Fish Tank
Chapter 1

Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Humor, Oral Sex, Voyeurism,

Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Reality TV goes to the next level in a house that allows no secrets. A man and a woman on display for the world to see fight and fuck their way to the final episode. (An entry in the ASSD FishTank anniversary celebration.)

Begin at the beginning? How pedestrian. In this story, it may be best if we begin at the ending.

Or, to be precise, about 22 minutes before the ending came for the story, for the careers of Larry King and several CNN technicians, and for the swagger in the walk of a million men.

Talkmeister Larry was hosting another of his hard-hitting, newsy group interviews. This one was with past participants from various so-called reality-based shows -- both classics like "Survivor" and newer ones such as "Poke in the Eye with a Sharp Stick."

Specifically, Larry had assembled couples who met on the shows and stayed together afterward. As evidence of the wide gap between King and such purveyors of schlock-talk as Jerry Springer, not one panel member had visibly missing teeth.

Such dental integrity and vocabularies rife with words of two and even more syllables did not, however, preclude controversy among the guests. Insults, not chairs, were hurled.

The culminating incident began when Chuck, a "Survivor" survivor, teasingly suggested that eating raw locust larvae was a less frightening prospect than spending a day, let alone a life, with one of the other panel members -- to be specific, Des.

"She's a frigid bitch," Chuck said, catching the show's assistant director in charge of beeps napping.

"Yeah," said Tony, the "Fear Factor" legend. "Man may have the balls to take her on, but he ain't gonna have none when she's done with him. Right, Pete? There's nuttin' in your nutsack now?"

The director's leaping stab of the blooper button rendered much of the comment inaudible, but that prevented him from noticing that the wide shot he'd last chosen gave the home audience a clear view of Tony cupping his genitals as he pointed at Pete, Des's partner.

Order and tight shots were returned in time for Pete's soft-voiced response. Thus the screen was filled with his craggy features and salt-and-pepper hair as he said, "I'm afraid you bungee-jumped one too many times, Tony. You've confused Des with the scrawny hag you're squiring."

Chuck grabbed Tony to keep him from slugging Pete, so it was Charlotte herself, the hag in question, who responded. "Shove it up your ass," she said with the gentility that had marked her progress through the elimination rounds of "Fear Factor." "Everyone knows yer woman's a goddam bitch. For crap's sake, she showed her claws all over national TV!"

Larry tried to regain control, asking a cheerful question about Tony and Charlotte's recent anniversary. It was no use. As Charlotte wiped the spittle from a face whose sunburn no pancake could adequately disguise, Chuck re-entered the fray. His boyish good looks beamed out at an international audience as he said, "Let's be reasonable here. There's no need to be insulting or resort to violence. We're all adults here. But, Pete, you have to admit. The whole world knows. She is a frigid bitch."

The camera briefly swung to a gaping Larry King before returning to Pete. He was smiling tightly. "Are you sure of that? I would hazard to guess that Des is far more accommodating than the other women here tonight."

Tony's thick, black eyebrows lowered like thunderclouds. "Bullshit," he said in rebuttal.

Pete rubbed a hand on his chin. "Would you put money on that? Say, $1,000?"

"Damn right," Tony muttered.

"Count me in," Chuck said. "But what exactly are we betting on?" He put a protective arm around his life partner, Teresa. "What do we do, have sex?"

"Exactly." Pete nodded. "Right here, right now. Tell Teresa to do you."

Chuck shook his head and laughed. "You're crazy. First of all, I wouldn't tell her to do anything. She --"

Teresa herself interrupted. "He isn't the boss of me. I do what I want, when I want. And you're sick."

Pete cocked his head. "Money's on the line, Chuck. And pride. You can't even get a kiss, can you. You don't even dare try for a hand job."

"How about it, honey?" Chuck put on a puppy-dog face as he reached out. "You'd --"

"Get your paws off me!" She slapped him away. "You're as sick as he is!"

As Larry frantically waved at the control room, Pete turned to Tony and challenged him.

Charlotte intercepted the suggestion. "Don't even go there," she said. "Whaddya think, I'm some kinda whore? That's all behind, buddy. "

"I see." Pete sighed. "Easiest $2,000 I ever made." He turned to the silver-haired woman at his side. "Des?"

She slid from the stool gracefully and unzipped him with impeccably manicured hands. Kneeling before him, her shiny bob was perfectly framed by his thighs on the world's television screens.

The control booth was never so misnamed. Fingers were poking buttons everywhere, and the fingers that weren't poking were pointing. Blame was being exchanged like gifts on Christmas morning. What no one there realized was that an errant finger early on had transferred command of the transmission to the back-up booth upstairs. Theoretically the technicians there should have noticed, but like the rest of the world they were just staring at the screen.

Pete had swiveled, Des had followed, and the home audience got a perfect side view of a mid-sized but quite engorged penis sliding in and out of ruby lips.

The director was screaming into the camera operator's headset to pan away, but the disaster heightened with the inexorable speed of a train wreck. Stunned by what he was seeing in the monitor, the cameraman zoomed in, in, in. Across six continents -- reception was very fuzzy in Antarctica that day -- screens were completely filled by a thick rod pulsing with blood vessels, getting redder and redder as it picked up lipstick on its way in and out of Des's tightly pursed mouth.

