Profiles in 'Lost' Fandom: Stuart Kizcek
Our salute to "Lost" fans continues with a profile of a guy whose loyalty to the island is unquestioned. No words are even required to describe it. I mean, for God's sake, just look at that picture.
But since I like words -- and since I shared a long, thoroughly enjoyable conversation with our profile subject, Stuart Kizcek -- I invite you to get to know this Hurley doppelganger (and one of the most intense "Lost"-ophiles currently roaming the planet) via the Q&A below.
Another profile in "Lost" fandom is coming later this week, but I continue to welcome suggestions. So if you know someone whose life will only be complete after they turn their basement into a replica of the Hatch, please drop us a line and let us know.
Name of "Lost" Superfan: Stuart Kiczek
Place of Residence: Upper East Side of Manhattan
Profession: Full-time student at Marymount Manhattan College, where he is earning a bachelor's degree in communication arts, with a focus in video production. He will graduate on May 20th, three days before the "Lost" finale. ("I’m in for this huge amount of commencement in the next month," he says.)
Why He Qualifies as a Superfan: Has dressed up as Hurley and asked a question during nearly every "Lost" Comic-Con panel, putting him on a pseudo-first-name basis with executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Like our previous "Lost" superfan, Morgan McPhearson, he also is writing a senior paper on "Lost."
After our interview, he sent me the following e-mail: "Our conversation lasted exactly 1 hour and 08 mins, how freaky is that!" If this guy doesn't qualify as a "Lost" fan, I honestly don't know who does.
Jen: When did you start watching the show?
Stuart: I actually had a friend who attended the Comic-Con where they premiered the pilot episode. And he came back from Comic-Con and sort of told me about it vaguely.
He knew it was something that I would like so he just approached me with his flash drive with the pilot episode [which he downloaded after it aired] and said this is something that I know you’d like, but if I told you anything about it ... literally, it just came down to: it’s got that guy from “Becker” that you love. Just watch it. Which, of course, is Jorge.
I was really skeptical.because he just said it’s about a plane crash and that’s all he really wanted to say. At that point in television, I just didn’t think anything really that awesome was going on as far as a serialized drama. I sat down and just turned the lights off, made it super quiet and sat at my laptop just watching it and was just completely, completely, blown away.
Jen: When you watch, do you have any sort of ritual? Do you always watch by yourself?
Stuart: For a while, while I was getting into it I would do the getting as many people together as possible and sitting down and having that sort of group viewing experience. But somewhere along the third season or so, I started just making a ritual of watching it by myself because I knew that I would dork out so bad or get emotional over things; after a while it was just easier to be alone and not be as worried about showing how into it I was.
It is a lot more fun to get people together and have that group experience. But when it comes to rewatches and stuff, not as many of my friends are into watching it three or four times a week. I tend to do a lot of rewatches on my own and just geek out to my heart’s content.
Jen: One of the reasons I wanted to get in touch was because at last year's Comic-Con, you got up and thanked the panel for creating Hurley and giving you a TV character you could really relate to. I found that touching and interesting. Did you really feel that way, that there are no guys on TV that are like me and now here’s this guy who’s like me? It’s got to be more than just an appearance thing.
See Stuart at 6:45-minute mark:
Stuart: It was sort of like up until Hurley, not just physically or relatability – “Oh, that guy looks like me” – but the type of personality and the type of ways that he as a person chose to communicate with people and the way he would develop his interpersonal relationships and the way he was just sort of reacting to things in his life, it was like, “Oh wow, I can really identify with that more than anybody that I’ve ever seen on television.” And for something as compelling and interesting and puzzling as the mythology that was getting built with “Lost” was, to have it grounded in reality for me like that was what made it so fascinating. Just to have somebody like that, to feel that there was somebody so charismatic as Hurley that I could relate to on television was like, oh wow, finally. Somebody who I can really just say, “Oh, I’m so like that dude. I have so much to relate to that guy on so many different levels.”
Jen: Once you started going to Comic-Con regularly, were you always able to get up there and ask a question during every panel?
Stuart: In 2005, when they had the second to largest room that they weren’t even filling at that point -- I think it was Ballroom 20 – there wasn’t as big of a momentum for the "Lost" fandom crowd. So it was a lot easier to just sort of push to the front.
I got up that first year and I asked them something pretty stupid. It was like, “Um, do you know how to end the show, or what about the rumor that you guys are going to end the show with a movie?” It was something along those lines. I was really, really nervous.
