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Friday, October 11, 2013

Beach Etiquette in Second Life (C) - Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

One of the great features of Second Life © (SL) is that no matter what the real life (RL) weather, you can pack a rucksack and go to the beach.

At the many beaches of SL, it is possible to relax, swim, do watersports, and socialize with friends or previously unknown avatars. Beaches come in all categories, “G”, “M”, and “A”, and it may be confusing as to what is expected of a beach visitor at locations tagged with one category or the other. Stareyes Galaxy trekked some of the beach resorts to find out what the beach etiquette is and how it is observed in SL.

I started with beaches that advertise clothed-only policies. Kona Beach one beautiful location with surfboarding and big waves in the sea set as a curved beach. I met Glowdiamond, an ardent sunbather and asked her a few questions.

SLE: Do you have a lot of friends that you meet on beaches?

Glowdiamond: Yes. I love to meet them on the beach, so we can be free and do all that we want. Sometimes we relax, do massage, do tan, do some cuddle. We feel relaxed on the beach.

SLE: What if someone accosts you for more than just cuddles?

Glowdiamond: Depends on the person.

SLE: Well. I am concerned if someone just pings you an IM out of the blue in the style of "are you horny?"

Glowdiamond: I will tell him to go *bleep* yourself!

She continued saying that sometimes men approach her with indecent proposals. Sometimes when she is clothed on a beach she is told to put on a bikini - then again, wearing a bikini, sometimes men tease her to take it off so they can see her tits.

Coming to these beaches in bikinis was no problem for me, and I found that albeit many of the locations seem to finance their existence with adjacent shopping malls, it was possible to find a nice spot to lie on a towel or a deck chair and take in the sun. When I visited, there were not all that many people around, except at one beach where, due to the “teen friendly” policy, I saw many underage avatars in skimpy clothing, apparently conversing with other avatars. There was no beach activity to be observed there, as people were mostly just standing around. I talked with one teen-looking avatar who admitted that some guys would want to pick her up “to use her”. Two people had tried to tweak her to go with them that day. Her take on beaches was:  “There are lots of really nice interesting people to meet who are generally very friendly and welcoming. As with most sims, you do get the odd idiot but they are easily ignored.” At this particular location I felt very uneasy about the real motives of visitors.

I moved to “moderate” beaches that enforce either a topless or clothes-optional policy. The great idea is that whereas people in RL may not have convenient access to celebrate the naturist lifestyle, SL offers many locations to enjoy their avatars as LL intended, under the glaring sun, by the roaring waves. The attitude toward my avatar was clearly different, and I had many instant messages, both from male and female avatars.

Some “M” beaches also cater to families with avatars of any age. On the beach rules at these sims, special care is seen that references to proper behavior regarding child play are included, along the lines of the Terms of Service (TOS) of Linden Lab (LL). One location also had a “family naturist” theme, and as I expressed my uneasy feeling there, I was confronted with the beach rules and quotes of the LL TOS. Despite the lifeguard on duty and the strict beach rules, I am still wondering the purpose for adolescent avatars having scripted private parts and showing them in broad daylight.

“Sexy Nude Beach” is a clothes-optional location where underage-looking avatars or sexual activity is not allowed. The dress code is beachwear, or else, nothing at all. There were quite a few people at the beach and interviewed a few of these.

Zeveii happened to have the same hairstyle as I do, so we hit it off quite easily. Sexy Nude Beach is one of her favorites.

SLE: Regarding beach etiquette - we are at a nude resort here, but most people are still clothed. Is there pressure to get undressed?

Zeveii: No no, no pressure at all. We can wear beach clothes. Some people do try to provoke you but you can always tell them to back off.

SLE: So you haven't gotten into trouble?

Zeveii: No I haven't, till now!

SLE: Have you heard of anyone who would have been compromised, or uncomfortable coming to a nude beach like this one?

Zeveii: I haven't, till now.. that's why I still come to this beach!

We both started feeling a bit crowded, and I was at this point getting IMs from all around. Zeveii conceded that men would try to hit on me, very badly. She said that her reaction to this is to make excuses about not having the time for any suggested activity. I asked for Zeveii’s advice to SL beach-goers and she answered: “Just carry lot of beach clothes with you and keep your respect intact with yourself... There are many hungry wolves around.”

Vision is another frequent beach visitor at “Sexy Nude Beach”.  He said he loves to go naked on a beach where the rules allow it.

SLE: I get a lot of IMs saying "hi" and onward...  Do women avatars hit you with IMs?

Vision: almost never. And when they say hi, it’s very likely they are working girls so to say... and then you can tell in 3-4 lines, which is annoying and offensive. I feel prostitution should have no place in SL.

