By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Brooke Skye was a little nervous about going on the Bubba the Love Sponge show on Sirius radio. On the cusp of her 20th birthday, Skye has been in porn for a little more than a year; so far, it's been pretty much soft-core stuff, diddling and groping herself and tonguing other girls, and she hasn't acquired the veteran porn star's tough, impermeable shell.
She knew all about the Sponge, who had joined Howard Stern on satellite radio after the FCC-spooked Clear Channel canned him and his pushy way with guests. She knew he could be pretty brutal, especially with porn girls.
But on the day of the show, there Skye was, having the time of her life, standing almost nude in the Tampa studio whipping Chip the Intern in the balls with a nasty-looking whip. It should come as no surprise that Chip, who was wearing only blue gym shorts, didn't volunteer for the job. Bubba had shamelessly orchestrated a contest of sorts in which he cajoled various male employees at the studio to line up so Skye could feel their crotches.
After she winnowed the field down to Chip, Bubba had commanded the poor bastard to be strapped to a vertical torture rack. Chip yelped as Skye first fastened clamps on his nipples. Sporting only the bottom of a shocking-blue Wicked Weasel bikini and nipple tape, she grasped the black whip with four-foot tassels that Bubba had equipped her with. Bling dangled from her pierced belly button, next to a tiny tattoo of two stemmed cherries.
"Easy at first, easy at first," instructed Bubba, a fleshy, middle-aged dude dressed in a gray tank top and gym trunks, a man clearly enjoying escape from the confines of broadcast radio.
Skye's first swing was leisurely, more a pantomime of a beating than anything else.
"Oh, you're gonna have to do it like this, like you're whipping it around the farm," Bubba said, demonstrating with his arm.
The second blow still didn't make the grade.
"You gotta snap him harder than that," he bellowed. Skye put enough elbow grease in the next one to make Chip yipe. She bent forward, giggling in disbelief.
"Give him one right across the chest, really hard," Bubba shouted, letting the bloodlust flow. "Don't make me get Greg the Bulldog to show you how to torture someone."
Skye delivered the whip across Chip's bare chest with a vigor that surprised even her, and the leather on skin connected with a bass tremor that segued into the intern's shrieks.
The past two years have been a strange, wild ride for Brooke Skye. Until she was about to turn 18, she lived the quiet, predictable life of a small-town girl dated the same guy for a couple of years, carefully protected her virginity. "Before this whole thing, I was little Miss Goodie-Goodie," she says. Life exploded with an alcohol-fueled auto crash, a DUI, an unplanned pregnancy, a hasty marriage and divorce and, finally, porn and a move to Fort Lauderdale.
In Skye's case, however, porn was the life raft that helped lift her pummeled body out of the drink. Today, she's the star of an immensely popular website that receives an astonishing number of visitors. According to Alexa.com, a web tracking site that ranks the 100,000 sites receiving the most traffic, BrookeSkye.com has maintained a ranking of roughly 3,000 since last summer. (For perspective, Hustler magazine's site in late April ranked 6,846, and South Florida's own Sun-Sentinel came in at 1,758.) Thousands visit her site daily.
The site's success comes in part from Skye's online personality, a mixture of goofiness and sexual allure that's appealing to porn aficionados looking for something different from the standard pizza delivery boy trades a pie for nooky. With a few caveats, the Brooke you see is the Brooke that lives and breathes and cries and giggles and pouts. She's slim and girlish-looking, with unenhanced boobs "a far cry from the 1960s archetype of the womanly woman," says Vinnie Rose, manager of the popular porn review and merchandising website SkullGame.com.
Porn viewers say that BrookeSkye.com, which claims to be the first web-cam site to offer high-definition video, may represent a lunge toward new, less lurid territory in the collective male libido. The slight, schoolgirlish Skye has become not the latest hot porn vixen but a virtual girlfriend for hundreds of lonely web surfers. Rose compares the website to videogame representations of real-life situations. "She's like a sim, an avatar of the girlfriend, living her life on the video monitor," he says.
