Le Fantome: Is He The Real Phantom of the Opera?
By Linda Anderson
(July 4, 1999)
[Le Fantome, aka Bill Johnson, has a fantastic website - 60 pages in all - which includes games, .wavs, music pages, a tools page that he boasts one can build a webpage in 3 minutes and an extraordinary sliding puzzles page, to list a few. His page has been honored with 50 awards which includes one as Tripod's "Top 100 Better Building sites" on their server. His page has over 100,000 visitors.--ck]
I have been an anonymous user/admirer of Bill Johnson's, aka Le Fantome, pages for a very long time. In fact, in this interview I mentioned I used him quite often in the past. This was okay with him because that is why his pages are there. He loves to be used. The more people that use him, the happier he is knowing this.
Le Fantome has been dealt a lot of blows in his 53 years, but he has come out strong and willing to help others. Bill started on the Internet on January 29, 1997. He had never seen the World Wide Web before that time. He intended to use it initially to find contracts for "mystery shopping" which he does. The other reason is so that he could keep his mind off the events of the day of his wife's death which he shares below. When we chatted about his webpages, he commented, "The page is like a big video game. You have to be creative with it, enjoy it, play with it. It is also like painting pictures. You use your own style." This is what he does. This is who he is.
It was in March of 1997 that his daughter's boyfriend suggested he start a webpage. This is what he did. The pages are known as Le Fantome & Angelique Fantasy. This site combines the "Phantom Of The Opera" and "Angelique," a character from the old "Dark Shadows Soap Opera." A site on Tripod was soon started and became his personal site. It started taking the shape of his own personal walk through life. It details his semi-tragic bio and the loves who have graced his life. Bill said he wasn't looking for love on the Net, but he said, "I wanted my story to reflect much more of my persona than could be dealt with in a personal ad." Thus, the birth of "Me, Myself, & I."
Bill has been honored with more than 50 awards for his pages. He has been honored by Tripod as one of the "Top 100 Better Builders" sites on their server, which was also featured in the Tripod newsletter. It was also published in the November, 1998 issue of Club WebTV's Serendipity. The article is listed in their Archives.
Bill has enjoyed helping people on the Net. He loves to give credit where it is due. He has received good help when he began his page building from YooperMo, No18, Subana, Trevor, also known as Ironace, and so many others. The list is too numerous but he wanted to at least name a few.
He has been active in e-mail lists that include Cuckoo, Friends, and Nutz. He finally started his own e-mail list...WTVPals...on November 22, 1998 on esosoft, 2 years to the day since his wife was tragically killed in a hit and run accident with a drunken driver. He moved it to onelist in January of 1999. He calls it the WTVPals which has grown to about 95 members. It has been known to put out as many as 1500 messages a week.
A second e-mail list, LeFantomesWebTV@onelist.com, was born to be a strictly help list. It has links of helpful tips and advice. The list began about a month ago and has over 50 participants, which includes a group of experts.
Another group that Bill assembled is called, WebTV Experts Team. This list hosts such experts as himself, Paul Erickson and a list of many others. He encourages everyone to join an e-mail group. He said it will keep all concerned aware of all that is happening on WebTV. You can learn from many on the list and if you do ask questions, they will be answered. He has found creativity, love, patience, increased reading skills, typing skills and he has learned a lot from his little set top box.
Our Phantom doesn't stop there. He said, "I have been privileged to help people construct webpages who are disabled and those who really need help." He has helped a few friends get started building pages, and then like a good parent, he encourages them to use their creativity to enlarge and expand. Proudly sitting back as they learn HTML and WebTV.
He began a "WebTV Help Page" a year ago with the tools he personally found "to be the best on the Net!" He mentioned that, "If I don't like it, it won't appear on the page. I try very hard to keep it updated with new tools and changes that WebTV downgrades, etc. I may not have the most business-looking pages, but I want them entertaining with music and different backgrounds that reflect my own personality." He said that his pages are an extension of himself...a release of psychological tension, if you will.
Bill's pages have recorded over 100,000 visitors. He uses some "LeFantome Tricks" to greet his visitors. On the "Help and Permission to Date My Daughter Pages," (yes, you read it right) a few tricks can be found. So be aware - very aware upon going there lest you be the center of those tricks. :-)
Bill's pages started out as 4 and built itself up to over 60. He has a bio, games, wavs and music pages, 6 in all, which are a collection of his favorites, a tools page and a chatroom. Whatever is needed. He told me that,
"You can build a webpage with my tool page in about 30 minutes." I have seen his pages. I believe you can.
There is one crowning page that has not yet been visited much. It is called the Phantastic Puzzlers. They are sliding puzzles that are WebTV-friendly. He admits that a computer and a whiz named Trevor were instrumental in constructing these pages. The idea from a friend brought about a friendly, yet thought-provoking puzzle. The puzzles are from some of his own oil paintings and some theme gifs on the Net.
Bill also informed me he is engaged to a wonderful woman in Wichita, Kansas. They found each other on the Internet. He packed up his belongings from his home state of Texas and ventured to the land of Oz. They are to be married soon. (Congrats, Bill and Dee!)
When I thought this interview was about over, I was only mildly surprised to learn a few other little things from our Phantom. I learned he constructed a website using his WebTV for a celebrity who resides in California. The man goes by the name of
Gypsy Boots. He is 89 years old and used to be on the old Steve Allen Show.
Bill's states, "I have imparted myself to my pages and received the thanks and appreciation of many from the Net. Like Draac, n2play, and Paul Erickson, I feel blessed by the invention of this little toy for the masses and the notoriety I have received. Plus, the wonderful spirit of the people of WebTV." He goes on to say that he has enjoyed Net4TV Voice and the live Sunday chats at Chat4TV hosted by Net4TV!
[Community Editor's Notes: Congratulations Bill and Dee! We wish you the best. And what a fantastic website you have! Much to learn but for now, well, if you can excuse me, I have to get back to playing with the slide puzzles now! Alright, I admit it...I am hooked!--ck]
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