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GearFetish.com Archive

Here is a picture of a postcard that was handed out at International Mr. Leather XXX (2008).  It promotes both the original GearFetish.com and the first ever GearBlast party!

Front:

 

Back:

 

IML30-GFPostCard-Back.jpg194.6K29984 views

Thanks for this sharing laughing

I'm hoping other members may have some other "artifacts" from the original GearFetish.com we can compile here as kind of an archive.  The leather community has an archive so why can't the gear community?

Before archiving, I would be curious to know the little story of this old iconic webstite.
What information do we have?

So, here's what I think I know.  Some of this is from being a member from at least late 2009 until it folded in September 2015.  Some of this is based on things other users told me.  Some of it is based on my own research at archive.org.  I never worked at or volunteered for Gearfetish.com .  I was a subscriber for much of the time that I was a member.

This is a very long post and you probably won't be able to fap to it.  Reader beware.  :D

Part 1 - Based mostly on looking at archive.org, here in 2019.

Gearfetish.com was founded by one guy, who went by "Moto-Crossed" on the first incarnation of the site.

The domain registration for gearfetish.com (as of January 2019) goes back to October 1998.  It may have been hosted somewhere else before it got its own domain.  The earliest trace of it on archive.org is in January 1999, but because of the way the home page redirected at that time, nothing else was captured.  In May 1999, you can see that the home page is a long disclaimer about adult content, etc, but the rest of the site was not captured.

The first capture on archive.org where you can see a bit of what it looked like is from February 2000.  The copyright dates at the bottom mention 1998 and 1999.  The pictures unfortunately didn't get archived, but you can browse through the category structure.  Back then, there were five categories at the top level: DIVEgear, ENVIROgear (hazmat, firefighters), FLIGHTgear, MILIgear (military), MOTOgear, SPORTSgear (hockey, football, etc).  "Personal ads" were also available on the site.  It was possible to pay for a membership, too, but I'm not sure what it cost or what benefits it got you back then.

The "about" page from April 2000 is at https://web.archive.org/web/20000412063339/http://www.gearfetish.com/about.html . Interestingly, that page claimed it was run on a broadband connection from the owner's home, which was possible in the early days of broadband.  Reading between the lines a little, the site wasn't exclusively photos of members in their own gear at the time; it may have also had collections of gear photos that were "floating around on the net" at that time. From what I remember, this was pretty typical of early niche adult sites; people didn't care about copyright as much, and some things were so rare that if you had any photos of them, you shared them.

By May 2000, though, the site was offline.  Moto-Crossed took it down and placed a statement of why he did so on the front page.  Part of that statement said he had been running the site "for the past 6 years", which would put its origins around 1994 or so.  That statement stayed up through August 2000.  In September 2000, the home page simply said "Under reconstruction".  In April 2001, the home page said the site was coming back online in May 2001... and it still said that in July 2001.  :)

By early December, 2001, another "coming soon" page appeared... this time with the GearFetish.com logo most of us know, and the black background the site had for the rest of its life.  I also believe this was when the site switched over to Windows hosting, using Active Server Pages.  The "coming soon" page claimed the site would reopen in April 2002, and mentioned hosting costs as part of the reason for the original shutdown.

I think, but don't know for sure, that Moto-Crossed sold the site or otherwise turned it over to someone else at about this time.  A little later on, Moto-Crossed still participated on the site, but he didn't "work there" anymore.  (I know a name of the guy who owned the site when I was there, but I don't remember if it was his "screen name" or his real name, so I won't mention it here.)

In May 2002, the home page claimed the site was "now open".  You can't see much else, though, without a login.  The home page looked pretty much the same for the rest of 2002 and most of 2003.  Early in 2003, a "help" link appeared on the front page, and in September 2003, the help page mentioned "Contact Billing" for the first time.  So GF might have been selling subscriptions at that time.

In December 2003, the home page layout changed somewhat.  The left side had a menu of links to different areas of the site, including "image vault" and "member gallery".  (All the links went to the "join" page if you weren't logged in, though.)  The main text claimed the image vault had "over 6,000 photos" and the member gallery "over 9,000 self-photos".  (Again, I'm pretty sure the site hosted both "stuff we found on the net", and photos actually taken and submitted by members.) That "self-photo" count stayed at 9,000 until...

In May, 2004, the home page text was updated with "over 27,000 self-photos".  This was updated to "over 35,000" in July.  The mention of 6,000 "image vault" photos was also removed in July, but the link on the left remained until May, 2005.  Also in July, the site policy page linked to iBill as the site's credit card processor.  By December, 2004, the claim was "over 60,000 self-photos".  The first ad on the home page also appeared around December 2004.

