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The Unpoppable Molly Balloons: Inside the World of Balloon Artistry

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I’m on the phone with Molly, a twenty-something from Kansas City, and I have to apologize that I had one too many Manhattan’s at lunch. I’m a little buzzed and I want to make sure I’m not speaking too loudly into the phone.

“I’ve been so busy, I can’t remember the last time I had a full drink,” I shout. “I’m a total light-weight at the moment.”

“I love that about you,” she asserts in relief. “I’m making myself a cocktail right now.”

In no time, I hear Molly slurping a coconut-flavored LaCroix indelicately laced with vodka. Next thing I know, we’re talking about balloons.

And it wasn’t the alcohol talking. Her name is Molly Balloons — maybe not according to the government but it is on Facebook and that’s all that counts, right? She’s a balloon artist who hustles a full-time living providing unforgettable experiences accompanied by rubber sacs filled with air — from birthday surprises and corporate events to standing on stilts in a Christmas tree dress on Good Morning America and inflating the hype of a mall opening in Katar, which she admittedly couldn’t find on a map to save her life. As Molly’s unique passion is about to reach its first six-figure-income year, she’s literally blowing up. Her craft is unstoppable. Spirit: unpoppable. And her message is motivating AF.

Molly says the place responsible for her first professional gig in balloon art is the same place responsible for the first 15 pounds I gained after high school: Chic-Fil-A.

“I actually cold-called Chic-Fil-A when I was in high school and I lied to them. I was like, ‘Hi, I’m a local professional balloon artist. Would you like to hire me as an attraction to help bring families in?’ And they said yes to that, to which I said, ‘Oh fuck. What am I going to do now?'”

She faked it until she made it. When someone asked her for a cat balloon animal, she presented them with a dog. But she improved. By the end of senior year, Molly found herself graduating from balloon pets to designing an inflatable homecoming dress.

After homecoming, Molly didn’t stop adding balloons to her wardrobe — whether it was at a party …

… a red carpet …

… or at the beach!

Molly admits she continued with balloon-making because it helped her fall in love with herself.

“I was always bound to do something with visual performance art,” she says. “I was my high school mascot. I was a tap dancer. I made ceramics and origami. I was in an award-winning barbershop quartette. Making balloon art my career was less me falling in love with balloons, but balloons making me fall in love with all of the things I loved about myself. Balloons enabled me to dance around that entire spectrum of performing arts.”

The more vodka Molly is soaking up, the more philosophical our conversation is getting. She explains that her unconventional career is her way of reminding people life is a celebration, not a grind.

“If I make you a balloon hat at a party, you’re not going to wait to wear it,” she tells me. “You’re going to wear it now because you know it’s going to pop or deflate. You’re going to take this moment right now to appreciate its humor and enjoy it. It brings us back to the now and appreciating the moment. People are so easily distracted by work or school or Pinterest or whatever. I love that people exist with a way of living in the moment when it comes to balloon art.”

My phone conversation is Molly is coming to an end. We’re both sobering up, but I’m left with an intoxicating understanding. For a moment, I’m forgetting about all of the issues that are dividing me and my friends and family — basically gun control and the Trump presidency. I actually connected with someone based not on the tribal bearings of my beliefs, but the universal joy and free-spirited finesse Molly induces that reminds us there’s more that unites us in life than separates us.

That’s what art does.

That’s what Molly Balloons does.

P.S. Follow Molly Balloons on Instagram @mollyballoons and Snapchat @mollymunyon to catch her vibe and see more of her art.

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Rory Kramer: The Realest Daredevil There Ever Once Was

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Photo courtesy Rory Kramer

Rory Kramer is driving to Venice, California to pick up his Jeep before moving into a new place. The star of MTV’s docu-series “Dare to Live” and personal videographer to some of the most famous artists on the planet, such as Justin Bieber and The Chainsmokers, isn’t moving into his own place, however. Even though he has his own TV show, the 33-year-old is couch surfing at his friend Drew’s for the next month — that’s Drew Taggart from The Chainsmokers.

“I told him a month, but I’m probably going to be there for six months or until he hates me,” Rory jokes during our nearly one-hour phone conversation.

If you’ve yet to be schooled on who Rory is, get familiar now. He’s the ultimate daredevil disguised as a beach bum. Don’t let that optimistic smile fool you, either. Behind his long, untamed hair and beneath a fearless lust for adventure lies a deep, complex, often insecure guy.

Photo courtesy MTV

Rory’s social media posts and YouTube videos capture him through every possible raw emotion people feel when they’re really alive and experience life to its fullest potential — from overcoming fear when swimming with sharks in Hawaii and genuine surprise from jumping up and down on the MTV Video Music Awards red carpet to doubt from feeling creatively blocked at times and depression after news that tearing his ACL will require six months of recovery following surgery.

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Perhaps that’s why some of the most influential celebrities hire him to capture raw moments in their lives; because he’s relatable. Rory is not only the guy everyone wants to be, he’s the guy everyone is — and he’s making his own influence on the world.