It had a hypnotic attraction. In living rooms, dorm lounges, bars, and electronics show rooms; in Pittsburgh, Peking, Paris and Pemba off the coast of Africa; to men, women, children and a startlingly large number of dogs, the pulsing image flickered. No one could look away. Quite the contrary. They drew closer and closer to the screen.

In Ottumwa, Iowa, an old man confined to a wheelchair craned his neck so far forward that he tumbled to the floor. He just shook it off and crawled toward his Sony.

In Rome, a convent's worth of nuns in old-style habits banged wimples as they crowded around their set.

In a suburb of Tokyo, a 12-year-old boy assigned to watch CNN for his English class vowed to never skip his homework, never ever. And then he threw aside his Pokemon and pressed his nose to the TV.

In thousands of cities, millions and millions of homes, Pete's grunts and groans and a cacophony of slurps echoed. Only in the control room in Atlanta could no one hear it, not over the shouts of technicians.

On the set, the other panelists were frozen statues. The only movement by Larry was the heaving of his chest. (The bypass operation the next day was successful.)

All of that was invisible to the viewers. As the electric blue glow bathed their faces, all they saw was a penis driving in, pulling out, driving in, pulling out...

The first splash of cum erupted into the global village. Viewers recoiled in shock. On the big screen of Kickers Sports Bar in Paterson, N.J., it looked as if Des would surely drown under the ocean of gooey white fluid that was gushing from Pete's howitzer. Millions of women looked from the screen to their husbands' laps. Millions of husbands curled up into fetal positions and knew their sex lives would never be the same.

And that's where the story ends. Or nearly so.

The guy who came up with the idea called it "A Sustained Experiment in Biospatial Modes and Interaction in a Non-Opaque Environment," but then three years of grad school sociology classes will do that to even the nicest person.

The company that bought the rights pitched the concept as "Peeping Tom," but that was only used for the British version, because a country that can sustain so many Murdoch papers clearly has no shame left.

When it debuted on ABC, they called it "The Fish Tank." This was considered quite witty at the network that brought us "The Chair."

The TV critic from USA Today dubbed it "Sur-voyeur." But focus groups said Americans who like colorful graphics do not know what "voyeur" means, so his editor electronically blue-penciled it. Still, that sums up the show most succinctly.

The account that follows will be unfamiliar only to the distressingly few who were not among the largest weekly audience in the history of television. However, as those who were in the audience lost, by scientifically accurate measure, an average of six points off their IQ with every episode they saw, the likelihood that they remain capable of reading, let alone Internet use, is quite slim, so the narrative will proceed on the assumption that its readers are beginning with blank slates.

To begin, the rules: Six men and six women were chosen through a rigorous series of mental and physical tests that largely determined which applicants were so desperate for fame that they would put up with a rigorous series of sadistic tests. Coincidentally enough, the group of 12 that resulted from each season's testing always contained the minimum daily requirement of minorities, a representative sampling of two people over the age of 45, and at least one young woman who consistently underestimated the size of her breasts when buying apparel.

The precisely diverse group, after signing several waivers and each being the subject of at least one fawning but inaccurate profile on a local ABC affiliate, was ushered into building that would be home for the next two to 13 weeks.

The building shared its name with the show, an entirely appropriate choice because it was the star. The Fish Tank was -- is; it stands today -- a standard one-story suburban ranch except for two things. First, while it has a modest three bedrooms, two of them are big enough to accommodate six beds each, sharing use of two adjoining bathrooms; use of the third bedroom, with its king-size bed and private master bath, was determined each week by a test of skill. Second, each and every wall in the house is made of crystal-clear Plexiglas specially treated for maximum durability and invisibility. The only privacy available on the show was that provided by blankets or, bizarrely enough, the frosted glass of the shower doors. Bizarre, because the other three walls of each shower stall are, of course, utterly transparent.

Aside from its notable gimmick, "The Fish Tank" proceeded along the same general lines as "Big Brother" and all the other entries in the Torquemada-meets-the-slumber-party school of broadcasting. After one week to get acquainted, the contestants were pitted against each other for survival. Week by week, one player after another was voted out of the house, always alternating between men and women (exceptions being made for homosexuals, who were assigned to elimination groups based not on their gender but -- well, suffice it to say that Anne Heche would have been counted as a woman even during her lesbian interlude, but Ellen DeGeneres would have had to fight it out with the guys).

At that point in the season when the house was down to three men and three women, the regular schedule of exilings was interrupted by a "best of" special. Despite the questionable application of such a label to the likes of "The Fish Tank," the special was actually no worse than the so-called clip show compilations of television series that budget for writers. The reader may judge whether this speaks to a hidden quality in "The Fish Tank," where hiding would seem impossible, or simply the odds against finding an hour of worthwhile viewing in a season's worth of anything on broadcast TV.

