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For the most part, Jennifer Ringley’s life is excessively normal. She wakes up in a cookie-cutter high-rise on Massachusetts Avenue NW, spends her days slaving over a computer, her evenings hanging out with friends, and occasionally meets a man she likes enough to invite into her boudoir. But while Ringley’s life may define banality, 100,000 people see fit to tune in via an ever-watchful webcam pointed directly at her queen-size bed. Every three minutes, the camera snaps a photo of Ringley—clipping her nails, reading e-mail, screwing—and posts the result for thousands who have logged onto her “JenniCam” web site (www.boudoir.org).

Ringley touts JenniCam as a documentary-in-progress on the life of an average city dweller. And once web surfers drop in, they discover just how average. Ringley is a slightly chubby 21-year-old who lives in a tidy one-bedroom apartment and entertains run-of-the-mill guests. She works as a free-lance web designer and earns a decent living. The pictures on her site do little to embellish her lifestyle. It’s the kind of infotainment that could only be a hit on the Internet. Says one fan from Atlanta: “It’s incredibly boring 99.9 percent of the time.”

But that sort of vérité magic has compelled approximately 4,000 other voyeurs/fans to sign on as JenniCam members—a distinction that can be yours for $15 a year, or 4 cents a day. Members can see a new picture of Ringley doing whatever or whomever every three minutes. JenniGuests, nonsubscribers, get to watch for free but receive updates at glacial 30-minute intervals. Even Ringley says the incentives for membership aren’t particularly strong. “I will fully admit that there are days that are not worth your 4 cents,” she says. (A peek this week suggested that Ringley knows of what she speaks; while she’s on vacation in Cape Cod, surfers can survey the splendor of her pink floral bedspread.)

But 4 cents is a pittance to the army of dysfunctional male web fiends who subscribe to JenniCam just to share a bedroom with a woman. Only one in 50 JenniCam subscribers, Ringley says, is a woman. Still, Ringley denies putting on a show for her audience. “Everybody has a body. Some people have a little more; some have a little less. It’s the differences that make it interesting at all. So I’m not concerned if people think I’m fat and ugly,” she says.

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Her sex life’s quasi-public nature merits a similar shrug. “If you want to say that I’m a bad person for having sex, say that. Don’t say that I’m a bad person for having sex on the camera. Because whether the camera’s there or not, I’m still doing the same things.”

Ringley’s life as a photo-essay subject began at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. As an 18-year-old economics major, she initially bought the digital camera to update portions of her web page with pictures of herself. Then she heard about an enterprising web designer who posted scenes from his fishbowl on the web. “You could see his fish swimming around all the time, and I thought a person could do that,” says Ringley. “I thought it would be totally ridiculous.” Ringley believes JenniCam is the first site of its kind.

The enterprise has caused Ringley some hardship. When she started working as a web designer for National Geographic early this summer, she installed a JenniCam on top of her cubicle. The move didn’t impress Ringley’s superiors, who said the camera conflicted with the company’s conservative image, according to Ringley. The two parties reached an accommodation under which Ringley works for the company out of her apartment. Mary Jeanne Jacobsen, National Geographic’s director of public affairs, refused to comment on Ringley’s employment status. “Because of privacy issues, we don’t discuss personnel,” says Jacobsen.

JenniCam stems from Ringley’s belief that the whole concept of life is endlessly fascinating, and at least one other web surfer agrees. “Someone wrote me and said, ‘I watched you sleeping last night and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,’” says Ringley. “This is like people-watching to the nth degree.”

For those subscribers who like to read the articles before going to the centerfold, Ringley has built into her site plenty of other attractions. “Anatomy One-oh-One” is a head-to-toe tour of Ringley’s body, complete with editorial captions. Probably no one in her peanut gallery cares that she wishes her nose were about 1 millimeter narrower on each side, or that her body hair is transparent, but guys with dreams of making it with Kerri Strugg would be happy to know that the fingers on her left hand are double jointed, and so are her elbows, shoulders, and wrists.

Ringley also climbs into the “Bell Jar” and writes some fairly depressing poetry, lists her favorite books and albums (so her fans won’t send her what she already owns), and recounts dreams. She also writes longingly about her first love—Winnie-the-Pooh.

In reality, there are two Jennifer Ringleys: The off-camera version is an average, chunky lover of Pooh; the on-camera version is a pixelated, slim (JenniCam slenderizes her by at least 10 pounds) vamp who occasionally disrobes before her adoring strangers. The contrast is not lost on her. “I’ve got thigh-high boots and I sew curtains,” she says.

It’s a kind of unalloyed visibility that would drive most ordinary folks insane, but Ringley shows no intentions of stepping out of the limelight.

“I’ve always thought, maybe when I graduate it will stop, or maybe if I move in with someone, or maybe when I get married it will stop,” says Ringley. “But it’s kinda one of those things. Now it’s a fact of life. Maybe one day there’ll be a GrandCam and you could check out me and my grandkids, and I’ll be an old lady baking pies.”CP