In the beginning there was sex. Then humanity became literate, and there were love letters. The march of technology gave birth to phone sex, and now, thanks to the omnipresent microprocessor, there's cybersex, the on-line way to get virtually laid.

Unlike on-line cruising, where the ultimate aim is a face-to-face (or dick-to-dick) meeting in real life, cybersex is an orgasm in itself, one-handed typing at its finest. At its best, it's a literary collaboration between two (or more) horny guys who spin out a short story starring themselves.

"There are times I'm horny and crave more contact than stroking off to porn, but I can't deal with actually having sex," says a cybersex aficionado. "So I sign on, find a partner, and the two of us trade Instant Messages till we shoot our loads." It certainly is nice to have sex you don't have to shower or shave for, but it does have its pitfalls.

For one thing, you have - let's face it - no idea who's really sending you those Instant Messages or snuggling up to you in that chatroom. "A certain amount of lying is only to be expected on-line," says one cruiser who's been around the cyberblock. "But since it's all in the realm of fantasy, who cares?" Which is all well and good unless you're actually chatting with an undercover police officer or a spying member of the Moral Majority. It's when the borders between cybersex and the non-virtual world break down that things get sticky. It's no use hoping to meet that hot, hunky guy who is in reality a Florida mother of three with time on her hands and a flair for dirty words. (You'd think that an on-line exchange of pictures would provide proof of identity, but it's just as easy to steal someone's GIF than to pretend you're packing 10 inches.)

The flip side of that anonymity is the opportunity cybersex provides to experiment safely with another person. Men who'd never consider letting a guy tie them up in real life can comfortably play a bondage bottom on-line, and i f imagination and reality aren't quite the same thing, at least the real-time back-and-forth with a cybertop can make things hot.

Because cybersex takes place, ultimately, in the brain, not everyone will be terrific at it. A guy who's great in bed may be lousy at the keyboard. Just as phone-sex conversations often mirror the stripped-down language of porn videos, cybersex borrows heavily from gay erotica: "Oh, yeah, fuck my ass" or "Now I'm sucking that big, dripping tool of yours." Those who truly get off on reading (or even writing) dirty stories or verbal-abuse fantasies are most likely to love cyber, while guys who are too busy pounding the pud to type anything more than "ok" or "ohhhh" are less than likely to please the demanding cybersexer. "Sometimes," says a nasty cybertop, "I'm coming up with these elaborate scenarios and all the other guy can come up with is a syllable or two. I might as well be talking to myself."

Despite all that, the brain is, as they say, the largest sex organ, and for those of us in search of a sweaty mental workout, cybering can be big fun. It can also be boon for the closeted, the inexperienced, the shy. Like all good things, it can be overdone; a guy who spends all his time talking nasty via his computer should get out, get a life, and relate to flesh-and-blood people. But cyber can be a great dish in the banquet of sex, getting off without leaving your chair.

Want proof? Listen, I'm sitting here imagining you reading this, and it makes me hot, makes me want to get naked - I'm taking my pants off and reaching down to my big, hard dick, and....Well, you get the idea. :-)