Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Story of The K3YS: An ASMR Trip to NYC With ASMRrequests and GentleWhispering.

I have wanted to share my stories about the trip to New York with you guys for a while.  Now that the project is out, I feel I can comfortably divulge. I had been part of an VR ASMR experience in July 2014---courtesy of talented Tore Knab---but we were going to embark on the first live action Virtual Reality ASMR video.  Even though I have featured over 25 other ASMRtists in my vids and guested on at least 6 other ASMR channels, this was my first in person collab because it was my first time meeting other ASMRtists in real life.   Though I was forcing myself out of my comfort zone at every turn, I got to have some amazing experiences, meet wonderful new people, strengthen friendships, and work on what I love.   Get comfy, cause this is going to be a looooong bedtime story  :)

Once upon a time, I found ASMR videos through a channel called "GentleWhispering."  Maria (GW) changed my life by creating vids, and I will always feel grateful to her for giving me that "AHA!" moment so many of us experience when we find ASMR videos.  I was smitten and indebted, and I became friends with Maria and her boyfriend Darryl---another content creator that went by "WeightliftingWhisper."  I adored them.  About a year and half after finding out ASMR was thing other people felt, I created my own channel on a whim.  Two months after that (exactly), a channel called "ASMRrequests" was created by a girl named Ally who had been inspired and encouraged to make vids by her boyfriend Josh.  Even though our start dates differed, we were all trying to bring something to the ASMR table by experimenting and creating new kinds of content to help people in our little genre.

Ally and Josh made a big stir in the ASMR sphere with a video called "Departure."  I had spoken to Ally  through a random comment here and there, but we had never talked at length.  When "Departure" came out, it slayed in the ASMR subreddit.  I won't lie---I was intimidated.  I don't take to new tech easily (I am an 80 year old woman on the inside).

  Though I had already been making story oriented role plays to take people to other worlds, Departure upped the immersion factor---and people loved it.  Whenever I feel wowed or envious of someone, I know they are doing something right, and I congratulate people for their achievements--even if they intimidate the heck out of me---because they deserve to be respected for their work.  Being supportive of someone creates teammates instead of adversaries.

I wrote Ally a private message saying "Congratulations, you broke Reddit."---and that was the beginning of a new journey inside the new journey I was already on---It was journey-ception.

Ally said she liked my GLaDos impression that I had done in a couple vids, and asked if I would like to collab with her for "Departure 2."  I thought she wanted me to do a Portal-esque voice, but she actually wanted me to have a role in her story. For about a year we kept our friendship a secret because Ally wanted my cameo to be a surprise.  Through our covert correspondence, we became close.  Even after "Departure 2" came out, our friendship continued and strengthened.


In the winter and spring of 2014 a couple key things happened:  A handful of networks tried to claim my "After The Battle" video, and a crisis happened with another content creator's channel that made Ally, Josh, and I livid.  We went to work behind the scenes and tried to solve the issue.  We knew the Youtube network system was flawed and exploitative, and that little protection was afforded creators. Josh said "I'm tired of this happening to us.  We should make our own network."  I said "Yeah we should."

But after the crisis was averted, we never addressed it again---till June.  That's when Ally and Josh revealed to me that they were starting a Network called "PixelWhipt," and asked if I would partner with them on the endeavor.  I had a bajillion concerns because I didn't want to be another flawed Youtube Network, and I def wasn't going to be part of something that exploited anyone's hard work by jacking their Adsense.  My concerns were moot because PixelWhipt was going to be different.  It was going to focus on Virtual Reality and immersive content, and we would be structurally different than any other network on Youtube.  We wanted to build something better than what was available, we wanted to help people, and we wanted to create.  I agreed to become a partner in PixelWhipt, and then we got to work---as a team.

In the fall/winter of 2014, an opportunity presented itself for PixelWhipt in the form of a live action Virtual Reality ASMR video that would be shot in New York in a real studio with crazy awesome cameras and mics, and featured on a site called "LittlStar" (and then later on Youtube).

How cool is this?
3Dio knows what's up.  And down.  And all around.

Ally and Josh were so excited about it, and asked if I would be willing to travel to New York to film it.  They also asked if I thought Maria would be receptive to the endeavor.  In addition to us just being fans of Maria in general, and knowing that she can execute an ASMR video like a boss, I think we felt that Maria NEEDED to be part of this project out of respect and admiration for her.  She's sort of the mother of ASMR.  She wasn't the first person to make what would be considered an intentional ASMR video, but she is LARGELY responsible for the growth of the genre, she is largely responsible for role plays becoming live action tingle masterpieces, and above all she changed our lives.  Never forget that almost every content creator started out (and remains) a viewer and a fan.  When you feel that indebted to someone and an opportunity arises where you can try to pay them back, you take it.  