On May 19, 2005, the home page layout changed again.  The left-side menu was gone and most of the text floated in the center of the page.  Also, the home page got a picture for the first time: GF user MiddleAgeChaser wearing a gas mask, jock, and boots, displayed at the top right, next to the site logo.  The site claimed "over 107,000 self-photos".  The card processor was still iBill.  At the end of December, 2005, the home page was the same, and claimed "over 130,000 self-photos".

The home page changed again around August, 2006.  The only thing on it was an image of a "Danger" sign, Photoshopped to say that "GearFetish.com Is Highly Addictive".  Clicking on the sign led you to a page similar to the previous home page.  This time, there were images on either side of the site logo, of an unnamed guy in Dainese leathers and Alpinestars boots.  The claim was "over 300,000 self-photos".  By December 2006, the claim was "over 325,000 self-photos".  Also, by December, the second page sported a link to the "Free Speech Coalition". The danger-sign home page, and claim of 325,000 photos on the second page, stayed up throughout 2007 and into early February, 2008.

For a brief time in February 2008, the danger-sign home page led to an updated login page, which looks like the one I remember for all of my time as a member.  That login page gave you the option of seeing "The New GF" or "The Original GF" when you logged in - a new or old layout for the site.  At that time, the login page claimed "over 40,000 members" and "over 600,000 photos".  The new login page had an "about" link, which stated in part:

GearFetish.com was originally launched in 1995 and continued to operate up until 2000 when the former owner had lost interest in its operation. For the next two years, GF was offline. In April 2002, GF was brought back online and quickly saw the return of its loyal member base after it was missed by so many worldwide. Six years later, GF has grown leaps and bounds with an extremely loyal member base that has come to trust its current administration.

Also, at that time, the card processor had changed to ccBill.

In mid-February, 2008, the danger-sign home page was replaced by one with the site logo on a picture of a guy in an Orca wetsuit, gas mask, and lineman's glove liners.  This image stayed on the home page until December.  (NewdDawg uploaded this image as the icon for this group here on GFX.) In December, the login page claimed "over 55,000 members" and "over 725,000 photos".  These numbers stayed the same until the end, in September 2015.

In mid-December, 2008, the home page changed again.  Now, the image shown was chosen from a set of at least 13 images of GF members.  These 13 images first appeared from December 2008 to February 2009.  12 of them had the user name displayed with them, and one (of a guy in a Duke jock and button-fly jeans) did not.  When you visited the site, you would see any one of the 13 images, but I don't remember how often the image changed.  These 13 images rotated on the front page until February, 2013.  (I uploaded the 13 I found on archive.org to the group here on GFX.)

In mid-Feburary, 2013, the rotating images were replaced by a single image of GF member Florianboots44.  It showed a guy with a buzz cut, on the floor, with a mysterious small brown bottle in his right hand.  Another guy, wearing white Adidas sneakers, has his right sneaker on buzz-cut's head, and the toe of his left sneaker in buzz-cut's mouth.  (I also uploaded this to the group here on GFX.)  This image stayed on the front page until the end, in September 2015.

Part 2 - Based mostly on what I remember.

Sometime around the time I became a member, the credit card processor changed from ccBill to MediaAccessKey.  I think MAK was actually owned by the same guy that ran GearFetish.com.  I vaguely remember hearing that he created MAK when other processors stopped accepting "adult" sites as clients, but I'm not 100% sure on that.  A few guys had trouble getting the MAK billing to work, but I never did.  The one quirk I remember of it was that once you had a subscription, it wasn't possible to extend it while it was still valid... you had to let it run out and then buy a new one.

archive.org has captures of mediaaccesskey.com starting in April 2007 and ending in August 2015.  If you click the "about" link, it mentions GF Multimedia, LLC, with a PO box in Atlanta - the same company that owned GearFetish.com.

GF was always free to join, but you could only see a limited number of profiles and a limited number of photos on each profile each day.  The next day, you could log in and look some more.  If you bought a subscription, you could see as much as you wanted.

The site tried to make it look like the text chat was only available to subscribers, but you could click on it and it would let you in, even if you had a free account.

Once you were logged in, there were sometimes "news" posts on the front page.  From those, the second owner ended up going through a breakup/divorce, and apparently there were some legal moves happening to either force the owner to sell the site and split the money, or turn ownership of the site over to his ex, or something like that. The last post I remember about this was that all the legal stuff had concluded and the second owner was going to keep the site. I think that was a couple of years before the site went down for good.
 
I also remember some prototype video hosting a few years before the site went down.  It was announced on the front page, maybe as a beta, and a few guys uploaded videos to their profiles.  I think those videos stayed up, but it wasn't ever rolled out to all the users.

