Beautiful Agony: The New Naked

All images courtesy

Erotica website Beautiful Agony continues to revolutionize how both men and women approach sex and intimacy by revealing individual facial expressions of real, vulnerable human beings orgasming.

Consider the orgasm. Consider the hunger beforehand, that blind, sweaty desire building toward one euphoria explosion that electrifies the body like a seizure, leaving you breathless, past and future but a dream, nothing but tingles for skin. How about the peace that follows, no longer bogged down by your restless longing, muscles melted, the beast inside lulled to sleep, disarmed, totally naked?

Now imagine you were filmed. Just think about what the camera would capture in those minutes leading to your climax and afterwards. Perhaps your eyes involuntarily widen or nose crinkles? Maybe tears, maybe laughter, maybe silence, but who knows for certain? Truth be told, everyone reacts differently to sexual experiences. Some don't make a peep, while others let loose an operatic aria that wakes the neighbors. Some spasm uncontrollably, others clench as tight as a fist. Only one thing's for certain: orgasms disarm us.

Fact is, never are we more exposed and vulnerable than when we're orgasming. Never do we relinquish that stern control over our professional and social lives than when we're drowning in our preferred brand of fantasy, dreaming of that perfect someone who grazed our arm earlier today, stripped of all our inhibitions, disguises removed, animal, honest, genuine, authentic, intimate, reduced to a sexual being.

That said, how ironic that hardcore porn stars can undress and still seem somehow clothed. Whoever watches modern pornography, which amounts to anyone with an Internet connection nowadays, can sense the illusion embedded within mainstream porn flicks. The scripted sour dialogue and choreographed positions that revved so many engines of the previous generation simply don't float our proverbial boats anymore. Hence, the current porn craze that has fueled the launching of whole web communities devoted to amateur pictures and videos.

Case in point: Beautiful Agony, where posted erotic stimulus amounts to amateur videos featuring only the facial expressions and the sounds of those orgasming. American, English, French, Chinese, Australian, German, Japanese, Irish, white, black, men, women, straight, lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives -- doesn't matter one bit, anyone can submit a homemade video that reveals his/her real human vulnerability and intensity, granted the orgasm isn't faked that is.

So applaud each of these individuals who are brave enough to share their unique sexual experiences and help revolutionize the erotica industry. Foreign languages and geographic boundaries be damned, watch as these persons from across the world drop their defenses, shed their suspicions, and get their rocks off, either alone or sometimes with others. Listen to the confessions as they each reveal their opinions and sexual secrets, connecting us with heartfelt honesty. Admire these human beings, vulnerable, quirky, respected, conflicted, thoughtful, trembling, truly naked.

What exactly is Beautiful Agony?

Dedicated to the profound experience of the human orgasm, Beautiful Agony is the newest craze in Internet erotica. Unlike your regular hardcore porn, co-founders Richard Lawrence and Lauren Olney focus instead on the unique idiosyncrasies of real men and women orgasming. Perhaps you barely make a whimper when you climax, maybe you scream, maybe you grunt, maybe you cough, maybe you giggle. Perhaps you pant or moan. Maybe you toss, turn, kick, lick fingers, bite pillows, roll eyes or tremble uncontrollably. Who knows but those you've trusted enough to allow into the bedroom, naked, lamps still lit?

Ironically, the only nudity their website contains is from the neck up. Forget about watching pants unbutton, pecks clench, or nipples harden, like some cliché scene copied from an airport romance novel. Instead, their incredibly voyeuristic snippets communicate sexual pleasure through facial expressions and sounds only, which is what makes their sexual content so innovative, interesting, and damn arousing.

Nominated at the Australian Adult Industry Awards as the Best Adult Website, Beautiful Agony isn't just another porn site that tempts viewers with a shirtless model and milks absurd subscription fees from your wallet. Truth is, in addition to a monthly rate that prices the same as a newly released DVD, their barebones site construction, uncluttered by tasteless banners of pornographic partners, suggests just the opposite. No, this is truly an experiment in human vulnerability and sexual identity.

Just imagine watching a complete stranger with their own internal thoughts, feelings, and fantasies, building to orgasm, cumming unseen, and then lighting a cigarette, all from the safety of your home computer. Watch as the camera captures their smiles, their gasps, their jitters, their laughter, their overall joy as they share this beautiful expression with the world. No names, no addresses, no desperate attempts to lure browsers with local hookups, Beautiful Agony's anonymity not only affords viewers the freedom to fantasize without shrewd judgment, but also to marvel in the real, stunning experience of the human orgasm.