I HOPE YOU DIE…ARRHEA

I’m curious about the first time Rory ever ever picked up a camera. He tells me he was inspired by stupid shit he used to do with his friends growing up in his hometown of Tell City, Indiana. Population: 7,323. He’d document their debauchery.

“I made this skateboarding video. We called it ‘Losers, I Hope You Die…arrhea.’ I thought it was the funniest thing ever,” Rory says. “This was back before there weren’t viral videos and social media. That video went viral in my small town, though. Every parent hated me. The teachers didn’t want to be associated with me.”

Today, it’s not considered trouble to archive revelry with your closest friends; it’s normality. For Rory, making videos is about more than just Likes and attention. He shares his life with epic production quality to relate to that kid whose adventurousness was mistaken as delinquency. Sharing his life is his form of expression.

“My videos allow me to say what I want. Sometimes I can be shy and reserved. When I’m making a video, it’s the only time I can say whatever I want and no-one has control over what I am going to do,” Rory explains. “The older I get, the more I realize life isn’t going to be perfect. You’re going to have your ups and downs. Sharing my life is very important to me because whether I’m having an amazing day or I’m going through something, I am able to connect with somebody on the other side of the world and might be able to unlock something in them.”

RUN IT!

Rory eventually followed in the footsteps of what so many others do when their creativity is misunderstood in small towns. He moved to Hollywood with hopes of becoming the next Johnny Depp. When a connection lead him to a temp job that transitioned into a full-time corporate gig, he soon woke up a 30-year-old passionless, depressed corporate zombie, cemented in a grind of clocking in at the same time every day and tracking vacation time. 

Then he met a girl.

“When she moved out [to Los Angeles] all my free time was spent going out, showing her around, adventuring,” Rory says. “I fell back in love with exploring and making videos again.”

Rory tells me he realized he’s better when he’s on the move. So, he quit his job to pursue filmmaking and share his visions with the world. His motto when faced with fear of uncertainty became “Run it!”

“Once I say Run it!, it’s game on,” Rory says. “It’s my way of dealing with fear and being insecure. It can range from asking a girl out to jumping off a cliff to filming on a stage in front of people. Sometimes you get in your head and say you can’t do this. Saying Run it! is a way to mentally remind myself that I could do anything.”

Instagram

FEED YOUR SOUL VS. YOUR BANK ACCOUNT

Rory has more than half a million followers across social media who turn to him for motivation to live their best lives.

Some have went as far as to ink his slogan on their skin.

Instagram

A lot of people turn to him for advice on how to take action to pursue their dream.

Rory tells me quitting your job isn’t always the answer.

“Once you start making money off your passion, it becomes your job. I love making videos, but at the end of the day, I have to be very careful about what to accept to do,” Rory says. “I try to accept jobs because it makes my mind question things and inspires me. Whatever you do in life, have it feed your soul versus your bank account.”

Rory says it’s not necessarily a bad thing to not make an income from a hobby, as long as free time is taken advantage of to enjoy a passion.

“Most people work 40 hours a week,” Rory explains. “There’s a lot of other free time — weekends, after work, before work — to create what you love and what you’re passionate about. As soon as work was over, I’d be up in Malibu hiking. When a lot of people leave a job they’re not passionate about at the end of the day, they go home and watch TV or get drinks with friends. I do that, too. But if you want to pursue music or writing or whatever, take the time you’re not at work to put your heart and soul into it.”

The entire first season of “Dare to Live” is available to stream on MTV.com right now.

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Why Camp No Counselors Founder Adam Tichauer Is the Godfather of Adulting

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PHOTO COURTESY CAMP NO COUNSELORS

Adam Tichauer is the dude who will make you want to adult today.

Adam Tichauer, founder of Camp No Counselors.

Remember that wholesome face in case you ever see him out in public. If you happen to, you need to buy him a drink and shake his hand. Here’s why. He’s the founder of Camp No Counselors, a sleep-away camp for grown-ups, which turned a nostalgic adolescent experience into perhaps the most genius startup operation of the decade. Just imagine a remote place in the mountains where sex, bottomless booze, sports, lip-sync battles and late-night partying is not only welcomed, it’s celebrated with a fucking high-five and chest bump. Sounds like heaven, right?

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In just three years, Camp No Counselors has seen breakneck success at such a remarkable rate that Adam boldly turned down an investment offer from Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank.” Almost 10,000 adults experienced Adam’s wonderland of epic fun at more than 40 camps across the USA and Canada — including Better than the Weekend’s staff — and business is only expanding. Camp No Counselors’s recently rang in 2018 with its first-ever New Year’s Eve warm-weather getaway camp in Malibu, complete with a wine-tasting safari ride, surf lessons, goat yoga, and a ton of liquor, duh!

Photo courtesy Camp No Counselors

Photo courtesy Camp No Counselors

Adam told Better than the Weekend his legendary creation happened by accident. It was 2013 and the then 30-year-old was running a music tech company in New York. When the grind consumed him to the point where he realized he hadn’t connected with some of his closest friends in months, he decided to do something gnarly about it.

