Photo by Corey Hayes
“You have to meet Jasmine Lobe. You guys write about the same thing and you would love her.” If I had a few bucks for every time I heard these words, I could probably afford a new pair of snow boots. (My desires these days are simple.) Googling Jasmine, I was hesitant. To start, she happens to be a much better – not to mention ballsier – writer than myself, having been granted none other than Candace Bushnell’s former sex column at the New York Observer. Secondly, she looks more like a Victoria’s Secret Angel than a regular human, making me wonder what we could possibly have in common. As it turns out, more than I thought! After meeting for a casual chat, Jasmine and I become fast friends, and I spared no time coaxing her into a Dbag Dating interview. Last week, we sat down at the Ludlow Hotel and quickly found ourselves in a moving two-hour conversation about feminism, the power of positive thinking and the stigma of showing the real you. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to present to you the longest interview of all time with the one and only, amazingly talented The J-Spot columnist, JASMINE LOBE. (It’s worth every minute, I promise.)
Marina: Let’s start from the beginning: How did J-Spot start?
Jasmine: I was an actress living in Los Angeles and I would go to all these Hollywood parties and feel, at times, a sense of vapidness. So I would turn to my computer and I would write: it was a way to really ground myself and explore some of the dynamics that were going on.. Basically, I went from being in Feminist Theory classes at Vassar to being told to stand up and turn around in your push-up bra, that kind of thing. In a way, writing was kind of my secret friend. Then, one day, I decided to write about a producer I had gotten in over my head with, and a friend of mine read the piece and loved it. Her boyfriend was at a magazine called New York Natives and they gave me a column called Starf*cked, it was about a native New Yorker’s perspective in Hollywood. I wrote about six columns, and from there the New York Observer found out about me through a dear friend of mine, a fellow Vassar alum. The editor in chief, whom I consider a mentor, responded to my writing, asked me to pitch him my ideas and then offered me the sex column in the Observer. It was also one of those things where I had been pounding the pavement for six or eight years as an actress, and then it just fell into place after six months. Sometimes, when you’re on the right path in life, things can happen more easily, they just happen in this organic, beautiful way. That’s how it happened with the Observer.
Marina: Do you think it’s also because you – and I too, actually – write about something that most people just don’t want to write about? Most people want to write about fashion, or beauty, or some other easy thing… It takes balls to write about your personal life.
Jasmine: It does. But I think that, in Hollywood, I was often typecast as “blonde in the push up bra #2”, and I would go to all these auditions and just feel like I had so much more to give and to say. I had anger about this and I felt like I needed to process it, So I was going to write about it no matter what. Plus, I was always fascinated with sexuality.
Marina: Actually, once you realize it’s therapeutic, you feel like you need to do it, it becomes the way in which you release emotion. Somebody called me a “compulsive confessionist” the other day. At first I was kind of upset, then I was like “Dude, you have pent-up anger and I’m releasing mine. Online. So I win.”
Jasmine: Whenever somebody puts somebody else down, I always feel like it’s coming from an insecure place. Like people commenting online..
Marina: Oh this was to my face. It was somebody I was on a date with! Speaking of which, how do men usually react when you tell them what you do?
Jasmine: I think some are intrigued, it’s exciting for some, for others it’s a challenge.. Sometimes, guys will say “I don’t want to be written about”, but I’m very honest about it. I’m like, “well, this is what I do” and I sort if lay it out for them. Also, I always disguise people and change circumstances so that people can’t be placed. But there was one guy, “Jerry” in my column, who specifically said “don’t write about me.”
Marina: So you specifically wrote about him.
Jasmine: I wrote the fuck out of him after we broke up.
Marina: Did he text you when he read it?
Jasmine: Yeah. He has a great sense of humor though, and he came back for more! We kept hooking up for awhile and at some point we started talking about the columns while hooking up. I would be like, “So, did you like that line? Did you like when I said ‘You aren’t my man’?” It became almost like foreplay. And he would always be like, “You have to kill Jerry off, no more Jerry!”