What is Overkill?

Created to give the faces some personality, Overkill is the magazine section of Beautiful Agony, where their team posts links to related articles on the net, but more often, post "other" takes from some of the more interesting contributions. So too, groups of people who submit videos shot together, as a kind of bonding project, were shown on Overkill earlier this year, as Pentagony and Hilltop Agony.

Not to be confused with the confessions that accompany most of the videos, in which angonees talk about their sexual mishaps, history, locales, preferences, and opinions, Overkill explores even more sexual experiences that encourage growth and exploration within their sexually supportive cyber environment.

Representing god knows how many different cultural backgrounds and sexual ideologies, the unique confessions and conversations with contributors charm viewers with personal details and philosophies, sometimes communicated in others languages, filmed in homes, workplaces and even set against their native countryside. Truthful, hypnotic, and candid, Overkill as well as the confessions not only reveal the larger personal story behind the o-face, but address interesting and enlightening points about sex and modern intimacy.

Who are agonees?

Agonee is the term coined for anyone who captures their own vulnerability on camera and shares their experience with Beautiful Agony. Truly amateur, truly unsolicited, not even Lawrence and Olney know who these individuals are for certain, minus obvious appearances. In fact, I could be an agonee, and you wouldn't even know it. Their sexuality, their language, their beliefs, all these and more are hidden away, which creates a profound bodily connection. Only when watching the confessions can you get a sense of the person inhabiting the face.

With almost 1,300 videos now available for streaming or download, Beautiful Agony continues to post submissions and confessions by agonees six times per week, though each orgasm video is now accompanied by a confession as well. The only requirements are reality and perhaps taste. Being how the porn industry at large is flooded with so much obnoxious and objectionable substance, Beautiful Agony is a beacon of erotica light in the haze, thanks to these sexual pioneers called agonees, totally anonymous, totally vulnerable, totally naked, bearing all.

My History: A Sexual Past

Lost my virginity at what some would consider a young age, which perhaps in part explains my heighten sex drive at 28 years old now. Ever since I can remember, that sexual connection with another person has been at the forefront of my mind, regretfully clouding my judgment sometimes, especially after a few too many, but also pushing me into great conversations and even greater sex other nights.

Too many flings to count without sounding sleazy, but never too guarded with my vulnerability and o-face to simply cast off another individual, deleting their phone number the next day, I believe I'm the norm today. Truth is, most of us modern city-dwellers are sexually active, and have been for some time now.

Take me, for instance. Just a guy, immersed in pop culture with a somewhat quirky obsession with sex and science fiction, checking as I rummage through PopMatters book reviews, listening to This American Life. Come Friday night, you might bump into me at the bar, discussing post-punk and pleading my case about Television Personalities. That's me, that's the guy you might have seen on the subway, that's the guy you might have hooked up with last night, who knows?

The point is, just like you, just like the agonees, I have interests and hobbies that you may find adorable or maybe annoying beyond belief, I have a sexual history and even some emotional baggage, I have a unique personality that makes me (and you) a fine example of individualism.

Of course my face will never reveal all this, just as my clothing style or tattoos will never uncover my true opinions and beliefs to the casual observer, but isn't that part of the excitement of connecting, the thrill of life? Isn't that what Beautiful Agony is really all about? Learning about each other, witnessing another person genuinely attempting to share that most basic, elemental experience with us, the orgasm.

Why submit videos?

Where to start? Some believe recording their orgasm is a means of personal growth and sexual development, not only learning about their selves, but sharing their individual evolution with thousands of supportive subscribers in the process. Some merely desire to get in better touch with their bodies and overcome physical obstacles that occasionally haunt them. Others find the Beautiful Agony videos the first step to major innovation within the pornography, erotica, and art industries. Still, many just find the experience and illusion of voyeurism damn hot, and who can blame them?

Simply put, everyone has different reasons for submitting their orgasm video, and that's all part of the attraction to Beautiful Agony, this preview of individuality expressed in such a raw, visceral way, one to which we can all relate. Come on, who hasn't masturbated or at least attempted a go alone? Who hasn't wondered what's revealed to their partners in that moment of absolute ecstasy? Aren't you even slightly curious what your face reveals to others when you climax? Don't you wonder what your partner sees when you cum, who they see in that moment?

