Dot-Cum Drenches Sex Inc.
Sun, Sex, Bananas and Hitler

Eric Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer of Sun Microsystems, studies the sexual habits of companies ( He wants to understand how corporate mating mimics the human kind--the anguish, the ecstasy, the giddy sense of sky-high potential. The payoffs can be huge: corporate procreation, just like the gamogenesis of more orthodox bioplasms, can create offspring that are better adapted to this difficult world than either parent. Understand the ins and outs of the process, argues Schmidt, and you can help aim the corporate seed towards ever greater profit.

Simplifying the corporate-sex picture considerably, of course, is the fact that corporations can only really desire money. Neo-darwinism notwithstanding, human sexuality is a bit more complex than this: humans usually see marrying strictly for money as a violation of love, not its quintessence. And while Schmidt's sex metaphor may be useful to corporate matchmakers, the void between human and corporate drives yawns even wider when the human cost of corporate sex games is tallied.

And what a range of sex games it is, enough to give even the perviest biont the willies. Sometimes companies do the nasty covertly, as when Chiquita avoids pesky foreign health and labor laws by secretly giving birth to "native" spin-offs that do all the dirty work--becoming, in a sense, their own parent's exotic love slaves ( Sometimes the liaisons are played out between many corporations at once and one parentalist government, as when U.S. corporations take taxpayer funds to finance research and development, then charge the same taxpayers dearly for the products developed ( Or when almost all German companies not only collaborate with the Nazi regime, but, finding its activities quite profitable, egg and finance it on, yielding offspring from which we have yet to recover (

The frisson one experiences from such moral porn becomes something else, though, when the corporate love shack is your own back yard--for example, when test-tube dot-coms, carefully cultured on the agar of venture capital, grow old enough to move their ecstasies into your neighborhood. That's when the rent triples, the sex shop sleaze vanishes along with all "local color," and you have to wonder if feverish corporate breeding is really a good thing for bottom feeders in the New Economy's trickle-down ecology.

Take San Francisco and New York, where financial lust has scattered its seed over older, once-derelict neighborhoods, and one of the first casualties has been... human lust. The result of the dot-com and real-estate orgy, serenaded by neo-liberal public officials, is the demise of human-sex venues (and virtually all other non-virtual small businesses) to make way for the massive rents of "artist" lofts inhabited by dot-com geniuses who can whack off in private to their favorite streaming media--and then complain about the unsavory effluence from the last surviving video store, and how it threatens to corrupt their latest libidinal offspring, whether human or start-up.

When faced with seeing our once-sexy cities turned into corporate kleenexes, we sometimes turn into sexual conservatives, feebly crying out for abstinence, or for a corporate regard for human desires. But these calls are as utterly hopeless as Catholic crusades against teen pregnancy. What we need now are mandatory, fast-acting contraceptives: local zoning and regulation to keep the dot-cum from drowning us less well-endowed humans.