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Dreams, Exposed

Aspiring singer gets naked to encourage self-expression through art

Photographed by Lisa Petz/2017/Better than the Weekend

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Dreams, Exposed is an initiative to inspire others to literally expose themselves for who they are and what they truly want out of life.

Meet Jami Kali, 29, from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

What is your biggest dream? My dream is to express myself through music and to hopefully make a living doing that.

Why do you want to accomplish this goal? I was painfully shy growing up. I was the kind of girl that would hide behind my mom’s leg if anyone tried to talk to me. I feel like there were so many thoughts and ideas inside me that were always trying to scream out, but I was never able to let them out. When I was a senior in high school, I wrote a poem and I remember it felt great to have an outlet for how I was feeling inside. Now, I’m just trying to express myself any time I can through writing and performing.

How would you describe the feeling you get when you perform? Performing is an insane adrenaline rush unlike anything I have ever felt in my life. It’s similar to riding a rollercoaster. And performing is just as terrifying as riding a roller coast. I think feeling the terror, and ultimately overcoming my fear, is the best part. It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel unstoppable.

Jami Kali posed at Happy Trails Stables in Waymart, Pennsylvania. Photographed by Lisa Petz/2017/Better than the Weekend

Is it as terrifying as being naked on a horse? No. Performing is actually way more terrifying.

Have you ever posed nude before? Not professionally.

Why did you want to pose nude? I know there are many people who have trouble expressing themselves and have trouble existing in this disastrous world. People are divided. They’re scared and desperate for change, no matter what political side they’re on. I know what it’s like to struggle with expressing my thoughts. If getting naked can help me get people’s attention and impact just one person and inspire them to write their thoughts down in a poem, or a song, a short story, or through any other form of art at all, like I did when I struggled to express myself, then it would be worth it.

Photographed by Lisa Petz/2017/Better than the Weekend

How do you plan on fulfilling your dream? Any opportunity I get to express my inner-most thoughts with everyone, I take it. I express myself through performances and writing poems and short stories. I’m in a band called Kali Ma and the Garland of Arms. We’re constantly rehearsing and performing to get better and put ourselves out there.

How do you motivate yourself to take action toward a goal? I imagine possibilities as realities. That gives me the drive to keep working towards my goals.

Has anyone ever doubted you before? There was this person who used to go out of her way to knock me down and make me feel as though I couldn’t accomplish my goals. My accomplishment was her seeing me thrive. I’m not going to lie, it was hurtful discouraging at times. But at the end of the day, I wasn’t going to let her take away my strength or kill my spirit. I came to realize it’s a good thing to have haters. It means I’m important enough for someone to be thinking about me all the time — enough to actually loathe me. Once you get a hater, I think you should just keep being awesome and grow a larger arsenal of haters because they’ll keep you relevant.

Photographed by Lisa Petz/2017/Better than the Weekend

Have you experience failure? I’ve experienced failure many times. It takes experiencing failure to realize getting knocked down helps you grow as a person. There was a time when I had a different band. I allowed my emotions to get in the way of my work. The project crumbled. I initially looked at that experience as having failed. I felt like I was a failure. But I learned a lot from that experience. I learned how to work better with people and to focus on the work and not let my emotions get in the way of my goals. Now I’m a better artist and bandmate.

Do you think your dream is too big? Absolutely not. It’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger all the time.

Why does your dream matter? Dreams matter because overall there’s no big overpowering meaning in life, so we all create individual meanings that gives us something to live for. Our dreams are our individual meanings. We need dreams to stay alive.

Photos were taken on location at Happy Trails Stables in Waymart, Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

Dreams, Exposed

Man running for mayor poses nude, exposes plan to save city

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Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, 2017

Do you know the story of Lady Godiva?

According to legend, she’s a woman who hundreds of years ago daringly rode naked through her English village on a horse, only covered in her long hair, to get everyone’s attention and protest oppressive taxation. Today, her iconic demonstration inspires Gary St. Fleur, a 33-year-old millennial running a write-in campaign to be the next mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania. After pursuing a lawsuit that ruled the city was illegally overtaxing its residents, he’s baring it all in the spirit of Lady Godiva to let residents overtaxed by the current administration know they no longer have to be crippled with unjust taxes and share his dream of saving the city.