“I found myself working on July 4th weekend. The Fourth of July is about getting out of the city and barbecuing and having some beers with your friends and just forgetting about work, but I was doing the exact opposite,” Adam said. “So, for the next long weekend, which was Labor Day weekend, I wanted to organize some kind of event where we would get out of the city and I would see my friends and we would barbecue and have some beers and forget about work.”

Adam figured out the perfect outlet to let off some steam — summer camp! Growing up, camp was the time of year he’d look forward to the most. So, he called around and found a camp only a few hours north of Manhattan that would allow him and his closest friends to stay and experience the same fun he had at camp as a kid, with a lot more freedom! The weekend was such a success, that his friends, and there friends, and there friends’ friends, had a winter camp at a ski lodge in Vermont.

“Some fairly influential people in the tech world were there and they asked, ‘Hey, this was the best weekend of our lives. Can you organize one of these in the summer for me and my friends?'” Adam said. “That’s when the lightbulb went off. If cutting-edge people want me to organize one of these for them and their influential friends, then maybe this is a service people really need and they would pay for and value.”

Photo courtesy Camp No Counselors

And people are valuing the lively separation from reality — but you’ll never know what they’re escaping. The only rule that stands strong is to not talk about what you do for a living. (So no need for a disguise.)

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“As a thirty-something, you meet someone at a bar and you say, ‘What do you do?’ And then you think, ‘Okay, I get you. I know who you are because of what you do’,” Adam noted. “I found when you remove your work identity, you are able to become whoever you want to become, and then you can make friends based on your interests like when you were a kid — not your preconceived notion of what an investment banker likes to do on his free time. As a kid, you didn’t do anything for a living, except have fun and make friends based on similar interests.”

I know, that quote has me thinking Adam Tichauer 2020, too.

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Disconnecting from who you are is perhaps more important now than ever.

“Back in the day, when you didn’t have the newspaper in front of you, you didn’t think about what was going on in the world. When you weren’t at work, you didn’t have to think about work,” Adam said. “Now, we’re getting constant real-time notifications of what’s going on in the world, or e-mails from your boss, even if it’s after work hours. There’s very few times you can shut that off and just have space and not have to worry about what real-time, negative notifications are coming through your phone next.”

Thank God, whoever he or she may be, for the godfather of adulting.

Registration for this year’s camps is now open. Just click right here and thank us later!

We’ll see you there! (We just won’t tell you what we do. Too many cups of beer to chug and flip!)

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These Brooklyn Roommates Started a Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Museum in their Hallway

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Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

Bert and Ernie may appear to be the epitome of roommate goals, but their moment was outdone the day best friends Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen turned their apartment’s hallway into a museum tributing Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.

Sorry, Bert. Sorry, Ernie.

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To this day, their has never been an incident like Tonya and Nancy’s in the history of sports. On January 6, 1994, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked with a baton to the knee — the day before a championship that would decide who qualified to move on to the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. It turned out the assaulter was hired by Jeff Gillooly, the ex-husband of her opponent, Tonya Harding.

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Though Tonya claims her innocence in the premeditation of the violent attack, the court of public opinion has been questioning her involvement for more than 20 years — solidifying the scandal’s impression on popular culture.

Matt and Viviana told Better than the Weekend the idea of curating a museum centered around Tonya and Nancy started as a joke.

“We had just watched a documentary called The Price of Gold,” Matt said.

“We both had a memory of what had happened, but both remember Nancy Kerrigan portrayed by the media as this ice princess and Tonya as this white trash,” Viviana added.

The documentary featured interviews with Tonya, portraying the skater as a sympathetic, working-class girl with an alcoholic mother, strong work ethic and record-breaking talent.

After watching the doc, their perspective of the incident changed and they were reminded Tonya and Nancy were fascinating aside from the scandal.

“We wanted to highlight them as strong female athletes, because when it comes down to it, that’s what they are,” Viviana said.

The project started with a Kickstarter asking for $75 to help them blow up pictures of the Olympians. But then people started reaching out with artifacts and fan art.

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

More than 20 artifacts were collected for the exhibit, including scoring sheets from the arena where Nancy was attacked, signed head shots of the skaters purchased on eBay and a TV Guide featuring an interview with Nancy that was signed by the interviewer. There’s even decoupaged Wheaties boxes with Tonya plastered on them, which were supposed to be sold but were never released due to the incident.

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

Matt and Viviana welcomed more than 1,000 spectators into their apartment between 2015 to 2017 to witness the unique exhibit before moving the project to a storefront deemed the THNK1994 Museum.

What started out as a joke evolved into a full-time career path of turning tabloid stories into works of art.

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

“We try to focus on exhibits that look at women who are really confident and torn down about that and celebrate them while also giving a platform to LGBT artists,” Viviana said.

The THNK1994 Museum has also featured exhibits on the Olsen twins hiding from the paparazzi, Nicole Richie’s 2007 Memorial Day BBQ, Kim Cattrall, and The Real Housewives pointing fingers. 

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

General admission to the Brooklyn museum is $6 per person, $3 for students. Year-long memberships start at only $30.

Matt says it’s necessary for the besties to show the world that just because something seems funny and absurd doesn’t mean it can’t be taken seriously.

Amen to that!

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

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