"Gorgeous Guy" was really a Kaycee.
July 11, 2001 9:59 AM   Subscribe

"Gorgeous Guy" was really a Kaycee. The oft-discussed Craig's List celebrity appeared in print and on television late-night talk shows discussing his unwanted thrust into fame, but really made the whole thing up himself.
posted by ewagoner (20 comments total)
That guy isn't that gorgeous.
posted by ljromanoff at 10:31 AM on July 11, 2001

I'm wondering how can we all come away stories like this and not turn into cynical people that mistrust everyone online. Do you think a central authentication authority that someone can trust (not Microsoft) will ever spring up to "prove" that people are who they say they are? Is it possible to devise an authentication system that isn't prone to fraud, doesn't ask for too much personal information, and can be used by many sites?

Or will the internet always be prone to a bit more fraud, hucksterism, and hoaxes due to the medium and its inherent weaknesses (on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog)?
posted by mathowie at 10:31 AM on July 11, 2001

It's not like there weren't frauds and hoaxes BEFORE the Internet, y'know. People have been pretending to be other people for a very long time.
posted by briank at 10:38 AM on July 11, 2001

Matt, you know, if I'd met someone at a party, and they told me a story about a guy becoming randomly famous on Craig's List, I'd believe them, too. Why not? It's conceivable. Funny, even.

Life is full of tricksters. So, of course, the net is, too. Only difference is you can reach more people online. The only solution that I can see is to take everything with a grain of salt.

Still, finding this out made me sigh.
posted by fraying at 10:42 AM on July 11, 2001

I think there's two things going on here. One is that the technological world, bringing us all closer together, is also claustrophobic: there's no escape. If someone wants to experiment with who they are, there's no place they can do it where they won't be found (college club? anandtech? an obscure blue-backgrounded message board in the bay area?). Two is that people have always done this sort of thing, we just haven't known about it (the no escape part). A hundred years ago you could go to a new city and completely reinvent yourself, and people did all the time.

I'd rather not have that authentication scheme you talk about. It would increase the claustrophobia, and make incidents like this even more extreme. I think something like it is coming, though.
posted by dhartung at 10:42 AM on July 11, 2001

What I don't understand is why every goddamn internet meme ends up in the news now. Sure, AYBABTU was interesting, but the first time I visited Craigslist was when the Gorgeous guy "story" "broke." Are all news agency technology writers living in the Bay Area, and do they really think that the world is that interested in the happenings of their local internet clique?
posted by tweebiscuit at 10:49 AM on July 11, 2001

"His motivation for perpetrating the hoax was unclear."

hello? seems pretty clear to me.
posted by heather at 10:52 AM on July 11, 2001

A hundred years ago you could go to a new city and completely reinvent yourself, and people did all the time.

Actually, I think it's sad that this won't be true in the very near future. Not everyone changed their identity to perpetrate fraud. A lot of American history revolves around people starting afresh someplace else.
posted by briank at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2001

There is no mathowie
posted by fooljay at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2001

My god, can't anyone keep a hoax going? What's wrong with all of these liars? What's with the need to confess? I'm tired of the lack of commitment nowadays. Why, when I was a kid, if you were going to lie, you stuck to it, for better or for worse.

All he's asking for now is for people to say "THAT was Gorgeous Guy? I don't think he even rates a Really Cute Guy."

Actually, when I read the original story, I felt kind of sorry for him and all the unwanted attention. I guess now I don't have to waste my time. Phew.
posted by witchstone at 11:02 AM on July 11, 2001

More details about the hoax are available in this USA Today article. Weblogger Mat Honan of honan.net broke the story.
posted by waxpancake at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2001

we're hearing so much about this kind of thing for two reasons:
1) it's always interesting when someone pulls off a hoax
2) the internet is new, and society as a whole still mistrusts the medium. these cautionary tales will appear probably until the next generation, for whom the medium is ubiquitous, takes over.

but hoaxes are nothing new.

follow me here linked this week to a NYT review of a book that explores the life of a man who lived an almost unbelievable hoax.

from the article:
On Jan. 9, 1993, in a small French town, a respected doctor named Jean-Claude Romand killed his wife and their two children and then drove a few miles to his parents' home and killed them.
Emmanuel Carrère ... was fascinated by the case, not because of the murders but because Mr. Romand was not a doctor and had invented his entire life. It was a lie that he lived for 18 years.
turns out he spent every day sitting in a car in a parking lot.
posted by rebeccablood at 12:56 PM on July 11, 2001

Rebecca, where did his money come from?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 1:20 PM on July 11, 2001

It's in the article. He got it from his extended family.
posted by waxpancake at 1:38 PM on July 11, 2001

I don't think this is that much of a hoax. It seems to be that inventing your own celebrity is sort of in the spirit of American entrepreneurship. Heard of Angelene?
posted by amanda at 1:54 PM on July 11, 2001

Hey, inventing your own celebrity is different from a hoax.
posted by halcyon at 2:07 PM on July 11, 2001

no, no, halcyon: believing your own celebrity is different from a hoax. :)
posted by rebeccablood at 2:16 PM on July 11, 2001

That's nothing! I sit in my carrel all day and pretend to write a dissertation. Curse you, MeFi!
posted by mecran01 at 2:32 PM on July 11, 2001

Frank Abagnale Jr., famous con man and all around "freakin Genius" in my book, gets a movie made of his life story soon. Of course, the lead part being played by Leo DeCraprio upsets me a bit. It seems that the world loves a good con man.
posted by bradth27 at 3:30 PM on July 11, 2001

Always, the trust issues come up - how can I believe this is real? But the trick is to ask yourself, what has this person got to gain by making me believe their story? And if the gain is inconsequential, the story is more likely to be true.

If the gain is tangible, time to be more careful. "Kaycee" made money from her story, a very tangible benefit. "Gorgeous Guy" gained celebrity, another tangible benefit.

It isn't about being sceptical, or cynical, but about being aware - aware of what kind of power your belief in a story will give the teller of that story.
posted by kristin at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2001

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