I just got laid. And you know what? I could get laid again right now if I wanted to. And it's not as if I'm particularly good-looking or dating someone with an elevated libido—or dating anyone right now. It's that I'm gay. And the internet contains magical vending machines where gay men can order sex like on-demand, pay-per-view porn. Except they're real humans on demand. And the vending machine is free.

Unlike Craigslist, where any predatory monster can post photos to lure you into his basement and eat your flesh, sites like Manhunt and Adam4Adam require some investment in the social network: You create a profile, you post pictures of yourself, you send and receive messages, sometimes you IM—and these interactions more or less authenticate you as a non-flesh-eating-monster. On Manhunt and Adam4Adam, the profiles are not geared to convey your affection for Europe or walks on the beach. They are geared to convey what your face looks like and what you're looking for. You can browse everyone online at that exact moment. You say what you want: fucking another guy, getting fucked by another guy, fucking a group of guys, getting fucked by a group of guys, getting fucked by a group of guys dressed as Stormtroopers... and so et cetera and on forth. And, theoretically at least, somewhere in this pantheon of cock-suckery, turd-poundery, hand-cuffery, and vanilla-scented sugar cookies is The Man for You.

I browsed this Gallery of Available Homosexuals for the first time on New Year's Day, after waking up horny enough to have sex with my futon. (I don't know why I was late to the internet party. I figured it was too intimidating, but I found that practically every gay guy has a profile. I also learned that, like trips to Vegas, we don't talk about it. And we certainly don't write about it in newspapers.) Here's how it goes: A guy sends a message, your inbox glows for attention, and you figure out—assuming there is some internet equivalent of chemistry—when, where, and how you plan to poke each other. Here was a conversation I had the other afternoon:

Guy: i need to get into trouble.

Me: yeah, like what sort of trouble do you want to get into? [I unlock a picture of me naked.]

Guy: oh, I'm open to suggestions. my desires have been leaning a bit more towards the top lately. [He unlocks a picture of his gigantic cock.]

Me: you want to hang out later?

Guy: that could be fun. when later?

Me: let's do six. where's your house?

After a 10-minute conversation, we have plans. Specifically, we have plans that are timed—at my request—to let me finish writing a news story, stop at the grocery store, go to his house, have that sex, throw away the condoms, and be home before my block of cheddar gets warm. Less than one hour after getting fucked, I am on my couch watching CNN and eating a quesadilla.

Note to jealous straight guys who drink corn-dog Slurpees for breakfast and wish girls would be like this: Normal rules of "league" still apply. If you're a slobbering dimwit, you can't expect a fit law student to come skipping over your threshold and onto your cock. But just because you're not an Abercrombie model doesn't mean you aren't somebody's type. And even when someone looks like your type, things can go terribly wrong.

For example, you could chat with an extremely hot blond guy who is staying close to your house and is visiting town. He seems like such a nice kid. You suggest going to Comeback, the hipster-faggot pick-up night at Chop Suey. You wait in front of your house, and as a figure approaches from about one-third of a block, it hits you. Like a canister of Axe Bodyspray exploding inside a crate of more Axe Bodyspray, which subsequently triggers a chain reaction that sets Coco Chanel's brains on fire. And then at the bar, as you fight back an asthma attack, he orders—of every possible drink—an Adios Motherfucker. And because you offered to buy him a drink, you pay $4 for your reasonable whiskey and Coke and $12 for his whatever-the-fuck blue thing, then duck into the crowd, suck back your beverage, and bolt for the door.

On the other hand, you could also discover someone who's smart and handsome and into what you're into. If, say, a sharp exhibitionist grad student hatches a plan on Adam4Adam to have sex in front of his floor-to-ceiling windows while a guy at the next building over watches, you can do that. Afterward, you can wonder, kind of pleasantly, whether the video that you two made—and the other videos that you made on those other nights—will end up on XTube.

Another benefit of meeting people on the internet: The next morning, you don't necessarily feel like a hungover wreck. In the pre-internet era, homos had to hang out in bars or bathhouses to get laid casually. Bathhouses are dark places where diseases lurk. And cruising in bars requires quaffing disinfectant-grade vodka, selecting an adequate partner, and waking up with what feels like a disinfected porcupine burrowing through your frontal lobe while you're busy hoping you remembered to use a condom. The internet allows you to do the whole thing sober (and wake up feeling freshly laid with a clear recollection of the MANDATORY condom).

Note: The internet, like a bathhouse, is filled with diseases and liars; always wear a condom.

Honestly, it's not all fabulous. To find a great sex partner requires hitting on a lot of people—and accepting a lot of rejection (unless you are beautiful in every way). And even when all goes great, the meat market, by the way it frames the interaction, limits the extent of the emotional investment—essentially guaranteeing that you're not going to end up in a relationship with the guy. And, really, a great boyfriend is what most homos want (I've had a few and vastly prefer them to the occasional romp). But for folks like me, who cower at the prospect of asking a guy out, this cyber playground is a boot camp for rejection and acceptance. It builds muscles useful for dating guys in the real world, too. recommended