Saturday, 22 March 2014

012: Nice outfit, Fenton! (Fenton.Luik)

Fenton Luik (Fenton)_001

Aqua on a Saturday night is always crowded and fun, especially when Lex Solari-Holland is DJing and his partner Christian Holland-Solari is hosting -- I think I heard Christian say there were 35 guys on the dance floor and I can believe it. Popular events like that are always laggy, and I was in the middle of about six conversations at once with friends, but when I spotted Fenton (Fenton.Luik) in a corner of the dance floor with his partner DannyA (DannyAyers) I figured I had my next "Nice outfit!" post.

Fenton Luik (Fenton)_002

It's not just that he's wearing a great white T-shirt from Redgrave -- which made me envious and pissed off at the same time, because Redgrave doesn't make clothes that fit l'Uomo bodies.  Part of it has to do with the fact that I wasted some money today buying myself a white T-shirt that doesn't fit worth a damn -- the usual holes in the rear shoulders and a prim attachment at the bottom that doesn't even line up with the top layer.  Aaaarrrgh.  Isn't that a great Redgrave T-shirt, though?  It looks like something that a guy would wear in RL, maybe somebody with a nice muscular body who doesn't feel compelled to wear Lycra or Spandex and let everyone know every ounce of his bulking progress at the gym. Instead, this is shaped like it's on a man's natural body. I even took a photo from the back to show that the T-shirt is carefully shaped to look like there's a natural waistband of a pair of jeans underneath it.  The sleeves of the T-shirt end right where they should to show an armband tattoo right where men actually have them. And the neckline is exactly the shape it would be if a thick cotton T-shirt had been washed a couple of times.  Emilia Redgrave is a really, really good designer, isn't she?

Fenton Luik (Fenton)_003

It was the T-shirt that interested me, but then I liked the whole look that went with it. I took a shot of Fenton's lower half just so you could see that the whole outfit goes together to create a consistent look. He looks -- normal. No fuss, no jewelry, simple haircut, and even an ordinary pair of everyday white trainers. Understated, natural, very masculine, and the whole outfit works together to give the viewer a picture of a guy who has the good sense to let his natural good looks be discovered by the passer-by's eye rather than calling attention to them.

Don't get me wrong. His partner DannyA (in the cut-off T-shirt that says "Baiter" on the front) is also a handsome guy with a consistent look who looks like he dressed to go out to the club; a little more put together, a little more stylish, and showing a bit more six-pack. And, since he's in a club filled with gay men, that makes perfect sense; he's dressed for where he is, which is always appropriate. Fenton looks like he might have been running a little late and didn't have time to go home and change after the gym, or a day of errands, or something ordinary like walking the dog. I like that idea a lot, because it's the look of someone who doesn't dress for where they're going, they dress for who they are. It's a philosophy that can take you anywhere, in either RL or SL. Maybe it's just that I always tend to assume that men who are dressed simply and well have a confident personality, and confidence is always attractive. Fenton turned out to be a nice, confident, and friendly guy, just as you'd expect; he looks like what he is.  And that always looks good.

Nice outfit, Fenton!

Fenton Luik (Fenton)_004





011: Party at Pegasus

Today what got me out of the house and out and about in society was an event that was part of the 4th Anniversary celebration of Romanum. Romanum, of course, is a Roman-themed sim for men only where residents role-play all social levels of ancient Rome, from the Emperor right down to lowly servi (what we'd call slaves), who enthusiastically serve their betters in every way you can think of and a few that probably should stay behind closed doors <grin>.

March 22 2014 Romanum anniversary party_002

There were a lot of events yesterday and today; I only had time to attend this one party, and it was a good time. It always made me feel special when the Emperor showed up at an event I'd attended, and today was no exception. The location was the new Pegasus Tavern, which gave a fresh update to an older gathering place.  It was great to see some old friends and new ones in traditional Roman garb, and congratulations are due to the DJ (Thordin RedWolf) and particularly the coordinator of events, my friend Austen Twist Argenteus. I've known the Argenteus family since my first day in Romanum, and Austen and his brother Corban Neximus Argenteus have remained my friends.

March 22 2014 Romanum anniversary party_001

Unfortunately my photographic skills weren't really equal to the task of carrying on multiple conversations AND taking good pictures, so there were only two that are even remotely worth sharing, each with its own flaws. Believe me, the ones you aren't seeing were much worse. But chalk it up to the fact that I was having a good time and catching up with old friends.

