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Back in '87, George Michael told us "Sex is natural, sex is fun"- people got pissy. But thanks to what Rufus Griscom calls "a technological and cultural revolution," he and Genevieve Field, co-founders of New York City online publisher Nerve.com Inc., have created a place where the educated Net set can immerse themselves in all the wonders of copulation without feeling pervish. Erotic essays (Naomi Wolf and Norman Mailer are past contributors), poetry, columns, Position of the Day, NerveRadio and NerveCenter- community with chats, e-mail, and more-are all for the taking.
"For years, Rufus wanted to do a magazine for women and men about sex," says Field, 30. So in late 1997, the former editors at a small publishing house decided to take Griscom's idea online. With a $100,000 private investment and assistance from designer Joey Cavella (now creative director), 31, they got the business rolling. Early media praise drew the obscure venture from the virtual shadows. Now it's got a four-book deal and a documentary to tout- its own PR agency (NervePR) for Internet businesses. And Griscom, no underground snob, wants everyone to check it out.
After all, no one's meshed the male-female perspective on sex, leaving matter like Playboy as one of the few places to glean insight. "We see ourselves as branding the next sexual era- more open-minded sexual sensibility where women are equal players," says Griscom, 32.
While satisfying their own craving for print media, the company also answered the wants of 65 percent of polled Nerve.com regulars (that's 800,000 unique readers a month) by publishing the first issue of nerve magazine in April. An atypical way to start a magazine, but, says Griscom, "It would have been irresponsible of us not to have created it."
Expecting to turn a profit by year-end, Field and Griscom are looking to sell a minority stake in Nerve.com to a broadband or media company. Dubbed "Best Print E-Zine" at the Webby Awards in May, they'll be fighting them off.