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No Live Nude Cybergrrls--Just Cool Web Stuff


"Where's the naked chicks?" is a common message posted by visitors to the Cybergrrl! Web site.

"I just e-mail them back and say, 'Sorry, you have the wrong site,' " Aliza Sherman, who runs the Cybergrrl! site, explains. "They generally write back to say even though there is no nudity, Cybergrrl! is pretty cool."

While Cybergrrl! ( may disappoint some male visitors, it seems to be striking a chord with women. Started as Sherman's personal Web page in January 1995, it still incorporates the My Favorite Things page with links on sushi, London and computer magazines, as well as a Feature of the Month column on topics ranging from television to search engines.


Cybergrrl! now has modules on business, health and general news, with links to relevant sites, and has created Sneakergrrl for sports and fitness as well as Cybergrrl Travels. In the last year, Cybergrrl! has added Femina, a guide to women's Web resources, and Webgrrls, a networking group for women that also has a real-world meeting twice a month. Sites aimed at young girls and adolescents are in the works.

Sherman, who created the cartoon character Cybergrrl that serves as the site's host, explains the appeal: "You come to Cybergrrl! and she is friendly and funny and will tell you about the cool stuff out there. Even though she is a cartoon character, she is a real person."

While Cybergrrl! and other offbeat sites like Net Chick Clubhouse are attracting an audience, they're facing more competition every day. With research showing that women are making up an increasingly large portion of the Internet audience--nearly 40%, according to one recent study--mainstream marketers are diving into the fray.

Sites from Avon, Levi Strauss and Clinique, among others, are trying to target a more mainstream audience. Kate Delhagen of Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., expects to see a surge in women's Web usage this holiday season as online shopping takes hold.

Promoting retail, online and off, is the purpose of the Clinique Web site. It tries to be "no-nonsense," says Angela Kapp, Clinique's executive director of special markets and technology. "We don't want to waste anyone's time."

Internet starter kits distributed at Clinique counters in department stores include a 12-page booklet demystifying the Web, as well as a Netscape Navigator software disk and a Netcom disk offering three days of free service. The Clinique site itself offers beauty tips, product information and discussion forums.


Sherman and others are skeptical that many of the formulas used to market to women in other media will work on the Web.

"A lot of big advertisers are trying to create sites for women that are nothing more than a commercial," Sherman says. "They basically take a print ad and put it on the Web, and that does a disservice to women."

The difference between sites like these and a good women's site, she says, is "like the difference between watching an advertisement on television and walking into a roomful of people."

Freelance writer Louise McElvogue can be reached via e-mail at

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