Justin Ross is smart. And a do-gooder. And he likes breasts. So what, right? Well, the So What is that Justin started Boobs4BourbonSt, a website that in barely 10 days has collected almost $14,000 for hurricane Katrina relief efforts, funneling the money directly to big name charities.
The site, which went live on Sept. 8, allows those with no
money and those with little money to help disaster victims. Similar to a fundraiser once done by breast cancer charities,women and men can
either send in an anonymous (or not!) photo of their bare chest or forward a
confirmation email from a charity, assuring Justin that they have given at
least $5 to the relief effort. The $5 provides entry in the boob photo gallery, where each chest is emblazoned with "boobs4bourbonst.com," the only requirement for the photos. That, and an emphatic request for no other kind of nudity.
Justin, a 23-year-old Californian, agreed to do an IM interview with me from
his college dorm room in
Irina: So how did you come up with idea?
Justin: As much
as I'd like to take credit for the idea, it came from my friend Midnite—real
name Salli—on a gaming message board, TNRevolution.com. She and her friends said,
New Orleans is known for boobs, and guys will pay for boobs, why not combine the two, and do some good?" She posted about it, just kind of jokingly, and I thought, "Hey... I could do that." So I took the idea, and with help from a few others, we ran with it. When we hit $10,000, I called Salli. She was ecstatic. :-)
Irina: What motivated you to go from joking about it to doing it?
Justin: I'm not ashamed to say I'm not the wealthiest person on the planet. I'm a student up to my ears in debt, and this looked like a way that I could help out with the relief effort, while giving the same chance to others in my position—that is, giving them a way to help out, if they can't necessarily afford to donate cash they can donate pictures. I loved the idea, and saw that it had potential, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Irina: Have you heard any criticism?
Justin: So far,
the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We've had one piece of negative
email where the person (couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman) wrote that
our efforts could have been better applied to something more
"appropriate." The email was short and had appalling grammar and
spelling. I responded that nothing is more appropriate than raising funds for
Irina: Do you feel like they may have a point, in terms of making "light" of the suffering?
Justin: With anything like this, there are people that are going to be offended, and I can understand that. At the same time, people cope with tragedy in their own way. Our way just happens to be fairly lighthearted and entertaining.
Justin: And full of boobs.
Irina: Have you heard from anyone who'd been affected by the hurricane?