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From the very dawn of the world wide web, the internet has been used for sex - and not just the pornographic kind.Whether lusting after a one-night stand or looking for true love, it didn't take long for people to cotton onto the concept of going online to arrange offline liaisons.But lately, with adultery-arranging site Ashley Madison hacked and 'swipe-right-to-like' app Tinder accused of commoditising dating, companies in the business of arranging encounters have been thrust, excuse the pun, into the spotlight. (Wearing a mask and brandishing a plastic sword as a fancy-dress assassin.) I explain I'm a journalist.

There's a quota for single men, to keep the male-female ratio in balance, and anyone who posts a 'dick pic' (ubiquitous in online dating, as any woman who has tried it will tell you) is deleted.

'If I was trying to monetise the site, I'd be taking every single guy that would want to send me money,' says Reynolds Gordon, who was once pictured with Russian secretary of state Pavel Borodin during a phase when he dabbled in diamond trading.

Nonetheless, he admits the strategy helps sell tickets that cost from £50 to £150 for the parties he throws in LA, New York, Paris and London (a 1,200-strong event in Elephant & Castle in early September was billed as the biggest sex party the country had ever seen).

It's mid-afternoon on a Friday and a dozen or so people are active on Heaven Social, the decidedly retro (think Facebook's first iteration) social network of Heaven Circle, a two-and-a-half-year-old company that throws 'elite' sex parties. 'Everybody's a bit more refined, well educated, I guess,' he says.

For people into things that still aren't a topic of polite conversation, the internet is, unsurprisingly, brimming with possibilities.

'(It's) played a huge part in the liberation of people of our generation,' says Heaven Circle co-founder Chris Reynolds Gordon.

'When you used to go to a club or a bar, no one had a badge saying that they were into certain things.' So whether that's wife swapping or finding a wealthy man to fund you through university (more of which later), there will be a niche for you on the net.

But how viable are these sites as businesses, particularly as many still look like they were created on Geo Cities in the late 90s?

Reynolds Gordon, a champion middle-distance runner as a teenager, says emphatically that he runs the free site and its associated sex parties out of 'more of a love for it and (as) a hobby (rather) than a business'.

(He refuses to divulge financials, or the details of a virtual reality camera he's spent three-and-a-half years fundraising for, which he claims will 'revolutionise the industry' when it's unveiled next year.) There are fewer than 3,500 members on Heaven Social, around 15% of the people that have tried to sign up.

That's partly down to an unashamedly prejudiced vetting process - photos have to show someone in 'good shape' and who claims to be under the age of 40.

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