This could be either the most purr-fect fundraiser ever — or a total cat-astrophe.
A trio of New Yorkers has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $15,000 for HousingWorks, the NYC nonprofit that offers a “healing community of people living with and affected by AIDS.” But that just scratches the surface: If they hit the goal, they will subject themselves to watching the 2019 movie musical and box-office bomb “Cats” for 24 hours straight.
“I am the moron that started it,” Astoria resident Stephen Kendall, 35, tells The Post of the collaboration with friends Kristopher Imperati, 32, a human resources generalist from Harlem, and Emily Lind, 36, a Brooklyn resident who hosts the “Star Wars” podcast “Canto Bight Dispatch.”
Kendall, a college advisor and health professional, says the idea popped into his head Friday while seeing the Robert Downey Jr. movie “Dolittle” with Lind.
“Yeah, we make good choices,” says Kendall, laughing. “Emily and I have been talking about what would be a creative project to do together.” He suggested it would be “funny” if they all watched the furry flop for a full day.
“She said, ‘This is a really bad idea,’” Kendall adds. “I was like, ‘What if we set if at $15,000, $20,000 — something that we’ll never reach?’”
With that, the “debacle” was set — and they’re not kitten around. On the GoFundMe page, the trio even outlines how the viewing session would play out:
- They will watch CATS on a loop for 24 hours.
- They are only allowed to take breaks during the credits.
- They can have friends come by to join them at any time, as long as they are watching CATS.
- Talking over the movie is allowed.
- Every cent raised will go to Housing Works.
- They will live stream themselves watching CATS.
“We really thought this was just going to be friends giving a couple hundred bucks and calling it a day,” Kendall says. But at this story’s publication time, the campaign had raised $1,035 from 31 donors, as well as support from HousingWorks management.
“We are enjoying these supporters’ unique and fun approach to fundraising,” HousingWorks Creative Director Elizabeth Koke told The Post via email. “We applaud team Cats’ efforts!”
Kendall says he is actually a fan of the movie, an adaptation of the Broadway musical adaptation that has been derided by critics, not to mention “Westworld” actress Evan Rachel Wood and even cheeky “Cats” star James Corden.
“I love it but I also objectively know it’s bad,” says Kendall, who adds that the three of them saw it together the first time, and he has seen the film with Lind twice. “But it’s bad in such a surreal way that it just comes around.” Imperati himself has seen it three times. (The film may actually be gaining a cult following of hate-watchers who making viewing it a loud, raucous affair.)
When asked whether he thinks they’ll hit the $15K goal, Kendall says, “I don’t know. I hope so.” Even though it “started as a joke,” he says, he’s just happy that any money raised will go to HousingWorks, no matter the amount.
“It’s a win regardless,” he says.
And, no, the trio will absolutely not pussy out of their cat-mmitment.
“If we raise the $15,000, we are 100% at minimum sitting on my couch, having people come in and out and will have a video camera focused on us for 24 hours while we lose our minds,” says Kendall. He adds that the best-case scenario would be to “find a venue to do it at and have an open door for folks to join us for this lunacy.”
But does he foresee a horrible outcome from watching the furry flop for 24 hours straight?
“That we’ve rewired our brains in a way we can’t come back from,” Kendall says. “That’s a lot of ‘Cats’!”
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