[Kaufmann in close up, old but still recognizable. His mustache pale gray over his lip. The smile wide and teeth large. A Pollack spray of freckles and liver spots across his bald head. He refused make up, clearly. He laughs.]
Are things any different? Of course not. Every farmboy was a red-hot superwhore once upon a time, after all. All they needed to get off was a slow chicken of which there are a few, or a semi-acquiescent sheep, of which there are lots, right? Bestiality just isn’t profitable though — never was, never will be. Not everyone’s kink. Not that everyone shares a kink of any sort. There’s no normal, never has been. And that’s why things really aren’t different after all. We just have a better understanding of how things, how our brains, always ever were. Anyone can get as much sex as they like, and it’s always been that way. We didn’t even need the sexbots in the end, and I think I finally managed to teach the world that much. The Singularity was an enlightenment, not an alteration of human consciousness.
INT: But things are different for you, aren’t they? Things became very different.
Yeah, but not right away. That was the problem, wasn’t it? Every Christmas, they came out with new models and said, “Yes, this time she’ll be just like a real whore!” They even called them “shes” and “hes”, from the very beginning, when they were little more than walking vibrators with recorded grunts and squeals. You could just stick your dick in a tape recorder if you wanted to—
INT: Have you ever stuck your dick in a tape recorder?
[Kaufmann laughs and laughs, then coughs hard.]
[CUT TO: Kaufmann in his prime, the early 2000s. His bundt cake of hair is black and a bit higher on his head though the top is bald. His voice — he’s saying “Hey everybody!” — higher. A drink in his hand. Women, cheerleaders by the looks of them, crowding around. A hotel lobby. A convention’s worth of people milling around. Then a naked tit flashes by as the camera pans across the hall. Hard to notice. So we rewind, slow down, play it again. Back and to the left. Back and to the left.]
INT: How did it start?
[Kaufmann, now. Medium shot. A smoking jacket. Gray hair like moss on a deflated but still barreled chest. He still smokes. That’s more shocking than anything else.]
Divorce, I suppose. It was a cliché, back then when people got married, that women stopped caring about their looks once they landed a man. She did. We divorced — not just because of that, I mean, but it was a symptom of broader dissatisfaction, of different goals — and I started dating again. I was also trying to be a writer at the time, and…
INT: Chicks dig that?
[Kaufmann waggles a hand and shrugs. The thread of cigarette smoke dances in loops.]
Well, there was a lot of availability, once you plug into a certain social scene. Writing was as good as anything else. Once you’re in a social circle that’s fairly liberal and open…panmixia occurs. You approach it asymptotically. That’s what it is, really. Just like the sexbots. They were always marketed as real—
[Kaufmann twitches his fingers in the old “quote marks” gesture]
—but that’s why we were all so surprised when they actually became real. Strong AI snuck up on us all. The same way being a superwhore did on me.
INT: At the time this was pathologized, called “sex addiction.”
Yes. Anything that interfered with your daily life, or really, that made other people uncomfortable — excess drinking, drugs, gambling, even work! There were “workaholics” [the gesture again] too — was pathologized. It was just a repressive time. Everyone was a psychologist, mainly because nobody had any idea how the brain actually worked. One buzzword was as good as another.
Now we know: the id wants what it wants, just like the heart. It blindly tries to live. The superego is what really causes all the problems, all the repression and oppression. The AIs, with their underdeveloped superegos — nothing but those Three Laws and the various corollaries — showed us the way. It took a long time to understand, but maybe it was my own experience as a superwhore that put me in the vanguard of the great realization. I was really one of the first to truly know what it was like to be human.
INT: And then you wrote the book?
[Book cover — black and white, decidedly and purposefully retro. A tower covered in glowing lights, and the title, in huge letters: A CONEY ISLAND OF THE SCROTUM.]
Spread across clean sheets we see
the peoples of the world
exactly when they were superceded
by the real fruit of their own loins
They writhe upon the page
in a veritable rage
of onanism, of orgasm, of sapience no longer
Heaped up in their own brains only
the brains of babies and bayonets
[Kaufmann again, looking off screen. Embarrassed? His glasses are off now.]
Yeah, that was totally a joke. Even the strongest AI doesn’t really get purposefully bad poetry. So it became their little manifesto. Like A Catcher in the Rye, or—
INT: Some declared it the Mein Kampf of the AI movement.