Still, supporting a bold website that dares to push sexual boundaries is one thing, but videotaping yourself orgasming so countless people can watch and perhaps become aroused by your submission is quite another. After all, your o-face is a valuable thing, and however unconnected your name is to your video, your image is still circulating across the Internet for all to see. So what's the motivation then?

Let's start by eliminating what the impulse to submit isn't. First of all, these people aren't desperate for attention, they're not out to rope in studs or hotties. These are attractive, intelligent individuals who definitely don't need to distribute their sexual image to get laid. In fact, some agonees make reference to their partners or even appear in the Overkill confessions with their significant others. Plus, Lawrence and Olney advise against announcing your official post, all to protect your social and personal identity. So that's immediately out of the question.

Second, you can be damn sure agonees know what they're doing. In addition to their intelligence, these persons are also mature adults who have had their fair share of sexual experiences. Listening to the confessions, you'll peek into their professional lives as nurses, teachers, designers, artists, legitimate people with managed responsibilities that live among us, all of whom have undoubtedly weighed the consequences and benefits of their submissions. Obviously, this isn't a casual thing, however sexual in nature.

Lastly, Beautiful Agony's Olney edits its videos with such an elegant and sophisticated hand that you can automatically eliminate anyone trying to mimic the artificial scenes in commercial porn. Submitting isn't simply a fetish thing, even if an agonee loves being watched. What's being shared is more about intimacy than a purely physical connection. Obviously, nobody disclosing their video would ever imagine that hordes of adoring fans will flock to their sexual altar the next day. What nonsense?

Essentially, Beautiful Agony is more about you personally, the liberation of your sexual self within a mature, innovative environment that encourages sexual development, exploration and acceptance. Unashamed, unflinching, natural, and cathartic, of course these videos are sexually stimulating, but the nature of that stimulation is one seeded not in simple frivolous sex, but in the fantasy and adventure of connecting with actual human beings.

Why view these videos?

Because they're absolutely hypnotic for starters. Watching as a person's face moves from guarded and awkward, to contorted with sexual energy, to tranquil as the lightning of their orgasm grounds and leaves them contented, there's simply no experience that even remotely resembles it. Layer upon layer of invisible mental barriers such as shopping lists, phone bills, business meetings, petty worries over bank accounts -- all these are flung away, like veils in a dance, and somehow these men and woman are seducing us with authenticity, revealing a flesh-and-blood person you might bump into on the subway, a real individual.

Secondly, you won't witness a single fake orgasm at Beautiful Agony -- what would be the point of submitting a fake orgasm that's just going to get rejected after all? Neither will you find porn stars claiming to be amateurs, shrugging innocently, feigning first times, nor even a trace of that sour dialogue involving pizza delivery men and lonely housewives. Remember, Beautiful Agony pushes reality, and this particular drug is quite addictive, mostly because it's so pure, so potent.

True, there's an odd illusion of keyhole voyeurism embedded into the videos which porn addicts might find mildly arousing, yet there's no doubt that each agonee knows what's happening, they know they're being watched, perhaps perversely. However, what keeps subscribers is the glimpse into the intensely private, deeply personal expression of self that only an orgasm can bring to bare. In fact, many are put off by the videos, averting their eyes, clicking stop on the player, unable to watch further, describing their content as too intimate.

And it is too intimate! You don't know what's going on off-camera. You don't know what's going on inside their heads. You don't have the faintest clue who they are after all, and you haven't the foggiest whether or not you'd even like them. But that mystery is part of the intoxicating affect that is Beautiful Agony. Nobody knows them. You could find them more annoying than a migraine, but you're just as likely to fall in love with them on the other hand. There's just no way of knowing for sure, which is a reality of life as well.

Let's be honest here, the best part about watching the Beautiful Agony videos is the lack of bullshit. Real nudity comes when a person drops the act, wipes the makeup from their face, doesn't force a smile, and sure as hell doesn't dress in disguises, be them emotional or fashionable, unlike many porn stars. Who can blame them, sex is their job, but that doesn't mean we should settle for their brand of sex all the time.

Moreover, our modern search for personal identity and genuine human connection is perhaps magnified by our contemporary obsession with image. Thing is, we can sense authenticity now when it happens, we can recognize it flashing in another person's eyes during their moment of orgasm. Through all the charades and roles we play in our daily lives, those secret little idiosyncrasies which make us special and unique can now seep through for others to witness and cherish. This is the real appeal of Beautiful Agony, the bared soul, the private made public, the real nudity.

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