"You just keep coming up with the next new thing," says the man behind the website, Michael Strouse, a veteran of online adult sites who has meticulously flogged BrookeSkye.com, slowly increasing the number of other sites that promote it in return for a small fee. "Unlike what a lot of guys think that you have to go harder and harder and more raunchy you can go softer. Surprise, everybody still likes it."
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Shawn Piscopo slides three tripod lights to full height in the living room of Skye's Fort Lauderdale apartment. A 22-year-old with a hulking build, Piscopo has filmed many of the dozens of videos available to members on Skye's site, which include the young woman involved in everything from girl-girl-girl fests and solo masturbation to a try at skydiving.
Piscopo is as low key as Skye is high tempo. As he sets up for a striptease he plans to film this afternoon, he talks about the job of filming porn.
"I have members e-mail me, and they say, what would be cool is this, or put her in high heels. They want to see something they haven't seen before." He laughs. "Most of it's bullshit, though. They say, 'Oh I wanna see Brooke licking on a wet pussy.' We already have, like, 20 videos of that!"
Today, he wants to get footage of Skye cleaning her apartment, which she shares with longtime friend Samantha, who has appeared in numerous videos with Skye. Samantha will soon be the centerpiece of a similar site created by the same company. Today, though, she remains holed up in her bedroom after frying herself in a tanning bed.
Piscopo turns on the lights, and the apartment suddenly glows like an atrium at noon. "When [members] see me on the web cam, when I'm recording her, they say, 'Who the fuck is that guy?' Brooke tells them that it's her cameraman. They all say, 'He has the fuckin' greatest job in the world. I wanna work for him. I'll hold his camera. '"
He shakes his head. "Once you see everything and you do it every single day... Imagine you had sex four times a day, every single day, for the rest of your life. Do you think you'd get sick of it? I bet you would."
Skye isn't quite as porn-world-wearied as her cameraman and friend, it turns out at least, it seems that way when a writer and photographer from New Times stand nearby during the shoot.
"Do a strip in front of the couch," Piscopo requests quietly. She's wearing a jean skirt and pink hoodie over a fancy white brassiere. They banter for a minute; Skye's laugh is a hearty guffaw that seems incongruous for a woman who's as strikingly skinny as a fasting ascetic. The bolt of skirt covers only the upper two-thirds of her buttocks.
"You ready?" he says. "I'm gonna start here." She's standing, and he's got the video camera at her waist. She begins to writhe, rubbing her hands across her bare belly, her thighs, across her chest.
"Hold on," she says, as giggles overtake her.
"What are you laughing about?" he asks.
"I'm so embarrassed. It's weird. I'm sorry. It's just weird having these two here."
"Now I'm feeling weird too," he mutters. They both crack up.
She addresses the interlopers. "We used to have a crapload of people when we filmed, but for so long, it's just been him, so it's all like... funny."
She moves off to the kitchen. "I feel like such a geek," she groans. "Let me make this coffee and I'll be good, I swear."
Undoubtedly, it's this kind of genial self-deprecation that keeps members paying that $30 a month or, for the long haul, $80 for a half year. Well, her humility and a serious onslaught of ads and spam promoting BrookeSkye.com.
To that end, Skye and Piscopo spend many hours a week filming webmaster requests, which are short promos in which Skye praises another website by name. It's done to curry favor with other webmasters, so that they in turn promote BrookeSkye.com.
"Sometimes they have me doing goofy shit, like running around in pantyhose and a bra and blowing bubbles," she says of the promos. "Don't ask I don't know. My boss has these shirts that say, 'Don't ask me, I'm just the model.' That's my motto."
Once curious surfers actually arrive at the site, a mockup of a live, interactive web cam beckons, "Click here to start chatting with Brooke now!" Sure enough, Brooke Skye is seemingly online replying to the most lascivious requests. Try to join in yourself, though, and you'll be told that only members can send messages. Meanwhile, Brooke starts messaging the screen name you entered: "Where did you go?" "Are you still out there?"