Maria said yes, and all of a sudden it was real.  We were talking all the time about the project, writing the story and the script, constructing every detail.  Late night Skype sessions for hours were a regular occurrence.  I was not only invited to flex my creative fingertips---I was encouraged to---and I loved how involved we all were in the process.  We were all nervous about meeting each other even though we had known/talked to each other for years.  I was a bit more nervous than my two peers.  I am hyper vigilant about my privacy, a pretty protective person, and a worrier.  I get especially anxious about working with other people on videos because I don't want to let anyone down or waste anyone's time.  

However, Ally, Josh, Maria, and Darryl were always supportive and never once made me feel silly or alone in my feelings.  We were all in this together and would take care of each other.

When I arrived in New York, Ally and Josh were already there taking a meeting.  Maria and Darryl weren't arriving till the next day, so I passed out in my hotel room.  I woke up hours later, and realized that Ally and Josh hadn't called me or returned to the hotel, so I came to the most rational conclusion---that something had happened, they were lost and afraid in New York, and OMG HOW DO I SAVE THEM?

Buuuut they were fine.  My friend Chai came into the city, and we met Ally and Josh for the first time in person in my hotel room.  They pounced on me and Chai as soon as we opened the door.

We were all starving, so we went to a restaurant to have LEGIT RAMEN for the FIRST TIME EVERRRR!  Josh's cousin was our guide and we trusted him to bring us to yummy town.


We laughed a lot, and talked about all the little moments in life that seemed inconsequential at the time but were instrumental in leading up to the present.  We talked about how excited we were to meet Maria and Darryl.  At one point, Ally rested her head on my shoulder and I put my head on top of hers.  It was one of those moments where you feel like "Oh.  I'm where I'm supposed to be right now."

The next day we had to go to a PixelWhipt meeting.  We hit the subway, and came to our stop.  I am considerably shorter than everyone in this story, and while Ally and Josh didn't have a problem exiting the car, I had trouble moving people out of my way.  The doors started to close, so I channeled my inner Neo, swung, and matrixed my purse in between the doors, keeping the doors open by an inch or two.  Josh and Ally never hesitated, they lunged forward, each had a door in their hands, pulled them open, and plucked me out.  They had my 5'2 back..  

My beautiful subway heroes.

We went to our meeting, met some really cool people, and went back to the hotel to meet Maria and Darryl.  We were hanging out in Ally's room when we got a text that Maria and Darryl were coming up.  To give you an idea of what a fangirl I am at heart, let me go on a little tangent for a second.  When I was in my mid 20's, I went to Disney world.  I made my friend wait on line with me for 2+ hours to take a picture with Ariel.  As we were getting closer and closer to the princess, I began to get super antsy---so much so, that I wanted to bolt from the line.  I was a twenty something year old who was too nervous to meet someone in a mermaid costume.  When my friend wouldn't let me leave the line (and had to push me forward to meet Ariel),  I could only giggle when The Sea King's daughter asked me how far I swam to meet her.  Seriously.  I'm a mess.

So you can imagine my insides when I realized I was moments away from meeting the person who had introduced me to the world of ASMR.  Ally and I started pacing, and Josh laughed at us.  There was a knock at the door, and then lots of hugging and being sort of in awe that we were there together.  There's something about being with people you trust, who understand what you're trying to accomplish, what you go through, and what you feel.  In our real lives, we don't have social circles of people who feel ASMR, or understand what we face as content creators of a new genre on the internet that is largely misunderstood.  There's so much that happens behind the scenes that can be very ugly and scary.  All of a sudden we were a group of people in the same room who understood each other in the ways that others in our real lives couldn't.  I can't describe what that feels like.  It's sort of like a sigh of relief.   

Till we meet again, Ariel.

From that moment on, we spent almost every waking moment together...and almost every waking moment was spent working.  We had  A LOT to do before our shoot day, and we walked that city like crazy gathering the props necessary for filming.  I think we thought we were going to have a lot more time to hang out and relax, but we were always hustling.  Whenever we had a spare moment (usually from being lost) we would take a couple shots of each other on our adventures.