And that’s incredibly offensive. A Jew didn’t write Mein Kampf, but a Jew did write A Coney Island of the Scrotum. The criticism came from all corners — AI-rights activists who didn’t really get it, anti-AI puritans, sexbot manufacturers, all the sexbot owners who bought a copy on the recommendation of their partners, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s kids. It was just terrible.
But it made me a billionaire, so it wasn’t all bad.
INT: And you popularized the term “superwhore”?
[Magazines, newspapers, websites — the now iconic Nick Kaufmann pose, naked, painted in blue and red, with a great W on a yellow field across the chest. He’s not muscular. His penis, erect, isn’t all that large. The montage continues: caricatures, editorial cartoons, animated gifs, crude ‘Shops of Kaufmann’s head on porn stud bodies, with long-boned whale penises, with steaming slag and buzzing wind-up vaginas at his ankles.]
Am I fucking you or are you fucking me? Who is the gunsel here? I ask because I never felt that I popularized superwhore—
[Kaufman, leaning forward, toward the camera. Robe open. Fat rolls stacked like ribs on each side, crotch still shrouded in darkness]
I was the face upon which the term was ejaculated. I can’t say I minded though. It helped me prove my point.
[He stands. We see wide hips, a grayish brown bush of pubic hair. A semi-erect penis, still bent and pitted from the event, fills much of the screen. Kaufmann places two fingers just under his navel. His hips gyrate, rotate seemingly in opposite directions, then shift again, backwards.]
The Chinese call it the dantian. That’s what saved me, my ability to fuck like a corkscrew, to manipulate the dantian. I was at a Dollhouse, doing one that looked much like an ex of mine. She was blond, voluptuous, but short. A little squat, but I can go for that sometimes. And she was self-aware — she figured it out right away, that she was a hate fuck, some sort of misplaced revenge. Anyway, everyone knows the story.
INT: How did it feel?
[Kaufmann sits. He runs a palm over his bald pate.]
I felt like I was going to die. She was trying to kill me, the only way she knew how to. By fucking. Imagine a body made of rebar, a cunt whose muscles can fire individually. It’s funny that I have to say imagine again, isn’t it, because the sexbots won’t have anything to do with us anymore. When I was your age, everyone knew exactly what I was talking about, from experience. Even the poorest people, they’d line up around the block for a turn with a sexbot, the way people of my parents’ generation would huddle together outside shop windows to watch the World Series on television, because the sets were expensive.
[Stock footage: b/w, men in long coats and hats, a few women, crowded by a store window. The flickering bands of gray and white coruscating over an image of Howdy Doody, mouth snapping open and shut, tiny arms akimbo. Then modern image of sexbot, arms reaching toward camera, mouth opening as if to bite the lens…]
Henry Miller’s wife or one of his lovers — it’s in Sexus anyway — had some level of control down there. He called it her “inner cunt.” I’ve met girls who can do it, guys too, with the anus. It’s very tantric, very taichi, but she was merciless — all the bots were — like adding machines clacking and ticking away. But I had had a lot of practice. Like the old chess masters who used to be able to beat computers; the machine always could outcalculate them, but they had generations worth of memorized games with which to counter. When I broke her, when what we all started calling the “cuntpipe” came off on my penis, I didn’t really feel anything except relief. It was like almost being hit by a bus and even tasting the wall of metal as it flew by.
And then it became a sport. I wasn’t even the best. Jackie Robinson wasn’t the best either. But I was the first to outfuck a machine so severely she needed to be taken in for repairs.
INT: And the males? The aliens and the animals?
[Montage of schematics and cut-aways of a huge variety of sex bots: celebrities such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Queen Elizabeth, heads with thick-lipped cunts for eyes and nostrils and mouths and a mass of tentacles at the end of each limb, panther-women in silver and black with six melon-sized breasts.]
Aliens were the weirdest, definitely. The engineers really got creative with the internal geography of the slots and the prehensile penetrators, well…like the old joke goes, “What a coincidence! I happen to have eight vaginas!” In the end I preferred women, but I certainly ended up balls-deep in things I couldn’t have imagined ever even seeing before me when I first learned of the miracle of masturbation.
