Monthly Archives: November 2021

Star Dreck 10/2/1997

Having strayed into the creepy crevices of the internet a bit too often, for my eighth column I decided to go commercial, and pretended that the editors were forcing me to use the press releases they were shoveling my way.

Star Dreck 10/2/1997

by H.B. Koplowitz

I try to avoid reviewing “official” Web sites. But how can I expect trade-outs, comps and other perks unless I suck up to promoters? So here’s some Web sites I have been “encouraged” to review. Warning: Some of the following may have been taken verbatim from press releases.

Star Trek: The Ad: “Star Trek: The Experience™” is a 65,000-square-foot attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton hotel. The completely interactive entertainment concept is based on the voyages of the most enduring and extraordinary television series of all time — “Star Trek®”. There’s only one problem: It ain’t open yet.

No matter. You can still visit “Star Trek: The Ad” <>. The Web site has news, tour information and even a so-called “virtual tour,” which gives a sneak preview (mostly descriptions and drawings) of the $70 million attraction.

Once the experience opens later this fall or winter, visitors will be transported to the 24th century and immersed in a futuristic adventure that starts with a museum-like exhibit featuring authentic “Star Trek” stuff from the four TV series and eight movies. Next they get beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise for a deep space adventure that includes an exciting shuttlecraft voyage through space and time. Afterwards, awestruck visitors can hang at the Deep Space Nine™ Promenade and enjoy the galaxy’s finest dining, entertainment and shopping for officially licensed and custom Star Dreck.

“Star Trek: The Experience” won’t have gambling. However, a 22,000-square-foot space-themed casino will serve as the gateway to the attraction. You can’t purchase tickets by phone, mail or Web site, but must get them in person at the Las Vegas Hilton. With 3,174 rooms and suites, the Las Vegas Hilton <> is one of Las Vegas’ most luxurious and exciting casino-resorts. [Star Trek: The Experience closed in 2008.]

Spooktacular Video: Hey kids, join Casper the friendly ghost as Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment launches an out-of-this-world “Casper Web site” <> to support the studio’s first made-for-video release, “Casper, A Spirited Beginning.”

Scroll along the halls of Applegate Manor to access hauntingly fun activities including an interactive concentration game; a timeline to learn about the history of Casper; and behind-the-scenes production information with cool ghostly images. However, the site uses Java and other plug-ins, which means it is slow to load, tends to crash your computer, and unless you have the right plug-ins you can’t fully enjoy all the bells and whistles.

The made-for-video prequel answers the question: How did Casper become the friendly ghost? The video, which debuted Sept. 9 for $19.98, is an all-new adventure starring the same characters as the 1995 dud, “Casper.” Joining the spooktacular fun are two new ghostly characters, Snivel and Kibosh, voiced by Pauly Shore and James Earl Jones. The “fleshie” cast features Steve Guttenberg, Lori Loughlin, Rodney Dangerfield, Michael McKean, Brian Doyle-Murry and newcomer Brendon Ryan Barrett.

Inexplicably, the Web site won’t sell you the video, and doesn’t say where else you might buy it. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all FoxVideo and Fox Interactive products.

Haggle-Free Car Buying: Car buyers can avoid the haggling process — and save an average of 8 percent on the sticker price of a new car — by buying a car by computer. So says AutoVantage, which sells cars by computer.

At the Houston, Texas, company’s Web site, consumers can browse through car reviews for free and look up new car prices. They also can submit a price request through the Web site or by calling a toll-free number. AutoVantage then does the haggling for them and tries to respond within two hours with a “preferred price” to be honored by a nearby car dealer.

AutoVantage says it has been rated the best interactive car-buying service by Motor Trend magazine, and that 30,000 people a month submit price requests. It is also the featured new-car buying service for netMarket, which claims to be the leading interactive consumer commerce Web site.

AutoVantage offers financing and leasing options, and a national used car database containing more than 50,000 used cars. But before accessing many services you have to join netMarket, which turns out to be a buyers’ club. I never could figure out how much it costs to be a member. But you can join for three months for a mere $1 plus your credit card number.

If you want Blue Book values and used car prices without giving out your credit card number, try the online version of Kelly Blue Book <> or any of the other services listed under the Auto Channel on the search engine Webcrawler <>.

© 1997-2021 by H.B. Koplowitz, all rights reserved.

