“When I first asked her about this, she initially put it down to ‘just fooling around on the wires.’” “It’s just a hobby,” she said.

“Maybe I’ll get some dates out of it.” Yet under the spell of her dirty-talking alter ego, the Naked Lady began to undergo a metamorphosis.

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It contained an article about a woman whose prolific activity in “hot chats” transformed her from a “paragon of shy and retiring womanhood” into a bona fide “man-eater.” The author describes a female friend who spent hours a day in the 1980s on a service called the Source.

He calls her by her handle: “This Is a Naked Lady.” “The Naked Lady egged on her digital admirers with leading questions larded with copious amounts of double entendre,” the piece began.

In Online Seductions, she coined a phrase for the kinds of relationships that her patients struck up.

They were “uniquely intimate” because they “grew from the inside out.” Gwinnell’s patients said some version of the same thing again and again.

The author of The Joy of Cybersex, Deborah Levine, had spent several years counseling college undergraduates at the Columbia University Health Education program. Like earlier safe-sex activists, Levine used bullet-point lists to introduce the sites her readers should know and to teach them the language that they would need to thrive on them.

Levine encouraged them to use their computers to flirt, start online relationships, and explore their farthest-fetched fantasies without taking real-world risk. The pages she cited ran the gamut from tutorials for geeks, like to resources for free lovers like the Open Hearts Project and

As more and more Americans got online in the early 1990s, they learned how to enjoy relationships that were text-only.

Pioneering “cybercitizens” developed forms of dating that were all talk.

She ceased to be “a rather mousy person — the type who favored gray clothing of a conservative cut …

She became (through the dint of her blazing typing speed) the kind of person that could keep a dozen or more online sessions of hot chat going at a time.” The effects carried over into real life.

“The driving source behind sex in the 1990s, whether you’re partnered or single, is the human imagination,” Levine declared. The place where imaginations go wild, anonymity is the rule, and desire runs amok.” Like earlier safe-sex educators, Levine used multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questionnaires to help readers take stock of what they wanted. The chapter “Overcoming Sexual Inhibitions,” for instance, started with a quiz intended to help you assess how uptight you are. If your best friend started unexpectedly talking about his or her sex life over coffee one day, you would:a. A service called Tri Ess connected heterosexual couples who were into cross-dressing.