When a member signs up, he's e-mailed a photo of Skye, which, through the miracle of digital manipulation, holds a greeting sign with the member's name on it. Inside lie roughly 100 videos of Skye in acts erotic and mundane: shopping for a car, masturbating, moving to a new apartment, muffdiving two girls, cleaning her apartment, nibbling nipples.
With some coffee and a little food in her stomach, Skye finishes filming the striptease in yeoman fashion, a performance that will soon join the archives of her pseudo life.
Sitting at a sidewalk table at Tarpon Bend Restaurant on a recent blustery afternoon, Skye looks like a typical spring breaker, dressed in shorts and a tank top, with hair whipping about in the breeze. Although this had been scheduled as a lunch-time interview, she'd been held up by the vagaries of filming and a woefully insufficient sense of direction that left her hell and gone from the restaurant. By the time she arrives, it's midafternoon. She's now wolfing down a seafood appetizer.
"I love food!" she gushes with a just-off-the-farm sincerity. At her age, a hectic pace and a gleeful excess of cigarettes and coffee lets her eat what she wants and remain Kate Moss-thin. She speaks expansively, as though there's nowhere else in the world she'd rather be right now.
Skye, who asked that New Times use only her porn name, hails from Plant City, Florida, where her family has lived for several generations. About 40 miles east of Tampa, the town is surrounded by strawberry country; its water tower is painted to look like the fruit. It's the kind of place where "everybody knows everybody," she says, and "when you see a Ferrari drive by, it's like seeing a frickin' eclipse."
Reflecting back on the path to porn, Skye recalls: "I always wanted to be a model. That was like my thing. I'd say, I'm going to be a model, a supermodel." Her mother enrolled her in Barbizon modeling courses and cheerleading. "That's all I ever worked on. We went to schools, conventions. They were the kind of places that just wanted money, not really legit, but it gave me the skills I have now."
She did have a shocker in her young life when she learned that the woman she called mother turned out to be her grandmother. And the girl she thought was her older sister was her mom. Her older brother, who's now a Marine and was recently shipped off to Iraq, used to tease her that "my mom's not your mom." She ignored it until she asked her mother about it around age 13.
"Then she sat down and told me about the whole thing," she says. "Then I thought, 'My sister's my mom. Hmm. Kinda cool. '" She adds: "I thought my sister was so cool."
She and her close friend and current roommate, Samantha (not her real name either), started skipping classes in senior high and ended up taking equivalency tests to graduate early. A few days from turning 18, she and Samantha got an apartment in Plant City, and she supported herself as a rollerskate-clad waitress at a drive-in.
Basically, she'd stayed out of trouble. "I remember the first time I ever drank a beer one beer and I was 17," she says. "I was so scared. I thought I'd be in so much trouble when I got home."
And she remained a virgin, she says. That is, until she turned 18. "One after another, things started happening," she says. "Stupid crap." After crashing her car one night, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Soon, she learned she was pregnant after having sex with her longtime boyfriend, Kyle. "That was a huge shocker. My family had been so proud of me."
Kyle pressed her to have an abortion; she refused. "We were both young and freaking out," she says. "Then he came to realize that he was going to grow up one day and want to be the dad and didn't have a chance," she says. In an act of impulsiveness and responsibility, Kyle signed up for a five-year stint in the Marines in order to provide health insurance for Brooke and the baby.
About five months into the pregnancy, though, she miscarried. "It killed me because I was so attached to it," says. "And poor Kyle. He was devastated. And he hates the Marine Corps. He hates it so much."
He also came to resent her, she admits, because she was so angry at the world. A kind of angry soliloquy played over and over in her head: "What do you want from me? I get a DUI, then I'm pregnant, and I don't want to be, then I accept it, and then I lose the kid. What do you want from me?" She didn't get an answer. They divorced when he returned from boot camp.
The next chapter of her life actually began while she was pregnant, though she didn't recognize it then. When a friend needed a ride to a porn shoot in Tampa, Skye offered to drive her. It was a hardcore, man-woman shoot, and as Skye watched, she was impressed by the cold, hard professionalism of it all. "It wasn't a bunch of dirty, nasty people," she says.
