Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Wow. Our wild notion to bring five personal media projects together for one unprecedented evening actually worked! We called it “The Valentine’s Day Personal Media Mixer and Confessional Culture Variety Show,” and it featured performances by SMITH, Frank Warren’s PostSecret, Davy Rothbart’s Found Magazine, David Nadelberg and Neil Katcher’s Mortified, and the brand-new Cassette from my Ex from Jason Bitner. These five projects, among the best in a field some call “confessional culture” or “the intimacy revolution,” have never come together in one place, on one night. So on February 14, we decided to abandon traditional notions of intimacy and we came together for a sold-out group show at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, to benefit Housing Works. We’re thrilled to say we raised thousands of dollars to fight AIDS and homelessness.
There were books and beer, slideshows and videos, laughing and crying, stories and songs. Michael Hearst played guitar and sang ten hilarious six-word memoirs, ending with that future country classic “I was easy; he was hard.” Neil Katcher and Starlee Kine (reading for Cassette’s from My Ex) induced gasps with mentions of child abuse and Cancer, respectively. Davy was funny and outrageous; Frank was sincere and touching. It was crowded and hectic and occasionally messy, but it was full of genuine emotion and a desire to connect. And glitterglue and candy.
When Frank Warren’s incredible PostSecret Valentine’s video came to a close, he said a few final words about how important it is for everyone to get his or her story out there. Maybe it’s by writing a six-word memoir. Perhaps it’s by sharing a mixtape your gone-but-not-forgotten ex once made you, or rethinking your earlier self through something you wrote in your journal. It could be that you tell your story in the simple, anonymous act of sending a postcard. We hope you’ll tell your story in whatever way you can. For us, months of planning were worthwhile if only for the moment when a young woman we’d never met came up and said, “Thank you for helping me write again.” We’d like to extend that thanks to everyone on the stage and in the audience who helped give February 14 a storybook ending. (More photos on the SMITH Facebook page.)