Marina: What has changed in your love life since you started writing the column?
Jasmine: Well, I think that the column has become such a focus for me, it’s like my baby! This is where my energy is at the moment. I do believe in the philosophy that you meet somebody when you are feeling complete within yourself – not to be extreme, you can chase “complete” forever – but I do feel that my focus has shifted to the column, so that I’m not out looking that much. Yet, of course I want that partner, I just don’t have that urgency that I had a few years ago, which is funny because I’m older. I almost feel less worried about it in a way.
Marina: I think you just get calmer as you get older.
Jasmine: I just have a certain amount of trust. It’s the same trust that you have when you have a dream about an impact you want to make, or a book you want to write. You have to believe it. If you don’t believe in it, what is there to work towards? I feel the same way about a guy – I believe that, when the time is right, it will happen. I have no doubt. (Pauses.) Occasionally I doubt, because that’s human.
Marina: Do you ever feel like the column is a sort of a buffer that it might prevent you from meeting that person? I’m just asking you because I struggle with that a lot.
Jasmine: Sure, in weaker moments I wonder if the column is a buffer, a mechanism that I unconsciously created to block men. But, at the same time, that same trust that I was just talking about comes into play. Also, I love what I do. I actually always wonder what’s going to happen once I meet the right person, how it’s going to translate into my writing.. For example, when [sex columnist] Dan Savage met his partner, he asked him to never write about him, so he transitioned into a different phase in his writing. And I have to be ok with doing that as well.
Marina: Do you still get as passionate about people or do you feel like you have you become jaded?
Jasmine: For the most part, I try to keep my innocence. You know, in my columns I can get really dark and point out all this disconnect, but I think that, above all, there is this longing and search for love, and a belief that it exists. And that a large part of this is about yourself, with all your self-perceived flaws, which isn’t always easy. But that’s the goal.
Marina: You’re such a romantic! Describe your dream guy.
Jasmine: It’s going to sound super cheesy, but I feel like I’ll see it in his eyes.. I look at some guys eyes, and I’m like “Nope, it’s not you!” There was a guy I really liked but I couldn’t see it in his eyes. I was like “Well, maybe it’s not in his eyes, maybe it’s somewhere else!”
(Two minutes of laughter follows.)
Somebody who is kind, focused, generous in spirit. I love intellect and wit, just not too sarcastic to the point where there’s anger.. I want to feel like we’re on each other’s team. And successful – I think that people have trouble saying it out loud sometimes, but somebody who loves what they do and excels at it.
Marina: I agree. Speaking of success, do you ever feel sometimes that we want too much here in terms of both life and success?
Jasmine: Yes, it’s the same in LA. People are always chasing fame and success and you just have to ask yourself “What am I really after?” I think that it’s great to have drive, but you have to make sure that you are not just constantly chasing but are also grateful for what you have, because otherwise you will never be happy. And that’s not easy, it takes practice, you constantly have to remind yourself to be grateful for where you are! It’s very easy to lose sight of that. Personally, I take the time to meditate every day, because that’s where it begins and where it ends. I want to make sure that I don’t lose sight of that because, while I want to be successful, I also want to make sure that I’m not living in the future and denying the now. I got really into spirituality when I was in LA and I try to use that in my column a little bit, without hitting people over the head.
Marina: People are really into that stuff right now.
Jasmine: Yeah I think that people really do want more depth, because there is so much superficiality going on..
Marina: Yes, there are a lot of juxtapositions in society. On one hand, social media is very superficial, yet there’s definitely strong demand for ideas and content that is thorough and meaningful.
Jasmine: My next Observer column is actually about things like Instagram and the selfie. We are all about branding ourselves these days, but, personally, I struggle when I post a selfie. I wonder whether I’m celebrating myself as a woman, or am I objectifying myself for a sense of approval? There’s this constant line that I’m trying to balance. Like, “What am I putting out there into the world”? I think I’m going through this sort of existential crisis about Instagram and my identity and feminism and what I want to come across as a woman.
