And talking of sex in the media, this evening sees myself and a small gaggle of compadres descend on a large apartment on the South Bank of the Thames. The party is being thrown by MobiTV, an American outfit who as their name suggests specialise in putting TV onto mobile phones. Over in the US they carry entertainment, news, documentary and other channels (including our own parent company’s video output); over here, they’ve teamed with people like ITN and Orange.
It’s hard to know what’s stranger, being in a small venue with high-powered TV executives or the venue itself. The execs are networking like well-oiled machines, swapping cards in moves as practiced and stylised as Noh theatre, scanning the room for people higher up the social scale than the ones they’re talking to, communicating in short, coded bursts as they establish who their correspondent is, who they might know in common and whether there’s a chance of exchanging corporate DNA.
The venue is so 1970s bachelor pad it’s beyond cliché. Huge monochromatic pictures of stylised nudes hang from the stairway to the bedroom, there are chairs shaped like naked women and a hot tub decked out in green leather. Enormous picture windows look out over the Thames to the Houses of Parliament, prompting thoughts that the place could perhaps be hired out as a knocking shop for MPs, but this is apparently not the case — someone really does live there, but is away for much of the time and hires it out for parties like this. There is a gin rack — like a wine rack, but filled with Bombay Sapphire — and a fridge called the Pussy Deluxe.
As the evening wears on, the well-oiled machines become slightly too well-oiled. Once everyone’s been networked, relaxation takes over and conversations become more fun. Despite myself, I even swap a few cards and might yet be guilty of instigating some sort of deal. It’s terribly addictive. I also have a very interesting conversation with an American from Real Networks who lives in London: there’s something seductive about swapping tales of cities we have known and loved while knocking back the G&Ts and staring out over the London night. I mention that Real has got a bit of an image problem because of the overbearing nature of its software; yes, he says, that’s true and it’s being addressed. Meanwhile, they’re very pleased with Rhapsody, their online music store, although it isn’t open in the UK yet. Would I like to see it? Well, yes please.
He subsequently sends me access details: I download the Rhapsody player, and the first thing it tells me to do is "disable any Internet firewall". This is also the last thing it tells me to do, as I’ve no intention of doing any such thing. That overbearing nature is a bit difficult to shake, eh?