Psychoexgirlfriend.com: 15 Minutes of Fame or Infamy?

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During its two-week existence, Psychoexgirlfriend.com has received up to a half-million unique visits a day and has won and lost multiple advertisers, according to Mark McElwain, the controversial Web site's founder.


The Dallas-based site offers 63 audio files taken from voice mails left for McElwain by his ex-girlfriend, whom he declined to name. On the files, the woman regularly curses at him about their waning romance, occasionally weeping and often rambling in a flustered manner.


McElwain said his site is not a strange April Fool's prank. He said the site's high traffic has come completely from word of mouth and random e-mail exchanges from fans.


While advertisers have been attracted to the site because of its high traffic since its March 20 launch, Psychoexgirlfriend has seen them come and go because of its content.


Retailers Fogdog and LensCrafter have pulled out of ad deals because they worried about being associated with the site and about the potential for Psychoexgirlfriend to be sued for a privacy violation. However, in their place, the site has picked up Maxim magazine, Sports Illustrated, Moviefone and Dallas-area restaurant chain Ghengis Grill as advertisers.


McElwain said other Dallas-area restaurants will be running promotions at the site and he expects to sign a short-term agreement with a large Internet portal, but he would not divulge further information.


McElwain does not expect his new business to last more than a few months or to make a significant amount of money. He has no plans to quit his day job as a customer support representative for a telecommunications firm.


"We are just in this for our 15 minutes [of fame]," McElwain said. "We had no idea it would turn into something this big. I guess it has caught on because the voyeuristic stuff is kind of big right now with the TV show[s] `Survivor' and `Temptation Island.' "


McElwain has a lawyer looking into whether he has put himself at risk to be sued by his ex-girlfriend for violation of privacy. No such suit had been filed as of late Friday.


"We think we are in pretty good shape," he said. "We are just worried that some hotshot lawyer is going to come into town to see if he can make a name for himself by [taking] this case."


CafePress.com, a Web-based firm that offers printing for T-shirts, coffee mugs and other small merchandise, cut Psychoexgirlfriend.com from its client list after receiving hundreds of e-mails and phone calls complaining that the site was offensive.


CafePress gives its clients a storefront Web page that can be accessed from the printer's URL. This arrangement led many additional viewers to discover Psychoexgirlfriend.com, resulting in the complaints to the printer.


Maheesh Jain, vice president of business development at CafePress, San Leandro, CA, said many consumers were threatening to boycott the company and its 100,000 clients with Web pages at the site.


"We are pretty neutral to Psychoexgirlfriend.com's content," Jain said. "We shut down their storefront because we didn't want it to have a negative effect on the business of everyone else we work with. Plus, we were a little worried about seeing [Psychoexgirlfriend] getting sued for privacy and us getting dragged into it by association."


Psychoexgirlfriend.com was using the site to print T-shirts for its fans. After CafePress cut its service, the controversial site posted a 200-word diatribe encouraging viewers to contact CafePress to complain about the shutdown.


Jain said his firm then received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from complaining Psychoexgirlfriend fans.


"We have seen somewhat controversial stuff like this before," he said. "But never where we got caught on both sides of it."


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