The site was originally hosted on a server that the second owner bought; he rented rack space in a co-lo for it. Around a year before it shut down for good, he moved everything over to Amazon Web Services. The site kept working during this transition.

One evening right before it went down, in the site chat, a GF user who wasn't associated with running the site, but who did do Web stuff, made a rough estimate that GF was probably paying $2000-$4000 a month at Amazon.

(From at least 2011 to the end in 2015, I always bought 6 month subscriptions for $40 each. I think a year subscription was discounted a little from $80. Based on the renewal emails I got, they were probably selling about 1,300 subscriptions, of any length, in a 6-month period.  If they were all 6-month subscriptions, that would be roughly $104,000 of revenue a year.  Subtract about $24,000 to $48,000 in hosting costs from that and you still have over $50,000.)
 
There were a couple of guys that were paid a little bit to review all the pictures that people tried to post, and disallow illegal things, commercial porn, etc. Those guys quit getting paid near the end, so it started taking longer to get new pics on your profile.  One of them said in chat that only the owner was approving pictures at that time.

At the very end, the server that served the images quit working, but the site was still up - you could log in, look at guys' profiles, etc, but not see any of the images. Some of us *guessed* that maybe part of the Amazon bill wasn't being paid, but we didn't know for sure.

It ran for a few days that way, with no images, and then the whole site went down. The domain quit resolving - you didn't even get a "Sorry, we've shut down" page or anything. I never got any further news about what happened.
 
Part 3 - Odds and ends.
 
You can partially date the photos downloaded from GearFetish.com, since about mid-2003, by the style of the watermark on the image.  I uploaded a picture of the various watermark types here on GFX.
 
If you still have the original filename (that is, you downloaded the picture directly from GearFetish), there is a date stamp in it since June 2004, and also a time stamp since December 2007.  The date stamp always has a four-digit year, and it will be in the range of 2004 to 2015.  The date and time stamps are a little weird in that they are not zero-padded: New Year's Day and May Day 2005 would show up as "112005" and "512005" respectively.  There are some dates where you can't distinguish January from November or December.  The time stamp immediately follows the date stamp, for filenames that have it.  I may upload another how-to image here to explain this.
 
The site was smart enough to strip EXIF data from the images, so you can't date the photos that way.  Before about June 2004, the site apparently used the same file name the uploader gave it.
 
Conclusion
 
Was that far more than you wanted to know about it?  :D
 
SRG

 

If you still have the original filename (that is, you downloaded the picture directly from GearFetish), there is a date stamp in it since June 2004, and also a time stamp since December 2007.  The date stamp always has a four-digit year, and it will be in the range of 2004 to 2015.  The date and time stamps are a little weird in that they are not zero-padded: New Year's Day and May Day 2005 would show up as "112005" and "512005" respectively.  There are some dates where you can't distinguish January from November or December.  The time stamp immediately follows the date stamp, for filenames that have it.

 I uploaded another how-to here on GFX that explains this.

SRG

Wow, @ it's a very impressive work !! Thank you very much.

For me the hidden question is always, "Can Gearfetish.com be reborn from the ashes?"

I do not want to make a debate comparing GFX with GF but for a bigger force, continuing with an old site as popular as GF would be great. How to retrieve old files (php scripts) etc.

Gotcha - We have no formal ties to the original GearFetish.com so unfortunately we do not have access to any of the original content, memberlists, or php/scripts/etc.  We have been trying to get a hold Chris (of GF) but unfortunately we have not been able to locate him (so if anyone knows how to PLEASE let us know!)

We do still hold out hope that the original GF data exists somewhere and that someday we can bring it back to the gear community.  It is one of our primary missions.

I also want to let everyone know that there are currently two administrators of GearFetishX.com (with full access.)  One located in Canada (CurlyJ@GFX) and one located in the United States (NewdDawg@GFX.)  Both of us have complete access to the site as to help ensure the site NEVER goes offline again.

The goal of the new site is to be community driven.  Ideally we want the decisions and the direction of GFX to be determined by the gear community as a whole.

With the recent actions of Tumblr (and other social networking/blogging sites) we are reminded why it is so important for us to have a home that is ours and that we (the gear community) control.

Wow, @ it's a very impressive work !! Thank you very much.

For me the hidden question is always, "Can Gearfetish.com be reborn from the ashes?"

I do not want to make a debate comparing GFX with GF but for a bigger force, continuing with an old site as popular as GF would be great. How to retrieve old files (php scripts) etc.

 

Wow, @ it's a very impressive work !! Thank you very much.

 You're welcome.  :)

For me the hidden question is always, "Can Gearfetish.com be reborn from the ashes?"

