A 24-year-old man who has spent the last three years attempting to lose his virginity admits the experience has been hard and that at times he thought about pulling out.
Alex Stepanov was the male participant in the controversial "Virgins Wanted" auction held last October as part of a proposed documentary series that follows the lives of various virgins as they attempt to have their first erotic encounter.
Stepanov didn't get the media attention of his female counterpart, Brazilian college student Catarina Migliorini, but he's now discussing why he decided to take the counter-intuitive approach of using a massively publicized online virginity auction to combat his social anxiety.
One of the reasons Stepanov signed on to the project was the hope it would help him get rid of his social anxiety. He said it was so severe that it prevented him from attending college classes, NYMag.com reported.
He admits that putting himself in such a public forum isn't the typical way to combat one's social fears.
"The idea of auctioning my virginity is a strange thing and it's very controversial, but I tried to block myself from thinking about it," he told Fairfax Media. "I tried to concentrate on the project and see what it brings me because, at the end of the day, I thought, 'I'm just going to do the thing and when it's going to be too hard, I'm just going to pull out.'"
Social anxiety or not, Stepanov clearly has a knack for double-entendres.
Migliorini was allegedly offered $780,000 for her virginity by a Japanese businessman known only as "Natsu," but Stepanov was only offer a paltry $2,600 from an Australian woman named "Kasandra Darlinghurst."
He turned down a $3,000 offer after discovering it was from a man.
Originally, Stepanov had his eye on Migliorini and even learned Spanish in hopes of wooing her. That didn't work. Not only was she not interested, but, being from Brazil, she speaks Portuguese, Stuff.co.nz pointed out.
Migliorini told The Huffington Post earlier this year that she never followed through on her $780,000 sex session because she doubted the identity of "Natsu" and the entire documentary project.
GALLERY: Catarina Migliorini (Story continues below)
Despite massive skepticism, filmmaker Justin Sisely has insisted the "Virgins Wanted" project is legit since announcing it in 2010.
The series premiered earlier this month at MIPCOM, an entertainment trade fair in October in Cannes, France, in hopes of being sold for broadcast in various countries.
Whether Stepanov lost his virginity to his auction partner will be kept under wraps until the series debuts in Australia next year. No U.S. distributor has been confirmed.
The Russian-Australian college student spent three years working on the project, during which he was supposed to keep his sexuality on hold for the auction.
That actually was easier than he may have liked. In fact, Australian sexologist Elaine George did a session with Stepanov as part of the film, and told HuffPost she was concerned about the effect it might have on him.
"I met with [Stepanov] once and did not believe that it is in his best interests to continue, as there seemed to be an enormous amount of social anxiety and the presence of a camera was detrimental to the counseling process," George said.
WATCH: VIRGINS WANTED TRAILER (Story continues below)
Filmmaker Justin Sisely did his part to get his virginal prodigy ready for his big break, by having Stepanov take karate classes as a tribute to his boyhood hero, Jean Claude Van Damme.
"I got a few belts. Exactly like Van Damme, except for the fake tan," Stepanov told the Sydney Morning Herald.
At times, it seemed like fate wanted Stepanov to remain a virgin.
During the shoot, Stepanov was run over by a car and ended up being placed in an induced coma for two weeks.
He didn't walk for six months and his legs are now held together with pins and screws and metal rods.
"Justin came to film me in hospital," Stepanov told the paper.
It is unknown whether he is still a virgin, but Stepanov admits he is single. He credits the project with improving his self-confidence.
Sisely has said from the beginning that the project wasn't about sex, as much about effecting personal change.
"This is about transforming life," Sisely told The Huffington Post last year. "I've seen Alex change over the past two years. These people will be different afterwards. Their lives won't be the same"
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