TheDirty.com is one tabloid blog among many, but the salacious stories and alcohol-fueled escapades you’ll find on the site feature your co-workers, best friends or that girl down the street. It came to fruition as DirtyScottsdale.com in 2007, the brainchild of Hooman Karamian, known to his fans as Nik Richie. Richie launched his site as a blog where anyone could submit pictures of their roommate, boss or sister being naughty. Within a year, TheDirty.com as we know it was born. Richie has expanded his citizen journalism into 150 markets, including Las Vegas, which gets the most submissions per month at about 1,000.
Richie kept his own identity a secret until his arrest and subsequent charge with a DUI in 2008 landed his mug shot on his own site and blew his cover. Nonetheless, the site has grown in popularity and Richie is focused on expanding into Canada and Australia with non-English language sites to follow. Should you find yourself posted on TheDirty.com, he does have a 72-hour removal process where each case is analyzed and, hopefully, the posts vanish, along with the embarrassment.
Why do you think the site became so popular?
Tabloids are so addicting and this is the same kind of format, but this is real people. This is someone you actually know, and to see that person become an Internet celebrity or to see them get in trouble, maybe you kind of feel better about yourself in a sick way.
Do you ever feel guilty about postings?
I really don’t have feelings. It’s tough for me because I put it all out there. If I have personal friends that get in trouble … I don’t play favorites. I even put myself on the site when I do something wrong or if I get a DUI or something bad happens because I’m no different from everyone else. I feel like what we’re doing is somewhat revolutionary and it’s changing the way Internet laws are being made. To be honest, I haven’t gotten to that point where I feel bad for anyone.
What if your wife ended up on the site?
The rule going into the marriage was we keep it totally separate. She’s actually never even seen the Web site, and she’s going to keep it that way. She doesn’t want to have a bad taste in her mouth about what I do, so our marriage rule is that I keep her away from it and keep the whole Nik Richie thing separate from what she does, and she does her own career and we go from there. There is immunity for family, obviously.
Is there a larger goal for The Dirty?
For some people it is a huge wake-up call. If you’re trying to be a moral person, then be that moral person. Don’t say you are and then go out that night and do a bunch of drugs and sleep with everyone in town. I have no personal vendettas. If people can learn a lesson from the site, great. There’s no ill will toward anyone in the process of doing this, but yes there is a greater purpose. The smartest people can see that. The site is for humor, it’s to kill time, it’s for the cubical warriors. But at the same time, if you’re going out to the clubs and your life is spiraling out of control and you can’t catch it, bad things are going to happen. I think the site actually opens up people’s eyes to that.
Has the job affected your personal life?
My personal life is pretty much shot. The friends that I had before either become the moochers or they become very distant because they have normal jobs … they can’t be associated with me. Going through this thing, it’s making me make friends who aren’t real people and are just along for the ride and the free bottle service.
What would cross the line for you?
I try to keep it PG-13. I don’t have nudity on the site, I cover up things with hearts or whatever. When people are sending their girlfriend’s sex texts, I star out all the bad words and we do moderate the comments. Every comment is read, and only about 25 percent of the submissions that come into The Dirty actually make the site. I’m pretty picky and selective as to what goes on the site.
What’s your best Vegas story?
I was hosting Pure Nightclub, I got really tipsy and I was going crazy demanding all this stuff and as I was leaving the nightclub something happened in the hotel and the fire trucks came and they were rushing into Caesars Palace. I decided it would be smart idea for me to steal a fire truck, so I decided to get into the first truck—there’s video of it—and I was just drunk trying to steal a fire truck. I couldn’t get it started, and I locked myself in there and it became a big mess. I got fined by the county. Every time I go to Vegas, I try to top myself.