The Tale of Sherry Gale

Here’s a blog post that’s an attempt to drive up viewership of one of my YouTube videos. So: please watch!

Backstory: I entered Second Life, the 3D interactive world, in 2006. A couple of colleagues mentioned it at a conference, saying it might be good for theatre performance. I checked it out, was quickly hooked, and continued to inhabit there virtually, creating several theatrical performances.

Over the years I’ve met a lot of different people in Second Life (SL). Some were fleeting flirtations, and some became lifelong friends, even though I’ve never met them in person in the real world (RL). (Though a couple of times I did attend the Second Life Community Convention and did meet people. Wow!)

One of the longer relationships was with a person whose avatar presented as a sexy anthropomorphic female fox. I don’t really know how we met or began to converse but she seemed very interesting and intelligent. When I encountered her, we’d sometimes couples dance and make small talk. I learned she was from the west (California? Colorado?) and did programming in SL. She hinted at an anxiety disorder that kept her from the RL workforce, but she seemed comfortable and content in the virtual world.

Part of her contentment seemed to stem from the avoidance of sexuality and relationships. Our goodbyes were often punctuated with an animated tight hug or occasional brief kiss, but never went beyond that. But she did seem to really like me, though without a hint of romantic interest.

Although, once she confessed she had been in an SL relationship and that it had ended. She then said there had been no one else she’d considered being involved with but maybe I might be the next person she would. At some point she decided to be very forthcoming about contacting her by mail and gave me her mailing address.

Her complete mailing address.

This included her name—which was a male name.

I should not have been surprised. People present as different genders all the time in virtual worlds. They get to try new things, or get a different perspective on life, or become who they truly are. I once had an SL friend confess to me that he was really a she, and used a male avatar to avoid being hit on or harassed.

I have not seen the fox for awhile since I’ve not been in Second Life as much as I used to; our time zones were not always compatible. But I wonder what happened to her.

And in imagining how she became a female fox, I created the short film, The Tale of Sherry Gale. Note that it is not based on her life, and it is all a fabrication of my imagination. Also, I wanted to explore telling a story with just photos, like the French film La Jetee (which features a brief moment of movement to take the viewer by surprise). So I wrote the script, hired a former student to recite it, and put it together.

I’d love to have your review, either here or on YouTube.

Published by stephenschrum

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts; interested in virtual worlds, playwrighting, and filmmaking. Now creating a podcast called "Audio Chimera."

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