When Wiskate.com launched in 1998 it was one of the biggest skateboarding websites in the world.
"There were literally two other websites that had skateboarding stuff on it. You had to wait 20 minutes to download a clip and it would be like four seconds long," said Josh Ellis, 31, who along with a handful of friends has kept the Milwaukee-centric skateboarding website going for 13 years during which time the skateboarding industry caught up with technology.
In those early day, the sheer fact that no one else was doing it would bring them enough traffic to crash their web host on occasion, said Ellis who also co-owns Gorf Life (a t shirt company) with Wiskate contributor Tim Olson, and helped create the goofy cult favorite skate DVDs "Beez" 1, 2 and 3.
"It's like the big fish in the little pond thing. There were like two people on the internet so we got tons and tons of traffic because in addition to the stuff I was doing with my friends I would copy professional videos and put them up," Ellis said.
More than a decade later Ellis and his friends--a tight knit group of guys who love cats, skateboarding, '80s movie burnouts and goofing off-- continue to post short videos and photography on the site creating a world of inside jokes and artfully documenting Milwaukee's skate scene.
The website's content often gets linked by other prominent skateboarding websites like Thrasher and Skateboarding magazines.
"It's like a way of putting out your creative stuff. If you feel like putting up a bunch of photos or if you want to do something cool and want people to see it. If you want to write some dumb stuff," said Patrick Forster, who appears in numerous pictures and videos on the site and also contributes content to it.
But what's up with the cats?
"Cat's just became a thing on the website for some reason and all of a sudden some guy from Sweden wrote a song about my cat," said Olson.
The crew's ridiculous Beez DVD's parlayed a lot of the ongoing goofball vibe of the website to unexpected popularity.
"The whole premise of making bees was hateful thoughts toward other people. We just wanted to annoy everyone. Everyone was making these super serious skate videos so we decided to do the exact opposite and bum them out," Ellis said.
"It reached a lot of people, and the people you wouldn't really expect to be really into it were into it. Like a lot of professional skateboarders liked it... It actually had the adverse affect on people. It's not bumming them out. It's getting them stoked," Olson said.
Ellis and Olson have posted a string of videos on the website in support of their hand screened Gorf Life shirts that are available at local skate shops like Phase II and Sky High.
Like the website and the Beez videos, their t shirts (picture rollerblading mushrooms and giant cats) tap into the goofy side of skate culture. Ellis explanation of what Gorf means, could be applied to everything he and his Wiskate crew have had a hand in.
"The easiest way to explain it is to think Jeff Spicoli or Booger from Revenge of the Nerds. They live the Gorf Life obviously...It's about doing whatever you want. Kind of being a loser and just having fun."