Following the special, the axing of players continued apace until four were left. Two of them were then lopped off in one blow. The remaining couple had the house to themselves -- themselves and a cleaning crew, sound technicians, camera operators, and an assistant director or two. At the end of two weeks of public privacy, a winner was chosen, provided with wads of cash and sponsor-provided gifts, and whisked away to be bathed in publicity until such time as he or she was so overexposed that even Barbara Walters wasn't interested.

The reader should understand that the complete set of rules, a printed copy of which was involved in the tragic puppy-squashing of the second season, was much more elaborate and even more boring. And specifics were constantly changed to suit the producers' whims, making it not so much a contest as a series of staged humiliations with lovely parting gifts.

During the course of this ordeal, the participants were featured in weekly TV shows culled from boxcar-loads of videotapes of their activities. In a world where Andy Sipowicz's bare butt can be shared with the viewers, one might think ABC would be able to show just about anything inside the Fish Tank. After the very first episode's now-infamous bad batch of chili, however, the somnolent FCC bestirred itself. As a result, the full spectrum of action was seen only by those who pirated the unedited satellite feeds or paid for the Internet access package providing 15 minutes a day of heavily compressed video, a feature truly appreciated only by those who thought Picasso's "Woman with a Guitar" was one hot babe.

There was one other select group of people privileged to see life in the Fish Tank raw and uncut: Anyone perverted, curious or bored enough to mosey over in person.

The Tank was built, you see, in a normal suburban enclave -- or as normal as any neighborhood is within three hours' driving time (roughly 12 miles) of Los Angeles.

After the first episode or two, the live audience was present 24 hours a day, a huddled mass of citizenry jockeying for position all around the house's exterior walls. The producers set up ropes to keep the crowds well back, but the system broke down and a harried cohort of security guards could do no more than clear out certain quadrants when the director wanted a shot not filled with gawkers.

The rest of the time, faces were pressed to the glass everywhere, requiring an army of burly window-washers to squeegee away the smears and snot every few hours. The crowd's behavior was in the finest tradition of American zoos: making faces, pointing, banging on the glass.

Especially banging on the glass -- to get attention, to stir up the occupants, or just for kicks.

Despite earnest statements from the producers beseeching people to stay away "to preserve the integrity of the experiment," it must be said that the onlookers did lend an air of authenticity to the show. Being on the inside looking out really was like being inside a fish tank, albeit without the little castle to hide inside.

No wonder, then, that the people inside the Tank began to behave like tropical fish.

There were the angelfish -- not saintly types; think more Charlie's Angelfish. Though there was actually little need to be seen naked -- the rules allowed players to duck under the covers clothed, and a long shirt could cover a lot on the toilet -- some women insisted on strutting around in the altogether, making sure to give everyone a good look as they drifted along the outer walls.

Almost no men showed such exhibitionist tendencies, at least not after they saw what the cameras on the outside recorded. Paul, the 27-year-old stockbroker on the original series, was the first to complain that the glass was purposely distorted. "It's like looking through the wrong end of a telescope," he said after seeing the video of his nude frolic. When the experts from Owens-Corning scientifically disproved that, he suggested it was too cold inside and made a point of bundling up. As he also refused to take showers after the onlookers began bringing powerful spotlights to spy on his nocturnal ablutions, it was no shock when the other players quickly voted him out. Most of the men on later series were known to have brought along full complements of underpants and astonishingly large quantities of socks.

Rather than an angelfish, Paul had been one of the complainers known, naturally, as carp.

Every edition of the Tank had its carp. So, too, its kissing gourami, those couples who couldn't keep their hands or other body parts off each other.

It was Cheryl and Cal who took the concept to its ultimate level in the third week of the first series, when they shared the big bed and, as the smarmy host put it during very blurry highlights, spawned like bunnies. But the most notorious example might have been Tom, the sixth-year college student with a curiously vague major, and Tawny "The Body" Haskett, the rug hooker with a heart of gold and ambitions of a similar hue.

In the third season of "The Fish Tank," Tom and Tawny latched onto each other early and formed a pact to christen every room in the house. With the outside audience cheering each incident and ratings soaring, it was suspiciously providential that their antics did not lead to speedy ejections by the rest of the players. No doubt Tawny's success in the immunity challenge in Week Four helped; what were the odds she would trounce everyone else in identifying the weave of a selection of Oriental carpets?

These incidents are well known to the readers of publications such as Us, People and The National Enquirer. There are other tales those high-toned periodicals did not deign to print, but luckily the First Amendment provides a shield for the investigative efforts of the dedicated journalists on the staffs of the Sun, the Weekly World News and Bodacious Ta-Tas Monthly.

It was those Bernsteins of boob jobs, those Woodwards of woodies who uncovered -- was ever a pun more intended? -- who pulled off the raincoat, as it were, from the public indecency records of three announced male contestants before the second season. A valiant Globe scribe revealed how Latrelle Vincent used a laundry room vent in a most unexpected way to allow his adoring fans on the outside to show their appreciation.

And it was Hustler's efforts -- so unfairly snubbed by the Pulitzer committee -- that established, through extensive use of night-vision cameras, that Sister Mary Innocenta had a very liberal interpretation of her vows.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Consensual / Romantic / Humor / Oral Sex / Voyeurism /