Visitors to the Internet Adult Film Database (www.iafd.com) on Tuesday morning were greeted with "The Infinite Sadness," a demure article informing users of the sudden death of a demure but highly respect adult video fan, Peter van Aarle.
According to iafd.com, van Aarle passed away on Sunday, Sept. 18, after suffering a heart attack at his home in The Hague, Holland. He was 42.
According to an unconfirmed report, van Aarle had felt the attack coming on and had dialed an emergency number, but by the time assistance arrived, he was already dead.
Van Aarle was the curator of iafd.com, building on his resources and background as a fan for more than 20 years to assemble the Internet's most complete database of adult movie and video titles, star filmographies and other information nearly unobtainable from any other source.
"Peter had worked on the database for 18 years or so," said Jeff Vanzetti, iafd.com's webmaster, "and all of his value, he felt, was in his older material, because nobody really had all that information. If you go to any of the other search sites, nobody's got the depth of information on the classics like Peter had."
The site's home page, besides a brief "news" section, also lists, for the current date, the birthdays of present and past porn stars and other adult industry members, along with their ages if known.
"You could send a photo to Peter and he'd tell you exactly who that person is," reflected Norris Smith, a long-time friend of van Aarle's. "He was like the Siskel & Ebert of the adult industry. Even I relied upon him sometimes when I had a question about something, and I'm half a world away from him."
Before the appearance of iafd.com in 1999, van Aarle had been a frequent contributor to its predecessor, the rec.arts.movies.erotica newsgroup, better known simply as r.a.m.e., where he made many online friends.
"Peter was one of the nicest, sweetest, most personable guys I have ever met," wrote Tim Evanson, a r.a.m.e. moderator and contributor. "He never treated anyone poorly; everyone was worthy of respect in his book (even if they did everything in their power to try to lower him to a different level). He was intelligent. And he was reasonable — which is a very high honor these days!"
"Peter said to me one year at an AVN convention, 'Did you know, I traveled for four days just to get to see you? And it was worth it!'" remembered veteran porn star Alexandra Silk. "He always used to make me smile as soon as I saw his face. I would drop everything and run over to him and give him the biggest hug year after year. I would always tell him, 'I'm your biggest fan!' Looking back now, I'm so glad I seized those moments just to let him know how much I appreciated him. The AVN conventions will never be the same again."
According to Silk, van Aarle hadn't missed a Consumer Electronics Show or Adult Entertainment Expo for 16 years, and Vanzetti noted that he had attended most of the East Coast Video Shows in Atlantic City as well.
"He had three favorite girls that he used to always look forward to coming and seeing every year," Silk said, "and I guess I was one of them. His first stop, of course, would be to see Nina [Hartley], and of course, I was usually right behind Nina, or somewhere close by, anyway."
Van Aarle's other favorite was said to be Keisha.
"The IAFD will continue, in his memory," wrote Vanzetti. "Volunteers have begun assembling updates. It will take us a little time to ramp up and try to fill the void left by Peter, but we promise to do our best."
With more than 3,000 original features being released each year, Vanzetti admits that it will be a daunting task.
"It's weird; we actually added another guy, Don, to our staff on Saturday to help with some of the workload," Vanzetti said. "Don's whole thing was, he'd been a guy who had been constantly sending us corrections and this and that, and as our workload increased, we had this big backlog, and he's like, 'Hey, I've got all these corrections; are you gonna get to them or what?' And I was like, 'You know what? Do you want to just come on staff?' He's really looking to correct some of the back-fill and stuff that we had missed, and consolidating performers, which tends to be the bulk of our work."
"But the fact is, Peter was an irreplaceable part of the team."
"I not only lost my biggest fan, the adult industry lost its biggest fan," Silk summarized. "He was a wonderful man. I just want to tell him, 'I love you, Peter, for volunteering your precious time and efforts to our industry. You will greatly be missed.'"
At press time, no details on van Aarle's memorial service were known, but when they are available, they will be posted on iafd.com.