Congratulations to His Imperial Highness and all the many subjects of Romanum on their anniversary, and I wish them many more happy years in the future!

010: Johann Brakkus sits on my deck

March 22 2014 Romanum anniversary party_007

I was at a party this afternoon celebrating the anniversary of Romanum, a Roman-themed RP sim where I lived for a while last year. I ran into a lot of old friends and one of them, Johann Brakkus (musclefight) thought it might be fun to sit on my deck for an interview. Here's the verbatim transcript:

[14:19] Rusty Redfield: <click> there we go, recording now

[14:19] Johann Brakkus: ok

[14:19] Rusty Redfield: I'm here with my friend Johann Brakkus, aka Musclefight

[14:19] Rusty Redfield: who's very kindly agreed to a spur of the moment interview!

[14:19] Rusty Redfield: we've just finished at a party in Romanum, hence the Roman clothes

[14:20] Rusty Redfield: okay, first question

[14:20] Rusty Redfield: 1. Why do you stay in Second Life?  What keeps you here?

[14:21] Johann Brakkus: Hmmmmm, Second Life is a nice escape.  I get to role play a character I would never get to be in Real Life.  I have made some wonderful connections with other people...friendships I dare say.  I think that is what keeps me here.

[14:22] Rusty Redfield: see, this is easy LOL

[14:22] Rusty Redfield: okay -- question #2

[14:22] Rusty Redfield: 2. What are the qualities that attract you to people in Second Life?

[14:23] Johann Brakkus: Being nice, friendly, respectful.  Able to have fun...and understanding my bad sense of humor!

[14:24] Rusty Redfield: hahaha I think you have a GOOD sense of humour!

[14:24] Rusty Redfield: it's true, though, isn't it -- some people don't seem to be here to have fun, I don't understand that

[14:24] Rusty Redfield: anyway -- sorry -- next question

[14:24] Rusty Redfield: 3. What are you working on, as a form of artistic expression or in order to earn money, or both?

[14:25] Rusty Redfield: (feel free to plug your own business here BTW -- that's why I ask these questions)

[14:26] Johann Brakkus: I don't work!  I am here to play and have fun!  I don't worry about earning money here in SL.  So no interesting projects or business ventures here.

[14:26] Rusty Redfield: actually, I hear that a lot from people.  some people say creating their av is their art project...

[14:28] Johann Brakkus: If I were plug a specific partner Rod runs a fun club...Rumpus!  It is a wrestling themed night club, with parties 3 nights a week, and a wrestling ring and locker rooms available at other times.  I would like to see that succeed very much!

[14:29] Rusty Redfield: oh good! I was hoping you'd mention that.  yes, Rumpus is great -- the parties are always filled with hot guys

March 22 2014 Romanum anniversary party_009

[14:29] Rusty Redfield: okay, next question

[14:29] Rusty Redfield: 4. If you could give advice to your earlier self in the first month that you spent in Second Life, what would you say?

[14:31] Johann Brakkus: I would say to make friends with guys who have a lot of experience in world.  I had a couple of friends who really helped me out understanding how this place works. How to build a great avi, how to find groups, meet folks and have a great time!

[14:31] Johann Brakkus: I would also advise them to keep it light and fun.  Try to avoid drama and entanglements.  This world is what you make of it!

[14:31] Rusty Redfield: that's a good answer! actually that's part of the reason I'm doing this blog and these interviews, because when I was starting out, this is the kind of information I searched for online and didn't really find

[14:32] Rusty Redfield: but I agree, you've put your finger on some good points, thanks

[14:32] Rusty Redfield: and last question -- 5. What do you like most about the way that your avatar looks?

[14:33] Johann Brakkus: I'm supposed to sound all full of myself now and spout off how great I look?

[14:33] Rusty Redfield: <grin> if you don't, *I* might

[14:33] Johann Brakkus: I've been told my eyes are great to look into...

[14:33] Rusty Redfield: I think what I'm getting at is, what do you think you've done successfully to make your av look the way you want it to

[14:34] Rusty Redfield: and they certainly are a beautiful blue-green

[14:34] Johann Brakkus: I have to say...and this may sound odd..I like the way my avi's body hair gives some nice texture, but is not overwhelming

[14:34] Rusty Redfield: see? that was easy

[14:35] Johann Brakkus: I think the build is well proportioned.  This is my more muscled avi...I have a 2 other versions that are a little slimmer, but this is what I wear when I want to be a bit bolder.