Guerrilla Filmmaking Online 9/25/97

My friend produced live events for Women In Film, and she turned me on to a WIF volunteer, Ken Tipton, who had what was then a novel idea for financing his independent film. Websites like GoFundMe are common today, but Tipton was one of the first to tap into the internet’s fundraising potential. Tipton never made it big in Hollywood, but another of his cyber publicity schemes would later earn him notoriety, although not in a good way.

Guerrilla Filmmaking Online 9/25/97

by H.B. Koplowitz

Ken Tipton wants to make it in Hollywood. With persistence, and creative marketing on the World Wide Web, the 44-year-old entrepreneur turned actor, writer, producer and director, just might.

Taking guerrilla filmmaking onto the Internet, Tipton may be the first to use a personal Web page to finance an independent film, Perfect Mate, which debuts at the International Feature Film Market Sept. 21 in New York City. He also used his Web site to recruit the 17,000 members of the Ken and Paul Tipton Fan Club, which wants the Drew Carey TV show to cast the stout Tipton as Mimi’s boyfriend in upcoming episodes.

“Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of Hollywood,” says Tipton, who lives in Toluca Lake. Through his Web page, he wants to help what he calls “movie geeks,” — including himself and his son — to live out their dreams.

Tipton grew up near St. Louis, where he was active in community theater and comedy clubs. He also was a small businessman, starting one of the first video stores in 1980, and in 1991 a paint-ball war game business.

In 1993 he decided to give “the acting thing” one more try. With the proceeds from selling the paint-ball business, and the blessing of his ex-wife, who continues to manage their video stores in St. Louis, he moved to L.A. with Paul, their 12-year-old son, who also wants to act.

He didn’t feel like he was getting anywhere until November 1995, when he attended a screening of Jodie Foster’s Home for the Holidays sponsored by the Independent Feature Project. As Foster talked about having to be “monumentally creative” to raise capital to make movies, Tipton thought back to his childhood in Missouri, staging plays using comic books as scripts. To pay for the productions, they would sell lemonade or toys. It occurred to him to use the same strategy to finance movies, only selling to the world, via the Internet.

Together with writer Carrie Armstrong and director Karl Armstrong, he founded Makers Of Visual Independent Entertainment (M.O.V.I.E.). “The M.O.V.I.E. Web site” <> went online in December 1995 selling mouse pads, hats, key chains and T-shirts with the M.O.V.I.E. logo. Profits were to help pay for Perfect Mate, a 20-minute short by the Armstrongs, in which Tipton had a starring role.

“My goal is to open up new areas of funding for Independent Film Makers,” Tipton wrote in a mission statement. “As the organization grows, hopefully we will develop into a place where talented and underfunded individuals can get a start. . .By buying a hat, or a mouse pad, or even a key chain, you help fulfill the dream that lies in every movie lover.”

No one knew the Web site existed for several months, until a Web reviewer described it as “strange, interesting and unique.” Suddenly, thousands of people a day started visiting M.O.V.I.E., and some — Tipton won’t say how many — bought merchandise.

Even more important than the sales, however, were the contacts. After seeing the Web page, a steadycam operator donated his services. Someone else offered to do animated credits, while others contributed free film. The Web page even helped persuade Disney to donate the use of an AVID digital film editor in exchange for a first look at the completed movie.

Perfect Mate grew from a short into a feature-length romantic comedy about a young woman who holds her party guests hostage while searching for her perfect mate. Tipton said the Web page helped finance much of the film, estimated to have cost $350,000, including the cost of donated goods and services. It will be debuted to foreign film distributors this weekend in New York.

The Web site is also used to recruit members of The Ken & Paul Tipton’s Fan Club, which is operated by a clerk at his St. Louis video store. One incentive to join is that fan club members are eligible to win a speaking part in an upcoming M.O.V.I.E. project.

The online fan club has grown to 17,000 members, which is to say, 17,000 e-mail addresses of supporters. Tipton realized what a powerful tool that was when he asked his fan club to e-mail the Sundance Film Festival with requests to show Perfect Mate. So many did that Sundance’s computer e-mail crashed.

Now Tipton is urging his fans to let the Drew Carey Show know that he would make the perfect mate for the bodacious Mimi character’s boyfriend.

“In this business you have to make your own breaks,” Tipton said. “The only thing worse than failure is never knowing what could have been if only you had tried.”

