For four years, Internet bikini model Cindy Margolis has claimed the title of the world's most downloaded woman. According to the Guinness Records organization, collecting photos of Margolis has been the primary goal for millions of sweaty men who surf the Net. But last week her crown was stripped and given to Danni Ashe, a Web entrepreneur and self-described "big boob" nude model.
While Ashe gloated over her victory, an outraged Margolis protested the decision. The issue has grown into an all-out catfight because Guinness has now decided on a compromise, reinstating Margolis' stature and awarding the women two different titles, one for free sites and one for paid sites over a 12-month period. Ashe is now the most downloaded woman from a paid site, clocking in 240 million downloads. Margolis is the Web's most downloaded woman from a cost-free site, ringing up 53 million downloads. In this nail-scratching, hair-pulling tornado of emotion and greed, it seems that only Guinness is satisfied.
Guinness spokesman Neil Hayes told reporters the reasoning behind the decision was based on previous records the company has recognized for free and paid-for music concerts, and free and paid-for books.
"All we are doing in this instance is taking our existing criteria into a new medium," said Hayes. He added that Guinness is in the business of "gathering records of all kinds. We neither condone nor condemn the content of those records."
But this isn't a battle between concerts and books. This is a who's-prettier popularity contest between two young blonds with hot bods. The only difference between this dispute and a snit between high school cheerleaders is some nudity, and the potential money to be gleaned from bragging rights.
"No matter how you look at it, no matter how many lame arguments Cindy wants to make, my numbers are bigger and she'll just have to get used to it," Ashe complained to a reporter.
As for Margolis, her publicist Neil Cirucci is convinced that large numbers of surfers arrive at Ashe's site because they come from porn links via sites that imitate the official site of Margolis.
Both women are headstrong models with enormous fan bases. The 32-year-old Margolis poses in swimsuits and lingerie, but never nude. Her acting credits include "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," "Hollywood Squares," and "The Price Is Right," and she now hosts her own variety show on the E! channel. Ashe, 30, has no problem with nudity or simulated lesbian scenarios, and her site features dozens of porn and softcore models. She has appeared in the films "Killer Sex Queens From Cyberspace" and "WildWebGirls.com."
Ashe is particularly incensed at Guinness' decision because much of her Web site is accessible without cost, and she vows to go after both records. "We've actually already resubmitted our claim because the numbers from our free site smash the record (Margolis) holds for free sites," says Samuel Agboola, a spokesman for Ashe. "We're very confident that we'll be able to claim both records."
According to Guinness, Margolis also intends to resubmit her claim because her current record of 53 million is composed only of downloads from her AOL site, and doesn't include numbers from her free Web site.
Neither of the two women's sites acknowledges the dispute whatsoever, but to the average surfer, it doesn't matter who is No. 1 or No. 2. What's most important is the idle and disconnected worship of a beautiful and opportunistic woman who would otherwise ignore him.