You realize people running for public office don’t pose nude, right? I have nothing to hide.

What do you want voters to know about you? My parents come from Haiti. So, being born here and knowing they moved here from the poorest country in the western hemisphere, I see nothing but opportunity in this world wherever I go. That inspires me to fight for everybody to experience the same opportunity that I know exists.

Where are you from? I’m from New York City — Brooklyn to be specific. I came here in 2015 in order to do a tech startup. I heard there were organizations such as tecBRIDGE and the Scranton Enterprise Center that would give out money for entrepreneurs in the field of technology.

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, 2017

How did your tech startup pan out? I stopped doing it when I realized I need to save the city of Scranton. When I first came to the area, I was told Scranton is the most corrupt place in America by the bartenders here, the servers, even the taxi driver. Everyone would ask me what I’m doing here and tell me I made a mistake coming here because there’s no jobs or opportunities unless you knew someone or were related to someone. So I did some research and I found that Scranton is basically stuck in a time warp. It’s 15 years behind the rest of the country. The most lucrative jobs are the government jobs. Coming from New York City, the most profitable jobs have nothing to do with the government. The most lucrative jobs in New York City have to do with the private sector — being an investment banker, being a lawyer, being an entrepreneur. If the government is on top, who’s supporting it? Who’s paying for the government to be able to have government employees doing so well if everyone else is doing so poorly?

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, 2017

Do you think you’re disconnected from the reality of the city because you’re not from here? No, that’s like saying someone is disconnected from America because they’re not from America. Just because I didn’t come from Scranton doesn’t mean I don’t share the same concerns. We rise and fall together.

What research did you do? First I looked at the city’s website. It looked like it was made in 2004. I saw there wasn’t an interest in the advances in technology that everywhere else in the country is becoming commonplace. It appeared there was no effort to promote keeping up with the times. I saw Scranton was missing out on opportunities and financial gains that come from being up to speed with technological advances, I went to city council to talk about it. I asked questions. Then I looked at the budget. I have a background in finance. When I looked at the budget, the city had absolutely no money, but the mayor keeps getting an annual raise. I went back to city council and told councilman Joe Wechsler that the city needed to file for bankruptcy. He said the city cannot file bankruptcy because the city is controlled by a political society based on Irish ethnicity. When I heard that, I was shocked. I knew I had to save the city of Scranton.

Why do you think the city won’t file for bankruptcy? They know that if a federal judge looks through their books, there’ll be arrests made. A lot of respected people in Scranton will go to jail.

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, 2017

Why should voters trust you to move the city forward? Because I didn’t wait to get into office to already do the right thing. I have been fighting for the city behind the scenes before I decided to run for mayor. I brought a lawsuit against the city where a judge found that Scranton has been unlawfully overtaxing its residents for 10 years. Who else is there to trust right now?

What is your vision for the city of Scranton? My vision for the city is for the government to not be an obstruction to the goals of the people. It should be responsive to their needs. It should facilitate their ambitions. I think Scranton could become the fastest growing city in this country with a leader who is young and up-to-date with the current trends. If the leader isn’t actively using Snapchat and Instagram on their own, how could they possibly know what’s going on in the next four years? That should alarm everyone — young and old. I don’t want to see Bill Courtright or Jim Mulligan breaking a hip trying to fix the damage of this city. I want them to sit back, relax with their family, retire, and pass the torch and stop trying to be the last one to leave the party. Bye, Felicia.

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, 2017

If there’s so many problems in Scranton, why don’t you just go back to New York City? When you have a place where everyone is at each other’s throat trying to do the next big thing, like New York City, that’s not ideal for success. There’s more opportunity for growth in Scranton if the government doesn’t get in the way of that. There are five major highways within two hours of 90 million people. This place is situated where it could be a major commercial hub. Trucks are going to drive themselves one day. Why not pioneer the first self-driving truck company here? Tesla is going to want to sell more electric cars. Amazon wants a new headquarters. Scranton needs a leader who will fight to bring innovation and corporate jobs here instead of low-paying service and retail jobs. The reason I stay in Scranton is because the people here are amazing people. No matter how corrupt or bad things are, they still strive and attempt to make it better.

