Monday, January 10, 2005


The first in a series of random interviews with Second Life residents—details here. Today’s resident was blindly selected from the Appearance tab of the Leader board.

Barbie Fauna partly owes her presence in Second Life to a headlong tumble from the back of a prize stallion some seven years ago.

"One morning back in 1996," she tells me, "I was riding the same horse as I had been all year, and out of the blue, he tripped, and I heard that loud pop, and then landed head first into the track, and heard my neck crack three times."

Fortunately, the damage wasn't serious. "No, I was very lucky, and was able to walk away."

Up until then, Ms. Fauna had made a living exercising race horses on tracks across North America. "We would ride the race horses in the morning to get them in condition," she explains. "I used to show Arabian horses... and one winter, a trainer that stayed on the same farm as I did asked me to ride a couple of his horses, because he saw how gentle I was with them. The Arabians never went fast, but the thoroughbreds were great, and it was so natural for me. I just loved the power they had, and how most of them were kind to you."

So that had been her life for some three decades, she says. "Most of the time it was driving, and a lot of tracks have on-site rooms for the workers to live in... I would guess [I've been to] about twelve to fifteen tracks." Some of them were world famous. "Most of the other tracks were small ones. Or they were training centers."

But after that hard fall, she decided it was time to give it up. She declines to say what her current job is, but away from the race courses, she now has the time and space to try out computer games-- which is how she eventually stumbled into Second Life.

"I was surfing the Net for a non-violent role playing game and saw that Second Life had a trial period," she tells me. "So on the third day, I liked it so much I activated a membership."

I meet Barbie in her spacious, two-level home in the suburb of Rydal, on the continent’s far Eastern shore. The decidedly sexy interior was appointed by her and some friends, but the home itself was purchased at fire sale rates. "I think it [was] about L$400," she says. That's just under $2, at current third party exchange rates. "Yes," she says, "it is possible to find bargains here if you are patient."

Ms. Fauna is a statuesque blonde in a scarlet camisole, a look that evolved over the months that she’s been a resident (she was born last June) as a kind of counterpoint to her real world appearance.

"I was always an outdoor person and never did wear much make-up," she says. But now that she does in-world, "[I]t has now given me much more respect for what the pretty girls when I was at school went through, from all the guys that were chasing them."

As it turns out, school was quite awhile ago for her.

"I will be 57, in April," Barbie announces, cheerily. "Not bad looking for an old broad."

She tells me that age is one of the things you're able to pick out, through the anonymity of residents' avatars. "The younger ones seem to be much more knowledgeable on the new developments in the PC world," she says, "and it reflects in the language they use. And the older people tend to be more laid back and friendly and chit chat about nothing in particular."

During our interview, a computer glitch causes her to crash out of the world a couple times, leaving me momentarily alone to listen to the New Age music stream echoing through the walls of her home. Each time she returns, a collar is automatically attached around her neck, and the words “Leash - Pet: Barbie Fauna's collar initialized” flash on the text screen.

"In your profile, it says you're property of Mistress Aromantic. What's that mean to you?"

"It's part of the D/s [dominance/submission] lifestyle that I am exploring here in Second Life," she says. Another Second Life friend of hers wanted to try it out, and asked Barbie to accompany her as a protector. "This was the first I have ever had contact with it," she tells me. "Another great aspect of SL is to be able to explore different things in the safety of your home... I have found out that it really involves a lot of love and trust between the two people involved. It can vary depending on the limits that are imposed before any play acting starts."

But this is not her focus in Second Life, she goes on. "No, I would say not a real big part, because I enjoy meeting new people. That's why I go to as many events as I can in a night. That's the biggest thing that I like about SL-- meeting new people from the four corners of the world. I like to build things, and I am trying to understand the scripting aspect of the game. It gives me an opportunity to be creative."

Her advice to Linden Lab, were they to ask it? "Maybe to broaden the range involved with video cards [compatible with Second Life] because when I see PCs for sale," she says, "most of them do not have a Radeon or G-Force card."

Look for Barbie Fauna at Play Pen, a hangout she co-owns with a friend.

"It's a new club started by a close friend, Kiki LaFollette. She is trying to make it a classy club [with] a nice big open dance floor and hopefully a low area of lag. [We're] requesting the patrons to use minimum attachments... I helped by buying some of the land along with one other person."

And yes, she’s even rode the in-world horses on the race track that was built in Second Life awhile back.

"It was very well-scripted and close to being realistic as possible," she says, offering her expert opinion as someone who once rode stallions at full gallop. "I was impressed with it."

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Isn't Barbie Fauna the one that had her property accidently wiped and auctioned by the Lindens a couple months ago?

Posted by: Peter Ludlow at Jan 13, 2005 4:12:59 AM

I don't know, but she didn't mention any of that during the hour-plus interview.

Posted by: Hamlet Linden at Jan 13, 2005 1:17:48 PM

awww hun / i had severe closed head injury last year / thats what brought me here / is nice place to have friends / biggg biggg hugggs :)

Posted by: JayR Cela at Mar 17, 2006 4:41:33 AM


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