Last march, Zefrank '95, a Brooklyn-based Web developer whose real name is Hosea Jan Frank, put together a Web site called "How to Dance Properly," inviting twenty or so friends to his 29th birthday party on March 31. He included some Flash animation of himself - he's a skinny guy with a, shall we say, awkward style of dance - demonstrating steps such as "Elaine Ripped Me Off" (inspired by the Seinfeld character) and "Ride That Pony," (think hobby horse) along with ironic commentary.
Frank's friends sent the URL to their own friends, who sent it to more friends. Within twenty-four hours, 64,000 viewers had visited the site, and within a week it was receiving 2.5 million hits a day. Frank found his modest animations discussed on radio stations, TV networks, and Web sites galore. The site was linked from CNN and Fox News and promoted in college newspapers and Australian newsweeklies. The Web magazine Ironminds credited Frank with all-but-saving the Internet.
Not content to lie low once his fifteen minutes of dance-fever fame were up, Frank has continued to update his site with idiosyncratic animations and esoteric personal performances. In a series called "How to Impress Your Date," he intently listens to a woman, while absentmindedly smearing a pancake across his face (click on "How to behave"). He created "Animal Noises" for a three-year-old who liked the site but wondered why it didn't have animal noises (click on "for Ella"). "Things I Learned in College" features time-tested nuggets of Brunonian wisdom such as "a large egg-and-cheese sandwich with bacon, mayo, pickles, and onions on a roll is possibly the best-tasting thing on the planet - at 3 a.m."
Predictably, the attention paid to zefrank.com has helped Frank in his nominal "real job" as a freelance Web designer. He advertises past projects on the site (flash animation for Life Savers and a Web site for Bennington College). And of course there are T-shirts - a few hundred have sold so far.
You can find Frank at www.zefrank.com. For the moves that started it all, check out "How to Dance Properly."
Aaron Schatz writes the daily column the Lycos 50, available at 50.lycos.com.