Love's labour's lost online
Wednesday February 20, 2002
A website displaying a picture of a British woman's stark-naked boyfriend, built in a bid to gently blackmail him into proposing to her, has had to be taken down after attracting huge numbers of hits from internet users around the world.
For a short time on Valentine's Day last week, the modesty of Stephen McPherson, 24, was on full display for all the world to see after his girlfriend, Sarah Jay, posted a naked picture of him on the internet.
After rising frustration at his apparent unwillingness to set their seven-year relationship onto a more formal footing, Ms Jay, 23, decided to embarrass her boyfriend, a civil servant from London, into marriage.
So on Valentine's day she set up the page, entitled Tell Him To Marry Me, which declared: "This is Stephen and he is the man I want to marry. The problem is that he doesn't quite agree so I've put his picture on the net and I am asking you to help persuade him to say YES and until he does this picture is here to stay.
"I love him. I want him. Please help me out."
Ms Jay, also a civil servant, had intended the site to be for the eyes of the couple's closest friends only, emailing the link to "a small circle of friends". But other internet users soon found the page, and the story was picked up by the Register and FHM.com.
The site rapidly achieved cult status, despite attempts by the internet provider, Lycos, to reduce the numbers of visitors with the tactical deployment of a computer-generated fig leaf. But as interest in Mr McPherson continued to rise, the site crashed and was eventually removed.
An amused Register asked: "Is this internet blackmail at its finest, or the best proxy Valentine's card you'll ever read?"
In an interview with the internet magazine, Ms Jay revealed: "I just thought this up for an original laugh on Valentine's Day that may get him thinking.
"But he's got a sense of humour so he shouldn't react too badly. It lets him know I'm serious."
the caption? of course: doesn't he look just like greg from dharma and greg?