Various Artists

Cyborgasm

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Originally released in 1993, this potent collection of thinking-person's pornography anticipated the dawn of the cybersex age, when Internet porn, phone sex, and chat-room lovers joined the mainstream (or at least merited investigatory stories on television news magazines). Designed by porn activist Lisa Palac, Cyborgasm brings together writers, performance artists, and assorted sexual revolutionaries to read and act out their hot fantasies in intimate detail. Actual encounters are captured documentary-style; some stories touch on taboos such as incest and necrophilia and hardcore roughhousing is countered with new agey hocus-pocus (courtesy of free-spirited "sex guru" Annie Sprinkle). Executive producer Ron Gompertz recorded the project in "virtual audio," a three-dimensional audio technique intended to bring the listener into the action. The production is occasionally effective, resulting in some surprising textures when enjoyed on headphones, as character voices seem to come from above, below, and behind. It helps intensify the "scenes," but most of the prose readings don't need it, and the whole collection can be distracting through speakers. Though Cyborgasm will be a sure turn-on for some, certain listeners might find the material pretentious and academic, while others will just laugh at the hysteria of panting voices and dirty talk. Pornography is a highly subjective thing that can never please all of the people all of the time, and Palac acknowledges this with a great variety of moods and tastes to choose from. Regardless of Cyborgasm's utility as erotica, the artists collected here do their best to drag the world into a more sexually open position by presenting smut that targets the brain first but doesn't deny the body.

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