Briohny Smyth caused a ruckus.
Michael A. Stusser made us laugh.
Hear from each of them on the impact of the 2012 Equinox video.
Briohny Smyth started 2012 with a bang: featured doing yoga in what became a highly controversial ad by Equinox. She joins us to chat about her experiences, her yoga practice and what it’s like to be at the center of a proverbial tornado.
In response to the Equinox video Seattle based writer Michael A. Stusser created his own version. A decidedly different version of an early morning yoga practice. Michael will share the why and how of his own personal yoga journey and the power of not taking ourselves too seriously.
You don’t want to miss this.
Here are the first 12 minutes of the interview.
We’ve got some special guests here who will talk through their experiences with what has come to be a very controversial ad here in 2012. We have got Briohny Smyth. Briohny Smyth started the year with a bang. There is no other way to describe how she started the year.With a very intimate look at an early morning personal yoga practice which was featured in an Equinox yoga ad. And the broohaha that is caused was quite the thing in the yoga community. Then a few week later, Michael Stusser, a Seattle free-lance writer and game inventor, complimented Brionhy with a wonderful parody which more closely resembled what every man’s morning yoga routine looks like. Both of these videos I’ve loved…
Donna: I don’t believe you got the response you were expecting. Am I right?
Briohny: To say the least. (Laughs) Honestly I didn’t expect much. It was an honor to be a part of Equinox’s vision and for them to allow me to include my own vision and my own morning practice in this video. We did not expect it to be where it now in terms of views on YouTube, nor did we expect it to create controversy.
Donna: It was controversy almost right away. What was your reaction? How did you respond when the criticism started coming in?
Briohny: It was interesting. My background is in entertainment. I was a singer when I was a child and dealt with certain negativity at that point and directed my life into a place where I don’t have to deal with people judging or other people’s opinions and just kind of being able to live my live according to my passions. So having that happen was initially interesting. I wasn’t hurt or sad right away, but we’re all human and as more and more people started talking about the negative comments. Then I began to read them. And the ones on YouTube, I didn’t see anywhere else, I just saw the ones on YouTube, and some of them were hurtful and some of them were funny. My initial response was a trigger reaction so I decided to respond to a couple of them. And when I did, looked at my response I immediately erased my posts. I said to myself “This is not healthy.” I know what my intentions were with this and I know what Equinox’s intentions were and people are allowed to have their opinions and express them. Other wise I really tried to ignore the negativity and embrace the positive and the support that come with the people who were inspired by it.
Donna: Getting to Michael. What inspired you to make your own version of the Equinox video?
Michael: First of all, I get a lot of negative comments too. Bry’s not the only one who’s being humiliated out there. (Laughter) My inspiration, not trying to get on my high horse or anything, but when I did see a bunch of negativity, you know I have a sister, so I was just kinda set off in my own way. Because through my practice and I know how hard it is to be that disciplined or focused or balanced. And so as a humorist, I thought it was a really good opportunity to just jump in there and just cut the dialogue. I think it did that. De-focused it a little bit which was my intent.
Donna: It’s so well done. I’ve actually watched them in parallel, with one on top and the other on the bottom. The parody that you did was so well crafted.
Michael: Yeah. We tried to do the shot by shot thing. I put my own tattoo on. I hope that didn’t offend you. (Laughter) And my friend Marty Reimer who has done a bunch of other television and production and stuff was just game to do it one weekend. And he is very specific on stuff like that anybody, so we got the coloring right. But, I found that the toughest part of matching it up, honestly, as we’re in Seattle and we don’t have the killer views that you had in New York, but all the hotels we contacted had carpet. And no matter how spectacular they were they had carpet. And I thought, this isn’t Bikram, man. This is the real deal. It’s got to be on hardwood. So I just lucked out with a friend’s apartment. And then did a little stumbling and falling. I didn’t want to embarrass the original ’cause my practice is so strong. (laughs) I didn’t want to make you feel silly that I can balance longer, and that kind of thing you know, so I dumbed it down a little bit.
Briohny: I loved it, I thought it was very mindful.
Michael: Ha, ha, thank you.
Donna: How did it feel to watch Michael’s practice?
Briohny: I loved it. It immediately brought me to tears because I was laughing so hard. My daughter admittedly wants to watch that almost everyday over my video. (laughter) She especially love the part where its a face shot of you in handstand. That’s our favorite part for sure. Definitely a compliment. There was so much seriousness. Everything was so serious and intense around the video whether it be negative or positive. Everyone was really heated about it. And I think what you did, Michael, was really just bring lightness and humor to the situation. When you look at it, it is kinda funny that people are getting so uptight about someone expressing an art or a passion. But I understand where they are coming from, it’s just, it’s not in my opinion that intense. Life is already hard as it is.
Michael: The thing that I guess was off line about it, is whether or not you are in your underwear of not. And to the people who don’t understand. I’ve said before “you are not any less amazing ’cause you’re doing something in your underwear.” And so that’s the part of it where, especially practitioners, it seems like, I’ve seen less in a class. So where is that coming from, the insecurity, jealousy, or what? Have you been talking to people about that?
Briohny: Yes, I actually had the opportunity to have a personal conversation with the lady who wrote the article Why the Sexy Equinox Video Pissed Me Off. It’s interesting, she actually reached out to me making sure I didn’t take things personally. What I’ve felt like happened and what I’ve heard from women around: it’s more the idea that Equinox is trying to sell sex and it’s demeaning to women. When someone feels that way all one can do is respect them. For me, and for a lot of other women who were inspired my it, it’s more empowering. One tends to forget that the original clothing of choice was a loincloth. I started practicing in Thailand. My teacher basically wore a Speedo. My fiance practices in the tiniest shorts he can find. It’s about getting all of the distractions of out the way. And for me, if I am wearing bagging pants or a T-shirt I’m distracted. I can’t move my body in the way I would like to. I was empowered to be able to practice in the least amount of clothing. Never thought that it would ever, in any way, offend anyone. But life has a lot or surprises.
Download from itunes or Listen to the entire interview above to discover Briohny’s struggle with bulimia and body image, Micheal’s selfish reasons for practicing yoga, and what they each will take from this experience.
Watch for our upcoming interview Feb 22nd: Yoga for Arthritis and the Power of Movement with Kim McNeil.