Help Scared Shirtless Continue Creating

Scared Shirtless is a weekly podcast created by me and my wife.  We also design fun and witty t-shirts at www.scaredshirtlesstees.com, which we've sold online and at some conventions and events around the country.  It all started as a fun project, but with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may actually help my family survive.

Scared Shirtless has been created entirely by me and my wife - we're "the employees", along with a great team of volunteer voice actors.  We're home-based, so the majority of our "business" expenses wind up being normal home expenses - rent, utilities, etc.  But we have to grow in order to make it through these unknown weeks and months to come, and that means we need help.

I have been unable to find lasting work in Alabama due to stringent anti-disability policies by the majority of employers here.  Job requirements such as standing for 8 hours and lifting 50 lbs are routinely added to even basic "seated" office jobs, and unfortunately, that means these employers skip over me as a candidate, no matter how well I fit their job criteria.  I've taken on many physically demanding temp jobs since living here, however, that leaves me ineligible for unemployment benefits now that even those jobs are not available.

My wife is currently confined to self-isolation due to respiratory autoimmune disorder called Sarcoidosis - it makes her considered high-risk for COVID-19, and the reality is that she could wind up needing a ventilator and ICU care if she were to contract the virus.  I waver constantly between hunting for an "essential" job that would be willing to hire me, and the worry that *me* going out anywhere puts *her* at risk every time.  We've been self-isolating since the convention industry crashed.

Our "normal" with Scared Shirtless consisted of traveling to conventions and trade shows all over the US to sell our geeky t-shirts and promote the podcast.  Large events were among the first things canceled by state and federal governments when the pandemic arose, so our income is now limited to exclusively what we can do through online sales  (It was around $500 last year, compared to very-nearly-living wages from convention sales.  We just don't have the following to survive on online sales with the loss of events!)

We also have 2 children, aged 4 and 12, who are in excellent health, and we aim to protect them at all cost as well.  This virus doesn't discriminate by age, and frankly, any hospital stay would bankrupt us forever.

Now there are thousands of legitimate online jobs popping up everywhere, and we are both applying to as many of those as we can find, but in the meantime, we've been out of income for nearly a month already.  We've made a ton of arrangements with our bills, but those bills must be paid eventually, and we want to avoid getting TOO far behind.  Who knows how long the pandemic itself will last?  The economic repercussions will echo long afterward.

$1,000 will help Scared Shirtless continue for about a month -it'll cover:
Rent
Utilities
Phone
Internet
Insurance
Site Hosting Fees
Marketing/Advertising Fees
"Supplemental" Employee Income

Our goal here is $500, and we're applying for the #SmallBusinessRelief matching program to achieve the full $1000.  In the meantime, we are always searching for other means of supporting ourselves - applying to online customer support work, and marketing our online store to greater success.  Your help will not go wasted.

So, what does this all have to do with Scared Shirtless as a podcast?  Everything.  While we were working conventions and my wife's office job, it was a fun thing to create, and a personal challenge for me to finally complete a story.   Now, our podcast is a lifeline.  We've connected with dozens of other creators, and have hundreds of listeners worldwide.  My wife took a week hiatus from editing the show to mentally and emotionally process the ways life has changed, but she needs to get back into creating before depression takes over, and honestly...we owe it to all of you to finish the story we started!  Our actors deserve so much, and we had grand plans of how to help them grow and "meet and greet" listeners at conventions this year.  That's all gone now.  A lot of hopelessness is going around, and the world needs to experience this monstrosity we've created by bringing so many people together.

The listener base to Scared Shirtless has been awe-inspiring.  It's unbelievably gratifying to look at download counts and chat with people who listen and hear that people LIKE what we're doing.  Not just *like* it, but come back week after week to find out what happens next!  It's humbling, and we're so grateful to everyone who listens, whether they're able to help us continue creating or not.

I don't really know what else to say.  I don't want my wife to get sick or possibly die from a viral spread that could have been controlled.  We both want to continue to create, but landlords and utilities companies don't give away their services in the ways that artists often do, and the phone company doesn't believe in barter.

Thank you for believing in us and everything we do.  I wish we didn't have to ask, but that's the only way people know when and where they can help.

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Organizer

Jesse Laffeyette Leonardo Duvall 
Organizer
Athens, AL
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