We then moved on to discuss the male and female “parts” as they are seen and expressed on beaches.

SLE: Are you aroused by nudity on the beaches?

Vision: of course, I’m a guy! But a smart girl arouses me more.

SLE:. How do you like avies with mesh boobs, on the beach, for instance?

Vision: Not my thing - I like naturally shaped boobs.

SLE: But if someone wore enormous tits here, would you be offended?

Vision: Not offended, amused, it’s kind of childish.

This view was corroborated by Harry whom I met also at the “Sexy Nude Beach:” “Naked avies confuse me, particularly the people with weird looking genitals or extremely big boobs. Kinda disgusting, how some people look here.”

The final phase of my exploration extended to “Adult” beaches. Some of these enforce a no-clothes policy. There, the IM openings toward my avatar were more suggestive than at “M” areas. Males wanted me to comment on how their naked avatar looked, and they were very forthright in praising my looks. At “Turtle Coast” which is a membership-only, no-clothes resort, I arranged an interview with Kaiya Manbi who is the owner of Turtle Beach as well as the adjacent Wild Coast Beach.

SLE: How long have you been the owner of Turtle Coast and Wild Coast sims?

Kaiya: The Wild Coast started about 6 or 7 years ago, and Turtle is just over 2 years old.

SLE: Turtle coast is members only, and no-clothes beach. What brought you to adopt this policy?

Kaiya: Wild Coast is also strict with no clothing. I felt that as soon as one person wears clothing, even if it’s just a bikini, or flip flops, it gets others to feel a little self-conscious, and they end up putting something on -- in no time, half the beach would be clothed -- I felt in order to get everyone to really relax in their nudity, was to not allow clothing at all.

SLE: Now, I have explored some of Turtle Coast and it seems that "naturism” is not the main focus after all, as there are areas here that lead to couples having fun in other ways. Do you have a perception of the preference of the people who come here, to celebrate "naturist" lifestyle, or for something ... "more than that"?

Kaiya: Yes. The Wild Coast was always just the "naturist lifestyle". It’s a moderate sim, so there was no sex, a few little naughty corners, but generally it was very above board and not sexual, more sensual - and I think people loved that, they could come here and feel safe in their nudity.. so I thought after a few years, it’s time to offer my nudies a little more – that’s why I started Turtle Coast, I wanted to give them areas that they could do whatever they wanted - so Turtle has a few more ... naughty corners than the Wild Coast. Turtle is an Adult sim.

SLE: Beyond the rules, what do you see as "proper etiquette" on Wild Coast, and on the other hand, on Turtle Coast?

Kaiya: I’d say on both sims, its simply respect. Everyone comes to the beaches for different reasons, some come just to hang out and chat, some come to meet people, some to fall in love, and some, just to get their rocks off. I think it’s important to respect each person’s individual line that they draw - if members do that, then the beach works – that’s "proper etiquette". I think because of the group join fees, we have kept our members a little more above the average game player in SL  - so we tend to get a very respectful crowd most of the time.

SLE: Turtle Coast being an Adult sim, do you think people would assume you choose that over Wild Coast to have sexual encounters? Is it "implicit"?

Kaiya: Yes, most definitely - Wild Coast never was a place "for sex" and I think neither is Turtle really - I’d say Turtle is more a social beach, than a sex beach.

SLE: Do you have any advice to our readers, coming over to one of your beaches?

Kaiya: Yes, I’d say – don’t be scared to take your clothes off - let your personality shine through your avi - and have fun! Oh, and remember - behind every cartoon avi in SL is a real person, sitting alone at his/her computer - full of their own life issues and pain and experience -- be gentle, be respectful and be nice.

The very last spot for me to visit was Orgy Island, where, looking around just briefly, the name of the sim fits the activity perfectly. I got very direct suggestions from male avatars who seemed willing to jump on my bones right there and then. I asked one of them about the “code” and he said that if I am in a bikini and tell a guy I am not interested, I would likely be left alone, but taking my top off would already be a sign of willingness to engage in an intimate situation.
I learned on my foray to the beach life that first and foremost, it is important to read and internalize the rules of any given location to be able to assess the applicability of that location to your needs and wants. The search provided by LL does not tell you very much of the actual nature of the beach locations, but one thing is for certain: if “sex” is mentioned, you will find plenty of it. Your attitude to people looking your avatar over may vary, but for sensitive people it is advisable to keep your “cross-hairs” on to see who is looking at you. Of course, you might find the attention you get flattering! Regardless of your preferences, by careful research, you will undoubtedly find your dream beach among the variety that SL offers.


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