A personal home page that shot to cult popularity around the Internet, featuring a slightly over-amorous and grammatically bewildered but well-meaning Turkish gentleman, has apparently been denounced as a hoax by its now famous central character.
Mahir Cagri was unwittingly turned into a worldwide celebrity and Internet phenomenon when pictures of himself in a variety of provocative and luxurious poses were posted along with invitations for women across the world to come and stay with him in Turkey.
Improbably, this proved an enormous hit, and not just with the ladies -- in just one week Cagri's site had received no fewer than one million hits from enthusiastic admirers, according to a message on the site. Some of the visitors sent in photos of themselves looking at the site or even created tribute sites . His newfound status as cyberspace phenomenon appears to have a confusing effect on Cagri however: a letter posted on the site, claiming to have been written by Cagri, describes the whole experience as "Just like having an accident, winning a price, or having something fall on your head."
However, the site that rose to fame was not all created by Cagri himself, according to the rambling message . It claims that some of the frankest admissions that appeared on the original site, such as "I like sex" and "I like taking pictures nice nude models", were in fact invented by an impostor playing a practical joke.
The letter says that Cagri's original site was copied from its location on another service and modified to exaggerate its oddball character. "The photos, the address and most of the writings in the page was mine; but there were some additions," the message says.
The post describes how Cagri's telephone suddenly began ringing off the hook and emails started flooding his in-box around the beginning of November, when the Net public first caught wind of the altered site. Later the phenomenon was picked up by Turkish newspapers and the Swedish press, the letter claims. The site did in fact become the subject of an article in Salon.com, an online magazine in the US that is distributed with Reuters technology news.
Of course, the Net lends itself to hoaxes, and the new message -- which appeared Monday -- could itself be another layer of an elaborate joke.
If they're for real, however, the latest developments on Cagri's site show him to be something of a philanthropist. To prove that he is not simply a cyberspace Casanova, the message says Cagri has taken advantage of his popular homepage and personality to express his own message of peace and harmony to the world.
His unique means of expressing himself remains, however. He says: "Please, look at your family, yourself, your life, your clothes, your beverages and food, and your fun... I would also like to tell you that I would like to invite you all, woman or man, and yours families to Turkey."