Soft porn magazines join computer revolution

PENTHOUSE and Playboy are entering the computer age. And they are not alone. Compact discs, coded so that computers can read them, are on sale in the US containing hard core pornography, but it is the entry into the market of the two mainstream soft porn companies that is causing a stir.

At the Intermedia conference in San Jose, California, Kathy Keeton, vice-chairman of General Media International, publishers of Penthouse magazine, showed a packed late-night meeting their 'interactive' disc. This disc, of exceptional technical quality, allows the user to control a simulated photo shoot. With three models to choose from, the user controls what they take off and how they pose.

While Ms Keeton said that her company would 'only make elegant, sophisticated and beautiful material', many members of the audience still found the titles demeaning to women. 'This really is pornography,' one woman said. 'Men like to take control over women and this is exactly what this disc lets them believe they are doing.'

The discs, CD-ROMs, hold more than 400 times as much information as a computer floppy disc. However, they cannot be duplicated. This will be a relief to parents who have read about children swapping pornographic images on floppy discs.

One company, PC Componet, has sold 10,000 copies of its dollars 99.95 ( pounds 68) Visual Fantasies disc, which contains 2,500 hard and soft core pictures. Another company, Pixis, introduced what it claimed was the first full- length digital movie to operate on both IBM and Macintosh computers.

While the picture quality of these products left a lot to be desired (except for the Penthouse disc), the intended audience for these titles, such as male visitors at the show, seemed satisfied with the results.

Even the giant Philips company is getting involved. Not only did it announce at Intermedia that Playboy was to make a disc for its compact disc interactive (CD-I) domestic player, it also showed Voyeur, an interactive game in which the player attempts to solve a murder. 'We wanted the title to appeal to an adult audience,' a Philips representative said, and then showed a scene of a couple having simulated sex.

While PC Componet started off selling porn, today adult material makes up just 35 per cent of its turnover. 'No one is going to go out and buy a dollars 500 CD-ROM drive to play a CD-ROM disc of songbirds. But once they have bought the drive and realised what they can do with it their interest begins to broaden,' Bill Kelly, the company's president, said.

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