[14:35] Rusty Redfield: are they all mesh l'Uomo bodies?

[14:36] Johann Brakkus: No, one is Mesh, the 'Gary' shape, I am wearing 'Scott' now.  The other is 'standard issue.'

[14:37] Rusty Redfield: thanks -- this is the kind of thing that helps new residents make up their minds about how to look the way they want.  That's all the questions -- any comments or anything you want to get off your handsome chest? <grin>

[14:39] Johann Brakkus: Awwww, thanks for the compliment, Rusty.  I think the only thing I have to add for a newbie is to keep it light, and have fun with it!  There's enough stress in Real Life, who needs more here!

[14:39] Rusty Redfield: Beautifully put.  Okay -- I'll just switch this off. <click>

Thanks Johann! Readers, if you want to sit on my deck, let me know.

009: "Gamer" (A cautionary tale)

I was channel-surfing last night looking for something to keep me company with dinner when I came across Gamer; a 2009 movie starring the delicious Gerard Butler.


From the Second Life point of view, there was something of interest here. The film is about two different games; Gerard Butler is a prisoner whose body is controlled by a teenager as he plays a very violent game, Slayers, in which real people actually get killed.


But Gerard's wife, played by Amber Valletta, is also part of a different game called Society; she's employed as an avatar who inhabits a world where gamers control avatars who dress in sexy costumes, go to big dance parties and have random sex with strangers.  Hmm, does that sound familiar? 


The part that's really of interest to Second Life residents is what I indicated in the title by "a cautionary tale". Amber is beautiful, lives in a funky apartment, and is extremely sexually available, as the movie makes clear.


But the guy who's controlling Amber's real-life body as an avatar is a real piece of work. He -- yes, he -- is built like Jabba the Hutt, lives in a dimly-lit basement suite, is apparently always naked, and seems to be covered in a light coating of salad oil. I wasn't paying close enough attention to be able to say conclusively, but I think I saw him eating mayonnaise out of the jar with his bare hands.

Gamer Movie Fat Guy-danterants-blogspot-com

The movie is actually not very good, but I recommend it if only for one reason -- you need to have the image of this guy in your head the next time you're at a club and you get approached by a handsome stranger who has strangely poor social skills. Is it any wonder I have a hard time having casual pixel sex with strangers these days?

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with being a person in real life who doesn't look like your avatar. I know it's hard to believe, but I am not actually spectacularly gorgeous, 7'8" and 280# of solid rippling muscle in real life. (I'm bigger and more handsome <wink>.) Second Life is designed to allow people to experience inhabiting a physical form that is different -- better, worse, impossible -- than their real-life body. That's quite a bit of what we're all here for. It's fun to pretend that you're a werewolf or the opposite sex or even just a guy who actually DOES go to the gym and buy expensive clothes. The average SL user is about 55 and the average av is about 25 -- you do the math. But there are people in SL who want to catfish you because they have big psychological problems and SL is cheaper than therapy. And you can get hurt by these people.

Every experienced SL resident knows that when you meet someone whose av looks like Gerard Butler but with really, really poor social interaction skills in talking with attractive people in whom they appear to be sexually interested, what's sometimes happening is that you are talking with someone who looks in real life like the naked guy in the picture. They play World of Warcraft to exercise their aggressive instincts and Second Life to approximate sex. Now, this is no problem if you are capable of suspending your disbelief and you don't care who's behind the av because you're not interested in making friends in SL, you just want to try out that new penis you just bought. That's fine, and valid, no problem. But if you want to get to know people and sometimes even get emotionally involved with them, which happens quite a bit, you have to remember that occasionally you're not talking to who you think you're talking to -- you're talking to Jabba.

So the rule of thumb is -- if the story behind the av sounds too good to be true, it pretty much always is bullshit. Sometimes it's harmless bullshit, like the guy at the bar who tells you his Jaguar is in the shop and he came in his Corolla instead. But sometimes it's actively pernicious bullshit by someone who wants to hurt you, for twisted reasons of their own. Buyer beware.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

008: Nice outfit, Dev! (Devlin.Fellstein)

Party guest_001

I was at a St.  Patrick's Day dance at daPier tonight and saw a handsome guy, Dev (Devlin.Fellstein) who didn't feel compelled to show up head to toe in green -- unlike me in the background, ogling him from the rear ;-)  There was a bunch of hot men there, including bloggers Ziggy Starsmith and host Ryce Skytower, but Dev really stood out for me.