Like NewdDawg said, you'd have to talk to the owner of Gearfetish.com to see if he has any backups of the site.  It is not possible to recreate the site from what is publicly available.  archive.org has some of the rendered pages, but they don't have the database or any of the back-end scripts.  They also don't have anything that required you to log in.  The only way to get that stuff would be to have a backup of the site from when it was running.

Also, if a backup was available, nobody can legally do what everybody wants, which is to dump all the photos on Dropbox or Mega or something.  There are 55,000+ copyright holders for all of those photos, and you'd have to get permission from all of them to do that.

The best thing that could probably be done, if a backup is found, is to set up a site where guys can log in with their old Gearfetish.com user name and password and download everything from their own profile only.  They would then be free to repost those photos to GFX, or some other site, or not post them at all.

Hello both,

I did not want to offend, sorry.
With all this written and public information, we can now move forward.
Thank you so much.

 

I did not want to offend, sorry.

 You didn't offend me.  Everything is OK.  :)

SRG

Thanks for the sharing of info, I came in late 2006. It is quite sad the way it suddenly ended.. cry

I was a member from about 2003 onward, my SN xcmtbikeboy or mtbikeboy23 I believe. I remember it going down and coming back in the early days, then it rocked along for a good while. Then the separation which seemed very dramatic but I applaud him for keeping the users informed about its possible closure . It was a great site and I really haven't found a site that quite compares since.

Just joined the site, was a member of the original one.

Struggling a bit to find my way round this site, seem unable to enter forums

 

I'm hoping other members may have some other "artifacts" from the original GearFetish.com we can compile here as kind of an archive.  The leather community has an archive so why can't the gear community?

 I have a bunch of pictures I had saved over the years from GF

I joined as a paying member on Feb. 12, 2003, probably by mailing a paper check for $25. After that, I paid $29.95 electronically roughly every year thru Feb. 15, 2015. Shortly after, the site vanished. I was probably a member before that initial payment. My name was always jimboylan.
On June 12, 2013, I made an extra electronic payment or donation in response to an Email about the judgment requiring monthly payments for a fixed term to the former owner. That message included copies of the legal papers filed in Georgia. I received this in return:

Gear Fetish
From:
gearfetish.com@gmail.com
Sat, Jun 15, 2013 at 6:51 PM
Apologies for any duplication of this email. Due to the domain name, GearFetish.com, some email services bounce the delivery.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear GF Member,
Although I would prefer to address you individually, there has been an overwhelming response of members to help in donations.
I can’t thank you enough for your generous contribution in helping me keep GF online. No matter the amount you donated, every donation has contributed to a tremendous part in relieving a great deal of stress and pressure. Meeting a mandatory monthly settlement payment for the past 16 months has been financially challenging. Not to mention somewhat demoralizing. With your overflowing outreach, it has been quite a humbling and positive experience to be reassured that I haven’t made the mistake of fighting to keep GF.
I want you to know that am I am still committed to GF. I have a tremendous amount of work ahead of me. Rest assured, you will begin to see updates within GF.
With sincere thanks,
Chris

I just sent Christmas greeting to that address.

Probably about 2011, I got an Email from one of the helpers at GF thanking me for being a long time paying member.

Jim
jimboylan

Domain:
gearfetish.com
 
Registrar:
Amazon Registrar, Inc.
 
Registered On:
1998-10-06
 
Expires On:
2024-10-05
 
Updated On:
2023-08-31
 
Status:
clientDeleteProhibited
clientTransferProhibited
clientUpdateProhibited
 
Name Servers:
ns-1227.awsdns-25.org
ns-1879.awsdns-42.co.uk
ns-395.awsdns-49.com
ns-810.awsdns-37.net
 
Registrant Contact
Name:
On behalf of gearfetish.com owner
 
Organization:
Identity Protection Service
 
Street:
PO Box 786
 
City:
Hayes
 
State:
Middlesex
 
Postal Code:
UB3 9TR
 
Country:
GB
 
Phone:
+44.1483307527
 
Fax:
+44.1483304031
 
Email:
@identity-protect.org
 
Administrative Contact
Name:
On behalf of gearfetish.com owner
 
Organization:
Identity Protection Service
 
Street:
PO Box 786
 
City:
Hayes
 
State:
Middlesex
 
Postal Code:
UB3 9TR
 
Country:
GB
 
Phone:
+44.1483307527
 
Fax:
+44.1483304031
 
Email:
@identity-protect.org
 
Technical Contact
Name:
On behalf of gearfetish.com owner
 
Organization:
Identity Protection Service
 
Street:
PO Box 786
 
City:
Hayes
 
State:
Middlesex
 
Postal Code:
UB3 9TR
 
Country:
GB
 
Phone:
+44.1483307527
 
Fax:
+44.1483304031
 
Email:
@identity-protect.org

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