Senior Editor
12.17.08 95 Comments

Director Gore Verbinski and Universal have bought the rights to a 2007 Wall Street Journal article about a man whose real-life wife is jealous of the woman he married in Second-Life.  The interesting part isn’t so much the planned movie as the article itself:

“It’s really devastating,” says Sue Hoogestraat, 58, an export agent for a shipping company, who has been married to Ric Hoogestraat for seven months. “You try to talk to someone or bring them a drink, and they’ll be having sex with a cartoon.”

Seriously, what does he think this is, Japan?  His virtual wife, by the way, goes by “Tenaj Jackalope”.

Since February, he’s been spending six hours a night and often 14 hours at a stretch on weekends as Dutch Hoorenbeek, his six-foot-nine, muscular, motorcycle-riding cyber-self.

In the virtual world, he’s a successful entrepreneur with a net worth of about $1.5 million in the site’s currency, the linden, which can be earned or purchased through Second Life’s Web site at a rate of about 250 lindens per U.S. dollar. He owns a mall, a private beach club, a dance club and a strip club. He has 25 employees, online persons operated by other players, including a security guard, a mall concierge, a manager and assistant manager, and the “exotic dancers” at his club. He designs bikinis and lingerie, and sells them through his chain store, Red Headed Lovers.

Sounds like a cool guy.  But oh shit, here comes the inevitable real-world comparison.  Trust me, this is good.

Before discovering Second Life, Mr. Hoogestraat had bounced between places and jobs, working as an elementary schoolteacher and a ski instructor, teaching computer graphics and spending two years on the road selling herbs and essential oils at Renaissance fairs.

Wait a second… Essential oils?  Hey, you know who’d be perfect for this role?  Steven Seagal! Oh, and dudes?  I’m pretty sure it’s spelled “Faire”.

The real Mrs. Hoogestraat is no stranger to online communities — she met her husband in a computer chat room three years ago. Both were divorced and had adult children from previous marriages, and Mrs. Hoogestraat says she was relieved to find someone educated and adventurous after years of failed relationships. Now, as she pays household bills, cooks, does laundry, takes care of their three dogs and empties ashtrays around the house while her husband spends hours designing outfits for virtual strippers and creating labels for virtual coffee cups, she wonders what happened to the person she married.

Well sure, everyone loves a happy ending.  Hey, anyone else get the feeling this might not make the most interesting movie?  I guess I just expect more from someone whose first name is “Gore”.

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