She'd also become friends with a man who worked as an agent for adult models. He'd been pestering her about giving the work a try, and in the wake of the divorce, she finally said yes.
Her first shoot was for an all-girl website called "We Live Together," whose conceit is exactly as it sounds. "I was so scared," says Skye, whose sexual experience with women was nil. "Oh... my... God."
"It goes boom, boom, boom," she recalls of her inaugural foray into girl-girl sex. "You go in, they give you your outfit, they do your makeup, you meet the girls, then you go to the location. They'll give you a little briefing as to what you'll be doing. It's acting sucky acting at that. The crappy part is that there's no script. So I was walking on the beach with these girls, and I'd never been in a thong on the beach before. I had a towel around me. The cameraman is motioning: Take the towel off, take off the towel. We acted like we'd just met each other, then went back to the apartment."
Sex with a woman was "weird," she says, but adds, "It's not that complicated. I didn't feel disgusted with myself. Everybody has their own opinion. I understand that."
As to whether she derives any sexual pleasure in the girl-girl and masturbation scenes, Skye is contradictory. On the one hand, those performances aren't what she regards as her personal sex life (she dates men). But, she adds, "I do get off most of the time."
The newbie porn actress could have ended up just another pretty face toiling in the crotches of young girls were it not for Michael Strouse, the 31-year-old web entrepreneur with operations in Minneapolis and Fort Lauderdale.
Sitting at a café near his downtown Lauderdale office recently, Strouse talked about the fast-evolving field of adult web entertainment. He's baby-faced, with short, dark hair and a powerful voice. Dressed in baggy shorts and sneakers, he's confident and unexpectedly candid.
At the beginning of 2005, Strouse and his company, MayorsMoney, planned to create a website based on the pseudo life of a young woman. "We were looking for somebody who was cute with a good personality doesn't need to be superhot, just needs a super personality," Strouse says. A freelance photographer mentioned a young brunet in the Tampa area. He quickly recognized that Skye had the right mix.
Strouse had been involved with online porn most of his adult life. He grew up in the Minneapolis area and never went to college. By 1996, the consummate autodidact was dabbling with website design. Among his first clients was Sex World, a venerable adult store in Minneapolis' warehouse district. From that point, he never strayed far from the adult entertainment field.
In 1997, he created porncity.com to cash in on the explosion of online adult content. "It was a service that let someone set up his own website, like Geocities. But I designed it to be adult in nature because Geocities were kicking adult sites off." Porncity.com proved to be enormously successful, and Strouse dubbed himself "The Mayor" of the site.
"Bandwidth costs were sky-high," he explains, "but the traffic was also high, so we could afford to pay a fortune." The dot.com crash wiped out most of that traffic, and he finally shut it down because of complaints about spam. "I don't like to be in the position of policing people to make sure they're complying with laws and regulations, and I didn't want to be in the position of claiming ignorance and saying it's not my fault they were breaking the law." The site still exists, but it's mainly used to entice web surfers to buy memberships to adult sites and as an online-porn industry bulletin board.
Strouse has been running a handful of sex sites over the past few years that offer generic bump-and-grind content made by contract producers. The site that was to become BrookeSkye.com was an "experiment," he says, the kind of site he'd like to see. "Not the standard ultra-hard-core gangbang," he says.
"For the most part, people aren't joining a site because they like the idea; it's because they've seen one girl who caught their eye and they want to see more of her. The trick is finding the girl who has mass appeal."
Skye possesses a stick-in-your-mind quality, he says. "She's approachable. She's obtainable, a human aspect to a very impersonal kind of transaction. You go to an adult website, usually it's just a bunch of nasty, porn-star kind of girls. The thing we wanted with Brooke was to make it two-way communication, an interactive communication between the user and her.
