A Web star is born

By Daniel Fierman
Updated November 26, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Welcome to my article. I kiss you!!!!!

Still reading? Then you are doubtless one of the thousands who have already experienced the surreal joy surrounding the Web’s latest unintentional superstar: Mahir.

Who’s Mahir? In reality, he’s Mahir Cagri of Izmir, Turkey, who set up a personal website in 1998 that sketched an endearing self-portrait of a budding linguist (”I want to learn otherlanguage!”), photographer (”amimals, towns, nice nude models”), travel enthusiast (”I like sex. I go 3-4 country a year”), and gracious countryman (”Who is want to come TURKEY…. She can stay my home”). According to the flummoxed Turk, his page’s content was hijacked by an unidentified prankster to members.xoom.com/_XOOM/primall/mahir and, in early November, started to develop a serious cult following—mainly from folks who tend to think of him as a sort of Wild and Crazy Guy for the new millennium. To date, Mahir’s page has generated more than 1.5 million hits and inspired everything from a dancing-Mahir site (members.xoom.com/mahirdance/getdown.html) to a Clinton spoof (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/ 4637/kissyou.html) to a screensaver (members.xoom.com/ mahiractive). ”The site makes me love the Internet more than anything,” howls magician and Web geek Penn Jillette. ”It’s the example of how the Web can turn one man into a star overnight.”

If it isn’t all just an elaborate goof—always possible in the Web’s hall of mirrors—Cagri doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with the attention. On Nov. 9 he posted a manifesto to the mirror site (members.xoom.com/_XMCM/primall/mahir/ing.htm) claiming his e-mail accounts and cell phone have been blitzed and his life has become miserable. ”There were thousands of e-mail messages,” he lamented. ”I still think a lot about the way to get out of this.” Still, like Michael Stipe and Sting, the Turkish Casanova is using his newfound soapbox to urge readers to reflect on their lives, poverty, and problems in hot spots like ”Checenia.”

So whither this budding global spokesman? He hasn’t returned our phone calls or e-mails, so it’s hard to say. But really, does it matter? In many ways, he represents the finest of human impulses: to teach, to travel, to give back to the global community.

And to take pictures of naked women.