Party guest_002

It wasn't just the outfit, although that was confident and elegantly simple; blue jeans, white T-shirt, black jacket, knee-high black boots. I liked the restrained choice of accessories, a simple necklace and an unobtrusive ring -- no obvious tattoos, no stretched earlobes, pierced lips or hair streaked with Kool-Aid colours. He looked like a handsome guy I would look at twice if he passed me on the street in RL. In particular, I liked the shape and especially the eyes. Dev was nice enough to tell me that the eyes are from IKON and the shape from Zim (as will be my custom in this type of post, I won't be giving detailed shopping information; Dev deserves to not see his restrained good looks duplicated all over SL). The jacket is from Immerschoen and if you look closely, it's nicely designed to make you suspect that the shoulders hidden beneath are attractively muscled.

I'm not sure if it's the combination of the shape and eyes, especially the distance between the eyes and the high cheekbones; what this handsome face made me think of is someone who's half East Indian or perhaps Middle Eastern. Again, the hallmark is subtlety. A handsome man with an unusual face who has gone with a simple haircut and minimal facial hair (and Dev told me that he's kept his look pretty much the same for three years! gutsy and solid) is a set of good choices. Nice outfit, Dev!

Party guest_003

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

007: A few helpful hints

[caption id="attachment_55" align="alignnone" width="300"]Hairbase (see below) Hairbase (see below)[/caption]

Recently I posted about a new digital magazine called Manshots (click on the title to read it); it contained an article by Angelik Lavecchia called "10 Steps to Impress". I then dealt with the one I thought was missing, one's AO, but I wanted to address some of his points in a bit more depth; notably skin, shape, clothes and accessories. And those will indeed be the subject of future posts.

First, though, I thought I should dispose of a few of the low-hanging fruit, things for which the problems can be summed up briefly:

  • No bling

  • No facelight

  • Prim perfect

  • Color adjustment

  • Hairbase

Bling, I trust, will not be familiar to many of my readers who joined SL less than five years ago, since it has quite gone out of fashion, and not a moment too soon. It consists of objects that emit little bursts of light, as if they are Elizabeth Taylor's wedding jewelry catching a stray ray of sunshine. They emit this bling-burst at regular intervals. I personally find this exceptionally annoying, as do a lot of other people I know, it being hard on the eyes (and has the potential to evoke epileptic episodes in the unwary) and if you wear bling in public, everyone around you is likely to say something derogatory on the public channel. In fact, there was a certain kind of newbie some years ago who got saddled with the unfortunate name "bling-tard"; they'd strut into bars and clubs in full hip-hop splendour, glittering like six airport runways, with their baseball hats turned backwards and their pants sagged down to their knees. Please let's let that be over, unless you mean it ironically on New Year's Eve or something.

Similarly, the "face light" has rather fallen out of fashion, for which thank goodness. Some years ago, before the invention of Windlight settings, a clever inventor created an invisible object which hovered in front of your face and shone flattering lights upon it. I admit this was considered a good thing for quite a while, at least until Windlight came along. These days the disadvantages of a face light much outweigh its advantages; if you're in a dark club and there's a mysterious beam of pink light glinting off your cheekbones from nowhere, everyone will know that you haven't updated your av's accessories in quite a while, or that you were suckered into buying and using one without fully understanding the context.

"Prim perfect" refers to the idea that one should carefully fit one's prim accessories. There are tutorials on YouTube that go into it more thoroughly than I can in mere words (here is one here that's half an hour of useful hints), but essentially if you want to wear a bracelet, be damn sure that you take a good close look at it and ensure that it's not piercing your wrist at any point, and that it surrounds your wrist symmetrically. This goes for anything that's made of prims that you wear on your body.  Your hats should not have your hair poking through them; your necklaces should not be sunken halfway into your chest or floating inches above your skin. Eyeglasses, separate collars, cuffs, all sorts of different things have to be painstakingly fitted. It takes a while to learn how to do this; it involves learning in great depth how to use the "stretch", "move" and "rotate" functions, and to keep zooming in and out with your camera to get a good clear view of what you're doing. Unfortunately this is just one of the things you pretty much have to master if you want to wear any prim accessories at all. The alternative is to have things like your shirt collars jaggedly bisecting the flesh of your neck, and, yes, everyone who sees you in public will think, "(a) Hmm, there's something wrong with that guy's collar," zoom in and think "(b) hahaha, hopeless noob". If you can't manage to fit it properly, you probably shouldn't be wearing it.