"It's kind of like a Big Brother thing. They're watching her whole life, or what we're putting out there as her whole life. They eat up every aspect of it. That might not be 'stroke' material, but it might be something to watch after they're done doing their business and they want to get to know more. The idea is to make the site sticky, to give them as much entertainment as watching a cable show. That's why she does stuff like the mini golf and skydiving. They need to be able to log in during the day and get what they want."
The site has exceeded Strouse's expectations, though he declined to talk about how much money it's pulled in. He said "tens of thousands" of members have had memberships in the ten months it's been operating.
So what keeps all those salivating longtime members coming back? New Times asked several of them; all requested that only their screen names be used.
Lee, a 51-year-old who lives in south Georgia, is single with three grown sons. He first saw Skye in a Girls Gone Wild video in which she appeared in a masturbation scene, and he was quite taken with her. Last summer, he got several spam messages promoting the site. He bit and immediately recognized her.
"It's been fun watching her erotically grow you can just watch her becoming more comfortable with her body and her pleasure," he says. "I think she really is just blessed with this incredible erotic energy. She really does just love pleasure, and it really is kind of cool, because she doesn't just give it away; she kind of keeps it hidden and something of a mystery."
When the site first appeared, Skye left the web cam on 24/7, and Lee would pop online at various times to see what she was doing. "I did get emotionally attached, no doubt about it," he confesses.
Asked about his feeling and expectations toward her, Lee laughs and says, "You know, I don't think that she's going to marry me. I don't figure she's fixin' to run up to Georgia, because, wow, you said all these things about me and I've fallen in love with you."
Ice, a 20-year-old from England who became a member in December, wrote in an e-mail, "I guess she sort of seems like a girlfriend to me, but I haven't really thought about it much. It would probably bother me if she did start doing hard-core scenes, but I wouldn't stop going to the site if she had them. And I don't think it would really bother me if she had a boyfriend who came on the cam, as long as he was fully clothed, lol."
Another member, goblue who'd sent Skye the bikini she wore on the Bubba show describes himself as professional, middle-aged, and recently divorced, living in a small college town in the Southeast.
"Brooke has something different here," he wrote in an e-mail. "She is allowing members to interact with her in basically all of her moods, see her moving to a new place, getting new stuff, etc."
So does he see her as a quasi-girlfriend? "Interesting question, basically you are asking if I am delusional just kidding," he responds. "No, not a quasi- or other girlfriend, but part of a normal fantasy life."
On a late Monday afternoon in April, Skye perches on the edge of her unmade bed, madly typing messages on her laptop. Clipped to the top of the computer's monitor, a video cam aimed at her transmits her somewhat distorted movements to a couple of dozen people who've logged on to BrookeSkye.com.
Skye is well into her daily, two-hour live chat, during which paid members watch her dance, prance, flash, and type as they carry on a chaotic conversation with her and one another. On second thought, this isn't exactly a conversation. It's more like a group of wisecracking guys trying to impress the girl or perhaps a bunch of young dudes on their first visit to a strip club, where each tries to out-hyperbolize the other. For example, when one asks Skye how old she was when she started masturbating, another guy quickly interjects, "Brooke could masturbate in the crib."
But there's a strong strain of solicitousness from her longstanding admirers, a gentlemanliness that's peculiar for porn sites.
Today, Skye is wearing a tight, white, pocket T and a short, short wrap-around jean skirt. From the members' perspective, her long and oval freckled face looms large on the screen. She has big brown eyes, long, dark-brunet hair, and a smile that reveals a full battery of sparkling white teeth. She habitually pushes her hair back out of her face with both hands.
As she does frequently, Skye scurries out of her bedroom for a smoke break or something or other. Like every day, this camcast rolls on, with and without her. As members wait for her to reappear, they comment among themselves, often answering questions posed by newly arrived members. After months at the helm of these chats, Skye tries to greet each new visitor, answer questions, and, with aplomb, deflect the more demanding entreaties.
That's something she learned to do the hard way. During her first week on the web cam in June 2005, she started to cry because of one member's messages.
"He was, like, show me this, show me that," she recalls. "I'd say, I don't feel like it. He'd say that you have to show me, what the fuck did I pay for, you're a slut. I wasn't used to being disrespected like that. It made me feel trashy about myself." (She can now ban members.)
