Here's the thing about Drew Curtis, the hilarious, gregarious founder of Fark.com: He's supremely down to earth — but his life is out of this world. Very special correspondent Paul Boutin and I had dinner with him Tuesday night at a Peruvian restaurant. Boutin launched into one of his mile-a-minute anecdotes about something P.J. O'Rourke wrote. Curtis listened politely, then said, "Yeah, I went out for drinks with O'Rourke the other week." He actually slowed Boutin down for a second. Fark has gotten so big that Maxim now handles its ad sales. Yet Curtis still goes town to town meeting Fark fans and contributors. After dinner, I hung out at Cafe Murano with Curtis and a bunch of other Farkers, including one with the login "catbutt."
Here's more on the secret of Fark's success.
Like Slashdot, Fark is based far from Silicon Valley or another tech mecca. Its Kentucky base keeps Curtis in touch with his mainstream-America roots. A Fark Jeopardy category? "Fail," whine Uncov's dozen readers. Excerpts in Reader's Digest? "My grandmother reads that," sneers the Pownce set. Fox News producers troll his site for story ideas — blue-staters tell themselves no one's watching. Well, no one who matters. Ok, make that no one cool in downtown San Francisco — that only leaves the rest of America.
Fark's accessibility may be the key to longevity. Show Digg to any friend outside Northern California or high tech, and you'll have to explain the headlines. Fark's pithy summaries go into Reader's Digest and onto Jeopardy without an edit. Curtis's new book, It's Not News, It's Fark.com, has sold 35,000 copies. Gawker's much hipper hardcover? 242 copies. Score one for flyover country.