Jenny (full name withheld) is currently a drama teacher in London, England.
In 2009 though, Jenny was a Theatre studies student in London who was also creating whisper videos as “Mysterious_Goo”.
She was one of the first ASMR artists, perhaps the second one, and was referred to as a “whisper artist” or “whisperer” because the term “ASMR” hadn’t been coined and widely used yet.
In my interview with Jenny she shares how she discovered whisper videos, why she started her channel, her memories of the whisper community, and why she chose the name “Mysterious_Goo”.
Below are my questions in bold and her replies in italics.
How did you discover whisper videos?
I had been looking on YouTube since its early days in 2005 for people vlogging in a whisper. I’d search for “whispering” or “late night vlog” where people had to do it quietly!
I’d liked listening to whispering to relax and/or go to sleep since I was a tiny child. I’d rewind the bits in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mrs Doubtfire, Matilda and Uncle Buck where there was whispering- my ear pressed to the TV speaker, pretending to be adjusting the VCR if anyone walked in on me. I knew it looked weird!
Which whisper videos do you remember watching before you started yours?
A teenage girl who sounded like she was from Bristol was vlogging in the dark. She had really crackling saliva which I oddly liked!
There were also a couple of videos from an American girl who was having trouble sleeping so she’d vlog at night whispering so as not to wake her family.
Another was an American girl vlogging about Autumn. She didn’t want her parents to overhear her.
I discovered Whispering Life when I was putting in my usual search terms. I couldn’t believe I’d found someone like me! Verbalising this weird thing I’d never said out loud!
What motivated you to start your own whisper channel?
I was inspired that someone had the idea (and the guts!) to create specific whisper content for people who had this peculiar love. I think I jokingly said that I was “giving back to the whisper community”.
I don’t find my own whispering relaxing but I felt this desire to create a kind of bank of whisper vids- like one of those little community libraries; if you take a book, you leave a book.
If WhisperingLife was the only one, who could she enjoy listening to? So I guess you could say, I started out just as a thank you to her!
I’d come up with this in my early teens as a username for a few websites. It was my username before I began posting videos, I think. I possibly did it just to leave comments on YouTube. That’s why it has no relevance to whispering!
It was inspired by 2 things- Homer Simpson drooling “mmm… free goo” and loosely Dave Gorman’s Googlewhacking. The latter being a comedian’s preoccupation with finding a pairing of incongruous words which glean only a single Google result (that being termed a “Googlewhack.”
When exactly did you post your first video?
I’m estimating April/May 2009.
How many videos did you create?
As I deleted my channel in around 2011, I can’t remember but nowhere near as many as really committed ASMRtists (as they have come to be known).
What was the exact content in your videos?
I only ever made rambling videos, questionnaires or “tags”, or reading. I think I did a couple of requests, one of which was to count down from 10 to 1. In hindsight,I am a little concerned what it was used for!
I was always quite fast, energetic and humorous- that’s just how I talk. I’m a joker and I can’t help but be a bit silly, especially in a monologue which was essentially a stream of consciousness! What I liked, what I didn’t like- I remember making a somewhat controversial video called “I hate sport” in which I denigrated every sport I could think of! It was all tongue-in- cheek!
I spoke only once in my normal speaking voice just for the novelty of it.
My videos rarely exceeded 10 mins- I didn’t have the breath control or technique to do it for long periods of time. I was inconsistent in uploading content and I never followed the trends of using props or doing role plays.
I’m simply not relaxing as a person so I felt as the other hundreds of channels started popping up, I wasn’t as popular. It never really bothered me- I just enjoyed listening to other people.
I also used my channel for singing musical theatre numbers! Sometimes my audiences crossed over!
What kind of short term and long term response did you get to your videos?
Responses dwindled to a niche audience who didn’t mind my less relaxing style but generally everyone was always really lovely. I didn’t, to my recollection, encounter any trolls.
Did you tell others you were making whisper videos?
Noooo. It was a weird little thing I did in the privacy of my own room. I was always concerned people would think it was perverse or some kind of fetish! I’m very much an open book; I tell everyone everything, but this was the one thing I kept to myself.
Were you in direct communication with other whisper content creators?
A few- WhisperingLife and Whisperstories spring to mind. The WhisperingVoice was always very supportive- a lovely chap.
Do you have any specific stories, moments, or other memories you want to share about those early days?
“The “whisper community “, as it was known, was a really lovely corner of the internet. People of all ages, cultures, backgrounds were appreciative, kind, supportive and thoroughly civilised in the age of “trolling”.
I don’t remember many incidences of sustained unpleasantness (if any!) and if ever there were comments like “this is so creepy/ weird “, other users would jump to the defence of the whisperer. It had a very warm, caring atmosphere because everyone had such an inoffensive and innocent objective- to be relaxed and to help others relax! Pure and simple.
Also, one particular funny moment was that I was falling asleep at my desk once while listening to a whisper playlist on my headphones – only to be awoken my a really loud song that had got in there accidentally. I nearly had a heart attack!
When did your channel go offline and why?
2011-ish. It was purely a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that Google had made it so I kept seeing my real name on my videos. In my panic that I’d lose my anonymity, I hastily deleted my channel without any warning or goodbye.
I really regret it now- I’d be intrigued to hear my videos now.
Do you still consume and/or create ASMR content?
I still consume content- I’m a creature of habit. I go through fazes but generally stick to the same 5 artists.
What do you think about the current content of ASMR videos?
I think the current content is insanely sophisticated. People are really ok with appearing on camera these days which surprises me.
The equipment, production, and professionalism is staggering. I’m pretty old school though- all of it is lost on me. Just an above average mic and a blank screen is all I need – my eyes are shut anyway!
What do you think about the rise of ASMR videos?
I’m amazed and delighted it’s become so normalised- even fashionable! Some of my teenage students were tickling each other’s arms and others were talking about Bob Ross.
These are British teens in 2019- I knew they could only know of him through ASMR. I asked them and they were shocked I knew about it.
If only they knew my part in the phenomena…
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