JMR Creations has built a lucrative niche for itself by flexing brain over brawn. An inside look by Sirin.
You have to go to work in the morning. (They pay you, after all.) You need to fall asleep. But you've been surfing the Web all week again, every day and late into the night, searching for quality adult websites to assess and review, maybe even turn you on. Sleep is not in the cards. Your vision swarms with visions of twisting flesh and indecent promises, with screaming banners and streaming videos of monstrous breasts, pouting vaginas and penises the size of Hellfire missiles aiming to blast the last vestiges of uncorrupted eroticism from your brain forever and ever and ever.
Free! Free! Free!
Nothing is free, and certainly not in the Internet sex game. That's the first lesson. Think about it. If there are over a million adult websites ravenous for your attention and, more to the point, your credit card number, and hundreds of new ones put up every day, who's minding the billion-dollar store? The law is an old man on crutches trying to keep pace with nimble, evasive sprinters. The most common metaphor for this wasteland of lust is the Wild West, but Prohibition Chicago is more precise. Sex is the booze; take your pick of the Al Capones. Most of these "entrepreneurs" expect Elliott Ness to blow into town any day now, so they're raking it in while they can. The rule of law at the moment is caveat emptor.
The next lesson is self-control. Finding what you want, if in fact you know. It takes diligence and patience to sift through the repetitive morass and sneaky links that will ensnare you faster than you can say "click." The webmasters have honed tricks of the trade that you can not imagine.
So what do you do?
You turn to search engines, sort of the yellow pages of the Internet, but they also breed like rabbits. The major players (Excite, AltaVista, Lycos, etc.) all furnish indexes of adult sites, but mostly out of commercial necessity rather than inclination. They generally offer limited descriptions of the sites, and are extremely reluctant to provide oversight protection for the unwary consumer, kind of like your father explaining the facts of life to you.
Then there are the engines that specialize in adult content. FinderSeeker, a search engine for search engines, lists 77 such entities in the United States alone, which has to be conservative.
One of the best of these search engines is Naughty Linx, the brainchild of Jonathan Lieberman, founder of JMR Creations; a small company located a short scull ride down the Charles from Boston in Newton, Massachusetts. Naughty Linx is "Like Yahoo, but with balls," he says. Founded in 1995, the search engine is actually one of three major components of JMR. There's also Naughty Chat and Naughty Mail, the fastest growing being Naughty Mail, according to Lieberman.
Naughty Linx was nominated by AVN for Best Links Site at the 1998 Adult Internet Awards, and with good reason. It is comprehensive and relatively simple to use. There are six main categories from which to choose: Free Arts & Entertainment, Commercial Services, Regional, Information Resources, Hard Goods, and For Webmasters, the last being the newest. Within these, there are the subcategories wherein the vast universe of adult services awaits you.
And we mean vast. For example, just under the somewhat euphemistic (though accurate) main category of Commercial Services, and then within the "Online" subdirectory, there are literally hundreds of websites to choose from. They are all alphabetized, with helpful italicized dates when they were last updated, tiny icons noting the new ones and the favorites, and keywords indicating whether or not they are functioning, but one's eyes still blur at the sheer number. Luckily, there are subdirectories within subdirectories: Asians, Amateurs, Older, Voyeur, etc., thirteen in all from which to narrow your search. But they don't always cross-reference. Websites in subcategories are not necessarily in the broader Online category, so diligence is still required. But because you always know where you are within the overall Naughty Linx website, and can always retrace your steps, it's actually kind of fun roaming through the search engine.
Short on time? Try looking for specialized sites, like, say, Asian bondage. There's a search directory in which you type "Asian bondage," and, presto, within seconds all the pertinent sites are posted, neatly ordered according to their specific directories and subdirectories. Fast and efficient. It's not all licentious material, either. The Information Services category will hook you up with websites than contain a wealth of information covering issues such as discrimination, free speech, gender issues, sexually transmitted diseases and religion, among others.
The Regional section lists websites throughout United States and the rest of the world that provide hands-on services that run the gamut: strip clubs, escort services, massage, personals, customized in-house for-you-and-you-alone lap dancing. You get the idea. The U.S. section is broken down by state, the world section by thirteen of the major countries. Thailand is not one of them, though. Boo.
What is now the For Webmasters category will soon be its own website, providing a resource guide for the ever-burgeoning army of webmasters. Commercial Services do now, and will continue to include: Hosting, Graphic Art and Web Design, Revenue Sharing, Marketing, Billing Systems. In short, all the knowledge and tools needed to get started-except the money.
This division of JMR Creations has been running since October of 1997 and has become a lucrative staple of the company. They call it the Naughty Chat Private Label Program. The idea is one of those simple and ingenious ones, the spawn of a Universal Truth: Everyone Wants Chat. Why? Customers love the erotic anonymity of chat rooms. Sites with good chat rooms do better than sites without good chat rooms. Ergo, webmasters love chat, but the problem is that the vast majority of websites don't have the membership to support a chat room, and if they do, they tend to attract sleaze or, more often, there aren't enough women to make them viable.
