Imaginary Pen Pals: Alex Kazemi On Why He Started The Advisor, A Hub of Handwritten Letters by Male Icons

text by Alex Kazemi

Most of my life I felt ashamed by the creative impulses I had. And yet something forced me to follow them. I didn't think writing made me cool or different, and I never took pride in it. I felt like a freak. I felt embarrassed. I was horrified by anyone who identified as an “artist” or “creative”. I spent hours doing drugs to high away but I still came back down hearing the same old song. Every time I tried to slash the beast, he just grew another head.  Every night before bed, I used to pray someone would cut off my fingers so I could never write again. I wanted to trap this demon in a mason jar, drop him in the ocean and watch him sink to the bottom, but the more I resisted, the more angels would come by to drop presents into my brain tied off with a feeling that is like seeing a new color for the first time every time my fingers hit skin, paper, or keyboard. I wrote all the time. Everywhere.

One of the scariest moments of my life was the morning I woke up and walked to my bathroom mirror only to see writing all over my legs and arms.  I thought, “If this is the life of a writer - I do not want this. I do not want life at all.” I never tried suicide, but I talked about it obsessively on chatrooms and message boards from ages 13 to 20. Mostly with other dudes who were dealing with their own neurosis but as I spoke to more and more depressed people, I learned that we all had one thing in common: Fear.  Fear of accepting our own individual truths. There were days I was so exhausted by my own brain to the point I wouldn’t talk at all. Total Mute. If everything I look at is causing a new idea, if every conversation I hear is creating dialogue, if everything I see needs to be preserved, what is the point? Was I put on this world to be a servant to detail and novelty? “How am I supposed to relax? How does one get to the other side of the glass? I need to be on the other side of the glass.” I couldn’t talk about what was going on with me without sounding like a delusional grandiose OCD teen that just discovered Kurt Cobain - so I felt isolated.   Who was there to reach out to?  Other artists, my imaginary pen pals.  I spent hours and hours reading and watching interviews of iconic male artists discussing their processes. Even if they didn't know it, these people saved my life, they let me know I wasn’t crazy, they let me know that they deal with the exact same bullshit I do but all in a different and individual way. They hate it, they love it, they want it to end, they want it to start again. 

I wanted to start The Advisor, a monthly digital gallery of handwritten letters dedicated to young men out there, so they can have a place to see creative men side by side and read their uplifting letters of inspiration that let you know that every artist has their own path, and no path is the right or wrong path. There is no set way to doing things, and you shouldn’t be ashamed for being the only one who can understand your language. 

Officially launching today, The Advisor is a new digital platform that features handwritten open letters penned by contemporary male icons to young men, curated by Alex Kazemi. Published once a week, the site debuts with letters from Richard Kern and Bruce LaBruce. Later contributions will original writings by a bevy of pioneering heroes such as Marcel Castenmiller (04.08), Rad Hourani (04.15), Justin Tranter (04.22), and NABIL (04.29). Visit The Advisor here