January 2002

Matt Kelley is President and CEO of The Marvin Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to blurring the boundaries of race and community.  In 1999, while a first-year student at Wesleyan University, he drew on his diverse heritage ("Korean and Caucasian") to found Marvin, the first magazine celebrating multiracial Americans.  Matt also devotes many volunteer hours to helping underpreviliged children who come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect.  Teen People hailed him as a "Local Hero" and Seattle magazine named him one of the "Nine To Watch in the Next Century."  Matt takes five to tell us about his affection for pink stuffed hippos, his crush on Mariah Carey, and his distaste for being strangled in his sleep.

What city did you travel to on your last trip?
Los Angeles.  All the stereotypes are true.

Did you ever steal anything?
Oh yes!  In the fifth grade I tried to swipe a giant, fluorescent pink, stuffed hippopotamus at this second-rate amusement park in Seattle.  I was chased down and punched in the ear by the very angry vendor.  Luckily, his antics coerced a sympathetic cop to give me a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Having been a part of this era of AIDS, how has it impacted you?
My generation was the first to sexually mature being very conscious about AIDS.  We grew up aware and afraid of it.  I remember that fear starting for me in the sixth grade when I did a report about Kimberly Bergalis.

What are you addicted to?
Just work, I'm embarrassed to say.  Otherwise, I try to stay away from anything habit-forming.

When you're out on a date, where do you stash your loveglove, in your pocket, purse, glove compartment, or backpack?
Different situations call for different preparation.

If you could change one historical event, what would it be?
I wouldn't.  Both history's terrors and triumphs are important to influence future judgment.

What do you like least about your appearance?
I'm so used to how I look that it would be jarring to change anyting.  As a kid, I hated my ambiguity, the way no two people could ever place me within the same race or ethnicity.  But now I enjoy the freedom to blend into many cultures.

How has the AIDS epidemic changed the way you think about life and death?
From an early age, it challenged my perception of youthful invincibility.

Matt Kelley

What historic era or event would you like to visit?
Mexico, pre-Cortez.  I'd like to walk across the causeways of Lake Texcoco to Tenochtitlán and admire Aztec architecture.

Name one of your guilty pleasures?
Two words: Maria Carey.

Where do you go to rejuvenate?
Nowhere fancy.  Growing up on an island in the Pacific Northwest, I feel best when I'm at the beach, in the woods, or on a boat.

Name one of your bad habits?
I count everything.

If you had a choice to have a dinner date with anyone from history, who would it be?
Béla Bartók.

If you wrote a book today about your life, what would the title be?
The Imaginarium.  Any takers?

What's your favorite sitcom of all time?
Not a real sitcom kind of guy.  There's nothing out there right now that captures the essence of being a half-Korean magazine publisher...so until there is, I'm boycotting must-see TV.

What can we do to help during this ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis?
I think that the greatest problem is complacency.  Complacency of American youth who assume that there will be a vaccine for AIDS before they get sick, and complacency of Western governments who won't address the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia.  We need to renew the sense of outrage in order to combat this disease.

When you get into bed at night, do you wear pajamas, nightshirt, undies, or nothing at all?
Never p.j.'s.  I like my boxer briefs or anything else that won't strangle me in my sleep.


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