In 2006 I got up, and that was the year Jorge was there. And I really was super-nervous because that was the first year that I did this sort of half-a**ed Hurley costume. I had sort of the golf course costume going, but I really didn’t have the hair just right or anything. And I tried to make it look like I had one of his T-shirt head wraps on. He noticed that I had the arm band even from me standing up at the back and him sitting down at the panel. He noticed me wearing the shirt and I guess saw the sideburns and the arm band and was like, “Oh, great costume, dude.”
I just couldn’t hold it together, I was like, “Dude, I love you so much, you have no idea.”
Long story short: I couldn’t get the tickets to the signing because I raced to the panel and he saw me sort of on the sidelines trying to get a picture of him, really, as hard as I could. And I just look over as I’m trying to snap a picture and he started pointing at me: “Oh, that’s that dude that got up and was dressed up as me.”
And he literally stopped the signing, said “Oh wait, can you guys hold on one second?,” comes rushing over to me and says, “Dude, I gotta get a picture with you.” And literally, that was just the crowning moment of achievement, to have gotten Jorge’s attention like that.... Like him asking me for a picture after seeing me struggle to get a picture of him was just the special-est “Lost” moment for me ever.
Jen: So did Jorge take a picture for himself, as well as one for you?
Stuart: Yeah. He asked somebody that was standing around: “Oh, here, can you take my camera and get a picture?” And the same person that was using his camera, I was like “Please, you don’t understand. You gotta get this picture right. This is my crowning moment of achievement. This is my most important picture ever.” I think the girl that took it, she was dressed up as Kate. She was like: “Dude. I understand.”
A couple of months afterward, I had gotten in contact with him, thanking him profusely. And I told him I got a really good picture, luckily enough. And he was like, mine was pretty crappy. I sent him an 8x10 of the picture, one for him and one for me, to send back. And he was so sweet and sent it back immediately and wrote – here, let me go look at it -- “To Stuart – Dude, you will always be my biggest fan. Sincerely, Jorge Garcia.”
And that was just super-awesome.
Jen: Did you frame it?
Stuart: Oh yeah, it’s framed in the same color green as the golf course Hurley shirt.
Every year that they’ve been [at Comic-Con], aside from 2007, I’ve managed to find a way to get up to the mic and at least say something. I guess by the last year, they sort of were like, “Oh, hey, wait. It’s that guy.” He’s been here enough. Oh, that’s Stuart. That was just the coolest thing, that I’d gotten up to the mic and they were like, “Oh hey, Stuart!”
Jen: Yeah, Damon Lindelof knew your name. How did Damon know your name?
Stuart: In 2006, I started this bit that was just my attempt to be quirky and cute. I would get up to the microphone and I would say, “Hi, my name is Stuart. I’m a Lostaholic.”
I did that in 2006, and again in 2008 when I got my Hurley Dharma ranch composite.
By 2009, I thought, “This bit of mine is exhausted. I shouldn’t do it again.” But when I got up to the mic and they said, “Hi, Stuart,” obviously I’d done enough to make my point.
Jen: You mentioned when we were trading e-mails that you also are writing a senior thesis on “Lost.”
Stuart: It’s just a one-semester class. It’s not something you work on for your last year as a senior. It’s for a class called Communication of the Future, which for comm arts students at Marymount is the culmination of your four years and ... the teacher does his best to make you aware of emerging trends in media culture. He said, come up with a topic and come up with something that interests you or that you’re going to pursue in life, and talk about how media or communication is just sort of changing in how these things are coming together. And I was like, “Oh! This is just an excuse for me to talk about ‘Lost.’”
Anybody that knows me was like, “Oh, let me guess. You’re writing a ‘Lost’ paper.” So it came down to me trying to get a thesis together where it’s sort of like, “Lost,” to me is sort of serving as an example of how people will choose to consume popular media in the future. And I’m sort of expanding that idea into the way that, circa 2004, when the show had come out, there was that immediate [embrace] of creating a direct line of communication with the fans and really blurring that line between creator and consumer.
Jen: Now it’s time to barrage you with my standard list of “Lost” fandom questions. There are of course no right answers, but I have a feeling you’re going to be off the charts. Are you ready for these, Stuart?
Stuart: Yes, I am very ready.
Jen: Have you watched any seasons more than once? I am sure the answer to that is yes.
Stuart: It became a thing in weekly installments to rewatch several times. If I can fit it in my schedule, at least two or three times a week, I rewatch an episode. And then when it’s on DVD, I do an entire watch-through at last once.
