Serious Net heads may already be familiar with cyber stud Mahir Cagri, who has been called the first Internet celebrity. The 37-year-old Turkish freelance journalist gained international fame last month for his home page, which bears the salutation "Welcome to my home page!!! I kiss you!!!" and is illustrated with shots of Cagri playing the accordion and lying on the sand in a Speedo. He writes that his interests include travel ("I go 3-4 country a year") and women ("I like sex"). He is also a gracious host ("Who is want to come to Turkey I can invitate. . . . She can stay my home.")
The kitsch factor was too much for one computer hacker, who forwarded the site around the world by e-mail. (The site is accessible by typing "Mahir" into the search field at http://xoom.com.) Since then, Cagri's homepage has had more than 2 million hits and has inspired dozens of Mahir-related sites and spoofs--among them, Michael Jackson as Mahir, Elvis as Mahir and the Dancing Mahir. Fans can even order merchandise such as "I brake for Mahir" bumper stickers.
This week, Cagri is in the U.S. to receive the first "Key to Cyberspace" from eTour Inc., an Internet site that tailors Web surfing to users' personal interests. When we caught up with him in New York (the award is to be presented in San Francisco today), he told us he is floored by all the attention.
"How would I know it [the site] would be funny to other people?" he said through a translator.
Angry at being deluged with unwanted attention and large phone bills (not to mention those who are selling unauthorized Mahir merchandise), he posted a complaint on his site last month. But the young Turk has had a change of heart; he wants to use his newfound fame to do good. Cagri says he will donate proceeds from a planned "official" fan club to a relief organization for Balkan states, and to environmental and animal rights groups.
He told us that invitating visitors to his home in Izmir is no longer feasible. But he has made a deal with a travel agency that can arrange transportation, lodging and dinner with Cagri for tourists who want to meet the cyber celeb.
Just because you aren't descended from royals doesn't mean you can't be treated like royalty. This is the business philosophy behind Spencer, who is billed as the first online British butler.
Internet users can ask Spencer (at http://www.yourangmylord.com) for etiquette advice, or send him on an errand to locate a fine wine, a special gift, a top London hotel or a rare antique.
There is no charge for sending Spencer on a hunt, but giving him permission to purchase incurs a 20% transaction fee. We're guessing that could get pretty steep with a rare antique.
"The Complete Idoit's Guide for Dumies" (Ten Speed Press, $9.95) is a parody of the mind-numbing "Idiot's Guides" to everything under the sun. The book, by Thomas Dolt PhD and Ian Dullard PhD (a.k.a. Frank Coffey and Carl Waldman) is a blueprint for dumbing down, and a tour of today's lowbrow culture. Hmm. . . . Perhaps it didn't tickle our funny bone in the right place. One Amazon.com reviewer said, "If you love the Three Stooges, you'll love this book." No wonder.