“Bloody hell! What’s she doing with that melon? Oh God, look where he’s smearing that salad cream! Jesus, now he’s taking her wheelbarrow-style! This is just perfect,” enthuses twenty-seven year old Lionel Juggwaltz, as, crouched below the ground floor window of a suburban house in Luton, he watches webcam footage from the house’s bedroom on his laptop. “You can peer through dozens of windows and just get hours of fat bastards masturbating or teenagers squeezing their zits, but every so often you hit the jackpot with stuff like this – two relatively normal looking people going at it hammer and tongs! It’s pure web traffic gold!” Juggwaltz’s website, ‘Peeping Tom TV’, has quickly become an internet sensation. Every week millions of visitors are attracted to its jerkily shot and dimly lit films, shot through letterboxes and the cracks in curtains, of ordinary people taking their clothes off, having sex or masturbating, in their shabby suburban homes. This rising star of the dot com economy agreed to allow us to shadow him as he shot a new series of films on the streets of his home town of Luton. “It’s voyeurism for the Web 2.0 generation,” he explains, as, under cover of darkness, we climb over the garden fence of another house. “I mean, doesn’t everyone want to watch that attractive female neighbour undressing, or taking a shower? Well, I’m just giving them the chance to enjoy the thrill of being a Peeping Tom, without the inconvenience of having to climb up trees to peer through bathroom windows, or the risk of discovery!” The idea for his site stemmed from Juggwaltz’s purchase of a webcam for his laptop. “I don’t know why I bought it, except that it was cheap,” he whispers as, squatting below the house’s bathroom window, he assembles his equipment. “Anyway, once I got it home, I couldn’t think what to use it for – I could have taken pictures of my cat wearing a funny hat, and posted them on the web, but that would have been pretty lame.” Juggwaltz finally hit upon the idea of ‘Peeping Tom TV’ whilst looking at online pornography. “I noticed that there were a lot of these ‘amateur’ sites,” he says, extending a telescopic arm mounting a camera up to the open top light of the bathroom window. “The most popular ones seemed to feature supposedly ‘ordinary’ girls photographed in their bedrooms or kitchens on webcams or mobile phones whilst they got their knockers out. People seemed to like the ‘authenticity’ the domestic settings, grainy footage, poor lighting and strange angles gave the pictures. The trouble was, they were still ‘posed’ – the girls knew they were being photographed. So, I hit on the idea of taking the pictures surreptitiously – what could be more authentic than that?”
Whilst ‘Peeping Tom TV’ has indeed found favour amongst connoisseurs of ‘amateur’ internet pornography, the majority of its visitors are just regular people with neither a particular interest in smut, nor any convictions for sex offending. “I’ve never bothered looking at internet porn, it just doesn’t interest me, all those plastic girls shoving their fake breasts at you, but this is completely different,” says Dave Froop, a forty-one year old data input operative from Chester, who admits to looking at the site daily. “It’s the fact these people are so ordinary which makes them so erotic – they could be your next door neighbours! The things they get up to – it makes me look at my own neighbours in a new light now!” Neil Graplock, a fellow fan of the site agrees. “These look like people you might actually have a chance of pulling,” enthuses the thirty-eight year old Totnes bank clerk. “It’s amazing how quickly you get drawn in to it. I just can’t get enough of it! Not that I’m a voyeur or anything – I’d never dream of spying on my real neighbours, obviously.” The ‘Peeping Tom TV’ phenomena has also caught the attention of academia. “It’s simply a logical extension of reality TV and the surveillance society, which have, between them, rendered traditional notions of privacy obsolete” opines Professor Bob Mincer of the Clacton School of Joinery. “Many people are now so accustomed to watching apparently ordinary people going about their business on shoes like Big Brother, or on CCTV footage, that voyeurism has become the norm. If you can watch people eating, sleeping or shopping, why not watch them having sex as well?” Juggwaltz is now poised to transfer the success of his website to the mainstream, having been commissioned to film a pilot for the BBC, entitled Friday Night Stalk Show. “It’s intended to be an alternative to traditional chat shows – Instead of inviting on guests and allowing them to veto potential questions and the like, I’ll hunt them down and film them through keyholes and stuff,” he explains, as he scans the bathroom for activity. “Hang on a minute, it’s all kicking off now – a bird’s getting in the shower. Wow, will you at where she’s soaping herself! Absolute bloody dynamite!” Juggwaltz hopes that his new format will strip away the glossy veneer of celebrity, the illicitly snatched footage of them on the toilet or scratching their backsides emphasising that they are nothing special, simply ordinary people like everyone else.
With the prospect of a prime time TV show, Juggwaltz admits that he’s come a long way from the days when he simply posted his films on YouTube. “It seemed you could post anything there (just so long as you aren’t infringing somebody’s copyright with your choice of backing track, of course) – dangerous driving, life-threatening idiotic stunts, grievous bodily harm – so why not voyeurism, I thought,” says the young film-maker who, with the films creating a sensation on YouTube, set up his own site to showcase them. “Of course, at first I was confined to just peeking through ground floor windows, but you never get any good stuff that way – let’s face it, nobody does anything racy in a downstairs room (unless they live in a bungalow). I quickly realised that it was the upstairs I needed access to, that’s where all the action takes place.” Initially, Juggwaltz tried using a step-ladder to get the valuable bedroom footage, but found it too hazardous. “The first time I tried it, this bloke just opened the window and punched me in the face – I fell off the ladder and twisted my ankle. I was bloody lucky not to break anything,” chuckles Juggwaltz, who admits to receiving considerable monthly advertising revenues from his site . “That’s when I came up with an amazing technical innovation – a long wooden pole to mount my camera on!” Juggwaltz has subsequently refined his equipment, employing sophisticated articulated arms for his cameras, periscopes and swivel mounts. “I’m hoping to get an infra-red camera next month,” he reveals, just as the back door of the house flies open and a burly man rushes toward us shouting threats and waving a carving knife. “That way I won’t have to rely on people doing it with the lights on anymore.” Juggwaltz is proud to have transformed voyeurism from the seedy preserve of sad perverts into a high tech past time that can be safely enjoyed by all from the privacy of their own homes, and vehemently rejects allegations that his activities represent a gross invasion of the privacy of those he films. “Look, if it’s OK for the government to spy on people in the name of security, why shouldn’t I do the same in the name of entertainment?” he asks, as we scramble over the garden fence, the angry householder close on our heels. “It’s like they say about those CCTV cameras – if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to be worried about.”