tip off

The .xxx domain is here to stay, but Conroy could still block it

Erm, my pockets are full of condoms, lubricant and other people’s business cards? What the flying fig happened last night? Huh? It’s Friday? The party was Wednesday… oh it’s coming back to me now. The launch party for Sexpo, the “sexuality lifestyle expo”, in Sydney Wednesday night.

I do recall a purpose for my visit. The sponsor of this bacchanalia was the company behind the new .xxx internet domain for adult sites.

When first proposed in 2000, it looked like .xxx (pronounced “dot triple-X”) wasn’t going to happen. Social conservatives opposed .xxx because it would legitimise online smut. Some in the adult industry were concerned it would create an easy-to-block ghetto. Domain manager ICANN rejected the proposal more than once. In 2010 the entire process had to be restarted with renewed due diligence following procedural problems.

But on 18 March 2011 .xxx got the green light. The vote was nine in favour, four against, with three abstentions. The ICM Registry went live late last year and is now selling .xxx domains through a few dozen retailers.

To keep things legitimate, businesses wanting to operate in .xxx must agree to community guidelines and the rules of the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR).

On Wednesday night I was after a progress report, but I returned with a blur of images.

Platinum-blonde pneumatic-breasted women wearing bikinis with extraneous straps and metal rings, shoes with six-inch heels and make-up applied in that immediately-recognisable look that I hereby dub “pandaslut”. American p-rn stars (sorry, adult film actors) including Nina Mercedez, Alexis Texas and the infamous Belladonna who, I was reliable informed, would find that most of her ouvre is firmly labelled Refused Classification here in Australia.

Over-muscled male strippers from Hunkmania wearing singlets or athletic tops, fake tans and bored expressions — even when they were being paraded on stage. “Bodies like condoms full of walnuts,” noted our MC, comedian Russell Gilbert, whose Lowes-grade checked shirt gave him the look of a bloke who’d just popped in from the shed. (The condom line is stolen from Clive James, incidentally, and originally referred to Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

The three-metre high Penisaurus. The Tittiesaurus, whose entire head consisted solely of two weather-balloon-sized breast-eyes — Oedipus complex meets bad acid trip. P-nis Man, whose pink latex costume sported 26 eight-inch erect p-nises, including one on the toe of each of his ugg boots. A middle-aged bloke with a waxed and tanned body wearing a pink latex top hat, pink latex vest, pink latex briefs and pink latex cowboy boots. He’s the P-nis Picasso. He, erm, uses his penis to paint portraits.

There were drinks, of course. And speeches. Educational speeches.

Our favourite sexual position is not missionary but doggy, apparently, followed closely by cowgirl. A bit further down is jackhammer, explained Australian Sex Party convenor Fiona Patten.

These and other factoids came from The Great Australian S-x Census conducted by dating site redhotpie.com.au, this year surveying more than 15,000 people — though it’s not clear how representative they are.

It’s really interesting for sex educators,” Patten contends. “It’s really interesting for governments to see what Australians actually are doing in their bedrooms, very often with the lights on, and very often with mirrors there too …

The majority of us do support gay marriage, we do believe that gay couples should adopt, and we do believe that lesbian couples couples should have access to IVF.”

Then came The Great Porn Debate. On one side was Craig Gross, a pastor from XXXChurch whose projects include bibles labelled “Jesus loves p-rn stars” and the Internet Accountabilty System that allows you to share the p-rn you watch with your partner, mother, children or anyone else you’d like to open that dialog with. On the other was legendary p-rn star Ron Jeremy, who entered the venue flanked by two of the women with pandaslut eyes wearing violet LEDs threaded through their hair, shiny blue bikini tops and mini-tutus, and two blokes with fake tans the colour of Uluru wearing nothing but leopard-print briefs, vast fake afros and over-sized shades.

The debate was presumed to be fascinating, but the strippers were looking bored and started checking out the chicks, the booze continued to flow well ahead of any solid sustenance and, well, it’s all a blur after that.

This morning my head cleared sufficiently to get an Australian adult industry perspective on .xxx.

The industry recognises that .xxx is here now, but we’re still somewhat ambivalent about the effect it’ll have on regulation,” Patten told Crikey. “You could see Senator Conroy use it as an easy out, for example, you could block all .xxx domains.”

But not everything in .xxx is X-rated. Some early registrants have used .xxx to imply a bit of edginess in their brand. One example is kite.xxx for the supposedly extreme sport of kitesurfing.

14
  • 1
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 16 March 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Conroy will ban it, some of his colleagues would block him or drop shovels or both.

  • 2
    Meski
    Posted Friday, 16 March 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Or possibly drop jackhammers. My education’s moved along today, I didn’t know that label referred to that particular position. :)

  • 3
    hernando garcia
    Posted Friday, 16 March 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    conroy wouldn’t ban it, but i wouldn’t put it past the coalition, in concert with their partners on the christian right, doing just that.

  • 4
    AR
    Posted Friday, 16 March 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I was sidetracked by the census link and was fascinated by the general unanimity of the genders on most questions.
    The truly stunning revelations, for me, were -
    over 50% of female respondents had tattoos, almost twice the male rate
    over 2/3 of both genders found fake boobs a turn off.
    Retired, bemused.

