Woman dubbed 'ultimate human of New York' over 'priceless' life story': Why is this not a Netflix series?'
In 2010, Brandon Stanton started a photo blog with portraits and interviews of people he'd met on the streets of New York City. A decade later, Humans of New York (HONY) has exploded into a collection of stories from people from nearly 20 different countries - including former presidents - and even spawned two bestsellers.
As any avid HONY supporter would know, Stanton launched a unique 32-post project that captures a fan-favorite interview topic, Tanqueray - née Stephanie Johnson.
Tanqueray came into play in November 2019 when she was first interviewed by Stanton. She has been referred to by publications as "the ultimate New York man" for her roller coaster ride, in part as an NSFW life story - starting when she was kicked out of her house at 17 and later becoming a regular on the New York drag scene and Italian learned about gangsters who would go to the clubs where she performed.
Her story turned into a three-part series that got so much attention that even Jennifer Garner, a noted HONY fan, commented, "Why isn't this an @Netflix series?"
Almost a full year later, Stanton had a long transcription of the 20 times he sat with Tanqueray to get her life story that he wanted to turn into a podcast. But Tanqueray's health was deteriorating and she didn't have adequate care and insurance, so Stanton knew he had to post the "Tattletales From Tanqueray" on Instagram in order to get attention and hopefully raise money for her.
"Your story is priceless," wrote Stanton in the first post introducing the series. "If the show will add value to your life in the next seven days, you should be contributing to our fundraiser."
The average person has an attention span of around eight seconds. Stanton was nervous that his audience wouldn't be able to keep the momentum reading 32 posts.
“Since social media is geared towards short bursts of communication, I was initially concerned about the ability of a 12,000 word story to engage an audience over such a long period of time,” Stanton told In The Know.
The GoFundMe campaign associated with the project had a target of $ 300,000.
"My expectations were overwhelmed by the number of people who came with me for the entire trip," said Stanton. “There was very little wear and tear during the week. It really opened up the opportunity to talk longer on the blog. "
Two weeks later, the campaign raised over $ 2.5 million for Tanqueray's care, and her story was covered by multiple publications - including the New York Times - marveling at her life and the success of GoFundMe.
"I think she's taking it slowly. It's really hard to grapple with the fact that millions of people read your story and raised $ 2.65 million for you," said Stanton.
According to the GoFundMe page, “the trust will meet your cost of living and health needs in the future,” and a few more.
While she hasn't been on Instagram, Stanton said Tanqueray is very much aware of her viral story and new confidence. But fame hasn't changed her a bit.
"When I talk to her on the phone, she prefers to talk about her naturopathic regiment and the teddy bear she orders for my daughter that lights up when you press it," said Stanton.
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Humans of New York Raises $ 2.6M in Viral Sensation, Tanqueray, "Your Story Is Priceless" first appeared on In The Know.
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