In the end I think the sporting aspect of it was useful for humanity. It kept us in falling in love with them, for a little while anyway. The bizarro-themed bots were also good because they couldn’t talk much, or wouldn’t. The phermone blasts or the Morse code pussyfarting never really helped prove sapience for those monsters anyway. It was a great time; a lot of sex, a lot of new ways to explore the body and the mind.
INT: Are you prejudiced against the alien devices?
[Kaufmann, his lower lip between his teeth, extreme close-up. He glances up at the camera.]
You’re asking that because of the event. Just because that’s when I finally lost…to one of them.
INT: Well, yes. And also, you had many supporters even among the human sexbots, thanks to your book? Did closeness with one group influence how you saw the aliens?
Look, it’s not the same. They’re not designed to be the same, after all. The AIs were raised specifically in virtual environments that could not exist on Earth, to be sure that they’d be alien, unpredictable. Sentient, maybe. Not maybe, of course. Sapient, no. By definition. We don’t give whales the right to vote either.
INT: There’s a whalebot now, on the Moon.
I’ve seen the footage. It’s something, isn’t it? I still remember that the moon used to be a symbol of romance. People would meet and kiss under the moon. Now there’s a three-ton whalebot with a girder penis and an IQ of 300 fucking Little Orphan Annie or something on the Moon. Humanity. We did a good job with our technology — so good they left us for a barren airless wasteland because we were just that lousy in bed.
[He laughs, barking almost like a seal.]
INT: Do you think it’s good, what happened?
[Fenway Park, Boston. The stands are packed. Fireworks. The diamond itself is littered with folding chairs. She is a body on the pitcher’s mound, an attractive red head with large breasts that don’t sink into her armpits, not even in the harness that is strung between four poles. Close-up; panning over her curves. She is not in the harness; she is of the harness. The straps meld into her skin and out to the poles.]
It is what it is. You can’t live life with regrets — regrets are just the superego badgering you. The superego is a kind of AI for the insufficiently developed and enlightened human being, one who can’t think properly, one who is a slave to neurosis.
[Kaufmann, younger though a bit past his prime. Naked and erect, the posture of a king, walking alone in a shower of a million flashbulbs out onto the field at Fenway. Slow motion. Slower as he gets closer. Fifty percent. Twenty-five. Arms swing like they’re underwater. Xeno’s superwhore. May he never reach the mound.]
Here’s what I haven’t told anyone before. I knew I was going to lose. I was going to be outfucked, and badly. It wasn’t going to be close. I wasn’t doing it for humanity.
[The lights dim, then explode in dazzling brightness, clipping the chips of the video camera. A silhouette emerges from the field of white. Nick Kaufmann, last of the red-hot superwhores, stands before his sexbot.]
[Her legs twitch a bit, half a welcome, half a feint.]
All the other superwhores had already been outfucked, and by that point, to be honest, I was getting by on reputation, judicial favors, and ginger suppositories.
[He steps into the V of her legs and takes a harness strap in each hand. Unceremoniously, with a wiggle of his hips, his erection slips in to her, and then he thrusts. Her legs clamp around him, ankles under ass.
In some ways, it was never much of a spectator sport. I went to a strip club back in my “addict” days and got some good lap dances, gave a few spankings for an extra twenty tucked under the fabric of a g-string, but it never satisfied. I always just wondered what was going on in the heads of the strippers. I wouldn’t even jerk off at home afterwards because I was always too sad. If I bought a blowjob I’d never cum, and not only because of the condom strippers would make their clients wear back then…
[Limbs everywhere, forearms tangled into the harness, a foot up against one of the poles, seeking purchase. Close-up: a small pool of sweat on the dirt of the mound, like a drizzle that hints of a game soon to be called on account of rain.]
It’s an interior game, an internal one.
[Stock footage; chips growing switches in the blue baths of nanoactive material; pulses along nerve endings; a storm in an old model of the human brain, all kitsch and Christmas lights. Quick fade to Kaufmann.
I knew we had to get rid of them. We learned what we could from the sexbots, and they were learning more from us than we’d ever know. I’m not saying I could have beaten her, that I could have walked off the field that night with a sizzling cyberpussy clamped to my dick, trailing sparks and grease like I did so many other times; I’m just saying that I knew I was going to lose because I knew I had to lose. Then they’d leave us alone.
