Haikus with hotties

Catching up with Ada Tseng: Haikus with Hotties

In 2015, one woman made it her mission to spread Asian hotness around the world in a project called Haikus with Hotties – where the author “asks hot Asian men to exchange poetry.” Kollaboration NY decided to catch up with the brilliant mind behind this project, Ada Tseng. Kollaboration.org first interviewed Ada back in August 2015, but a LOT has happened since their last podcast: a viral hit on Youtube with Buzzfeed, a feature on NBC News Asian America, and a widely successful Kickstarter campaign.

Ada’s efforts have manifested into a sexy 2016 calendar, which boasts big names like Taiwanese model Godfrey Gao and Buzzfeed’s Eugene Yang. In light of the calendar launch, Kollab New York wanted to catch up with Ada and discuss what she has in store for the new year!

KNY: When did “Haikus with Hotties” start picking up steam? Was there a specific moment when you realized the huge demand for the series?

Yes! The moment was August 17, 2015, when Phil Yu wrote about our Haikus With Hotties 2016 Calendar Kickstarter on Angry Asian Man, and it [was] funded within a day of him sharing it. You have to understand that the Kickstarter was originally a joke – an elaborate joke, yes – but I wasn’t sure how many people would actually find it so we were kind of testing the waters. And the series always amused me. Our photographer Craig Stubing and my friends at Audrey Magazine, but I had never gotten direct feedback from readers about it.

I think that it’s such a random idea – that you probably don’t fully get it until you can see multiple “Haikus With Hotties” exchanges together on a single page – which we did for the first time in the Kickstarter campaign. And now, it’s a calendar!

KNY: What we love about the calendar is the diverse representation of hotness, from Randall Park to Godfrey Gao. Were there some who were more eager than others? If so, could you share some funny episodes from turning these men into “poets?”

It’s funny because now that it’s actually a project that has drawn in some really admirable celebrities, people wonder, “why wasn’t this person chosen for the calendar?” or say, “you should have gotten this really famous celebrity to do it!” as if there was a line of hot men that really wanted to be included and we had to reject people. [Laughs]. But in reality, there wasn’t even the concept of a calendar until much later so it’s less that these guys were itching to be on Haikus With Hotties and more that they helped create the series when there was no series.

As for turning them into poets – I think for the most part, they already had the poetry within them And if they didn’t, I assured them that part of the joke was that we were exchanging mediocre haikus about their hotness. That said, most of the responses are surprisingly good!

KNY: Eugene’s ‘1 Man Transformed Into A K-Pop Group’ has officially gone viral, with over 1M views on Youtube! Can you tell us a little bit about how that video happened?

Eugene and I were brainstorming a few different ideas for a photo shoot, and he liked the K-pop idea, but I remember telling him, the problem with dressing you up like a K-pop star is that you’re just going to look like a guy in a crazy outfit. So you should be FIVE K-pop stars. We gathered a hair/makeup/styling/photography/K-pop-expert team, but once he decided to turn the transformations into a Buzzfeed video, the dial got turned up 300%, and it was all Eugene.

He’s such a generous collaborator, but at the same time, he literally does everything and is involved with every minute detail, from lighting to nicknaming his K-pop doppelgangers after Korean food. So kids, if you want to be like Eugene Lee Yang when you grow up, work hard.  

Haikus with hotties

Two guys reciting their haikus on a beach

KNY: Do you have a personal wish list of hotties for the 2017 calendar? *wink* *wink*

I could totally name way more than 12 people I’d want for 2017 – a testament to how many attractive Asian American men there are out there, despite the lack of representation in mainstream media. But it shouldn’t just be about the hotties that I personally like. It’s important to me that it represents a certain diversity of hotness, and even for the 2016 hotties, we asked for nominations and got insider tips to find an interesting balance of folks. That said, I probably can’t resist planting some seeds. Hasan Minhaj from The Daily Show. And Ronnie Woo from LOGO’s Food To Get You Laid.

KNY: Do you have other franchise ideas you’re cooking up? Can you give us a taste of what you’re working on now?

I’d like to take over the Step Up franchise. Just kidding. As a writer, I’m always looking for interesting people to profile, but in the last year, I’ve been experimenting with audio storytelling, which has been fun. I have a couple of new episodes of my Asian pop culture podcast Bullet Train that I’m finishing up — one is about lip-syncing and actually features an interview with Kollaboration’s Christine Minji Chang, who added a lip sync battle competition to Kollaboration LA last year.

I’m also developing another podcast with Brian Hu of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. We worked together at Asia Pacific Arts for a long time, and for 10 years, we’ve done an end-of-the-year list for Best Asian American Films, and I feel like there are so many small independent Asian American films, but for people not working in the festival scene, it’s intimidating to sort through the bad ones to find the good ones. So, we want to direct curious people to the gems that might be harder to find.

KNY: I think it’s safe to say… the world wants more “Haikus with Hotties!” What’s next for this series?

I want more Haikus With Hotties too! We’re still thinking about the logistics of a potential 2017 calendar, so if you want the series to continue, please show us your support by buying a 2016 calendar, tweet me @adatseng, follow Haikus With Hotties on Instagram, and direct us to any potential future collaborators. There are no plans, but if you guys want it, we’ll figure it out!

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To get your hands on a copy, place your order here: http://haikuswithhotties.com/buy-a-calendar/