We tried to get the Empire State Building in the background, but it was too foggy.  

Maria and Darryl look perfect while Ally and Josh get directions in the background

I borrowed Josh for a picture in front of a glamorous door.

We needed materials that were surprisingly HARD to find in NY.  As a result, we had to Macgyver some things together, and ended up walking blocks and blocks carrying baskets, 12 garbage pails, duct tape, charger plates, and a few other things...I'll tell you what they were for soon.  We were in an art store at one point, and Darryl called me from across the building.  I hurried closer to see if everything was okay.  Darryl motioned for me to come forward more, and then told me to say something.  I spoke, and the whole room echoed.  We both started laughing. You know you're an ASMRtist when you're spending your time playing with echoes instead of shopping.  :P

I need to note how charming and helpful Josh and Darryl are.  They were always looking out for us, and insisted on carrying everything for us.  Darryl is a machine and never seems to feel fatigue, no matter how much he's carrying or walking.  He offered to take my bags so many times, and I kept declining cause I am sometimes really stubborn about being self reliant.  Josh opted for a different approach---he walked in step with me and just took the bags out of my hands.  Darryl said he was going to do the same thing, but was scared I was going to think someone was trying to steal from me, and didn't want me to start swinging, hahahaha.  They are two really remarkable men with big hearts, and though you won't see them in our video, they were instrumental in its formation and completion.

The days preparing for the shoot were a bit of a blur.  It felt like the hours were just slipping away from us so fast.  Each night was spent working in Ally's hotel room on our scripts, props, and prep.  Every night we went to bed dead tired.  

These two women are 800 times more beautiful and HILARIOUS in real life.

Maria collects Feathers?  Here she is pictured with two!  :P 

One day, we found ourselves in this deli/buffet type place, and I bought some candy that looked delicious (I had never seen it before)---it was called "Happy Hippo." We went back to the hotel, and I offered everyone some.  For Maria it was love at first taste, and her joy over the hippos was so so adorable.  I want you to picture a Maria with hungry puppy eyes sitting directly next to you, staring at you and your box of Happy Hippos.  You're dying from cuteness, right?  I asked "Do you want another one?" And she gleefully exclaimed "YES!"  She enjoyed them so much that she and Darryl tracked them down after our trip was over.

Shoot day was the hardest day for all of us.  We had to leave the hotel VERY early, and we were bringing a ton with us.  Driving in New York is not my cup of tea at all.  I don't think it's something I could ever do---even just being a passenger was stressful at times, so if you live in NY and you drive, you have my respect, brave warriors.  Josh got us there with Ally's navigational excellence---and it was BEAUTIFUL.  There was a little food counter room, two bathrooms, and two filming rooms.  I think we were all a bit gobsmacked.  We film in a small area of our homes in the dead of night.  This was SO different for us.

People began to arrive...way more people than any of us knew were coming.  Even though we had constructed the role play, there were two directors and a whole crew there to help us with 360 degree filming.  Everyone was really nice, but I think all of us had a moment where we got really intimidated.  I film alone, always require multiple takes, no one is watching me, I record for hours, I don't have to memorize a script, and if  I mess up, no one else is affected---but now we had I don't know how many people depending on us to get our video done.  If we messed up, we were wasting their time.  It was pretty daunting.

We had breakfast with the crew as they spilled in, and talked about what needed to happen.  We watched the crew hang long dark curtains from the ceiling to the floor to block out the light.

Josh and Maria :P

We played in the curtains, hahaha.

The rest of our time was spent in what I call "the ramp room" (doesn't it look like a skating ramp?) while the crew built our set (so we wouldn't get in their way).  It was a good quiet space to memorize our lines, practice, and put our props together.

Darryl was our savior.  To help us save time while we tried to commit our lines to memory, he assembled all our "pillars"---Garbage cans stacked on top of each other and bound with duct tape.  He also ran lines with us and was ALWAYS a source of positivity and encouragement---which was DEF needed.  Maria and Darryl wrapped the "pillars" in lots of black fabric, and made sure they were all sturdy enough to hold our baskets filled with props, charger plates, and lit candles. We were going to be filming in a room draped from head to toe in fabric---balance was key.

"Pillars" before.
"Pillars" after.

We each had a time where our nerves got to us (except Darryl---he's a fortress, and was a glowing source of  support for everyone and never wavered in his confidence in us), and each one of us reacts differently to that pressure.  When those moments happened, we would compensate for each other.  It was like harmony, as cheesy as that may sound.  Everyone had plenty to do, but we all never hesitated to make time for each other.