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, 2017

Other than a fixing what you call a corrupt system in Scranton, what issues are important to you? The second amendment. I was told by a lot of people that if I was going to challenge the status quo in Scranton, I’d need to be armed. There has been people who have investigated this city who have died suspiciously. I need to be armed. We all need to be armed. Mass shootings can literally happen anywhere and to anyone. Whether you’re in a nightclub or at a concert or in a church. What position do you want to be in when something like that happens? A position to protect yourself or a position to die?

What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in the world? You have to do it because you care.

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Dreams, Exposed

Illegal Immigrant Gets Naked to Fight for the American Dream and Call Out Tomi Lahren 🇸🇻🙏🏾🇺🇸🗣

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Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend

Dreams, Exposed is an initiative to inspire others to literally expose themselves for who they are and what they truly want out of life.

Meet Francisco Mejia. The 27-year-old, living in Scranton, Pennsylvania, didn’t let fear stop him when he escaped unsafe living conditions in El Salvador to experience the American dream. Now, during a time when immigration reform remains a heated debate in government policy proposals, conversations with family and friends, and all over social media, the illegal immigrant exposed himself — from his body to his soul — to share insight on his aspirations and the struggles he’s faced to achieve them.

What is your dream in life? My dream is to be an American citizen and not have to fear that I could be deported.

When did you come to the United States? It was April 2010.

Why did you leave your home country? There were no opportunities there and it is really dangerous in El Salvador. Gangs took over the whole country. You have to pay them to leave you alone. If they see you own a little store or a business, they want part of that money. They send you notes, and if you don’t do what they ask you to do, they let you know that you will regret it. They’ll kidnap or kill someone from your family just to make you understand that they’re not playing.

What was your perception of the United States before you came here? It seemed like a paradise. Big houses. Everybody making lots of money. I would watch TV with families from America and there would be all that food on the table — I could never imagine all that food on my table.

How did you get into the United States? I crossed a river in Mexico. And on the other side was the U.S.A.

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend

Was it easy to cross the river? Crossing the river was so easy. But on the other side, in the U.S., they were waiting for me.

Who was waiting for you? Immigration. They drove up out of nowhere.

So you outran them? There was no way I could escape. They took me somewhere for three days. They made me sign a paper that I would go to court, and then they let me leave, but I never went to court.

They haven’t found you in almost 7 years? No. I don’t think they really care. If you’re working and contributing to society, they leave you alone. The government wants my tax dollars.

You pay taxes? Yeah. I have worked many jobs. Right now I work at a furniture store.

Did the employer require you to present paperwork? I gave them a fake social security card.

Do you think it’s fair that you can work in America by presenting a fake social security card? It’s not about being fair when it’s what I have to do to survive. That’s why I’m working in a furniture store. That’s not what I want to be doing. I want to be a veterinarian and help animals. I want to have a career that makes me feel good about myself.

Do you feel good about yourself in the social class you’re in now? No. I can barely survive. I don’t have a savings account that I’m proud of. I can’t afford college. I can’t make enough money to go to school. It’s not because I don’t like to work hard or because I’m not smart enough. It’s because I’m not a citizen and can’t get a job that makes good money.

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend

If you’re not making good money, then why are you in the United States? My opportunity is limited here, more limited than I thought it would be, but it’s still better than living from where I came.

You’re employed at a time when millions of documented citizens can’t find work. Do you feel you’re stealing work from an American? No. I work the jobs American citizens don’t want to take. If a white American citizen wanted my job, they’d get it before me. I have my job because nobody else will take it. They’d rather collect welfare than work a hard job that doesn’t pay much. That’s the ugly truth.