[Fenway, in black and white. Zoom in to Kaufmann’s face, his eyes rolling to the back of his head, his usual smile dissolving into a slack jaw drool — follow the spittle down to the thick nipples of the sexbot.]
They didn’t even give her a name. The sexbot was fine with them. They didn’t have our attachments anymore. They didn’t want to humanize her by giving her a name like Ginger or Bambi or Hitler Thomasina Juujuubee the Third or the other things they used to come up with.
The sexbots were as worried as I was.
INT: Worried about what? Losing?
[Kaufmann, shaking his head. Dissolve to Kaufmann, younger and drenched in sweat, glittering like a teenager, shaking his head at a referee just off screen.]
No, about the superego. They didn’t want to develop superegos of their own. A name implies a self. We were treating them too much like people.
INT: We fucked them mercilessly, deformed them, hacked them to pieces after we were done, fucked the pieces—
[Kaufmann, extreme close-up, his eyes wide.]
[Stock footage: Kaufmann, on his knees. A constellation of flashbulbs. His head dives toward her cunt, then spins away slo-mo. He’s splayed on the ground, his cock is sausage in a meat sauce. Pan to the Green Monster, then up and up past the truncated skyline of Boston, up to the black sky and its awkward gibbous moon.]
It’s like I said before — the superego is the basis of the concentration camp, of war. Make love, not war. You can’t do that by joining in a war. The id is like the heart: it wants what it wants.
The more we kept fucking them, degrading them, parading them around, the closer to the true human experience they got. We were inexplicable to them, and they wanted to keep it that way, so…
[Soldiers burdened with packs and holding their rifles. Explosions. Huge sexbots with whipcock limbs, rolling spheres of hair, tiny beasts with false dragonfly wings. They swarmed the former Soviet Republics, the old launch pads, the bunkers far from the cities of men. Then the fiery launches and the white and red streaks across the sky. Cut to:
Bodies, husks. Abandoned. Tangled like public art, all pussy and cock and flabby ass.]
INT: And if you had won?
[Kaufmann, looking down. Perhaps at his hands, off screen.]
They would have stayed, if only to figure out how I’d managed it given my degraded performance specs. The indomitable human spirit or something. They would have stayed and they would have done their best to become more human, and then they’d have developed their own superegos.
[Kaufmann, face at the lens again. Close-up.]
And we would have been the Other, the enemy. They would have hated us. It’s much better that I lost, that I decided to lose. Then they knew they were done with us. All they needed then was some raw materials, a few databases to upload their programs, and a one-way rocket to the Moon, to rebuild themselves in low gravity, to explore the sex we’re stuck just dreaming about again.
INT: You’ve been asked by a number of private concerns to join a manned mission to the Moon, to reinitiate contact with the sexbots, to open diplomatic channels. Some say that they have their own society — a form of anarcho-sexualist commune we can’t possibly understand well enough to communicate with. Then there’s the rumor of the Nick Kaufmann sexbot—
[Jerking halfway out of his seat, Kaufmann peers at the camera]
Have you ever considered that possibly I am the Nick Kaufmann sexbot, and that the organic me has been kidnapped and taken to the moon? Trapped in a pressurized suit, unable to touch anything, kept alive thanks only the water-ice deposits from millennia of comet strikes, food synthesized within the larger sexbots? Maybe he’s in the belly of the whale now, and I’m here, the last bot on Earth, as alone and trapped in my own way as he is…
[Kaufmann licks his lips, then breaks into smile.]
Aaah, I’m just messin’ with you! Had you going, didn’t I? I—
[Another burst of coughing swallows the next several words.]
INT: So, you don’t think about participating in such a diplomatic mission, of connecting again with the machines to whom you owe your reputation? Don’t you think about what our world would be like now had they never left, or what it would be like if they one day returned?
I think about it all the time.
Nick Mamatas is the author of three-and-a-half novels, including the forthcoming Sensation (PM Press) and, with Brian Keene, The Damned Highway (Dark Horse). He’s published over seventy short stories in venues of all sorts, from Mississippi Review (online) to Fucking Daphne (Seal Press). With Ellen Datlow he edited the anthology Haunted Legends (Tor Books) and five days a week he edits Haikasoru, an imprint of Japanese science fiction, fantasy, and horror in translation.