Colour adjustment refers to the practice of properly applying different body parts in different ways. For instance, I myself attach my feet separately, mostly because I was having huge problems with them poking unattractively out the sides of my shoes.  So I alpha'd the feet away and if I have to appear bare-legged/bare-footed, I attach a pair of separate feet. The colour adjustment comes into place when you zoom out and try to figure out if the colour of the feet matches the colour of your hands, or neck, or skin in general. It takes a while to tweak the colour -- my advice is match hands to feet, head to neck, and penis to thighs. (In fact your penis will be one of the most difficult things to tint properly; set aside an hour for that some afternoon, and remember that, in the real world, most men's penises are a bit darker than the surrounding skin, and their testicles a shade darker still.) Nothing says newbie like someone with beautifully pale pink/wheat skin, except for the grey hands and heavily tanned feet. Here's a tutorial; more are available if you look.

[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignnone" width="300"]Hair without hairbase Hair without hairbase[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_57" align="alignnone" width="300"]Hair with hair base Hair with hairbase[/caption]

And finally, hairbase. Some skins have a built-in hairbase and some do not -- most often, you'll get both versions when you buy a skin. Quite a few hair designers manufacture and provide a specific hairbase for a particular piece of hair. The hairbase is usually on the tattoo layer and is essentially the correct-looking scalp for the hair you're wearing. Where most problems arise is if you're wearing a hair with no hairbase; it might be realistic to have your hair growing directly out of your scalp, but it's disconcerting in Second Life, and hairbase helps add to the illusion that your hair is real. There's two different ways of achieving proper hairbase; one is to use a skin with a self-contained hairbase and apply the hair, the other is to use a bald skin and apply a hair base tattoo, then the hair. Your preference will depend on how well your skin's hairbase version matches your desired hair, and how many tattoo slots you have available if you need them. You should  also make sure that the outline and colour of the hairbase matches the shape and colour of the hair, unless you're trying for a weird effect.

I hope this helps a few newbies. While we're on the topic, there are lots of helpful tutorials out there both in print and video for all sorts of topics; just go looking and you'll find some help. The problem for many new residents is that they don't know upon what topics they can find help, and so I hope that this article helps give you an idea of the questions you should be asking and the deficiencies you should be remediating.  All the above things are pretty easy once you get the hang of them and have practiced a bit -- go for it!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

006: Paul Sexias sits on my deck

Paul Sexias Martch 8 2014_001

My new neighbour Paul Sexias dropped by and was nice enough to agree to my standard interview.  He's on the right on the photo. Here's the verbatim transcript:

[19:42] Rusty Redfield: <click>

[19:42] Rusty Redfield: there, I've turned on the recorder.  So I'm going to print this verbatim; that way you don't get misinterpreted.

[19:42] Rusty Redfield: you okay?

[19:43] Paul Sexias: sure

[19:43] Rusty Redfield: Five questions.  #1: Why do you stay in Second Life? What keeps you here?

[19:44] Paul Sexias: I've met some great guys and have some good friendhships.  I want to keep in touch with them, and keep meeting people.

[19:44] Rusty Redfield: nice

[19:44] Rusty Redfield: yeah, it's all about the relationships, isn't it?

[19:44] Rusty Redfield: 2. What are the qualities that attract you to people in Second Life?

[19:45] Paul Sexias: At first, it's the look of the avatar.  I have to be attracted to how they look.  Then it's their personality.

[19:45] Rusty Redfield: Can you tell me more about that? "Their personality"?

[19:46] Paul Sexias: so they have a sense of humor....can they carry on a conversation......some of my friends are a bit domineering, while others are easy-going....just go with the flow.

[19:47] Rusty Redfield: great!

[19:47] Rusty Redfield: 3. What are you working on, as a form of artistic expression or in order to earn money, or both?