"Now I would never cry," she chirps. Indeed, on this day, with a little assistance, she'll deftly handle a French importuner who's logged in as Guest120.
After she zips back into her bedroom with a cell phone to her ear, she's warmly greeted by members and given advice.
Twin15: Stop biting your nails!! Bad habit.
Jimbo: Brooke who are u talking to?
Brooke: lol I know I'm sorry
She then gets a message from the Frenchman, but she doesn't reply, dealing with other questions instead.
Jimbo: Brooke may I see what you're wearing?
Twin15: They are called clothes lol jk sorry man
Ron: A lot of guys want to see what Brooke isn't wearing lol
Pussyman2: The problem with Brooke is that the best clothes for her is her hide
Jimbo: Well all you can see is her white top I kinda wanna see everything else
Skye jumps up and pulls up her shirt, which stays buoyed by her nipples. She turns around and hikes up her skirt, revealing a red lacy thong as she shakes her behind in hip-hop video fashion. She then bends close to the web cam and pantomimes a kiss with lips that fill the screen. She darts out of the room.
Bobby: An amazing butt
Ron: I have to go to confession tonight.
Bobby: That butt is a show stopper
Skye returns, and Guest120 pleads with her to do something with a sex toy. "Sorry, I don't have any toys," she taps into the keyboard. When he persists, she and other members try to cool him off.
Guest120: Can you take your clothes off pleaz
Brooke: In a little, take it slow baby
Bobby: Slow down dude, the show lasts a long time
Ron: Yeah, don't rush her. She's a pro and knows how to build up the climax
Guest120: Can I see your pussy
Brooke: Nope not today
She retreats across the room and in subdued lighting changes into different panties, which cover even less skin. The treat elicits another round of sexual bombast, such as "She could turn a gay man straight" and "She could raise troop morale" if she joined the USO.
Deconman gingerly queries, "Brooke if it's not to much to ask may I know how often u masturbate?" She answers, "Hehehehe."
Guest120 pleads once again for her to "do a show for French people," but other members flame his ass.
Twin15: No Americans don't like French
Pussyman2: I am French and eat shit every day
Discussion turns to Skye's breasts, which, there is firm agreement, should retain their God-given diminutiveness. (Stand down, boys; her contract prohibits that kind of body modification.)
Coosh: Brooke never ever get fake tits please
Brooke: I won't coosh
Lee: And if you ever let anyone talk you into putting fake tits in I will never talk to you again
Guest120 remains obsessed with another part of her anatomy, however, repeatedly hounding, "Can I see your pussy?" He announces he wants to marry her.
Chiming in with a message unusual for its length and earnestness in this forum, Nitro writes: "Brooke, just know that no matter what anyone says or does to you in your life that there will always be those few in between that truly enjoy your company and the wonderful way you present yourself to the world."
Guest120 is in another world. "Don't you care?" he moans.
Skye genuinely likes many of her members in a way that's perhaps possible only for a 19-year-old whose life quickly exceeded her small-town expectations.
"In their minds, they make-believe I'm all theirs," she says. "I don't get attached to one certain person. It's more like, the way I am with one, I'm with all." She thinks for a moment, then delivers a typical Skye-ism: "I have my ones there that are the ones."
Her site attracts all ages, but she finds the older men easier on the soul. "The younger ones say, show me this, show me that more disrespectful. The older ones, they're more like, hi, sweetheart, how are you today?"
And how does Bubba the Love Sponge treat her?
"Whaddaya do on this fucking website?" he howls at her as she sits before him in the studio. "Are you fucking monkeys?"
"A lot of girls and myself," she coos. She gently deflects his questions about how much she's paid.
Returning from a commercial break, Bubba strikes a slightly reverential tone. "Brooke, I gotta kinda apologize to you. I just checked the stats on the website. It completely fuckin' smokes my ranking. This is a hot little bitch right here."
Brooke Skye giggles contentedly.