So yes, I’ve watched every season over and over again as many times as possible.
Jen: So how many times would you say you’ve seen season one, for example?
Stuart: At least the whole season through, four or five times. And that’s probably the case with every season up until this point.
Jen: Obviously you’ve dressed up as a character before. But have you ever dressed up as a “Lost” character outside of Comic-Con?
Stuart: There were a couple of season premiere parties that I had where I very much sat around in my Dharma jumpsuit or my Hurley golf course costume.
Jen: And it’s always Hurley you dress up as, right?
Stuart: Always Hurley. That would be blasphemy for me to be dressing up as anybody else.
Jen: Do you own any “Lost” merchandise or memorabilia?
Stuart: Oh, yes.
Jen: Tell me some of the highlights.
Stuart: Before they started merchandising, one of the first things that was really big was when they made the toy line. And I went to the toy premiere, here in Times Square, which [producer] Bryan Burke and Jorge were at, actually. And I got a signed Hatch and a signed Hurley. I have both series of toys and two Hurleys still in box, one signed and one extra.
I joined the official fan club that didn’t really go anywhere. But they did send that nice little care package with a little replica of the fail-safe key and a nice Walkabout pamphlet and Kate’s mugshot and a couple of things like that. After the toys, there’s a bunch of a little knick-knacky things … I’m just looking around my room…
Jen: Do you have a shrine in your room?
Stuart: I have a shelf above my computer that’s just all "Lost" stuff – the figures, my fail-safe key, I have a Drive Shaft ring … I’ve already started saving up for the “Lost” auction that’s going to go on. But aside from my Ranch composite that I’m eventually going to put in a glass case with a light behind it or something … I guess that and my Jorge picture are the crowning moments of fandom collection stuff.
Jen: The Ranch composite … remind me where you got that.
Stuart: That was when I got up in 2008 [at Comic-Con], they were giving out stuff to anybody who asked questions. And Carlton Cuse said, “And to you, sir, a tub of Dharma Ranch.”
See Stuart at the one-minute mark:
Jen: That’s right! So what is in there, do you have any idea?
Stuart: I’ve had various people tell me to open that thing up and get rid of the horrible-looking, low-viscosity looking Ranch or whatever’s in there. It’s pretty gross. When I first got it, it at least somewhat resembled Ranch and at this point, it’s just deteriorating into this nasty-looking substance, admittedly. But I’m not willing to open it up and like pour it out and put actual Ranch in there. I’m worried that thing is just going to explode one day. I’ll deal with that when it happens.
Jen: How much time do you spend reading “Lost” Web sites and things like that?
Stuart: I would say at least a half-an-hour a day to an hour, and at least four to five hours a week doing something “Lost”-related that’s not just watching the show.
Jen: Have you ever read a book solely because it was mentioned on “Lost”?
Stuart: The first one that I did was Stephen Hawking’s – his universe book. “A Brief History of Time.” That was the first one that I saw on there and I’d heard of and I thought, “Oh, I need to read that.” And I couldn’t really get through it too well.
I was one of those people that ordered “Bad Twin” right when it came out. And I think I went through it just looking for references … it was only worth its weight in references.
Jen: What are you going to miss most about the show? Have you started to process that at all?
Stuart: There is going to be an unparalleled void in my life that I don’t know how I’m going to fill. There is that constant being told, “It’s just a TV show.”
To me, what I can tell anybody is, you can’t ever tell someone how much they should love a song or a painting or a book or any little piece of media. You can never clear-cut define how much is too obsessed or how invested you should really be in something that really means that much to you. But any one of those things, you gotta let go at some point. And if [the writers] did keep it going -- they learned their lessons, I guess, from shows like "X-Files." If you let it just keep going, it won’t be special anymore. And you’ve got to learn to appreciate it for what it was, and then let it go. If “Lost” has taught me anything, it’s how to better accept that you’ve got to move on and just appreciate it for what it was.
I can’t remember what I was like as a person prior to having “Lost” in my life. I think I’ve grown and learned a lot as a person through “Lost” and I’m going to use that to my benefit to progress. But I don’t know what I’m going to be able to do to fill that void whatsoever.
Luckily enough, all these friends and people that I’ve connected with and made friends with or networked with – I don’t think those relationships are just going to stop because “Lost” is gone. All these friends and people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet – it’s like I am the person that I am today because of “Lost.” And that is something that will keep with me forever.
| May 11, 2010; 2:53 PM ET
Categories: Lost, Pop Culture, TV | Tags: Lost
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