[19:47] Rusty Redfield: (this is where you get to do self-promotion LOL)

[19:48] Paul Sexias: right now, nothing.  I used to be a dancer when I first came to sl to earn money...but now I enjoy just dancing for fun and spending time with friends.  I never really got into any thing artistic in sl.

[19:48] Rusty Redfield: some people say that their avatar is their artistic expression.

[19:49] Paul Sexias: yeah, I gues that's true....I'm always tinkering with it

[19:49] Rusty Redfield: takes forever right?

[19:49] Rusty Redfield: LOL

[19:49] Rusty Redfield: 4. If you could give advice to your earlier self in the first month that you spent in Second Life, what would you say?

[19:49] Rusty Redfield: (see, this is easy LOL)

[19:50] Paul Sexias: Hmmmmmm......I think to try to find gay areas to meet other gays.  It took me awhile to find them, and living and mingling with "straights" is not my cup of tea.

[19:51] Rusty Redfield: oh, interesting.  How would you have done it in your first 30 days? Like, search for "gay" in the search field?

[19:52] Paul Sexias: yeah..........I didn't know there was a Search in sl....when I started I used the Second Life Viewer, which I found difficult to navigate.

[19:52] Rusty Redfield: ah but you're on Firestorm now?

[19:52] Paul Sexias: yfes I am

[19:53] Rusty Redfield: sorry, I was just making sure I could save this conversation.  Okay:

[19:53] Rusty Redfield: 5. What do you like most about the way that your avatar looks?

[19:54] Paul Sexias: That I look older...and hopefully somewhat unique.   There seems to be so many young college age looking avatars.....almost cookie cutter........turns me off.

[19:54] Rusty Redfield: LOL I always say that perfection here is commonplace, it's only imperfection that is interesting

[19:55] Paul Sexias: lol true....we always try to make the perfect avatar

[19:56] Rusty Redfield: it's hard to be unique here, for sure.  I was in a store the other day and the model in the picture looked just like me, only better LOL

[19:56] Paul Sexias: oh I doubt that

[19:56] Rusty Redfield: well -- I think some people come here to be the person that they want to be, and some people come here to be the person that they want to HAVE

[19:57] Paul Sexias: ah sort of living out their fantasy by being the other person

[19:57] Rusty Redfield: I guess

[19:57] Rusty Redfield: I'm not sure, it's not my style, but I know people do it

[19:58] Paul Sexias: yes me's easier for me to just be myself

[19:58] Rusty Redfield: <grin> well, believe it or not I am SLIGHTLY less well worked-out in RL ;-)

[19:58] Rusty Redfield: just one sec, I'll finish the interview -- if you're okay with that

[19:59] Paul Sexias: sure

[19:59] Rusty Redfield: we can go off record LOL

[19:59] Rusty Redfield: <click>

Paul Sexias Martch 8 2014_002


Thanks Paul! Readers, if you want to sit on my deck, let me know.



005: Nice outfit! (wolf Niseru)

Wolf Niseru_002

I was out dancing this afternoon at Terra Lascivus when I spotted a guy who had thought out what he wanted to look like, and done a good job of putting it together: wolf Niseru.  I liked the contrast of the sleeveless hoodie with the shorts, and the huge suspenders hanging down, and the oversized boots. I think the hoodie and shorts come from SZD Fashion -- I didn't get a comment from wolf so this is just my best guess.

To me, this looks like good street fashion for a young guy who isn't shy about showing off his body; everything works together to create a picture of a certain kind of guy, and that to me is good fashion.  No false notes, nothing unnecessary, and a good colour palette based on black. Nice outfit!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

004: Thordin RedWolf sits on my deck

I'm a big fan of Andy Warhol and I had the idea the other night to emulate his work with Interview magazine.  This will be the first in what I hope will be a long series of interviews with friends and acquaintances about SL topics that interest me, and I hope interest you.  I'll try to ask everyone the same questions, until I think it's time to change it up; and provide a head shot and a full length shot, to show you who I'm talking to.


Thordin RedWolf came and sat on my deck and answered five questions, as follows, in his own words:

1. Why do you stay in Second Life?  What keeps you here?

DJing, RPing, friends ... sex..  hehe

2. What are the qualities that attract you to people in Second Life?

personality really. can be very hot, shitty attitude.. will not have a thing to do with you

3. What are you working on, as a form of artistic expression or in order to earn money, or both?

DJ at Virtual Bear and now Mystic Drive-in. Both really. Do not work RL, so the money I have in SL is what I earn. Mystic Drive-in is a center/launching point for my SL sister's Relay For Life campaign.

