All this time I’ve been workin’ them angels overtime
Riding and diving and flying just over the edge
~ ”Workin’ Them Angels,” N. Peart ‘07
I’m not like them, but I can pretend
The sun is gone, but I have a light
The day is done, but I’m having fun
I think I’m dumb, but maybe I’m just happy
~ ”Dumb,” K. Cobain ‘93
Nothing good comes easy.
~ My mother, late 70s through early 90s
Monday, 9/10/12 9:04 A.M.
Astor Place Starbuck’s, sitting at a window
There’s quite a cross-section of people at the Astor Place subway station. Lots of folks heading to work. In and out-of-towners. Hipsters and students. Hipster students. I see I’m not the only guy growing his hair. The East Village will do that to you.
Ö Ö Ö
I’m not religious. I dabbled in it for about a minute, way back when, but it didn’t take. That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith – it’s just not that kind of faith.
It’s the faith that I won’t get hit by falling debris when I’m walking on a sidewalk; that some crazy gunman won’t choose today to launch his “Astor Place Starbuck’s Massacre;” or that the woman next to me won’t turn around and accidentally spill coffee on my laptop.
As he remembers to save document.
It’s the faith that my bell would ring, on party nights. The faith that guys will join my site and buy videos. And that other hosts will post their events.
There’s a line between being appropriately safe and...well...wearing a friggin’ helmet everywhere we go. Sometimes we need to take chances. Seems the greatest rewards come with the greatest risks.
The kinds of risks I used to take were getting to work late (again), not filing my taxes, or smoking cigarettes. These days, it's in the form of a website. The risk is that no one will visit the site, that none of the videos are sold or not enough to support myself.
That is a very big risk, but it’s a risk worth taking because I’ve set myself up for this step, with the time and effort I’ve dedicated to the party industry and the supportive people in my life. Not to mention Lexapro.
This site offers up a whole new set of challenges. Downloading large video files, payment transactions, members’ ability to navigate the site. Just yesterday, my server, GoDaddy, was compromised by a hacker, so the site wasn’t even available most of the afternoon. I’m now in the process of switching servers.
When I was first confronted with having to come up with a new, post-party-hosting occupation, I explored three different options, which I turned into a poll in this blog: writing a book (31%), filming couples privately (21%), or filming other parties for DVD sale (46%). Ironically, I didn’t go with any of those. Rather, I chose a fourth option: launching the party website I’d had in mind for a couple of years.
Ö Ö Ö
Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows that I tend to quote the band Rush a lot. It’s the closest thing to religion I’ve ever really had, a fan for 34 years. They’ve inspired me in myriad ways, but the way that’s most relevant here, on this blog and for the kinds of things I write about, is faith in oneself.
Back in the 70s, bands prodigiously produced an album up to once or even twice per year. There was no internet, nor massive advertising campaigns (at least not like we’ve got, today), so bands had to tour, write, record, and tour s’more. Their first album, in ’74, was pretty basic rock and roll, more or less copying the likes Led Zeppelin. They toured the shit out that record and got some modest airplay. Their second album, in ’75, was more musically and conceptually ambitious. They started to “stretch out,” writing and playing more challenging material. It went over well, and their fan base began to rise, so their record company was happy.
Their third album was also released in 1975. The band were super proud of it and excited to present it to the rock-listening world. They took their musicianship and brains to a new level, commiting an entire album side to one concept song. Before its release, they sat in a van with one of their close friends, Paul Stanley of KISS (they used to tour together). After the tape ended, he simply said, “I don’t get it.”
Neither did most anyone else with a pulse. They went from headliners, back to warm-up acts. The shows they did headline weren’t well attended. Their road crew went as far as to calling it the “down the tubes” tour. Further, their record company insisted that they revert to producing more basic rock. Rush’s managers, also in their early 20s, promised the “powers that be” that that’s exactly what Rush would do.
When presented with this edict, Geddy, Neil, and Alex decided that they’d rather fail with their best effort, than succeed with someone else’s idea of what they ought to be. They went back into the studio and, unbeknownst to their record company, and with a full dose of pissed off, they produced an even more conceptually ambitious record: 2112.
2112 not only launched their arena-playing career and put them smack dab in the middle of the proverbial map, it also told their record company to shut the fuck up.
It served notice.
From that point forward, Rush have always produced material that challenged and turned themselves on, merely hoping it’d be enough to sustain their careers. They are continually surprised, if not perplexed, that the fans keep coming back in droves. We come back because we love what they produce, but also because we admire their tenacity and belief in themselves, never giving in to outside pressure, even while most of us must.
And so, I Believe.
Ö Ö Ö
Now it’s time for me to gather up all the lessons I learned over the course of hosting 400+ parties, and apply them to this new experience.
First of all, I need to remain patient and persevere. Having a website does not entitle me to a user base, it is just the platform. As with my party email list, it takes time to gain larger numbers. I expected the user base to grow quickly, at the outset, but that was because I wasn’t heeding my own lessons learned. Fool! It really does take time.
Secondly, it ain’t cheap. It’s one thing to be prudently economical, but it’s quite another to expect to succeed without it hurting the wallet. And building the new site has certainly accomplished that!
Then there’s the site, itself. Is it desirable enough for visitors? I’ve tried to make it like most of my life these days: streamlined, clean, and uncomplicated, yet nice to reside in for a little while. The aesthetics of the site, the branding, is something I’ve been developing for a few years. If you peer through my blog posts, from the beginning in 2010, you’ll see how it’s changed.
Advertising the new site is probably my biggest challenge. The most obvious way is direct email. I’ve got a huge list of email addresses, active and inactive. The thing for me is to never be one of those entities which spams. I can’t stand spam – spam I cannot stand. It’s so disrespectful of the individual, so greedy, not giving whit about whether the potential consumer actually wants to read the message. To that extent, I am not marketing to the guys who’ve requested off my list, but I will send an email to the guys I de-listed because they hadn’t come to a party in a year or so. I also wear my TÖG t-shirts and have “donated” two of the six videos to The Eagle, a leather bar which shows porn. I also must hand out cards at parties, again. I’ve yet to graduate to ad placement. Marketing is very much a work in progress.
Another big lesson I’ve learned is to try to be kind all of the time. This isn’t always easy, but it’s important enough for me to try. No matter how my day has gone or whether I took my Lexapro, or even how many questions someone asks, I’ve got to try to keep a cool head and a smile.
I’m not living in a vaccuum.
But the most important lesson that I’ve learned is that I can be successful doing things my way. Manhattan is very unforgiving and it only wants people who are strong enough to withstand all sorts of pressures, including change. Living here, and particularly living without roommates in an exclusive area, is difficult. Having been able to manage this has been no small feat, and it’s helped me to realize that I actually can succeed.
Please use the site. And remember to keep your faith. Thanks so much.
The Örgy Guy