New York Magazine
New York

Boot Up and See Me Sometime

Electronic salons are the hangouts of cyberspace, where like minds meet to discuss everything from Jesus Christ to home pet surgery. After years of lagging behind even Cleveland, the New York salon scene is finally happening.

June 13, 1994

By Jeff Goodell

MindVox, another major bulletin board in the city, is a different beast altogether. This is Gen X New York: young, punky, anarchistic, in-your-face, it’s a world splattered with mottoes like “Image is blasphemy. Text is heresy. The spoken word is a lie” and “I support the destruction of the environment I’m living in.” At times, being on Vox feels like you’re peering directly into the roiling subconsciousness of American youth.

Which, in a way, you are. Vox was started by Bruce Fancher and Patrick Kroupa, former hackers who are both still in their early twenties. Fancher (a.k.a. Dead Lord) and Kroupa (a.k.a. Lord Digital) were both members of the infamous hacker group the Legion of Doom. and the online culture of Vox is a direct outgrowth of the digital underground that flourished in New York in the eighties. Vox still attracts an aggressively un-p.c. crowd. Kennedy, the unfailingly obnoxious MTV jock, hangs out, as does actor Wil Wheaton (Wesley in Star Trek: The Next Generation), novelist Michael Drinkard, raver Dee-Lite, and members of the Psychedelic Furs. “Being snappy, funny, able to make people laugh with an element of New York viciousness scores you points on MindVox,” says one veteran female Voxer. “This is not a place for solemn navel-gazing.” Indeed, while forums range from Science and Hacking to Books and Movies, Vox has the dubious honor of hosting Thug World, a forum run by a charming character who goes by the name The Murdering Thug.

“The whole point of going online is to express yourself in ways without having to worry about social sanctions,” says Fancher, whose father, appropriately, was the founding publisher of The Village Voice. And it’s true, there aren’t any: Vox is free expression at its purest, from phallus jokes to flaming personal attacks.

Nevertheless, amid all the noise, powerful unfiltered feelings arise, as in this post from a 30-year-old Voxer the day after Kurt Cobain’s suicide:

Date: Sat, 09 Apr 94 19.34:46 EDT From: tomwhore@phantom.com:

I dont know about celebrity shit and fucking glamour hounds. What I do know is that the music of Kurt gave me joy, made me think, held a mirror up to my self at times, he excited my ears and buzzed my brain. He taught me the joys of simplicity on the acoustic guitar, and he made me realize I like my life alot.