  • 5
    Captain Planet
    Posted Friday, 16 March 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    there was a legitimate reason for my attendance…”
    The clear implication here is that those attendees who were not journalists, i.e. all those who were there for the actual purpose of the expo, do not have “legitimate” reasons for attending.
    Please try not to let your shame morph into judgement.

  • 6
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I thought that the original Conroy plan was for all x-rated content to be blocked from the internet.

    It was only when he did the SBS Insight program that he realised the opposition to this and the plan changed to only block Refused Classification.

    Conroy’s conservative nature was also proven by his deliberately confusing people into thinking that Refused Classification was the same as illegal content (for example the movie Ken Park is Refused Classification - you are not allowed to sell this or show it in public, but you are allowed to own it, whilst what Conroy talked about was illegal content such as child p*rn which is illegal to own).

    Conroy also deliberately distorted the information about making something Refused Classification by leading people to think that this was done by the classification board and was thus independent of government. But the reality is that our classification guidelines are written by the government, and I think that changing these guidelines does not even need the approval of parliament.

    Our guidelines are such that even content that can be broadcast on UK free-to-air TV would be Refused Classification in Oz.

    Now when Conroy was doing all of this either he was acting alone and cabinet didn’t care what he did (unlikely) or all of what he was trying to do and the messages he was giving to the public had the approval of Rudd, Gillard, Swan, etc.

    It is important to realise that their are pro-censorhsip supporters in both Labor and the Coalition.

    How anyone can say that Conroy (and Labor) would not ban the .xxx domain is beyond me as they have already shown that if the could have got away with it they would have banned all x-rated content off the internet.

  • 7
    Malcolm Street
    Posted Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    MWH - +1!

    Blocking the .xxx domain would be the simplest way for all concerned to show they were doing SOMETHING against the dreaded Internet… The politics of blocking it for all sides except the Greens are overwhelming.

  • 8
    Peter Ormonde
    Posted Saturday, 17 March 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear… fake tits, fake smiles, fake tans, fake enthusiasm, fake stats….It’s all just too real for me.

    Sounds like an excellent way of sublimating those “baser urges” … like corn flakes. Wonder if the prophylaxis lasts all year.

    Conroy should actually subsidise this Sexpo thing four times a year …kill the “industry” stone dead I’d reckon. And possibly make some slight savings on the baby bonus.

    Let’s all just fake it together.

  • 9
    Posted Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    @Captain Planet: Oi! The words you have attributed to me in quote marks there? I never wrote them.

    I do recall a purpose for my visit,” I wrote. A completely neutral statement.

    I await your apology.

  • 10
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    @ Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    You cannot block content, people will just use peers / tunnels and get it through a secure anonymous pipe.

    All it stops is the naive.

    Did the GST stop the case economy - no, people adapted

  • 11
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    @Suzanne Blake,

    My comment was about Conroy and others wanting to block content. I did not comment about the success or otherwise if they did some blocking.

    Of course the GST did effect the cash economy - when implemented it raised more money than expected because of this.

    If blocking was implemented it would stop the majority as most are not very technical.

    Secondly if you want to get a reasonable amount of blocked content (e.g. pictures or video) then you will find that proxy servers will charge you for this. Many people will not want to pay extra each month just to bypass the blocking.

    Thirdly, it would be very easy for the government to get very nasty and catch many people who get around the blocks. Most of my career was at the Telstra Research Labs, so I know what I’m talking about. I’ll not say what I fear they might do because they might not have thought of it yet.

  • 12
    Captain Planet
    Posted Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    @ stillgherrian,
    Suggest you read the main page of Crikey,

    the .xxx domain is here to stay, but conroy could still block it
    crikey/stilgherrian
    There was a legitimate reason for my attendance at the launch party for s-xpo, the ” sexuality lifestyle expo” in Sydney wednesday night…

    If you didn’T write those words, I suggest you take up the matter of their attribution to you (as clearly intended by the use of the first person) with the editorial staff at Crikey - to whom my initial criticism, still valid, ought to be redirected.

  • 13
    Scott
    Posted Monday, 19 March 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    @Stilgherrian

    Thirdly, it would be very easy for the government to get very nasty and catch many people who get around the blocks”

    I don’t think they would make using a foreign proxy server an offence (pretty hard to enforce as they would need to get logs and the like from the proxy to prove the offence). Most likely thing would be to just block the IP’s of the proxy servers. (Obviously this would be a constant battle, but really the only way to stop it)

    But I think Conroy has lost the motivation to censor the internet. Too busy with the NBN at the moment.

  • 14
    Posted Monday, 19 March 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    @Captain Planet: I shall indeed follow up that point. But you’re also putting an incorrect interpretation on the words and assuming I believe something I don’t. There’s certainly no shame and judgement link here.

    If the word legitimate is in there, then the interpretation you’re after is a legitimate work-related reason (gathering information for a story) as opposed to a non-work-related reason but still perfectly legitimate for other reasons (celebrating with a party at the start of and event).

    Shame and judgement in relation to Sexpo? Me? Hah! You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.

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