What’s It Like to Be Featured on Humans of New York?

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Answer by Joy Villa, singer-songwriter at Joyvilla.com:

It feels amazing! I was approached while walking with my boyfriend in NYC by a high-energy, tall, lanky guy with a Nikon camera. When he asked if he could take out photo, we smiled, wearing our Leica cameras on us ourselves. 

Of course, this was the day I decided not to wear any makeup. But we heard him say he had a blog on Facebook where he would post this. We thought nothing of it, having never heard of Humans of New York yet. He asked us one question: “How did you guys meet?” I chose to answer as truthfully and to the point as possible: “He kidnapped me a year ago and has been taking me around the world ever since.”

He was super nice, full of energy, and took two to three pictures of us before handing us his card. It all took less than five minutes. We thanked him and continued on our walk as if nothing happened. (This was, after all, New York!)

The next day, we found his blog, which had almost a million likes on Facebook! We were utterly shocked! He had told us it would be up in a day or so, as he had some pictures from Russia to post first. We patiently kept checking then found our photo. It had racked up 17,000 likes and more than 300 comments, all within a few hours. It was incredible. The amount of traffic on that photo blew us away. I received reshares and posts of my friends tagging me, writing, “Hey I know someone on HONY!!” and telling me “Congratulations!”

This was such a rush; the attention was a total high. My boyfriend and I laughed at a lot of the comments, which played out like a comedy show some of the time: “Is she really kidnapped?” and “She may possibly be a minor,” and “Should we call the police?” until someone found my page and posted it: “Look guys, she is OK and here’s her website! Aww, they are a real couple!”

The photo below shows us that fateful day, when Brandon took our HONY picture. The biggest comments were “I love her shows!” and “He looks like Dr. Who!” Among all the mostly positive—“I love this couple!” and “Take me away, too!”—were a few who commented on our age difference and how he looked like my sugar daddy. It was super entertaining and overall made us feel really good to be a part of such a cute and eye-opening human cultural sensation.

Now we tell the story when we do lectures and talks, both of us being traveling artists to more than 25 countries a year (he’s a photographer and I sing). It’s definitely a life changer and one hell of a heartwarming story! 

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