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Porn for Propellerheads

Names in this article have been changed.

BOBBY FETT LIVES IN AN AIRY APARTMENT IN Hollywood. His room is a riot of nerdy pop-culture memorabilia. The two Stars -- Trek and Wars -- are well-represented, bookshelves loaded with miniature Yodas and Kirks. Fett is particularly pleased with a Chekov figurine that appears to "beam up" when you press a button. Stacks of autographed comic books litter the floor. There's probably a worn copy of The Dungeon Master's Guide somewhere beneath all the sci-fi kitsch, and I happen to know there are a few Car Wars rule books lurking around, because Fett and I got stoned and played a few months back.

This is not, one would think, the bedroom of a pornographer. But when Fett and his partner, Rocky Zen, launch their aptly titled Web site, Geeklust (http://www.geeklust.com), a pornographer is exactly what Fett will be. It's a turn of events that puzzles even the man himself.

"Why did I start this in the first place?" says Fett, impatiently clicking at the mouse on his new Mac G3, Web pages flicking across the monitor at seizure-inducing speed thanks to a recently installed 180k-per-second cable modem. "I started this as a fucking joke that's gone too far, basically."

Inspired by the booming Net trade in Trek-flavored erotica, Fett and Zen hit upon the idea of giving Web-crawling geeks living, breathing versions of their pop fantasies. "You know, if you hadn't been born a geek, you'd lust after Pam Anderson or Jenny McCarthy," Fett explains. "And there's plenty of pictures of them naked. But no, you're a geek, so you're lusting after Scully, and Gillian Anderson will never take her clothes off. Or you're lusting after Batgirl, who's just drawn on paper." Fett plans to dress up models in costumes reminiscent of the Trek characters, or those of Xena: Warrior Princess, or sexy superheroes -- being careful not to step on copyrights -- and show the models stripping them off. And maybe masturbating a little, too.

FROM SUPER-8 TO VIDEO, THE PORN INDUSTRY HAS always been quick to latch on to new technologies that might allow for more explicit and easily obtainable smut, and the Web is no exception.

But if it's common knowledge that the Web has helped pushed porn into the mainstream -- with hardcore fisting videos now as accessible as standard nudies -- it's also true that it's made it easier for those in the mainstream to themselves become pornographers. Horny Joe Citizen can now cheaply -- and anonymously -- put a video of his latest anal adventure on the Web, for a paying audience that can number in the thousands. The tech world abounds with stories of unlikely successes in the field, like the housewife in Mission Viejo who launched a site featuring her own nude self and raked in a million bucks in her first year.

Those gold-rush days, both Fett and Zen acknowledge, are now over, the market overcrowded with tens of thousands of mostly homogeneous sites, many of which swipe their material off porncentric newsgroups or each other. But, says Fett, "I'm tired of working a day job. I just want to make enough money at this to get by." His figure -- six grand a month -- sounds realistic.

Unfortunately, while technology has made the physical creation of porn much easier, it doesn't smooth out the emotional issues that come with the territory. Hanging up after the latest in a series of strained phone conversations with prospective models, Fett rubs a weary hand over his face. "Sometimes this whole thing becomes a little more serious than I'd prefer," he admits. "I had one person call me, leave a message saying she'd like to model, and then when I called her back two days later, her roommate answered and said she wasn't there because she was having a baby."

Fett worries about the money he's invested in software, video capture cards and three-chip digital camcorders. He worries that his true identity will somehow leak out, killing any chance he may have of starting a legitimate career in Hollywood. And as a frustrated comedy writer and sensitive Ivy League grad, he worries that the models themselves won't get The Joke.

"I had one person -- the first girl that I called, actually, her name is Brooke, we're shooting her this weekend -- who's been a godsend," says Fett. "We'll just start chatting about things. It's the sort of thing where I'm playing the role that I want to play in this, which is, 'Yeah, the shoot's gonna be cool, we'll just have fun, bring a friend over if you want, since you don't know us.' And she'll be like, 'Oh, yeah, no problem, I can't tell you how many horror stories I have, but it sounds like it's gonna be a lot of fun.' She's the only person who said, 'It sounds like it's gonna be a lot of fun.' You know? And it's like, oh good, here's someone I don't have to worry is gonna come in and be some sort of, like, portrait of human tragedy."

He pulls up a seminude photo Brooke's posted of herself on the Web, advertising her outcall-massage business. "I don't know," he sighs. "Maybe if I were a real pornographer, I wouldn't care."

But you are a real pornographer, I remind him.

"Yeah," he says, shutting down the G3. "I guess I am."

 

Next week: The first shoot.