The Kickstarter Blog

Boy and Bean: Oh So Chahming, Dahling!

  1. We Only Have (Gypsé) Eyes For You

    We love getting mail! Especially mail that comes with silk-screened paper bag heads of Tom Selleck and tiny bags of glitter, like the latest issue of design-savvy art/photo ‘zine Gypsé Eyes did. Even sans Tom’s mustache, though, the ‘zine (a two time success, now!) is a wild, sassy romp of throbbing, eye candy goodness. Dubbed “The Make Out Issue,” it comes with a condom — be safe now, kids — loads of sexy photos, and even some rather detailed instructions about, ya know, how to kiss. We’ll be keeping that in mind for the next time we see Tom. *Wink*

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  2. Creator Q&A: "xoxosms," the Internet Love Doc

    How do two people establish intimacy on the Internet? Can you truly fall in love with someone you’ve never met? What do digital intimacy and love in the 21st century look like?

    #{project_title}'s video poster

    All relevant questions to be pondering in this day and age, and thanks to the documentary project xoxosms, you can ponder alongside the story of Jiyun and Gus, an internet-born love affair — perhaps soon to go viral!

    Over the past 18 months, Gus, a home schooled 20-year-old from a religious family in small-town Illinois, and Jiyun, a 19-year-old Korea-born New York City art student, have fallen head over Skype for each other purely through chat and video. All of this begs the question: Can love last via the cyberwebs?? We talked to director and co-producer Nancy Schwartzman to find out.

    Love online — so much part of our daily conversation and yet hasn’t been documented (or has it?). What led you to this project?

    Well, I was chatting with my 18-year-old niece last summer, and she told me about her best friend, Jiyun, who was in love with a guy she had never met. The story was fascinating — these two strangers from such different worlds had found common ground and love online. I’d already been exploring the convergence of sex, new media, and growing up — all issues at the heart of Gus and Jiyun’s relationship. And when I reached out to them, I was struck by how deeply they cared for each other, and what an important role technology had in cultivating their love.

    We hear a lot about the ways teenagers can be hurt by online relationships, but there’s not much discussion of how the Internet can facilitate and nurture their most loving, caring relationships, too. I wanted to show what that looks like — the ways that the Internet not only provides fertile ground for establishing young relationships, but how those connections, in turn, can be shaped and supported by technology.

    Your work in general often explores the intersection of sex, growing up, and new media. What’s your background in these topics?

    My first film, The Line, was made over a period of five years. I spent a lot of that time doing in-depth research about sexual culture and politics. That included interviewing people who ran the gamut of sexual experiences and beliefs — from activists in the anti-violence movement, to kids partying on spring break, to people in the sex-positive movement, to sex workers in Nevada brothels — to try and get a picture of where we are, as a culture, in respect to sex. In the process, I discovered great work being done using new media and technology to communicate with young people about healthy sexual relationships. Inspired, I designed the accompanying interactive campaign,, to include a group blog with content from young contributors, a dedicated video channel, and Facebook and Twitter presences. It allowed me to incorporate the voices and experiences of a wide breadth of people to further inform the themes addressed by the film.

    How did you meet Jiyun and Gus?  

    After my niece told me about their story, she introduced Jiyun and me via email, and we started swapping letters. I did a low-tech casting call and asked her to make me some iMovie videos. She was adorable in these first points of contact — very direct and candid and willing to talk. Shortly after that, she sent me some of her very first Facebook and chat exchanges with Gus. I realized that they’d both saved every exchange they’d had over the months and months of their courtship.

    Jiyun was so open; she shared pages and pages of these intimate, archived conversations with me. It was the modern equivalent of stumbling across a box of love letters! I was riveted — who wouldn’t be? — and immediately knew I wanted to document their story. From there, she introduced me to Gus. And in November, we flew out to Chicago to film their very first meeting and the time they spent together in the “real world.”

    Have you met great people online? Have you had a Skype-heavy long-distance relationship?

    I meet the best people online! Through my work with The Line, I’ve been introduced to people who offered an incredible range of interesting thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. I’ve had a similar experience with xoxosms. We curate a blog on Tumblr called “Without the internet we never would have met…” where we invite people to share, through pictures and words, experiences in finding love online. Although every story is about a relationship formed via the Internet, each story — as well as the storytelling itself — is totally unique and unlike any other.

    As for me, now that I’m a married lady, my online dalliances are pretty much only for activism, and mostly through Twitter.

    Do you think there’s something that can be lost in meeting someone online, or only gained?

    I don’t think there’s anything lost in meeting someone online, because any form of connection is potentially meaningful. There seems to be a general dubiousness about relationships forged via the Internet. The idea is that those connections are somehow less “authentic” or “genuine” than relationships that begin in the “real world.” But it’s not the means by which we connect that validates or invalidates the relationships we form. As people, we all love in different and unique ways. Who can authoritatively say that any one form of love is more valid than any other, regardless of how it began?

    In the opening of xoxosms, there’s a montage that looks at how people have communicated love, attraction and desire throughout history — from Romeo beneath Juliet’s balcony, to love letters, to cablegrams, to telephone calls, to the most modern example: Exchanging messages with a stranger online. While social media and digital intimacy may be new, humans have been transmitting messages in search of love and connection forever. Online connections are just the latest way to satisfy a basic human need — to connect, bond and interact with other people.

     Can you tell us a bit more about The Line?

    There are a tangle of legal, political, and cultural issues around sex and consent. I wanted to delve into the debate about sexual boundaries through a global perspective, and to ask questions, seek answers, and provoke substantive discussion. 

    The Line has been shown in festivals and venues as far flung as Taiwan, Liberia, and Istanbul, and on college campuses all over the country. It’s been a tool to ignite dialogue, and I’ve had the pleasure of hosting conversations about sexuality and healthy relationships in hundreds of venues.

    Your project’s rewards include an interesting array of goodies from other artists. Tell us about these!

    We really wanted to offer rewards that weren’t just tangible, but also experiential and unique.

    It was a no-brainer that backers would get a digital download of the film. But I also wanted people to be able to have access to every aspect of the movie — the soundtrack, video outtakes that allow them to know even more about Gus and Jiyun’s story than we have time to tell in a short film. There’s the chance to have Gus and Jiyun make a video that’s personalized for you, because who wouldn’t want to get to know them beyond the context of the film? I’m also really excited about the Skype chat with me or Jiyun. The opportunity to speak directly with a backer will definitely be incredibly cool.

    We’re also offering a beautiful photo from Thomas Cabus, our graphic designer, whose photography has been exhibited internationally.

    Of course, one of my favorite rewards is the champagne meet-up with the Bowery Boys. Their podcast, which is all about the history of New York City’s most famous (and infamous) places, is a favorite, and the chance to have a champagne and sit down with them is just a really fun idea.

    You can support the project here.

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