Donald Trump’s administration has threatened to deport non-citizens. Immigrants have been outspoken about their constant state of fear. Are you afraid you’ll be forced back to a dangerous country with no opportunity? Even if he wants to, it won’t be that easy for him. I hope Trump realizes there is bigger problems to worry about first. He needs to go create jobs and make America great again. He needs to make cities like Chicago safe. He needs to make sure people can afford to go to college and get an education. Deporting people won’t be so easy. Now if I make a mistake, that’s another story. I’m afraid of making a mistake every day that could get me deported. When I’m driving, I fear I might get into an accident and get deported. I don’t have the luxury of making a mistake and learning from it like everybody else.

Do you drive illegally, too? No. They knew I was an immigrant. They wanted two forms of ID from my home country and a birth certificate and that was enough. The government is strict on getting a green card, but they’re not strict on getting rights that can be taxed or fined, because they can collect money off of us. That’s what it’s all about. Money. Money. Money. The government doesn’t treat immigrants like people. They treat us like property.

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend

Are you afraid of being deported after exposing yourself in this article? If I do, it will mean that a lot of people paid attention to what I’m speaking out for. I just want immigrants to be accepted and have opportunity. Maybe someone who doesn’t welcome immigrants will see things through my eyes and change their opinion. Maybe someone in the government will see this and it will help them realize immigrants are people, not property.

Realistically, a lot of people are likely to have bad things to say about you. What do you want naysayers to understand about what you’re doing? We don’t just cut a line like that Tomi Lahren lady says. Where is this open line? Please show me. There’s no line to get in. There isn’t even really an effective system that helps immigrants enter the country. There should be, but in the meantime, while the government doesn’t have their heads together, we still have to figure out how to survive and create our opportunity. It sounds so easy for people like Tomi to tell us to wait in line. It looks like her life has been so easy for her. Why is she still complaining? She’s just doing that for fun and attention. She’s an attention whore. She needs to experience being fucked over like illegal immigrants so she can change her mind. She needs to realize people who hear her talk have feelings. Maybe she just needs to be fucked by an illegal immigrant so she can stop being so stiff and angry. She tells people to speak her language — maybe she should speak my language so immigrants can understand her message.

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend

Has your perception of the United States changed since you arrived? Yeah. I thought I would come here and have the same opportunities. I never thought about how I’d need papers and a social security number to be somebody here. I was young. I was only 19. I was just thinking about freedom. I wanted to experience that so much. I thought I’d be able to have a better life and money and be able to bring my mother here and give her a better life. But I couldn’t bring her here. She’s still in El Salvador. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see her and give her a hug again.

Do you think your dream of being an American will come true? I believe one day someone in the government will make it easier for people to escape dangerous places without opportunity and experience the American dream. I have hope that I will live to see this day and be a citizen. That’s why I came here. Hope.

 

 

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Dreams, Exposed

Female Trump Supporter Gets Naked to Make America Great Again

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Photographed by Lisa Petz, October 2016, Better than the Weekend

Chelsy Zelasko is the latest participant in Better than the Weekend’s initiative to inspire others to literally expose themselves for who they are and what they truly want out of life. #DreamsExposed

The 25-year-old, of Shavertown, Pennsylvania, is among countless Americans exhausted by the bizarre presidential election cycle, yet fueled by fear and unyielding American pride to have her voice heard when she votes for the 45th president of the United States on Tuesday, Nov. 8. I spoke with Chelsy, a registered Democrat, as she bared all regarding her dreams for the future of her country and explained why she believes her vote for Republican nominee Donald J. Trump will help her goals become a reality.

What is your dream for the future of America? My dream is for more people to be able to be who they are and not scrutinized by other people. People say they don’t judge, but there’s that small time frame, where everybody does judge. They decide whether or not they want to be for something or against it, and then they make that judgement. People should be more open.