I had Lyme Disease when I was young, and since that time, I have had a slight tremor in my hands (I have talked about it a couple times in my vids).  It has made it a bit difficult for me to do things like paint my nails without messing up, or put on makeup especially well unless I really concentrate.  Being so nervous exacerbated the tremor.  Maria painted my nails for me on my right hand, and Ally touched up my makeup for me.  These sound like things that aren't important at all, but they mattered to me.  A lot.

When it was time to film, I was a wreck on the inside.  The called us in, and had us each stand on our mark in front if the mic to make sure we could all be heard evenly (Ally and Maria are tall, I am very short).  One of the directors asked Ally to say something so he could listen to the audio, and Ally recited the alphabet with the professionalism of a Shakespearean actor.  I was up next.  I improvised a rap about our director in his shirt and hat.  He started to laugh, and that made me feel a tiny bit better.  Maria was up next, and that's when we  When Maria turns it on, she is made of ASMR.  She shifted into ASMR mode, and I think everyone with ASMR there got twinkly eyed.

The director and Josh adjusted the audio settings and had us do another test.  This time I rapped Community's "Donde Esta La Biblioteca?" while Ally danced and lip-synced behind the director.

Then it was time to film.  Ally's monologue was first, so Maria and I pretended to read a mystical book (one of my Shakespeare books).  I was so petrified of forgetting my lines/wasting people's time that I couldn't get my hands to do anything but clutch the book.  Maria turned into ASMaRia, and began to move her hands in gentle whispy motions.  Sometimes she would lightly pet my hair, and every so often she would pretend to show me something important in the book.  When she would do this, she'd point to a word on the page, and then quietly tell me the word.  She kept pointing to the word "bastard" and then whispering it sweetly in my ear.  I have no idea how I kept any composure between being so anxious and trying not to laugh at Maria's delicate profanity.

Sometimes we'd have to reset scenes, and we'd go sit for a brief moment outside of the curtains.  Maria had brought a bag of apples with her.  She had told us she discovered that taking a bite of an apple diminished lip smacking sounds before a shoot.  We called her fruit haul our "one bite apples" and joked about how weird the crew might think we were---on top of us doing something they didn't understand, dressed in robes, and tapping on stuff---we'd have a bunch of apples on a counter each only having one bite in them.

We did soooooo many takes, and I never became less nervous.  I spoke too fast, I think I was too loud, and I never felt satisfied with any of my scenes. Even now, I hate watching myself because I know I could have done a better job.  Josh monitored the audio and had us redo every shot that was corrupted by the noises of New York.  I liked that I was working with people who were perfectionists, and just as anal as I was about sound quality.

At the end of the shoot, people started taking pictures.  I had told Ally and Maria earlier in the day when we were realizing what a large scale project we were doing that I wasn't keen on being in photos because I didn't want people posting images of my body.   Everyone on set got together for a group photo.  Ally stood next to me and wrapped her arms---and thus her cloak---around me.  Maria stood on my other side, and did the same thing.  To anyone else watching, it looked like the three of us were just affectionately hugging each other, but they were protecting me from the cameras.  I never asked them to do that, it wouldn't have had any effect on the project (we were done), but they wordlessly did it anyway.  That was a defining moment for me.  That's when I loved them.

When it was all said and done, we had gotten up at 5am, and were leaving the studio between 10:30/11ish pm.  Shoot day was emotionally and physically demanding, and we were EXHAUSTED.

We helped clean up the set and gathered our bags together.  We had to leave the studio almost immediately after we were done cause people from Saturday Night Live were coming in to do a skit (HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!).

Ally was like a member of the crew when it was over, she helped out a ton.

We lugged all our equipment into the elevator while the boys got the car.  Maria accidentally brushed my butt with her hand, and I slowly turned around with the happiest most ridiculous grin, and excitedly said  "GentleWhispering just touched my butt." Ally facepalmed "Heather, don't make it weird!" Maria started cracking up and poked my butt again.

We drove back to the hotel in the car.  We had started the journey as friends, and I felt like we were leaving the studio as family.

This is us leaving at the end of  our shoot.

