Thursday, May 25, 2006

Meet Luis

This is Luis and like myself he interviews random people. Luis approached my friend Aileen and I inside the Anglo Mania British Fashion Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Handing Aileen a notebook he asked her to write an anonymous short story about a dating experience in New York City. Luis, who is publishing a book, has conducted over 2,028 interviews with women in Manhattan over the past ten months. He intends to reach his goal of 2,500 stories in 365 days. The Kiss and Tell Project © is sponsored by Moleskine®, Kodak® and Starbucks®, pending a grant from the National Endowment For the Arts and has raised the interest of three book publishers. The book will consist of women's intimate stories about lust, love, and relationships accompanied by Luis's photography. Luis revisits the locations where he has interviewed when no one is around and takes photographs. “I have pictures from all over the city but you don’t see a single soul in any of the photographs. For example you will see a club and it will be completely empty. The point is that everybody has a story and the story that you may share is private but the location where you do it is very public because we all share common space in New York City.” Luis only conducts interviews in New York because he enjoys the perspective of the city and feels that the stories would be more traditional elsewhere.

Luis makes his living as a casting director and fashion photographer, a world he finds very superficial. As a result he felt the need to conquer the reality of the human experience. He choose relationships, dating and sexuality, topics he says that by in large people have in common whether it be a heartbreak or a successful romance. He also confesses that he was a total womanizer when he first started the book. "I dated a lot. I was not quite shy about sex. Love was different though, even though I always dreamt of being in love. Sex was much more accessible, especially in Manhattan. Love was not there. Or maybe I was not finding it because I would look for it in strip clubs, in casting rooms, in clubs, in modeling agencies--anywhere where I could feel exclusive. Also, I must add that I have always been intrigued by it. It did not seem weird but rather, intriguing."

Luis is now in a full-time relationship with his girlfriend Kimberly. "Doing this project when I was single was much easier because I did not feel emotionally drawn to being with Kimberly," says Luis of his relationship. "I would just be a city nomad. But having Kimberly is the best thing that has happened to me since the woman in Miami told me, "hey, I can't find the man I was with. Want to go to my hotel?"

Some days Luis spends the whole night wondering around Manhattan collecting interviews and other days he will just spend ten minutes on his way home from work. “The point is that everyday I get a different story.” Luis has no inhibitions when it comes to interviewing people regardless if his subject is in a club or standing next to a huge boyfriend. “It doesn’t matter, I’ll go after the story.” When he was in college he wrote a successful column that often included stories about dating and sexuality. He chose not to give me the name of the college he attended because he does not want to give them credit.

Luis does not believe in destiny or soul mates. "Different people serve a different purpose in peoples lives at certain times." He says that essentially his project is among other things about being able to let go, one page at a time.

To learn more about Luis's project visit his blog at
<Naked In Manhattan

Outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met)
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View from the top of the Met
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Aileen and I at the Met
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1 comment:

kissandtell said...

I really like your piece. Thanks a lot. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to write about me. As it turns out, as time passes us, we are all related. We all have something in common with one another. In an age of severe disconnection from the simplicities of "real life," your project (perfectly called Meet a Stranger) cleverly and effffortlessly puts a spin on what life is all about.

So, what is life all about?