How did you come to being a host? I know that you grew up in Vancouver, Canada and didn’t have any connections within the entertainment or media community.
LC: It was really something that I never thought was possible. The internet opens up so many doors. When I was growing up there was just no way that I thought I could break into such a competitive field realistically so I thought the internet brings attention and it all came from people just reading my blog. It has such a strong Japan content, especially Japan underground that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to access themselves they asked me to show people what this world is like for these TV shows. The one that really brought the most attention early on was Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. He is such a great guy and still in touch to this day. He is a wonderful, supportive person. That was how it got started. Once you do one show more people start asking you to be on other shows too. I’ve been able to do things for programs in different countries like Norway, The Netherlands, France… I actually did that in French which was quite funny.
You speak a few different languages?
LC: Growing up in Canada I learned how to speak French. The things that you grow up learning, you never know when it might come into play later on.
Do you have a mission statement or philosophy in regards to all that you do?
LC: It’s hard to boil it down to a nutshell but, I would say I decided travel is at the forefront of everything—the concept of adventure. I feel that you can choose your own adventure. So far I want to keep pushing and to see how far things can go. When I started my site in September 2007 I never thought it could take off and grow into all of these opportunities! Every year I keep telling myself, OK I did this but I want to travel even more and I want to do all these collaborations and do all these shows. I’m hoping that I’ll be doing some more TV shows internationally, they’re in the works! If it happens that would make me really happy.
You were asked about happiness in a recent interview and you said that part of it was feeling a sense of making a meaningful contribution, what does that involve for you?
LC: I think everybody has a different way of finding that meaning. Growing up, you’ve probably read that I went to law school and that’s a great way to make a contribution but, it wasn’t for me. I feel like making a contribution boils down to, in essence, what you have uniquely to offer. I was always part of artsy, eccentric subcultures of the world from the time I was a little artsy kid growing up and going to my first Goth club. For me I feel that my contribution is creating a space with my blog and all of my appearances and what not, where young people can see it’s ok to be different, it’s ok to want to be part of alternative lifestyles and alternative fashion, and you can find the world later on. A lot of people growing up feel very isolated like I did but there are people out there that will accept you and you can be a part of something big.
I know you get a lot of emails from readers of your blog that feel marginalised because of what they wear and their style; what is one of the most touching emails you’ve received?
LC: It’s the long emails that really get me. People write these three page essays. I love how some of them are so shy, they say that they read my blog but have been too scared to comment but they just had to write me an email because what I do and what they see my friends do help them get through tough times—that really hits me hard. If I know that my blog has made someone out there feel a little bit better than that’s as big a contribution that I can make.
In your own life have you ever felt discrimination?
LC: Absolutely. Discrimination can take many forms, it’s not necessarily just race or sex, often it can be how people perceive you just because you dress differently because you identify with a subculture. You face judgement every day. I’ve found so much strength in my friends, some of them are so much more out there than I am with the way they dress and the hoops they had to jump through to be accepted by their families. It still happens every day but, I think I’ve created a world where people are realising that there is something unique and powerful here, especially with all these people joined together. I feel like everyone is finding a bit more strength in that these days.
Are your parents supportive of all that you do?
LC: Oh absolutely! Of course at first I had to in a way prove myself because in the early days with blogging being so new, nobody knew where it would go. They can see that things are going well and that I have these really meaningful and eye-opening experiences around the world and there is nothing better than that.
You’ve been involved for so many different campaigns that raise awareness for different causes. One that was especially amazing was the NoH8 campaign (pictured below).
LC: That is very close to my heart. I was helping take NoH8 to Japan for the first time but the week before we were supposed to bring it there the earthquake happen so it got cancelled. I met the NoH8 team in L.A. I had heard about them for a while before through my friends. It’s something that I thought was just such a powerful visual statement and such a great message it’s about anti-discrimination of any kind. It was something that I just had to take part in. It was one of the best photoshoot experiences that I had, as soon as everyone stepped into the studio everyone was talking and were friends immediately; they said wanted to bring me to Japan to do more stuff. I have the photo hanging on my wall. I’m looking at it now.
Being such a public figure along with all the great things that happen you must get the bad as well; how do you deal with haters?
LC: It’s just part of life and happens to every person. No matter what you do or how you do it there will always be someone out there who may not like it. It hasn’t stopped me from doing exactly what I want to do though.
Other projects you‘ve done included designing a Hope t-shirt collection and a Swarovski panda necklace (pictured below) with funds raised going to earthquake and tsunami victims.
LC: It was such a horrible experience, the earthquake happened and I wasn’t here but a lot of my friends were in Tokyo and nobody knew what was going on or what they should do. I helped one of my friends evacuate to Los Angeles. As soon as we were there we got into action, it was the only thing that we could do. We put our energies into doing these charity campaigns for Japan. In Los Angeles we did fund raising at several stores. We phoned up all the people that we knew including these fashion brands and said, let’s do something for Japan! It was wonderful how they were on board right away. So that’s how the t-shirt line happened with a Japanese label called Hope Atmosphere as well as the Soho Hearts Panda Bear necklace.
Having so many friends in Japan and being so connected to the place; I wanted to ask you, how things are going over there at the moment? You don’t hear about what’s happening so much in the mainstream media now.
LC: Everyone is pushing on. If you go to Tokyo everything seems fine, it’s business as usual, there isn’t a sense of fear. I myself have been to Tokyo two times for TV shows since the earthquake and it’s pretty much been the same atmosphere as usual. At the same time, I know people are still concerned about the lasting effects. It’s so hard to say what’s true in the news, you hear very different reports. I definitely still think Japan still needs a lot of support, there’s a lot of rebuilding to be done even if people don’t hear about it anymore in the media or see it on the surface.
In all of your travels what’s one of the most heart-warming or touching things that you have encountered?
LC: I would say it was the time I went to Fukushima. I went there July last year because it was one of the locations for a TV show that I was working on. The story wasn’t about the earthquake but it was something else that happened to be in Fukushima. I went there and had no idea what to expect, I wasn’t afraid of the radiation, I felt if I was only there for half a day it will be fine. I was more concerned about the effect that it would have on me and it was a very lasting effect just seeing the children in the streets and seeing people do their business as usual but you could see little signs everywhere that things weren’t the same. You could see roofs in disrepair, if you looked closely you could see that a lot of the stores where a lot emptier. It really hit home with me that this horrible scary thing had happened. You just don’t know what the future effects will be for all these people, all for these human beings here.
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