4. If you could give advice to your earlier self in the first month that you spent in Second Life, what would you say?

to be more careful on who being friends with. Bad experience can be a bitch .. even though also a good teacher.

5. What do you like most about the way that your avatar looks?

hehe.. everything. It has been 7 yrs in progress getting to look like this :) Only wish could look half this hot RL


If you want to come and sit on my dock, get in touch!

Monday, 3 March 2014

003: Manshots


I was recently pointed to a new digital magazine for gay men in SL called Manshots (click on the title to read it); very interesting stuff, and I'm sure I'll read it again. The cover features an old friend of mine, well-known DJ Hotboy Lockjaw, looking as sexy as ever.

There's a lot of interesting material in the magazine -- some excellent photography, including some very sexy shots by Joseph Nussbaum of JN Studios. I'm still trying to figure out why there is an article on how to get better abs. In RL there are plenty of places to find that information and in SL, well, you just go buy yourself better abs. Similarly, an article about how to be a better top -- agreed, many guys in RL need to know that, but I'm not sure why you'd use SL as a vehicle to bring them that information. There's plenty of RL magazines that will tell you how to make your RL life better, but none that will tell you how to make your SL better.

But this is small stuff. Gay men in RL will find this information worth reading about, and in the meantime there are interesting ads and photographs to look at ... and any conceptualization problems will doubtless sort themselves out in the next few issues, because the people behind this magazine seem clever enough to figure out what their readers are looking for.

Meanwhile, the most interesting article from my point of view was on pages 35/36; an article by Angelik Lavecchia called "10 Steps to Impress". Now this really is the sort of thing that I want to read about: the viewpoint of an experienced resident about how to improve your SL experience. And there are a bunch of worthwhile points in the article; the principal thesis is that people in SL form a great deal of their opinion of you based on what your avatar looks like.

So the ten headings under which Angelik suggests you should focus your efforts are:

  • Shape

  • Skin

  • No bling

  • No facelight

  • Prim perfect

  • Color adjustment

  • Hairbase

  • Clothes

  • Accessories

  • Attitude

I have to say, it's clear that attitude isn't a visual aspect of one's avatar, but the point is still a good one.  People don't like whiners and drama.

There are enough topics here for five or six future articles, but I did want to pick up on one aspect that I believe was overlooked -- and that I think is a primary visual element that affects how other people react to your av. That would be your AO (Animation Override). In fact from my point of view, the three most important elements are Skin, Shape and AO; those are the three things you need to upgrade as quickly as possible because, as Angelik says and I agree, "Most people in SL aren't looking for someone that looks like a newbie".

Experienced SL residents have long ago progressed past the basic animation set with which we're provided when we first enter SL; we all chuckle as we see a newbie "duck-walking", because it's the one thing that is irretrievably linked to inexperience. There are plenty of decent free AOs out there, such as this one from Vista, that will take you immediately past the duckwalk stage. My own experience many years ago was that I "cheaped out" and bought an inexpensive AO; it soon became clear that I'd need to  upgrade immediately, because I always looked pretty much like a guy who urgently needed to slip behind the nearest bush and have a pee. I next bought a very expensive model and have never regretted it. The animations are selected to give an impression of self-confidence and aggression; those are the qualities I want to project.

When you have a high-quality AO, you can fill it with other animations that mean you'll never repeat a stand in front of someone, which always gives the impression of someone with limited experience. And if you spend as much time as most gay residents dancing in clubs or during social occasions, trust me, you need to select, purchase, and bring your own dance animations. I agree with Angelik that you should be selecting everything about your avatar to present the impression of a consistent, clear personality. My own choice is that everything I do should contribute to the appearance of masculinity at all times -- not exactly hyper-masculinity, but just being very clear that I'm not in the least feminine and that's the way I am. The place where I most often see people fall down in projecting a consistent image is with dancing. Keep your eyes open the next time you go to a SL club; you're bound to see a rough and tough looking guy dancing like a teenage girl or one of Lady Gaga's backup dancers, and it always makes me chuckle. I searched long and hard for dances that would suit my large, super-muscled avatar -- dances that gave the visual impression that I was NOT very flexible, NOT a good dancer, just out there to have a good time without really caring what the dance "style" of the day was. Like most things in SL, perfection is easy but imperfection is more interesting.  And if you are hugely muscled, it's unlikely that you tear yourself away from the gym long enough to spend the hours that are necessary to learn "the robot" or popping and locking, or whatever. Yes, you can use the dance ball in a club -- but isn't it better to control every aspect of what you're displaying until it reflects precisely the message you're trying to impart?

