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select a month a year of stories - the surreal world - by john halcyon styn

I'd gotten used to a wacky life ... wearing fur pants in public places, living in a webcam house, planning year-round for Burning Man ... I thought I'd settled pretty comfortably into living on the edge. But in March 2001, my concept of "normal" was stretched so far, I wonder if it will ever return. Like a pierced earlobe stretched by wooden dowels, I doubt the hole will ever close up.

In early March I got a call from MTV. They were doing a documentary called "Naked on the Net" and were interested in finding a webcam house. After I explained Globalgasm, the upcoming digital orgy that would be taking place at our house, they decided we were definitely the house to feature.

MTV has played a huge part in my life. I remember calling my cable company as a kid and demanding, "I want my MTV." I still have my rejection letter from the third season of "The Real World." MTV is like the older, promiscuous sister I never had.

And now MTV was coming to my house! They would be filming me and my housemates for five days. They would follow us to nightclubs. They would interview us repeatedly. They would have me narrate as I decided on an outfit. They would film the Globalgasm festivities.

After stewing on this adventure, something occurred to me. There is a huge difference between living under a webcam and being in a documentary. Webcams do not lie. They do not edit. They do not add menacing music or alter camera angles. Webcams tell the truth.

The MTV crew arrived in late March with a list of shots they needed. They knew the story they were going to tell before we ever met.

Now, this is a vulnerable position to be in.

What if they wanted to tell the story of the narcissistic asshole? Or the nudist with a messiah complex? It would be easy for them. They shot hundreds of hours of footage. Hours and hours of me ranting about sex, God, and the web.

Hell, after they filmed Globalgasm, they actually had footage of me having sex. In many ways, this film crew became like a lover. We shared a lot, and I allowed myself to be very vulnerable. As in any good relationship, I abandoned my safety net. Now they could hurt me bad, if they wanted.

At the end of March, the crew packed up their stuff, hugged, and returned to New York. I have yet to see the finished piece. It should air in the next month or two.

It's scary. It's like knowing that a past lover has scheduled a press conference to discuss your lovemaking skills. Will MTV say I'm a bad kisser? Or will they say I made their toes curl with delight?

The thing is, I can ask myself these questions without humor or irony. "Normal" is nevermore. The earlobe will not return to its virgin state. I can only keep getting larger and larger dowels, and try to embrace the new normal as it evolves.

How was your March?