For years, I didn’t tell a soul about my relationship with Frank Zappy, assuming they would think he was a pedophile and I a snaggle-toothed sex maniac.
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I was Dana, a name I had lifted from a character on my favorite Purple Moon CD-ROM.
Dana was 19, an aspiring veterinarian, and everyone told her she looked like Britney Spears.
This veil of anonymity let an entire generation of young women like myself experience their sexual initiations in AIM chatrooms.
For the first few weeks or so, my relationship with Frank Zappy skirted the lines of PG-13 respectability.
I only have vague memories about the first time I had sex.
(I was 15, and it was the intermission of my camp’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; I was Helena, he was Lysander, and that’s all you need to know.) I do, however, have a very clear memory of the first time I had cybersex. His AIM handle was Frank Zappy, and I believe he claimed to be a married man from Queens.
“It was incredibly powerful for people to be able to go into chat and talk about sex and be sexual without risking their marriages, or their relationships,” noted Weiss, who estimates this practice started exploding around 1996, when AOL was first gaining steam.
“This was a way to have a brand new sexual experience without having to take the same risks you took in a real meeting.” Unlike phone sex or late nights in bars, meeting someone in an AOL chatroom for a little at-work afternoon delight was essentially free, or at least the price of a dial-up Internet connection.
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