In Their Sites The hits just keep on coming for Web pages devoted to Monica Lewinsky's every look and legal move. Her newfound immunity is sure to get fans' fingers tapping.

July 29, 1998|By GEOFFREY C. UPTON | GEOFFREY C. UPTON,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Until Monica Lewinsky emerged yesterday from weeks of obscurity, there wasn't much going on in front of her lawyers' office building at 1100 Connecticut Ave. N.W. For weeks, as America's favorite former intern remained ensconced in California, news cameramen moved their stakeouts elsewhere, and life pretty much returned to normal.

Yet throughout the lull, some of the most rabid Monica junkies managed to keep up hope of catching a glimpse of her by viewing the building via a "Monicacam" on the World Wide Web. Roughly 500 times a day, someone visited the page -- www.webdevs.com/monica cam -- hoping against hope that Monica might be back.

The "Monicacam" -- which had a field day yesterday -- is the online fan's best friend. It takes a snapshot of the building's entrance every 10 minutes between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day. The payoff? Assuming Monica is in town and the timing is just right, she's in your sights.

Your good fortune is due to the digital camera that sits atop Scott Orr's computer in his third-floor office, directly across Connecticut Avenue. Orr, a Washington correspondent for New Jersey's Newark Star-Ledger newspaper, calls his surveillance a public service of sorts.

"I just found myself with this view," he says, "and I figured I'd might as well share it."

By 1: 30 p.m. yesterday, with Monica back in the news after completing an immunity deal with Kenneth W. Starr, traffic on the page had surged from a morning average of just 40 hits an hour to more than 300. And when Monica at long last exited a cab in the middle of the street and hurried into her lawyers' building, uttering not a word to the assembled masses, Orr's camera caught the scene for all the Web to see.

"When she walked out of the cab, I was able to get her," Orr said. "You could even see that she was wearing a blue suit."

Indeed, if like Orr you're into Monica, you're hardly alone. The Monicacam is just one of a multitude of Lewinsky pages that have sprung to life over the past six months -- a crowd that, according to the online journal Exopa Terra, now numbers about 300.

The cyber-Monica selection is as sweeping as a Starr subpoena: jokes, discussion boards, chat rooms, articles, court documents, editorials, audio clips, video clips, photos, doctored photos, poems, songs, stories, surveys, screensavers, dolls, T-shirts, buttons, cartoons, games, graphics, charts, conspiracy theories and astrology charts.

There are so many Web pages devoted to Monica, in fact, that one -- www.gomonica.com -- now ranks the "Top 100 Monica Sites" (Monicacam has just moved into No. 1) and offers an all-Lewinsky search engine. Another site (www.bossdog.com/gold-awards/ index.html) bestows "best in class" awards for humor, opinion, news, information and links.

Michael Erbschloe, editor of Exopa Terra, says Lewinsky is second only to the late Princess Diana in the number of pages created in her honor. And, as with Diana, the degree of tastefulness ranges widely.

Some online pornography distributors, for example, use Lewinsky's name and the promise of illicit photos of her to attract Web surfers to their pay-for-membership sites.

But for the serious student of d'affaire Lewinsky, there are pages such as Zippergate News (www. students.uiuc.edu/ (tilde)ritterbu/ scandal.html), offering an archive of newspaper articles related to the scandal.

"The Web is as close to a reflection of society at large as we have," says Erbschloe. "Some people have undertaken serious marketing and advertising efforts. Some of the other stuff is really pretty disgusting."

A little funny

Perhaps the most unusual Web pages come from people like Orr -- those who either "have a sense of humor, or nothing else to do," as Erbschloe puts it. They have created pages on everything from "The Islamic Viewpoint on the Lewinsky-Clinton 'affair' " to the "Clinton Lewinsky Scandal Fine Art Gallery," where the faces of Clinton and Lewinsky are superimposed on famous works of art.

Other Lewinsky sites are the handiwork of men who claim to be hopelessly smitten with the former intern. Consider the "I Love Monica Lewinsky" page (http: // home.earthlink.net/ (tilde)brainiac1), widely regarded as the most breathless of the bunch.

"Monica, oh Monica, why do I love you so?" the author muses. "Is it those ample lips? Or that sweet, innocent heart that trusted that no-good friend, Linda Tripp?"

"It's a pathetic attempt to get her to notice me -- and maybe she has," says the site's creator, a 24-year-old systems manager from California who would give his name only as Tony -- out of fear, he says, of the Secret Service.

The page, which Tony says has had 90,000 visitors since Jan. 28, offers a gallery of Monica images, including her baby and prom pictures.

To ensure that he has the most Lewinsky pictures on the Web, Tony pores over major magazines for photos of her. He also keeps a blank tape in his VCR, in case an image in a Lewinsky report on TV should catch his eye.

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