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Taking the Internet IRL: Inside the Ca$hcat$.biz art show

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In spite of the pitfalls of online dating, taking the Internet IRL (that’s “in real life,” as they say on the Internet) is never a bad idea. Trolls can fight me all they want, but the most magical moments happen when you take the creative, enthusiastic hivemind of the Web and (gently!) place it into the real world.

I know this because I am part of a self-styled “Internet collective” called Forced Meme Productions, where myself and a bunch of likeminded Web fans help put together these so-called Internet-to-IRL events. Last night, we hosted our first art show.

Although a Brooklyn loft filled with everything from embroidery to stained glass and taxidermy inspired by popular Tumblr site CashCats.biz—dedicated to photos of cats rolling around in money and other trappings of wealth—might at first come off as silly, putting on such a production turned out be a very serious endeavor.

The site’s creator, Will Zweigart, has a history of successful meme-based endeavors: His SketchySantas.com was turned into an Urban Outfitters-sold book, and CashCats.biz is one of Tumblr’s most beloved blogs. So beloved, in fact, that Tumblr agreed to fund the event, truly putting the “ca$h” in Ca$hCat$ for the night.

I can personally attest to the immense amount of thought and planning that goes into such a production. Even the night’s theme, “How The One Purrrrcent Really Live,” was a heavily debated topic—not to mention managing the addition of a photo booth, the fantastic money-heavy sounds of DJs Silent Drape Runners, and a table full of merchandise with proceeds all going to Brooklyn animal shelter BARC.

Not everything we originally wanted ended up coming to life: A "dream big" mantra led to the adventurous idea of a livestreamed kitten pen with money being thrown into it as spectators donated. That didn’t quite happen. I can promise you, though, that someone seriously looked into it. Another behind-the-scenes tidbit? The life-sized cat scratch post that you see in many of the photo booth photos from the event was added after a plan to rent a cash grab money machine (is that what you call one of these?) sadly didn’t work out.  

What’s there to learn from a night filled with Internet fans, art fans and stragglers from New York City’s Fashion’s Night Out all colliding in one place? That even blogs that seemingly shouldn’t take themselves so seriously often do—and they should, if only to produce one amazing night IRL.

Photos via Lindsey Weber