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* how I got started in the community
I first learned that there even was such a thing as a tickling fetish from an ad in the back of a Playboy when I was around nineteen years old, a tiny little square ad, on a page with about 20 tiny little square ads, that listed the various fetishes a company was selling videos for. One of them was tickling, and the word just jumped out at me when I glanced at the page. I ordered their catalog and they had two videos with tickling in them, which I was too intimidated to have delivered to even my PO box.
But from that, I eventually made my way to Chinatown in downtown Boston, where all the adult stores were, and they stocked some tickling videos right on the shelves, which I think at the time I took more for granted than I should have. A lot of people talk about being amazed that there were others like them, but I don't think I ever really felt that way.
A few years later, the Internet started to form (It had existed for decades, but I'm talking about when it became something people knew about,) and at the time I was a computer programming major (which lasted one semester, and for good reason: I sucked at it,) so I was a pretty early adaptor of that technology. I joined a bulletin board service (those were sort of like the TMF is now, except you dialed directly into it with your 14k modem) and discovered alt.multimedia.fetish.feet, which was the closest you could come to a tickling group at the time. About once a week or so, someone would post a tickling story there, and that was when I first started to get personally involved, instead of just buying porn.
I wrote a couple of stories (really horrible, awful stories) and engaged in a couple of discussions, and generally just puttered along. And then one day my roommate came home and said "We learned about something called the World Wide Web in class today. You've got to see it." So he showed me one of the 10 or so websites that existed at the time: I think it was the Smithsonian. All it was was maybe ten pages of text, with a few embedded hyperlinks, and frankly it was boring and you couldn't see at the time what it was going to become. But within a year, people were making their own personal web pages, and the guys who would later found Yahoo were starting to create an index of interesting ones.
Once the ball got rolling, it wasn't long before tickling websites started to pop up. They were very basic, because at the time it would take as long as five minutes for a simple image to load on your screen. But in that world, a single tickling image was totally worth a five minute wait.
* how I started my video business
After a while of things going on like this, people started being able to post small (VERY small, 10 seconds or so) video clips, and some tickling video companies started posting samples of their stuff, especially Solefully Yours. They were probably the earliest tickling producer to start using these tools: Pam had a website up very early on, and soon after that she was posting video clip samples to AMT (in those days nobody had enough bandwidth available to host clips on their site.) It was amazing to be able to get those little clips, even though I could much more easily have gone to the store and bought full-length videos. There was just something magical about having instant access to something new, and sharing it with hundreds of other people, and being able to talk about it. Bottom line: I wanted in.
I wanted to be having the same fun that companies like Solefully Yours and TJ Productions (another early tickling presence online) were having, and I wanted to be able to contribute to the content online too. With a lot more optimism than I really deserved, I figured it wouldn't cost that much to make a video, and with a little luck I could make back what it cost to make, and over time probably pay off the equipment. In the meantime, I could tickle some girls, and make some clips to share around.
So I bought a cheap video camera, and some equipment for editing and scanning it, and I started putting ads in college newspapers, and with that Magic Touch Productions was born.
And this is where I got insanely lucky. The first girl to ever answer my ad was a nineteen year old Harvard student named Mary, who was beautiful, smart, fun, and over-the-top ticklish. I couldn't ask for a better first model to work with, and it's definitely because of her that things went forward from there.
I remember being so sure, without even thinking about it, that I would never make any money doing that, that I was much more focused on making great sample clips for my friends than I was in marketing a video and selling it. I ended up buying a RealMedia license (they were a very different company back then) and I was able to make files that were the same size as a 10 second clip, but they would be as long as three minutes. The combination of those long sample clips and Mary being so amazing, made the video a hit. I don't remember exactly what it made in terms of money, but it was enough to immediately make me start looking to do it again.
Jim from MTJ Publishing has a theory that it was my next video that cemented my reputation, though, and he's probably right because my next ad got me a response from not one girl, but three. Three college roommates called me and said they were interested in doing a tickling video. All three were cute, ticklish, and obviously real friends, with real chemistry. Despite the really shitty camera work on my part, the video was another big hit, because the girls were exactly what they appeared to be... three young girls who were schoolmates, as opposed to three obvious porn actresses pretending badly to be that, which is what you would have gotten buying a video in the store.
So I was off and running and, one video at a time, it gradually took over my life. Within a year or so I had quit my job as a waiter and was making videos full-time. About a year later, people started asking if I could take their credit card number over the phone or by email, and in my innocence I thought "sure, why not." This was so early in the days of the Internet that there was virtually no commerce being transacted online, because nobody had bandwidth, almost nobody was online, and nobody in their right mind would trust the security of the Internet.
But knowing no better, I decided to do it, and I called a company that arranged for Internet credit card access and basically bullshitted my way into setting up a server. I was extremely vague about what I was doing, without ever lying, on the assumption (which turned out to be correct) that as long as there was money flowing, nobody was going to ask a lot of questions or look too closely.
So that's how Magic Touch Productions became one of the first business to take credit cards online, years before companies like Walmart got their heads out of their asses
* how the TMF came into my life
After a couple of years with MTP, and being a pretty active member of the community, I was contacted by a guy named Scott whose screen name was, and this will turn out to be very appropriate, psycho. He had built several very popular tickling websites, and he had an idea for a new one that he was starting, called the Tickling Media Forum. It would be based on ezboard.com's free bulletin board software, and his concept was that as many high-profile tickling community people as possible would be the moderators. This turned out to be a stroke of genius, because each of us brought our audience with us,and the TMF quickly became an extremely popular website, by the standards of the day, meaning there were about 500 members.
Ezboard had a good idea, but they didn't really have a business model to speak of, and they soon started bleeding money as they tried to sustain the bandwidth that all their free members were burning through. Their solution, which ultimately pretty much destroyed them, was to bombarded the users with pop-ups and noisy banners to pay their bills, then charge members a small monthly fee to experience the board without that stuff.
Scott and I and the other moderators wanted to get out from under that, and MTP was doing really well at the time, so I volunteered to take on the monthly costs of moving us to our own private server. Which turned out to be an incredibly good thing, because a little while later, Scott had a religious awakening, and started converting all of his websites into places designed to turn tickling fetishists into religious converts. Only the stuff that was in my name survived, but fortunately that meant the three most important things: our domain name, our server, and the vbulletin software. Scott departed, but the TMF lived on.
When that happened, Myriads contacted me and said that he had been running the forum administratively for scott, and asked me if I would like him to continue doing that for me, which I was grateful for and happy to accept. I honestly believe that there is nobody else in our entire community who could do what Myriads has done, day after day, and year after year.
* since then
Now, eight years later and counting, the TMF has almost 80,000 registered members. There was a day, early in the forums life, that we proudly announced having 800 members. Now we routinely have that many people browsing the forum at once. We're one of the most highly trafficked sites online, with almost eight million page impressions per month, and have been rated in the top ten adult-related websites.
We've become a real, living community, not just a website for checking out porn (not that there's anything wrong with that,) where people come together to meet for face-to-face gatherings, become lifelong friends, and even fall in love and get married (which has happened not just once but many times here.)
When times have been lean, it's cost me a lot more money than I had, and I've had to go without things to keep it up. I've been harassed and even sued, but it's all been worth it, and I'd do it all again and more to help keep the TMF going. It's by far the most important thing I've ever been a part of and I plan to continue for the rest of my life.