"Ron's Angels" are frightening but harmless (12/10/99)

Looking through the pages at ronsangels.com is so bizarre. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. You may be already heard of it. It's a website which fills a need, a gaping hole in society I bet you didn't even know was there. Thanks to ronsangels.com, it is now possible to buy models' eggs online.

That's right, eggs. As in ova. As in the female genetic contribution to reproduction. You can brose through photos of models, learn about their intellectual and physical advantages, and offer a bid for their eggs. The bids start at $15,000 and work their way up. (The same applies to the solitary sperm donor they feature on the site.)

The best part of this site, though, are the "credits" for the creator, Ron Harris. What does he think qualifies him for this position? Apparently, he is a quite successful fashion photographer, created the exercise programs "Aerobicise" and ":20 Minute Workout" - oh, and he was a horse breeder for five years in the seventies. And these are just the credits that he thinks are appropriate for the site: Newsweek reports that he also runs a number of pornography websites.

Rest assured, this is not the man who is in charge of the medical side of things. Ron's Angels (note the soft-porn type name here) recommends you find your own doctor. He just picks the girls and helps to connect them with people who are interested. But I can't help thinking that those credits are frightening. A photographer and horse breeder isn't really the track record I'd prefer someone to have if they're supervising my potential reproductive choices. And no matter how smart the girls say they are (there are college students and grads), it's a little worrying that they're willing to sign up with him.

Why would you want to buy eggs like this? You'd have to have a lot of money you're willing to waste: There's no guarantee that attractive people have attractive children. Unfortunately, my computer's limited capabilities don't allow me to download the application you have to fill out to become a member of this site - you can only bid once you're a member - so I can't tell you exactly who they're trying to snare, here.

It's kind of bizarrely terrible that things like this can take place over the Internet. It's like a cross between prostitution and organ sales. I mean, I can see the need for eggs for infertile couples, and I can understand the desire to have a healthy, attractive baby, but this is . . . not cool. In a way, it's comforting that the whole thing is being run by someone like Harris, a sort of P.T. Barnum of fertilization. I would worry more if the site were supervised by a doctor, or someone more reputable. The amateurishness of the site is what keeps it from being a truly frightening indicator of America moving towards this kind of commercialized reproduction.

It's tacky, it's tasteless, and it's based on a low estimation of the rich and childless. Do I think it should be done? No. Do I think it should be illegal? Again, no. It might be something we need, this kind of lowbrow appeal to the physical, to remind ourselves that we're supposed to be above this kind of thing.

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