a search engine or two with enough queries for a fake item that promised vaguely illicit but accessible titillations (a sequel without the sequel), the search engines’ self-fulfilling momentum would do the rest. It did. That’s how search engines work: they reward mobs. The Butik Batok video exists only in the collective imagination of a few million bargain-basement lust-shoppers, but it has taken on the dimensions of a blockbuster.

Wasteful? Absurd? Deceptive? Not at all. If eroticism seduces more by suggestion than by flesh-flashing—by dissimulating what’s most desired—then Butik Batok, by its immense popularity and perfect invisibility, is the most erotic work of the internet age. Its material nonexistence is irrelevant. Its originality, playing in wide screens in millions of imaginations, is undeniable. Too bad most people searching for Butik Batok won’t concede that the search—the undressing, the foreplaying expectation—is the payoff, that a mind’s suggestion is worth a thousand tantric images.

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