Jenni, how could you? You redheaded little minx! You amoral man-trapper! Stealing your friend's fiance and making love to him in front of thousands!
Oh, Jenni, you are so very bad, we cannot stop watching.
When D.C.-er Jenni Ringley started Jennicam four years ago, she was brave, crazy, self-obsessed. She was a young woman committing herself to a life under Internet-ready cameras, and we eyed her, rapt. She changed in front of the cameras. She let us read her journal. She aired her dirty underwear--psychically speaking--and we reveled at it blowing in the breeze.
And eventually, the stunt got old.
But Jenni has continued to broadcast her life, and happily for us, it still has moments of drama.
In one deft move, the woman whose grand online experiment paved the way for a nauseatingly long list of imitators has recaptured the scandal and attention of yesteryear: She has stolen the fiance of one Pamela Courtney, who is not only a friend but also a fellow cam-girl living her life online. Which means the entire sordid business from the first betrayal onward--with its attendant bouts of depression (on Courtney's site) and bouts of sex (on Jenni's)--has been broadcast to an international audience through the wonders of advanced technology.
Now that's good programming.
"I am in love," Jenni wrote in her journal days after she found her soul mate in the form of Courtney's intended. "He is a miracle to me, he is the sky opening up and the sun shining down, he is the rich earth underneath my feet and underneath my fingernails."
"They are both in love with each other, aaaaaaaaaaacccckk!!!" wrote Courtney (who goes by her last name), in a fit of despair. "Like . . . how am *I* supposed to compete with 'jennicam.' She's funny, she's gorgeous . . . she's got better furniture, I mean . . . I could just go on. This really really sucks."
Poor Courtney. She is a hefty 30-year-old native Californian with a warm-and-fuzzy nature; her mood over the past two months has bordered on nearly suicidal despair. And who can blame her? She and "Dex"--that's the nickname for the two-timing Romeo--had been living together for over three years. Their wedding date was set for this November, and Courtney had gone so far as to post the announcement on her site, latitude11.com. It was to be the "official event of two souls uniting in harmony. A spiritual love fest celebrating us and you!"
But then came Jenni, 24, the green-eyed, long-tall-drink-of-water who broke up with her last boyfriend about a year ago. She met Courtney while visiting the West Coast earlier this year, after being introduced by a mutual friend who is, naturally, also a cam-girl. And she says she was so smitten with the lifestyle in Sacramento--it was "warm" and "inexpensive"--that she decided to leave D.C. and move there.
Naturally, Courtney found her a house on the very same block. And naturally, she flew east and drove cross-country with Jenni to help her move.
"Jennifer's house actually shares my backyard fence so we get to poke our noses over the fence and say hi to each other!" Courtney wrote in her journal at the time. "We're going to have a lot of fun!"
Alas, fun wasn't in Courtney's cards. Her fate was something closer to humiliation. Dex had already started to drool over the new girl. "When Jennifer walked into the room . . . I could have sworn Al Green was standing there singing," Dex recently explained in his journal entry on Jennicam. (According to Jenni, Dex doesn't want to comment on this story, and neither she nor Courtney was willing to give Dex's true name. Never mind. His face and, ahem, other parts, are plenty public on the Web.)
When Dex and Jenni talked, well, as she explained it, Dex "felt the same way as me--about reality, about the universe, about energy and purpose and meaning."
Flash forward to July 8. Dex and Jenni say they stayed up talking late after Courtney fell asleep. When she woke up and they were gone, Courtney wrote later, "I had this sick sick sick feeling inside me like i'm already knowing the events that are about to transpire."
So, Courtney popped over to Jenni's house and found Dex there. One look at his face, she says in a phone interview, and "I just knew."
With that, Courtney began not-so-quietly falling apart. She says she cried, swallowed several helpings of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, "intentionally hurt myself" and asked Dex and a friend to drive her to get help. She says she spent three days at a mental health facility feeling very crummy. Then she came home to messages from fans saying, "Please say it isn't true."
But it was, and the jilted lover needed only to glimpse Jennicam for proof. Over at the new place, Jenni and her new squeeze cuddled semi-clothed in bed. They studied each other's faces. They had one another's names tattooed to their left ring fingers. They consummated their affection--over and over, in noisy fashion--in front of the cameras.
Last weekend, Jenni and Dex moved together to a new place in Citrus Heights, in the Sacramento 'burbs. On a recent morning, the camera showed her and the ponytailed Dex asleep together in their new home. Jenni explained in an e-mail exchange that the last two months have been "beautiful, painful, liberating, excruciating, frustrating."
Happily, Jenni adds, both she and Courtney are healing.
"There's really no animosity between the two of us," Jenni says over the phone. "Courtney and I firmly believe we will be friends again."
Courtney says something slightly different.
"They're two very, very needy people that convinced themselves that they need each other," Courtney says, adding that she has no plans to be friends with either of them. She has moved to San Francisco, where a cam shows her living temporarily in the spare room of a group house.
At a message board devoted to fans of Jennicam, viewers seem disillusioned by their star. They have loudly proclaimed her "amoral" and all manner of worse words. Many have suggested her relationship with Dex is just a ploy to snag more subscribers, who pay $15 a year to see their view of Jenni refreshed more frequently than those who watch for free. One viewer suggested Jenni might be a sociopath.
Another former fan posted simply: "My membership is up in September. I'm quiting [sic] now though. I see no reason to support people I can't respect." Jenni says she's lost "a couple dozen" subscribers, though she won't release any numbers or reveal what she earns from the site.
Courtney says the only thing that has kept her going during this time has been her viewers. They have, for example, sent her reassuring messages titled "that BITCH," "evil wench" and "they suck," designed to make her feel better.
"This huge living community has just come out of the woodwork and embraced me," Courtney says.
Jenni, meanwhile, says it's been a difficult time for her. "I just don't want any more negativity spread on any side," she says. She's committed to continuing Jennicam, she says, but it troubles her that so many people are judging her harshly.
She has difficulty "philosophically," she says, with "the idea that people who don't even really know me, haven't ever met me, think that they know enough about my life to know what they would do in the same situation."
Imagine the gall.