WHILE some collect stamps, Frank Warren collects secrets – and he has nearly two-and-a-half million sent to him by people all over the world.
Even though he shares these secrets with the world on the website Postsecret, Warren has found that people are still eager to help him add to his collection.
And as he prepared to bring Postsecret Live to the Capital next month, he spoke to the Evening News about the art project that has mushroomed into a worldwide phenomenon.
It all started in 2004 when Warren, 48, handed 3000 self-addressed postcards out to strangers in Washington DC along with some instructions – put a secret you have never told anyone on this card, decorate it accordingly, and drop it in the post.
Soon, the anonymous secrets began to trickle back, and Warren posted them on his blog, which got 100 views in its first week, 1,000 views the second, jumping up to one million the third.
Eight years later, Postsecret, which is updated every Sunday, is one of the most popular blogs on the internet, with between six and seven million visitors a month. The blog has also spawned a number of books, and helped to keep a US-based suicide prevention hotline afloat.
He said: “I was struggling with some secrets of my own at the time and I wondered whether there were other people who felt the same way, who had secret parts of themselves they were terrified of anyone else finding out about.”
The blog has now become a full-time job for Warren, who spends between 50 and 60 hours each week looking through the 500 to 600 postcards he regularly receives.
“I never fail to find something that surprises or touches me,” he said.
“One of my favourites was a postcard that said “Before I mail a bill I don’t want to pay, I stick the cheque between my buttcheeks and fart in the envelope.
“Others are about more serious things, though that doesn’t mean they can’t have a positive message. I recently put up a secret that featured the exuberant, smiling face a woman with the caption ‘I was raped. But guess what – I’m going to be okay.’ The response to that was amazing.
“So many people who’d been through something similar said it really made them feel there was a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Warren has been holding sell-out Postsecret Live events across the US for a number of years, but this is the first time they have crossed the Atlantic.
“People can be totally honest and let go of things they may have been carrying around for years, and the experience can be extremely cathartic,” he said
“However, I realise opening up can be difficult for some people, which is why I get the ball rolling by telling some secrets of my own – but you’ll need to come to the show to hear that!”
Postsecret Live will be at the Assembly Hall on December 12.
GET IT OFF YOUR CHEST
A selection of secrets from the archive...
“I hate working as a janitor for arrogant, rich people. So I clean their computer keyboards with the toilet brush.”
“I am not a religious person. But I envy people that are.”
“I made a student repeat a grade so I could flirt with his father for another year.”
“I am addicted to PandaCam. I watch 23 hours a week. That’s the equivalent of a part-time job.”
“I am fat. I am afraid that if I were to lose weight, I still wouldn’t be beautiful.”
“People thank me for my service as an army medic but don’t know that most of the lives I saved were the enemies’.”