We went back to our respective rooms to change clothes so we could get dinner (even though it was prob 11:30pm by then).  As soon as I got back to my room, I started to BAWL.  I felt so low about my performance.  I put my heart and brain into making vids, and I feel so indebted to those who watch.  I didn't want to let anyone down.  We knew there were going to be people (even a few content creators) that would try to vilify what we were trying to accomplish, and/or hate for the sake of hating, and I didn't want to give them any more reasons to pan what we had worked so hard on for so long. I straight ugly cried.  I just needed to let out 18ish hours of repressed nerves and pressure.  Then I put myself back together, and went to meet the others.  Maria and Darryl opted to stay in and rest, so Ally, Josh, Josh's cousin, my friend and I went out for a midnight dinner.  We were basically zombies, but we didn't want to leave each other yet without commemorating the night.  The restaurant had this really cool feature---they let people write on their chop stick wrappers and tie them to the wall.  I took my wrapper, wrote on it, and tied it on.  It might still be there today.

They next day was our last full day together.  We all slept in, and then went out for brunch.  The food was good, the company was better, and we were all so happy to decompress.

Chicken And Waffles
Salmon and Eggs Benedict?

We decided to go to the Metropolitan Museum Of Art.  Ally fell asleep in the cab on the way there.  Once we were admitted to the museum, Maria, Darryl and I rushed forward and started touching a huge statue---and immediately got yelled at by security.  You know you're an ASMRtist when you get yelled at for feeling up precious artifacts of human history.  In our defense though, there were no boundaries put up around it, and some museums (Museum of Natural History) let you touch some of the stones...I think...I know I hugged giant rocks there, soooooo...I JUST WANT TO TOUCH THE HISTORY.  IT'S LIKE TOUCHING TIME. LET ME TOUCH IIIIIIIIT.

We got to see a couple cool sections, but we were all still so beat from the day before (and week in general) that we didn't do too much exploring.

Darryl standing in an Egyptian temple not touching anything.

We went back to the hotel and filmed a Whisper Challenge video together that had us all in tears laughing (we'll post that soon).  The we went out to a couple bars.  At one point, I fell asleep with my face flat on a table in an Irish pub.  The group had drinks while I napped.  Then we were off again.

We went to a dance club.  The club was packed, and played oldies and 80's music.  We made a little circle, and started dancing.  I don't know what you may think about the dancing skills of ASMRtists, but I can tell you that they can dance really well!  For real!  And sometimes, they get REALLY into it.  Maria, Darryl, my friend, and I were sitting on one of the couches taking a dance break while Ally, Josh, and Josh's cousin were dancing in front of us.  Ally is legit a really good dancer.  I yelled that compliment (cause the music was loud), and Ally proceeded to give me a mini lap dance, and then sat on the couch with us.  I whipped my head to Darryl and Maria with an incredulous look of joy, and squeed "I just got a lap dance from ASMRrequests!"  and Darryl and Maria high-fived/congratulated me, hahahaha.

It was a really good time.  Drinks were spilling on my feet, people were pushing us, but it was so much fun.  When "Shout" by the Isley Brothers came on, we were all jumping up and down,thrusting our hands into the air, smiling, and laughing, and I remember feeling a really content calm.  "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" described it as "feeling infinite."  We were dancing together, we were so happy to be done, and it was just...good.  It was one of those moments that you know you're going to still be able to feel years later.  It was special.

The next day we said our goodbyes.  It was an experience I will never forget, and it wouldn't have been possible without you guys.  Patreon played a huge part in funding this trip to marry VR and ASMR.  I wouldn't have been able to go without it. So thank you, patrons for allowing this to happen.  Thank you to all the viewers who made this possible by being supportive and kind, and therefore motivating me to go out of my comfort zone to try and bring you new kinds of ASMR content.  You push me to want to do better all the time.  You truly don't know the extent of my gratitude for you.  Creating content makes me happier than anything else, and you make it possible for me to create content for people I adore with people I adore.  I am SO proud of you.  I am a child of the internet, so I know how ugly it can be sometimes.  When I posted the teaser for this, you guys not only were open to the idea, you were classy and kind concerning the people who worked on it with me. I have seen viewers and even a few content creators behave maliciously and callously toward/about ASMRtists they don't watch or don't like---but you guys are such a good group of people, you didn't attack or try to demean anyone, and that is so admirably decent in my eyes.  Seeing you be kind on other channels, and being so warm on mine so often, makes me incredibly honored to call you my friends, teammates, and viewers.  You are the impressive ones, and you help and inspire me more than you will ever know.  Thank you.  <3