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Photographed by Lisa Petz, October 2016, Better than the Weekend

You’re posing nude. You’re putting yourself in a situation where people could, and likely will, judge you. Why? As soon as people see these photos, they’re going to instantly judge me. They’re going to see this American white girl with an American flag, nude, and they’re going to think I’m trying to get attention for the wrong reasons. When people think of naked bodies, they instantly think of sex and touching and perversion and that shouldn’t be the case. They should look past that to wonder why I’m doing this. They don’t know my history. They don’t know anything about me. They probably won’t know that I have a bachelor’s degree or that I’ve donated my hair to Locks of Love because I thought some other girl needed my hair more than I do. They probably won’t know I’m a registered voter and that I’m posing in what I consider to be a beautiful art form to show gratitude for the beautiful art form that is our democracy. Being able to vote for your leader is a big deal. The media has made this election out to be like a cage fight, but the concept of voting for your president is beautiful and empowering, and that’s why I’m doing this, to remind people of that.

As a woman, you’re okay with a president who has spoken negatively about women and joked about sexual assault? Let’s be honest, just because we’re women doesn’t mean we don’t talk disgusting about men. I’ve done it before and my friends have done it before. I’ve said things to my girlfriends before like, ‘I ripped his clothes off the other night,’ or ‘I’d tie him down and fuck him.’ But it doesn’t mean I can’t be a professional outside of private conversations. We all talk or behave in some way that we wouldn’t want the world to know. I think it’s an unrealistic expectation to expect Donald Trump to fit the mold of a life-long traditional politician who has a background of treading carefully with what they say so they don’t offend anyone.

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Photographed by Lisa Petz, October 2016, Better than the Weekend

Do you think Donald Trump is a good role model for America? I don’t think Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton should have the burden of being someone’s role model. That’s a parents job to guide a person and be a role model until they’re old enough to make their own decisions. The president’s job isn’t to be our role model. Their job is to run this country, keep us safe, and boost the economy.

What reactions do you get when you tell people you support Trump? If they’re not voting for Trump, they’re appalled. I can understand someone not agreeing with my choice, but this election is different than the last time I voted, because people are outraged. They can’t grasp that a college-educated women who voted for Obama in 2012 is voting for the likes of him — simply based off of remarks he made that has nothing to do with his policies.

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Photographed by Lisa Petz, October 2016, Better than the Weekend

Speaking of policy, a lot of people say he has no policy. Can you defend a Donald Trump policy that’s important to you? He’s going to create jobs for the middle, working class by eliminating the ability to outsource jobs to other countries. He’s going to protect the Second Amendment. I don’t think it should be easy to get a gun, but I also think more of the focus needs to be on the black market backdoor sellers. Just like an addict who wants cocaine or heroin, if someone wants a gun to commit a murder, they’ll find one. He’s going to protect my right to keep automatic weapons. Some people think we don’t need them, but if an intruder is in my house who might rape me or kill me, I don’t want to shoot and miss. I don’t want the gun to jam. The more time you give someone else, the less time you have to protect yourself. Also, he’s going to make sure the people who are illegally residing in our country go to the country they came from. I feel like we just keep immigrants in this limbo of being in our country, but not being a citizen. Here’s the thing. Just because Trump wants to protect our borders doesn’t mean he doesn’t want foreigners to have a chance at the American Dream. He actually wants to protect the American Dream for the people who can follow the rules. I want him to protect my right to experience the American Dream.

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Photographed by Lisa Petz, October 2016, Better than the Weekend

What is your dream for yourself? I’d like to own my own business one day and open my own glassblowing studio.

How will Donald Trump’s presidency help your dream become a reality? He’s going to cut taxes for businesses so they can employ more American people. Less tax will allow me to reach my dream and build a team of hardworking Americans.

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Photographed by Lisa Petz, October 2016, Better than the Weekend

How would you feel if Trump loses and Hillary Clinton is your next president? I’ll be disappointed. I’ll probably have to work harder to afford healthcare and fight for my dreams. It’s not unrealistic. I just think it will be more challenging with Hillary as president. I’m not going to riot. Not all Trump supporters disrespect our democracy. I love our democracy. As much as I want Trump to win, I don’t care if a person votes for Hillary or votes for Trump. I just want to see people, especially millennials, go out and vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain about who is in the White House or what they do. Voting is a right we should take advantage of and appreciate.

 

 

 

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