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For all of these reasons, Juicy Mango stands little chance of surviving in its present form. A fundamental shift in content or distribution, or a partnership with similar sites, could increase traffic.
But at the moment it still can't pay the bills. Mango remains in limbo, and McPherson is working seven days a week trying to change that.
Caity McPherson greets visitors in her stocking feet at the back door. Her Mountain View apartment looks like any other split-level unit: tidy, with lots of plants, an abundance of health and science books, copies of Inc. magazine, prog-rock CDs by Yes and Rush. Surrounded by trees, her building complex exudes suburban calm. A leaf blower whirs in the distance.
An upstairs bedroom provides office space for the Juicy Mango empire. An initial designer left after a few months, so McPherson has learned to do all the HTML production herself. On her desk sits a Sony VAIO Digital Studio workstation with a Pentium II 233MHZ processor, tricked out with 6GB of hard drive, 96MB of RAM, and a CD-ROM burner, all wired to the Internet with a DSL dedicated line. A Nokai cell phone and PalmPilot sit within reach. Stuck to the monitor is a note reading, "Hard work never killed anybody -- some dead guy."
Behind her workstation sits her programmer boyfriend Stefan Podell, staring into another enormous monitor, quietly balancing his checkbook.
"We're kind of like Laverne and Shirley here," says McPherson.
She settles into a chair, brings up Juicy Mango, and gives a quick tour of the site. It's clear she's just as geeky as the guys she targets.
She clicks on some infrared photos, which supposedly provide a see-through view of women's bodies beneath their clothing.
"You can see my underwear," she points to a photo of herself. "You can see my nipples here."
She demonstrates the panorama technology. Using the mouse, a visitor moves through a photo-realistic house filled with naked girls and explores nine different rooms, each of which is, coincidentally, filled with naked girls. She adds that the concept actually was first used by travel and car companies to show off their products. This is one of the few gizmos that hasn't yet caught on in the adult industry.
"It's kind of like porno Myst," adds Podell. In a few minutes, he'll go make himself a sandwich. He supports McPherson completely but could do without her nude photos on the site.
McPherson has recently begun adding more explicit material, tinkering with the site content to attract more business. "The Twins" photo series depict two raunchy nymphomaniac look-alikes, peeing in unison and going at each other with vegetables. Another new photo package is a threesome with a girlfriend and two guys. McPherson also has constructed and attached another site for women named Sweet Banana, featuring nude male models.
And this afternoon she's hired a photographer and model for a special high-tech shoot in her living room. Silicon Valley's Live Picture company designed its Reality Studio software primarily to allow users to zoom into photos and rotate 3-D objects. Sites like Rolling Stone and sportsite.com feature this technology. Juicy Mango will take it one step further.
Decadence the stripper stands in high heels on a rotating Lazy Susan platform, striking 18 separate poses that will later be edited together into a continuous digital loop. Guys will then be able to watch a 3-D nude woman rotate on their screen and manipulate her size and speed with the mouse.
A porn shoot is more about decisions than titillation.
"We have nine frames left," says the photographer. "I think a buttocks thing would be nice."
McPherson nods, "A butt thing."
Although people like the high-tech bells and whistles, McPherson admits that most visitors will end up checking out static photos of the girls. Veteran online porn-hounds who were shown juicymango.com for this article seemed almost disappointed in the site's intelligence and variety. Guys are accustomed to basic, rudimentary porn. They hunt around for something that's free, find the image that pushes their buttons, and soon they're done.
"Too much going on," says one about the Juicy Mango site.
"As soon as I see the word 'ENTER' I'm outta there," says another, who refuses to pay for his porn.
The lack of traffic frustrates McPherson. Is Juicy Mango going to work? Will she have to go back to a day job? The company has a finite amount of money. She's had to lower her membership prices. What may save her is her interest in providing erotica for women.
"We've got a lot of dumb porn already," says Breslin, now a media sex pundit. "A part of this site that holds the most promise, is to figure out what women want. It circumvents Seth [Warchavsky]. Women have this retarded stigma to not look at porn. The Internet allows them to look at porn in private."
Until Juicy Mango finds the next level, McPherson keeps brainstorming, looking for that elusive idea that will make a splash and catch on in the cubicles of Silicon Valley. She says she's looking for a girl who can fit an entire mango inside herself. Maybe an outrageous freak-show act could get on Howard Stern and attract attention to her site.
"I would never think that I would ever say, 'I have a job that involves recruiting a woman to stick mangos inside of her.' " She chuckles. "That's what I'm doing! Crazy.