Pour It On

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On his website, Mayer discusses various energy-drink ingredients -- not just taurine, but guarana, caffeine, ginkgo, milk thistle and antioxidants -- and offers links to articles that better explain the effects of mixing alcohol and energy drinks, while also noting the common-sense fact that energy drinks give you more energy, thus masking or prolonging the point at which your body has had enough alcohol.

"You stay up longer, you drink more," Mayer says. "Caffeine is like any other drug. It's safe if you're not an idiot. You get in as much punch with coffee as energy drinks, but people don't seem to drink vodka-and-coffees."

Lately, Mayer has been getting requests for energy drinks from soldiers in Iraq, soldiers who've Googled "energy drinks" in search of beloved pick-me-ups and gotten to his site instead. Mayer simply forwards the requests -- which always come with return addresses -- to the appropriate energy-drink companies, which promptly ship off crates to the front.

And then there was the time Mayer came to the rescue of a bunch of British goths.

"There's this energy drink in the U.K. that's called Vamp; it's like the goth energy drink," he explains. "But they also do goth marketing, I guess you could call it, where you call them up and they will throw a goth-themed event for you, with goth models with vampire teeth and stuff. They also make vodka."

A rival U.K. goth photography clique saw that Vamp was featured on Mayer's website and began bashing Vamp in the comments section, posting lies about the drink having been responsible for deaths. Vamp employees began responding with rival postings, and pretty soon goth death threats were flying like so many dark, winged creatures of the night.

"They were writing things like, 'I'm going to cut your fucking head off and pour Vamp down your throat, which would probably kill you anyway!'" Mayer remembers. "Eventually the president of Vamp got ahold of me and asked if I could take down a lot of the comments to sort of put out the fire, which I did. He sent me a bunch of free stuff for that."

Mayer's site also recently enjoyed the dubious honor of being featured on its first porn site -- at least, the first Mayer knows of.

"They sent me 4,500 hits in three days," he says with a grin. "I have no idea what the correlation is between porn and energy drinks. Maybe if you're drinking a bunch of energy drinks, you can stay up longer and look at more porn."

Although that's an aberrant number of hits, Mayer estimates that over the past year, his site has averaged around 3,500 hits a day. And while he doesn't like to discuss actual figures, the ad revenue generated by his website funded a new server, which Mayer uses to design and support websites for bands.

"It pays for my tech and toys," says Mayer, who has also dedicated an entire site to his personal beard experiments.

People around the world have been studying Dan Mayer's site. Especially Damon Lawner.

Lawner, a Los Angeles entrepreneur who made his fortune by investing in the popular celebrity hangout Koi -- Entourage has shot in the restaurant on numerous occasions -- and recently opened a second restaurant, Bridge, in L.A., had been thinking about energy drinks for a while. He'd watch Paris Hilton types come into Koi and suck them down, bottle after bottle.

"I started researching all the drinks, what the ingredients are, what makes them work, what differentiates a product," Lawner explains. "And in doing my research, I got inspired. I became totally obsessed with creating the ultimate energy drink. That's how I found Dan."

By Googling "energy drinks."

"I looked at the whole site, and I thought it was just really interesting that this guy was so obsessed with energy drinks," Lawner continues. "It was also interesting that so many people were paying attention to him."

So Lawner contacted Mayer, discovered the kid had a good head on his shoulders, and decided to have him design his own energy drink. "When I invested in Koi, I was investing in a friend of mine who was opening the restaurant," Lawner says. "And everyone thought it was a crazy idea, but I thought, whatever. I had faith in my friend. I had a hunch. And I was investing in a person, not in a restaurant. I have the same feeling that I had then about Dan.

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Adam Cayton-Holland