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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 14:54 GMT
History of sex net cults
Eros
Love and sex are still the biggest hits on the web
The old adage "sex sells" was proved yet again as a naked civil servant becomes the latest cult on the net.

The site, featuring a nude picture of civil servant Stephen McPherson, was set up by his girlfriend on Valentine's Day in an attempt to embarrass him into marriage.

The page quickly became a massive hit on the web after it was picked up by lad's mag website FHM.com and technology news site The Register.

It isn't the first time that sex has triggered a net phenomenon. In 1999 Turk Mahir Cagri set up a homepage seeking a female companion.

I Kiss You!

Telling the world I LIKE SEX and featuring pictures of him playing ping pong and lounging around in tight fitting swimming trunks, the site quickly became a cult on the net, with millions of hits and a series of tribute sites.

Mahir himself has become a net icon and has secured a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the most hits to a homepage.

Clearly confused by his cult status, Mahir described it at the time as "like having an accident, winning a price or having something fall on your head."

He always maintained the more salacious details on his site were added by an impostor, but either way his catch phrase I KISS YOU became a clarion call on the net for months afterwards.

Swallowing her pride

Claire Swire would probably rather forget her moment of web notoriety when an email outlining her sex life was circulated by a city lawyer.

Within days the email had gone global, with few in-boxes not aware of Miss Swire's sexual predilections.

The sender was disciplined and the incident sparked a row about how work email should be used, with some firms banning employees from using e-mail for anything other than work-related matters.

Online marriage

For those seeking love the net can prove an irresistible dating agency. Earlier this month, Birmingham net entrepreneur Kay Hammonds put herself up for auction on QXL.

She started the auction at 250,000 but two bids for her affections later turned out to be hoaxes.

Some internet love stories have happier endings.

On Valentine's Day the editor of technology site Slashdot opened himself up to the ridicule of a quarter of million strangers when he proposed to his girlfriend on the front page.

Luckily she said "Yes" minutes later.

See also:

15 Feb 02 | England
Suitors for web bride are hoaxers
14 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Cult coffee machine sold
13 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan warns of cult internet boom
23 Mar 01 | Business
Murder e-mail no laughing matter
16 Dec 00 | UK
E-mail woman in hiding
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