Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2010
The 23-year-old American has become a YouTube phenomenon… by doing little more than staring silently into a camera
What is your job?
Mostly I make internet videos and keep a blog. It isn’t really a job, but I’m getting by and doing something kind of creative.
How did you get into that?
The first one was just me messing around. YouTube was still a new website and I was just curious to see myself appear. A lot of people liked it and wanted me to make more. Most of the viewers were in Japan, which really motivated me!
How did you end up in Japan?
Several companies were inviting me to Japan, and every time I went back to America, I’d be so depressed. I’d wonder if I would ever be able to go back to Japan, and if my luck [had run] out. Finally I decided to just stay here for as long as I can. That was a little over a year ago.
You often stare at the camera. Why?
OK. So why speak only Japanese?
People watch my videos all around the world. If I started speaking English, then I’d have to also speak French, Spanish, Italian and so on. I don’t want to leave anyone out. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but right now I just do what I feel like without thinking, “It’s for this or that person.” Besides, Japanese people probably can’t understand a lot of my Japanese anyway, so it’s just noise!
How many people are watching?
About 70 million so far. I want to know why. All I know is that everyone has a different reason for watching, and unique interpretations.
Do negative comments bother you?
People act differently online because they’re anonymous. When you meet people in person, they feel pressure to be nice. Online, when someone encourages me, I know they must really, really care. The public comments are about one half kind, the other half cruel. My personal messages are more like nine out of ten positive. That makes me think that the rude remarks are a way for people to get attention from strangers for whatever reason.
You have a following among otaku. Have you encountered such fans?
From the people I’ve met, it seems like all kinds of people watch my videos and read my blog. I don’t think of otaku any differently than anyone else. As for the people who approach me, how do you tell an otaku just by looking? It’s not like Densha Otoko, where you can tell from a mile away.
What surprised you most about Japan?
Just seeing all this crazy stuff happening to myself. Sometimes I wonder if I’m dreaming. But something else that surprised me was seeing a guy eating potato chips… with chopsticks!?
The best thing that has happened has been meeting people, from fans to famous people. Everyone’s on a unique journey. The worst is getting involved with a talent agency that turned out to be really bad. Even though it’s a big, respected company, they would talk about their artists like they are nothing but money machines. Then, without giving an explanation, they said I couldn’t be friends with someone anymore. Of course I wouldn’t agree to that, and to punish me, now, when I have a project with some company, they call that company and tell them, “You can work with some of our really famous artists if you ignore her.” They even try to find out my address and the places I go often…
That’s awful… What’s coming up for you?
I don’t have anything big planned. I’m not hungry for fame, so please keep rooting for me even if it seems like I’m not getting very far. If I follow my intuition and signs from the universe, they lead to opportunities. I want to keep doing that so that I can reach my best destiny.