© 1997-2021 by H.B. Koplowitz, all rights reserved. 9/18/1997 9/18/1997

by H.B. Koplowitz

For my sixth column, I returned to the subject of sex and cyberspace, reviewing kinky newsgroups in an outpost on the internet called Usenet. For some reason I neglected to mention, which was a place to trade dirty pictures, and a precursor to file-sharing networks.

Once upon a time there was a place on the Internet where people with unusual and sometimes unspeakable fetishes could find each other. Where personal ads were placed for sex with animals, or stuffed animals, and others indulged their secret obsessions with spanking, chloroform, even robots.

The pictures, messages, personal ads and stories were sometimes erotic and sometimes idiotic, offensive or even illegal, but nonetheless reflected the startling diversity of human sexual appetites. That place was “,” an unmoderated cluster of Internet bulletin boards or “newsgroups” devoted to all manner of sexual fetishism.

Even more than other Usenet newsgroups, has been obliterated by “spam,” junk email ads, mostly for adult Web sites. Today, little remains except the names of the discussion groups. Below are some examples of what used to be like, and where content that used to be in newsgroups can now be found on the Web:

Furry Friends ( A plushie is a stuffed animal or toy, like a teddy bear. was for people desiring a more than Platonic relationship with a plushie. Some plushophiles have a thing for “fursuits,” which are full-body costumes such as those worn by sports team mascots or amusement park employees, and for “furries,” which are characters with aspects of both animals and humans, like Bugs Bunny. Today, “PeterCat’s Furry InfoPage” <> is the keeper of the FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions], with links to other plushie pages, from stuffed toy lovers to stuffed toy makers like FAO Schwarz.

Animal Lovers ( and A bestialist wants sex with an animal, while a zoophile seeks a relationship, too, according to the FAQ in However, personal ads for canines and other critters appeared in both newsgroups, as did practical advice on how to get physical with the species of your choice. Did some of the people in these newsgroups actually have sexual relations with animals? “You bet’cha!” says the FAQ. Today, links to Web sites, newsgroups, chat rooms and other bestial resources can be found at “Zoophile Server” <>, the original zoophile Web server.

Techno-Sexual ( A.S.F.R. was for people sexually attracted to robots and robot-like beings. “Techno-sexuals” are aroused by depictions of people behaving like or turning into robots, androids, mannequins, dolls, wind-up toys or hypnotized mechanical sex zombies, according to the newsgroup’s FAQ. The ASFR home page, which was created by “Robotdoll,” is not presently online. But Robotdoll’s FAQ has been preserved on “Robo-Lover’s Homepage” <>, along with pictures, stories, and links “dealing with the mechanical maidens and delectable dolls that is ASFR.”

Overlapping newsgroups included, which had stories and pictures about people overcome by hypnosis, chloroform and other mind control methods, and, which was about erotic encounters with drenching rain, mud, quicksand, cream pies and other gooey stuff. On the Web today, “The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive” <> has salacious tales broken into such categories as hypnosis, sudden growth of body parts, lactation, even Star Trek and X-Files characters. Wet and Messy Web sites include the “WAMSAT Project,” with links to sites with names like “Shokolada’s Mess,” “Muddy Melodrama” and “World Wide Wet Page.”

Spanking Good Time ( Today’s fetish websites are far more stylish and better organized than ever was. Still, they cannot replace the intimacy of a discussion group. Even if you aren’t into erotic spanking between consenting adults, to see what some newsgroups used to be like, take a peek at soc.sexuality.spanking.

When got overrun by spam, newsgroup regulars debated picking a “moderator” to screen messages for spams, pictures and other off-topic posts. They eventually agreed on a “robo-moderated” newsgroup, in which posts are electronically filtered by computer, with human moderators only seeing posts rejected by the ‘Bot. As a result, most of the messages in the soc.sexuality.spanking newsgroup are actually about spanking, at least most of the time.

Each summer the newsgroup holds a spanking short story contest, with the entries archived on the “S.S.S. Resource Page” <>. But some of the most compelling stories are the true ones posted in the newsgroup by “delurkers” revealing their spanking fetish, and their relief at finding kindred souls.

What newsgroups have that Web pages don’t is a sense of community. And as stated in the new soc.sexuality.spanking charter, “Regaining the feelings of community and support was the reason for the formation of s.s.s, and in s.s.s., the tradition of welcoming newcomers with open arms continues.”

© 1997-2021 by H.B. Koplowitz, all rights reserved.