A zipless fuck, with wireless ease. That's the promise of the "Casual Encounters" section of Craigslist. There are newer, shinier, more feature-laden places to go searching for slutdom, of course, but the list of Craig endures.
Although the Internet is teeming with porn, porn is about watching. Personals are about doing. Casual Encounters gives form and encouragement to your basest desires — the ones in which you hit it and quit, in which you put in your junk but not your time — leaving you free immediately afterward to get back to Farmville or eBaum's World or whatever more important thing you were doing when you got distracted by the urge and clicked on m4m, or w4m, or mm4ts, mw4mw, w4mm, t4mw or maybe mw4t.
What you might have told yourself at the start was just idle curiosity can easily morph into enthusiastic participation as the site's clean, simple interface leads you into the dirty, complicated belief that yours is a world awash in limitless sexual possibilities.
On Craigslist, you're surrounded not only by skeevy creeps and blurry penis photos but by oats-sowing bi-curious college girls; self-described "nice guys" with jobs and proper grammar and everything; lonely, MILFy housewives who need just a bit more attention and cunnilingus than they're currently getting.
Amid the comical weirdos are people who say terribly normal-sounding things, like, "I am a 27-year-old woman, just looking for a nice stud that isn't into the drama and bullshit. Please be able to carry on a conversation and have a sense of humor if you reply to this." Or, "Looking for that special gal no strings attached, like to have intimate talks be straightforward who is a good listener knows what she wants and enjoys a good massage not afraid to go all the way."
Craigslist, with its insistently plain-wrap appearance, is the lowest-commitment option in an already low-commitment endeavor, so Casual Encounters' setup achieves a sort of harmonious equilibrium with the mindset of its users. There's no registration, no fees, no pop-ups, no banners. Just lines and lines of ads, listing the multitudes of people willing to fuck you.
But is it really that easy?
L.A. Weekly followed four people, one from each of the four major categories — w4m, m4w, w4w, m4m — in their search for that elusive, NSA encounter.
M4W: A Seller's Market
"Looking for a cute girl, age 20-50, for a fun, casual sexual encounter. And, yes, I will spank you. Nothing crazy. I don't have whips or a dungeon. I don't humiliate. Just my open hand. (And a pair of handcuffs.) I'm a handsome guy, 40, 5 feet 11 inches, nice eyes, beard, a little burly, work out 3-4 times per week, and I clean up real nice, as they say. Send a photo, I'll send you mine."
Terence's spanking offer might have narrowed the field, but then again, the field is always narrow for men who are seeking women, and even ads that aren't seeking anything exotic tend not to get a lot of replies. In the personals, it's women who run the show.
Terence received a whopping total of nine responses. Of those, eight were spam. These were identifiable by their extremely generic nature, typically something like, "Hey I liked your ad. I'm on Yahoo Messenger right now! Send me a message at HotGirl2271!" Replying to these inevitably leads the user to a paid porn site.
But one smelled like it might be human: "Hi! could you please send few pics? clearly showing your face and body? thanks! Debra." This was accompanied by a sunlit photo of an attractive blonde with a perky smile.
Cautiously optimistic, Terence sent a response, including a picture. The blonde replied, "Thanks for the pic ... i thought you would look younger. do you have other pics?"
"What was I supposed to say to that?" Terence asks, his eyes rolling skyward with exasperation. Already realizing odds were against him, Terence threw in the towel, retorting, "Sorry, honey, that's as young as I get."
When asked why he didn't work particularly hard to continue the established contact, by, say, inviting the blonde out for coffee, Terence gripes, "I'm fucking sick of 'coffee.' I can't tell you how much fucking 'coffee' I've had through all the Internet dating sites I've been on over the years. The only thing I'd meet up for is if she wants to take her clothes off today."
The hard lesson most men learn on Craigslist: Because they outnumber women by about 20 to 1 on Casual Encounters, men aren't something to be desired. They're something to be weeded out — even guys like Terence, who are attractive and well-educated.
Would he try Craigslist again?
"I might read women's ads, but placing my own was a total waste of time."