Enter Naughty Chat, providing for lease an up and running chat room with a user base of well over 200,000 registered chatters. It includes a large percentage of women, and has grown to support over 150,000 chat hours a month, with usage ranging anywhere from 100 to 300 users online at any given time, according to the literature, so it's always filled with chatters. There are eight theme rooms that cover the spectrum of sexual proclivity and the interfaces can be customized to match each website, so users never know that they have left the website. And when they exit the chat room, they always return to the originating site. And since it's hosted on Naughty's servers, there are never any worries about software installation, bandwidth or maintenance. Cool. Smart.
"100\\% SPAM FREE!" That's the key to this most innovative of JMR's Naughty Solutions. It's their number one growth product, and considering looming legislation that could outlaw unsolicited e-mail, they have every reason to expect continued expansion. It's just a mailing list service, but with a big difference. Every name is an opt-in name, which means that the people on the lists have asked to be there. See? Spam free! These people want to receive this stuff. It's what gets them through the night. Having specifically defined their "inclinations," said proclivities are then broken down into over 120 topics, so that webmasters who provide a specific product can buy the e-mail addresses of those people who are interested in their particular product. It's about as direct as direct marketing can be.
The overall number of subscribers stands somewhere between 350,000 and 400,000 (specific topics are smaller of course) and climbing fast. Topics range from phone sex in Spanish to photos of non-nude female cheerleaders to people interested in buying just condoms, and everything in between. There are also lists that target adult oriented webmasters as well. As a specific example, there are19,808 Naughty Mail people who want to see nude photos of females with tiny breasts. It will cost seven cents per name to buy that list.
It should also be mentioned that Lieberman is very serious about his Naughty Mail being opt-in. Each piece of mail is accompanied by an offer to have the recipient's name removed from the list. If they so choose, they will never receive another piece of mail again. That is absolute and guaranteed, says Lieberman.
So who is Jonathan Lieberman?
Jonathan Lieberman is one of those guys whose mind travels at broadband speed. Only twenty-seven years old, he's a self-proclaimed geek turned businessman, though considering the fact that these are a dime a dozen, it's hardly a characterization that separates him from the pack. What does, at least over the phone, is his affability. If that reads put down to some, it's meant as high praise. The manifest anonymity of Adult Internet creates a breeding ground for poseurs. Companies and the individuals behind them can easily portray themselves as more substantial (legitimate, honest, legal, ethical...) than they really are. Lieberman, despite a sizzling intellectual confidence, actually projects a kind of humility.
"How'd you hear about us," are the first words out of his mouth, but what the question really reveals is an astute manager who'd prefer to keep a relatively low profile. Why rock a boat that isn't taking on water? Not that he eschews the publicity, but one definitely gets the impression he feels very secure about the structural integrity of his company. Ask him what are the biggest problems he expects to face in the near future and there isn't a pause, "We have no problems," but then concedes that "what affects the industry overall, affects us." In particular, major new policies soon to be adopted by credit card companies eager to curtail charge backs and other e-commerce problems. "There will be a huge shakeup in the next two years in how Visa and Mastercharge process their payments."
But even then, tighter credit card policies could feasibly bolster Naughty's position by weeding out the weakest websites, thereby reinforcing the strongest and most likely ones to order Naughty Mail lists and lease Naughty Chat rooms. As far as the Naughty Linx search engine goes, you could lose twenty or more percent of all adult websites and still have enough left over to stimulate every libido (animal, plant and vegetable) throughout the next millennium.
It's exactly that sort of foresight and pragmatism that characterizes Lieberman. He calls himself "paranoidly cautious" and boasts the "cleanest porn site on earth." He never has and never will deal with content. There isn't a pubic hair to be found on any of his pages. Maybe a sporadic buttock or two, but compare that with a search engine like SexHound. Click that puppy on and you are instantaneously bombarded with multiple hardcore images that leave no doubt you have entered a realm of serious penetration.
It's a question of personal preference and business savvy, not hypocrisy. For instance, he wanted a chat room that was "non-threatening to women. Sexy, but not sexual." It's the product he came up with and now everyone wants in on it to the tune of ten or more new websites a month. It was an ethical position that was also commercially sound. Which came first? Who cares. But a clue might be found in the fact that Lieberman, who is Jewish, pulled out his checkbook and sent more money to the ACLU the day they decided to defend the Ku Klux Klan's right to march in Skokie, Illinois. In an industry where everyone and their mother gives self-serving lip service to the First Amendment, here's a guy who puts his money where his mouth is.
But we're not about to anoint him a saint. Only liars go into this business in order to free Americans from the bondage of their Victorian heritage. Sex sells. Lieberman's in it for the money and the rush. He doesn't judge the content of any website. He'll carry it unless it contains illegal material. He's also amassed a huge database of personal information about people over the years, but is adamantly scrupulous about not giving out names or e-mail addresses. Again, ethics concur with business. Somehow, in one of the slickest industries around, Lieberman manages to have his cake and eat it too. Webmaster Brad Goose (www.yourbrain.com) calls Lieberman "an intelligent guy, wise, reputable, couldn't say anything bad."
His advice to prospective webmasters is typically sound. "Trial and error. Keep your nose clean. Talk to a lot of people. Live at your computer. Measure your success by how much weight you lose." Lieberman must be very thin. Look for further innovative Naughty Solutions in the very near future: a new homepage, a new webmaster website, and most intriguing, Naughty Now Cards, customized electronic greeting cards anyone will be able to add to their site. Coming soon to a screen near you.