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An exclusive letter from Richard Kern to his younger selfRichard Kern/The Advisor

Read some exclusive life advice from Richard Kern

Photographer Richard Kern, designer Rad Hourani and director Bruce LaBruce hand-write exclusive letters to young men all over the world

As a society, we’ve lost touch with the written word. Not the printed word, of course. That is in super-abundance in today’s digital world, letters streaming across luminous screens in every conceivable typeface and arranging themselves into news, emails, social media feeds, the daily content of our daily grind. 

Handwritten letters have become a rarified, unusual thing. Most of us can’t remember the last time we picked up a pen and paper and wrote something down by hand to someone we cared about – whether it’s a lover or in a diary format to ourselves. New platform The Advisor aims to remedy this by creating a space for leading male creatives to share their life advice with young men. 

Founded by writer Alex Kazemi, The Advisor will debut on April 1st and features handwritten letters from Dazed favourites including Bruce LaBruce and Richard Kern. Later contributors will include photographer and model Marcel Castenmiller, genderless couturier Rad Hourani, songwriter Justin Tranter, and filmmaker Nabil Elderkin. The Advisor will sit as the brother site to already-launched The Provocateur, which releases weekly handwritten letters from some of culture’s most inspirational female names to young girls across the world.

The advice ranges from the practical (Richard Kern: "Please, please be aware of your posture and the way you sit") to the socially aware (Bruce LaBruce: "consider the minority opinion"). Ahead of its launch, Dazed spoke to Kazemi to find out more about why he’s trying to reconnect young men with the written word.

Why do you think it’s important for The Advisor to exist?

Alex Kazemi: Men in general, and young men in particular, are told that they enjoy so much privilege everyday. But that doesn’t change the fact that many of them are in spiritual poverty. Having power doesn’t always bring you comfort or happiness. I think it’s important to inspire men in general, especially creatively. Young guys do a great disservice to the world when they don’t follow their creative impulses. Men should not fear vulnerability and expression, they should seek it! But they might need a little guidance, which is where The Advisor can help. 

Did you ever have a pen pal growing up?

Alex Kazemi: Yeah I did, in 5th grade. She was at another school that was forty minutes away. I always got really excited hearing from her and I used to daydream about what she was really like.

What advice would you give in a letter to your younger self?

Alex Kazemi: Stop trying to validate your thoughts and natural impulses from external sources; stop comparing yourself to others and thinking because you do things your way, that it’s the wrong way. Be grateful for all of the mistakes you make, because they turn into lessons real quick! You are not a victim. Go to therapy, like seriously. Your obsession with “being normal” is warped. Give up on it. The danger you are putting yourself in is tomorrow’s discipline. 

Do you feel like there needs to be more of a space for young men to talk about their fears and emotions online without being judged against some idea of ‘masculinity’?

Alex Kazemi: I think a lot of guys do have spaces to speak about their emotions and fears online but they do it in a very segregated, communal way. A lot of men enjoy existing in the world of other men, so you see these conversations on Body Building forums and Reddit hideaways all the time - some people conceal their identity and others choose to show it. I think it just depends on the kind of person. I don't know if everyone would, even if it was considered a societal norm.   

What are your plans for The Advisor?

Alex Kazemi: We’re set to have a new letter on every Friday of the month. I would like it to continue indefinitely, but the success of the project does depend on the contributors. But if this project kills one reader’s creative repression, then my work will be done and I’ll be happy.