I'll look forward to future editions of Manshots with great interest.  Check it out -- you will too.



Sunday, 2 March 2014

002: Shoulder holes


I was at a wedding reception this afternoon for two nice guys, Vady Halston-Darwin and his husband Wes Darwin-Halston. (Congratulations again, you two: long life and happiness!) The location was beautiful, the guests were having a good time, the music was great, and in Second Life, if people compliment the food, you know you've done something special -- a table of gumbo and other southern delicacies to match the Mardi Gras theme was a delightful idea.

The invitation said "Casual/Mardi Gras", but, you know, for a wedding reception, you want to show up looking like you took a little bit of trouble if only so you'll look nice in the pictures. Unfortunately, what with one thing and another, I didn't have a lot of time to put together an outfit. In fact I had approximately ten minutes, which was only enough time to find a shirt that covered my navel.  Seriously -- it's the first time in weeks that my navel has been covered. My go-to outfit these days is a little tank top and a pair of low-cut jeans.

Now, that has to do with a couple of things. Principally it has to do with the fact that there's not as much available for a l'Uomo avatar in the way of clothes as there are for non-mesh bodies. Non-mesh avs can go and get a well-designed business suit "off the rack" and it will fit them beautifully; they can shop at hundreds of stores, perhaps thousands. I'm not sure how many stores sell clothes for l'Uomo avs, but I think it's fewer than 50. The other thing that affects my wardrobe choices is that -- well, I've chosen to look like a professional bodybuilder, and the designers who design for my body have borne that in mind when they design clothes. As I have half-jokingly remarked in the past, I only have a few choices for the "looks" from which I can select: off-duty stripper, off-duty escort, off-duty personal trainer, on-duty leatherman or nudist. The T-shirt and jeans you see in the picture are very nearly as sedate as I can get without going to my all-purpose tuxedo. I've seen one or two business suits for l'Uomo avs and, while I'm sure they're well designed, a guy my size just looks like a dressed-up gorilla either in RL or SL.


But if you have a good close look at my lousy photograph by clicking to expand it, you'll see something else that's a problem. It's a little easier to see in the second picture; it looks as though there are holes in the shirt over the rear head of my shoulder muscle; if they weren't so symmetrical, it might have been that someone splashed me with acid, or that I flexed my muscles the wrong way and tore the shirt. As most of you will know, what it means is that I'm not wearing the correct alpha layer between my mesh skin and my shirt. And I think you know that it's just as tacky to go out to a wedding reception with holes in your shirt in SL as it would be in RL.

I have to confess, I'm not absolutely sure how this all works, in a technical sense, but it's something that I constantly find infuriating. I can only rarely manage to find a shirt/alpha combination that manages to cover my shoulders properly -- when I do, I immediately save it so I can go back to it, and I'm never really sure that it's going to work properly when I return to that outfit. I know that alphas hide what's underneath them and don't allow your skin to show through your T-shirt; I have no idea how it works, though. And what I find truly annoying is that whether it works properly or not can depend upon which order you add your layers, which is kind of like magical thinking. It's almost as though you have to cross your fingers in real life to make it work.

As it happens, it always seems to be my shoulders that poke through my shirts, and so I have come to rely on tank tops. And that means that I am misleading the designers who want me to look like an off-duty personal trainer. ("See, he wants to look like that, so let's do more tank tops and crop tops!") So out of this experience today, two things. (1) I would like to have an ordinary button-down dress shirt that covers me above the waist, with no holes, maybe -- and this is just a wild suggestion here -- maybe with an included alpha layer and directions on what to put on first. (2) My apologies to Vady and Wes for showing up at their beautiful and cleverly-planned wedding reception looking like a doofus.  I had a great time, and feel free to crop me and my stupid shoulders out of the pictures.