Marina: Yes, but living a manifesto is not going to do anybody any good. I think feminism is such a misconstrued concept. Feminism is being who you are and being comfortable making your own decisions, whatever they are. It’s about freedom and about not having to live by any defined set rules.
Jasmine: Yes, I agree, and I think that we are all so quick to judge. A friend of mine told me that the worst thing we can do as women is judge other women. I think about this stuff all the time.. it’s confusing. For example, I think of myself as a feminist, but I also like chivalry. So then I ask myself, “Am I a fraud of a feminist because this turns me on?” Like, my feminist theory teacher would kill me!”
Marina: No way. Feminism is also saying what you think and feel. I’ll say it: I like chivalry and I also want somebody who knows how to make money.
Jasmine: Me too! But I feel like women are not allowed to say that these days.
Marina: Oh please, men say things like that all the time!
Jasmine: I literally had a man tell me that he is looking for a supermodel with an Ivy League degree. He had no problem saying that out loud, it was totally acceptable! But if a woman says “I want a man who can provide” she will be called a gold-digger. I feel like there’s a double standard and women are often at the brunt of it. There is so much shame related to sexuality, especially for women.. That’s what conversations like these are all about: Bringing these underlying dynamics to the surface and talking about them without fear, really putting yourself out there!
Marina: That’s part of the reason I still continue with the blog. I feel like these online platforms are where conversations are happening and give us a space to speak openly.
Jasmine: Definitely. And it is scary! It’s very scary to be vulnerable and to express yourself, there’s this fear that people will criticize you or disagree with you. But you want to speak the truth and it’s your purpose.
Marina: Yeah. You just realize at some point that you have one life and there’s no point in holding back. Speaking of which, what’s next for you?
Jasmine: I’m working on a book. I have many years of writing, a lot of it is from LA as well that I’m sorting through now. I have a great new agent whom I really see eye-to-eye with. I am also launching a YouTube channel that I’m really excited about. I love to write, but I also love to talk. As an actress that part of me is very much alive and needs an outlet. I feel like it will be an interesting way for me to play and explore a different side of me. It’s scary in the sense that it’s my face out there. In writing it’s just your name, but it’s another thing to actually click on something and see someone!
Marina: Do you feel like the more you put your face out there, the less you want to be honest? Anonymity gives you so much voice.. Balls, as I keep calling them. I started totally anonymous and it was wonderful. The more you put your face on it the more you feel like there’s a façade you have to put up.
Jasmine: Yes, that’s why you have to make sure that you put the real you out there, because there will always be that part that’s trying to protect yourself. You have to own up to who you are, you can’t do it half-ass. That’s the part that’s jumping off the cliff, and that’s scary as shit. But I want to do that, because, as you said yourself, you only live once. I also think that people know truth and, on some level, they always know when you’re full of shit. That’s how you can tell who’s a great actor or a great writer – there’s a vulnerability there. I think that in order to really do something you’re passionate about you have to find that within yourself. And some people will hate you for it and others will love you. And you would rather almost somebody hate you than just be like “eh”, because the “eh” just means you’re not fully invested. Also, maybe you will fail. But, guess what, everyone fails. No one likes it, but you learn a lot. There’s a great quote by Elizabeth Appell: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” It’s more painful to stay small than grow into who you meant to be. So, if you are going to sleep at night thinking “I really want to do that but I’m afraid”, that feeling is so much worse than humiliation. Because, once you do put yourself out there, it’s not as bad as you thought. I used to get scared when I would write about explicit sexual scenes, I though people would find me disgusting. But guess what? I was still around the next day. You survive. You’re still there. The fear itself is much bigger than the buildup… So here’s to us pursuing our dreams!