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There is a good chance that the name Mahir Cagri sounds familiar to you, and chances are you know more about the Turkish "jurnalist" than you probably should. As the man who epitomizes the idea of instant Internet celebrity status, Cagri showed the world that in deed, the Internet has no bounds. Gossip can and will spread when given the chance.

With the aid of a simple home page, Cagri has accomplished something that most self-publishers can only dream of. With his quirky and innocent Web site, it was only a matter of days before a million people worldwide had logged on to his site. "Most of the Internet users in the world want to be like me," Cagri said in an interview with the New York Times. "They make their own home pages, they say, 'Mahir was successful, so we can do that too.'"

Visitors of his page were greeted with the words "Welcome to my home page! I kiss you!" The following pages featured photographs of Cagri playing tennis, making music on an accordion and even lazing on the beach in a vibrant red and chunky white- striped Speedo bathing suit. The site was sprawled with broken English to the point that it was humorous. He listed his interests as volleyball, travel and sex. He stated that he likes to take "foto-camera," specifically noting his favorite subjects as "amimals, towns, nice nude models and peoples." And as any good Wed designer, he even included contact information, including his phone number along with his wish that everyone visit him in Turkey.

The source of the innocent little Web site is a little ambiguous. Cagri said that someone in Turkey copied his original site, republished it and then sent it to friends as a joke. Initially Cagri said the third party person added the bit pertaining to sex, although Cagri takes full credit for it now.

It has been over two years later and both the Internet world and pop culture are feeling the effects caused by the Cagri craze. Thousands of spoofs wanted to get in on the action. Advertisers for Lee Jeans played off the idea of "fake, goofy homepages" as campaigns. One European Adidas ad showed a South African man at a soccer match proclaiming "I kiss football!" and showcased his shenanigans at his Web site.

The recognition Cagri felt was immediate and immense. "I wait for them to finish, the Internet offers, the invitations," said Cagri. "I wait and then I go back to my 'before' life. But they don't finish.

So, Cagri has made the most of his new-found fame. He has written a book, and the movie deal is in the works. He makes appearances around the world. He has appeared in television commercials. He scored big with the pop single appropriately titled "I Kiss You." To top it off, Cagri has a steady flow of followers, many who have taken him up on the offer to visit him in Turkey. In fact, he says that one of his American fans is now his girlfriend.

--Source: David F. Gallagher "Star of 'I Kiss You' Site Moves From Farce to Folklore. New York Times. July 4, 2002

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