Chatroulette hasn't let the masturbators bring it down
You could meet a movie star in Hollywood, a big-breasted hottie in Russia, or a fully-erect middle-aged man in his trailer in backwoods Tennessee. In the golden age of Chatroulette, all these things were possible.
The site, invented by a bored Russian teenager in 2008, quickly became the most popular playground on the internet, growing to over a million daily users. In our Chatroulette heyday, some friends and I spent an hour talking to Jason Biggs — and, no, his dick was not stuck in a cherry pie.
Then, that brightly burning star flamed out — the internet announced Chatroulette was dead. Cause of death: penises. The ratio of masturbators to meaningful encounters was just too slim to survive.
“You can't build an empire on dicks,” the obituaries read.
But the site didn’t truly die. For years, it lived on in the dustiest corners of the web, presumably abandoned by all but a few lingering wankers.
In a moment of nostalgia, we re-visited the abandoned cam site. While we still found ourselves swimming in a sea of dicks, every here and there — a breath of fresh air — a drunk French artist, a pair of Ukrainian strippers, a Spanish romantic or an Israeli movie producer. We quickly learned that Chatroulette can still make magical things happen.
Israel, a caregiver in the Basque Country of Spain, fell in love on Chatroulette. He popped up on our screen fully-clothed and eager to tell us a story.
Years ago, at the age of 22, he Chatrouletted a man in Indonesia, and fell for him. They chatted for two years on Skype before Israel went to visit him for a month. During that time, they had what Israel called a "luna de miel" (a honeymoon) on the enchanted island of Bali, visiting waterfalls and making out on the beach.
The Indonesian visited the Basque country, and wanted to move to Spain and get married; but Israel knew he wasn't the love of his life. Still, it was a "beautiful chapter in my life," Israel says.
Flip through a few dicks, and we meet Uri, a 23-year-old writer and filmmaker from the country of Israel. His webcam only shows him from the neck up, so he kindly displays both his hands as proof that he’s not jerking off.
He’s on the site to practice his English and enjoy strange introductions to friendly faces from abroad. On Chatroulette, he finds inspiration for his art. He wants to make stories out of these strangers’ lives.
Scroll through some more dicks, and two beautiful women appear. We excitedly wave hello, and they move the camera away to reveal they’re wearing tiny pairs of panties. We watch in awe as they start dancing together.
The girls give us a strip tease, eventually revealing their massive fake tits. We give them a thumbs up because we can’t find the words to describe our gratitude. In a seeming wasteland of masturbators, we’ve found the only women sharing something worth masturbating to.
Somewhere in the middle of these incredible encounters, I grew resentful of the men whose erections were tainting the experience. So instead of instantly skipping past their hideous purple schlongs, I started demanding answers.
“Do you realize that because there are so few women on this site, that you’re mostly masturbating in front of men?” I’d ask one faceless boner after another.
“Do you ever worry you’re jacking off in front of children?” The men would instantly stop stroking their weiners to press “next.”
At one point, we stumbled upon a 7-year-old. We were matched with a boy who looked 14, swore he was 18, and then humbly asked us, “Ass for dick?”
On Chatroulette, there’s zero barriers to entry. All you need is a webcam, a face to start the rotation, and then the camera can point wherever you please. The exhibitionists who get hard at the idea of anonymously exposing their genitals are free to do so without consequence.
After all, in this Wild West of willies, consent is a tricky thing. Some say logging onto the site is as good as agreeing to all the hard-ons your eyes can handle. Others believe it’s only proper to keep your clothes on until you get the go-ahead to pull out your genitals.
Moris, a 25-year-old German banker wearing a buttondown, tells us he turned to Chatroulette with pure intentions, but is now considering joining the masturbators. As they say: if you can’t beat them, beat off with them. “Should I start now?” he asks. We graciously decline.
A couple cocks later, we meet Sunny, a man soaping himself up in the shower and singing some song about eating pussy and popping bottles. "There's a lot of people beating their meat on here, but I'm just trying to promote my music," he says.
Dick, dick, goose. We find a French painter. He’s dancing, chugging from a bottle of wine and smoking a cigarette. He politely tells us he has to go — we’re too clean, and he’s looking for something dirty.
We could click on forever, looking for the next needle in the cock haystack. But just like Israel, who found love; Uri, who found inspiration; or Sunny, who found an audience, we were never truly satisfied.
Every moment of magic Chatroulette gave us made us chase the high of the next match, and grow more frustrated with each disappointing dick. It’s the same cycle of abuse we fall into with Tinder, drugs or pornography.
However, the site is so much more than a masturbatory ghost town. With Chatroulette, friendly, famous and fascinating people all over the world are still as close as a mouse click.
As South Park so eloquently phrased it, “This is the way the world works. If you want to find some quality friends, first you have to wade through all the dicks.”