Cafe Confidential



My first time was awkward. I was 18, she was drunk on Boone's Farm wine, and the event was interrupted by a tall friend with dreadlocks who opened the door -- later, he would swear he was looking for the bathroom -- and tripped over our discarded clothes, fell, and landed squarely on my butt. True story. Not something you'd tell your folks.

But, ironically enough in our modesty-free Web culture, a confession you might have no problem sharing with, oh, the entire Internet. (Hi mom.)

That, at least, is Steven Bochco's thesis. The latest project from the former executive producer of "Hill Street Blues," "NYPD Blue" and many, many other shows asks young people to videotape their confessions, upload them to and compete for views and bragging rights. Welcome, voyeurs and peek freaks, to "Cafe Confidential."

The Metacafe channel debuted March 19 with more than 40 pretaped confessions, and it's Bochco's first foray into Web-only territory. The videos have no script, no stars, no names. Just young faces, talking animatedly to a camera that holds steady for two minutes on their eye rolls, "ohmigods" and other storytelling standbys as they talk about their first times, their weird families, their most embarrassing moments. Jerry Springer, you've been disintermediated.

There's the preppy Asian girl talking about her first time ("My mom was like, 'It hurt, didn't it?' "); the black college student who hooked up while his grandmother slept in the same room ("Why you up so late, son?"); and the white kid with a mohawk who recounts his date with an overweight black girl ("easily, easily 250 pounds."). If the Web is amenable to short-form cinema, then this, apparently, is verite as one-night stand.

And it's addictive. The clips are conveniently short, breezily edited and titillating in a way that MTV's "The Real World" -- overproduced to the point of self-parody -- hasn't been in years. Think "Taxicab Confessions" for a cubicle-bound cohort raised on saltine-sized entertainment.

But the few comments left by viewers so far -- "This is just weird ... that's all ... nothing else ... just weird ..." for example -- suggest a wary interest if not boredom with the idea. After all, the Web is already saturated with webcam confessions, many more salacious than those on "Confidential." The only thing new here might be Bochco's imprimatur. But it's hard to believe he could go wrong betting on sex.