When the actor Ashton Kutcher was in Moscow in February, as part of a U. State Department technology delegation, he berated Ternovskiy for what his stepdaughter had seen on the site. There is, for example, the video of the dancing banana, crudely drawn on lined paper, exhorting people to “Dance or gtfo!
” (Dance or get the fuck out.) The banana’s partners usually respond with wiggling delight.
“I just couldn’t feel the value of the money.” He was fired within a month.
The following summer, Ternovskiy holed up at home and began to toy with the code for a new site that would re-create the atmosphere of the store.
A visit to Chatroulette usually begins with a few rushed clicks of the “Next” button, either out of a sense of danger—do you really want to engage with that empty-eyed guy lounging in bed?
—or out of curiosity about what’s around the corner. The majority of Chatroulette users are male and under thirty-five, and many of them are trolling for girls, so they “next” each other at barbaric rates.
The point is to introduce you to people you’d never otherwise meet and will never see again—the dancing Korean girls, the leopard-printed Catman, the naked man in Gdansk.He worked tirelessly, and began to learn German, Spanish, Italian, French, and even some Turkish. By the second week, he could size up a customer’s nationality and address him in his own tongue.He didn’t, however, take quite as well to the business side of things.We watched each other typing and reacting to the words that scrolled next to our images, co-stars in a postmodern silent film.There are some unsavory things on Chatroulette: copulating couples, masturbators, a man who has hanged himself (it’s fake). (Within twenty-four hours, Ternovskiy made it vastly easier for the site to cut off offensive users.) But the You Tube videos that people have recorded of their trips through the Chatroulette vortex also show a lot of joy.