A year ago, Clay N. Ferno was the most popular guy in Boston. Or so it seemed: the Allston resident had 3493 friends on MySpace, which was enough to put him on the cover of the Phoenix as the leather-clad mascot for a story about “the cult of MySpace.”
Yup, last July the social-networking site was something of a novelty, even though it already had 22 million members. But last week, the “place for friends” (and bulletins and boobs) unseated Yahoo! and Google to become the country’s number-one Web site, according to Hitwise, an online competitive-tracking service.
MySpace now has more than 92 million users, which means that if it were a country, it would have the 14th biggest population in the world (right behind Mexico).
The online-community site has been everywhere in 2006, from a Daily Show segment to a Dateline
NBC multi-part report. Model-cum-MySpace-celebrity Tila Tequila graced the covers of Stuff and Maxim magazines, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch turned up on the July cover of Wired, with the headline: RUPERT MURDOCH, TEEN IDOL! The Web site is now so entrenched in pop culture that it even found its way into a skit on Saturday Night Live.
MySpace has also become something of an art genre. Comedian Demetri Martin, for instance, used his Daily Show MySpace segment to debut his ballad, “I Got 9000 Friends” (“I spend a lot of time alone/But in a cool way,” he sings). And aspiring filmmaker David Lehre secured Hollywood development deals with MySpace: The Movie, four sketch-comedy shorts that he uploaded to YouTube. And hip-hop emcees like Atlanta’s four-man crew C-Side (“MySpace Freak”) and Houston’s Bama Boyz (“MySpace Song”) devote entire tracks to the site’s pimping potential. (“Text me baby/Send me a mess’/So I can hop off this laptop and get in your ass,” raps New York rapper Grafh in “MySpace Jumpoff.”)
As for Clay N. Ferno, the Wild Zero frontman now has 7999 friends. “After the article came out, I didn’t add anyone, everyone added me,” says Ferno. “Since then, I’ve gotten lots of random people, saying, ‘Hey was that you [on the cover of the Phoenix]?’ Or, ‘You were that guy!’ ”
One year later, Ferno has a new MySpace goal. “I’m going to have exactly 10,000 friends on July 22, 2006,” he projects, referring to the anniversary of his cover-boy status. It shouldn’t be that difficult. “Last year I had 3000 friends. This year, I’ll have 10,000. Maybe next year you’ll be talking to me and I’ll have 100,000,” he says.