End of the month time, so I checked the stats for the site, see how many people have been stumbling across my deathless prose – or, more likely, doing a Google Images search for dubious pictures [Hey, hits are hits, right?] Normally, there’s about 200-300 per day, not really varying too much. But then I looked at the graph for February…
That’s not a mistake. On February 21st, we got 254 visitors. On February 22nd, we had 20,276. That would be a 7,883% increase over the previous day. To put the total into some kind of context, we had just over 17,100 in the entire last quarter of 2010. Now, we suddenly had that many in a single day. WTF. No, seriously: WTF?
My first thought was that we’d been hacked, and that someone had injected some kind of mass phishing scam into our page content, harvesting credit-card details for the Eastern European mafia – and without even the courtesy of a percentage or two in kickback. However, nothing seemed to have changed on the site. It took a little bit of detective work, but I was finally able to track down the piece responsible for the massve spike in traffic. However, this simply raised as many questions as it answered: why was our Incredibly Bad Film Show review of Thunder and Mud suddenly a hot topic on the Internet?
The reason appears to be, because that piece was one of the top searches on Google at the time for Jessica Hahn. If you’ve forgotten who Hahn was, she was the model/actress/whatever who, in 1987, brought down televangelist Jim Bakker, then head of The PTL Club, by alleging that Bakker had drugged and raped her a few years previously, when she was working as a church secretary, and had been paid off by Bakker to keep quiet. Big thing at the time – Hahn parlayed the notoriety into a Playboy pictorial, an appearance on Married With Children and… Yep, as one of the hosts in the combo heavy-metal/mud wrestling extravaganza which was Thunder and Mud.
Fast-forward 13 years, and we post our review; fast-forward a further eight, and it suddenly becomes relevant, as Hahn turns up again on The View, a morning talk-show on ABC hosted by, among others, Barbara Walters. The two women spar, with Hahn pointing out her relationship with Bakker wasn’t an “affair”, and trying to contrast it with Walters’ relationship with married U.S. senator Edward Brooke. A fair point – not that Walters was having any of it, of course. Let’s go to the tape…
There you have it. Boom. 20,000 visitors to the site, triggered by that. It probably didn’t even count as 15 minutes of fame; probably nearer 2-3. But it’s a powerful example of how the Internet [or, at least, Google] never forgets; things can lie dormant in its tubes for years, before suddenly being relevant, albeit very briefly. Our article blazed a burning trail across the information superhighway, before fading back into the obscurity from whence it came, and our site goes back to serving a couple of hundred visitors per day. Kinda cool.
[And this article continues to be the gift that keeps on giving (page views, at least!). A slightly smaller spike – a mere 3,500 visitors in a day, about ten times normal traffic – showed up on October 22, 2012. Not quite sure of the reason for this one. If I’d to guess, it might be a result of the scandal surrounding the CIA chief, but that’s just a guess.]