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Marc Horowitz is losing control of his life to strangers, but they are strangely protective

November 22, 2010 | 11:16 am

  Horowitzfinal

Since starting his month-long Internet-puppetry project on Nov. 1, which involves posting polls online to let strangers direct the course of his day (www.theadviceofstrangers.com), the performer Marc Horowitz has discovered a few things.

1.  It's deeply, even existentially tiring to let others make key decisions for you -- telling you what to wear one day or where to go the next. "I'm really losing control -- it's fascinating but exhausting," he says, noting that even when he asked for a break (the voters sent him and his small crew to Balboa Island), they ended up making a movie.

2. Not all art students think that anything and everything can be art. One of his colleagues in the MFA program at USC, where he is a first-year student, is skeptical. "He came to me to say, dude, this isn't art. It's pure entertainment," Horowitz relays. (For his part, Horowitz thinks his level of engagement -- and dialogue with his voters -- sets this apart from your usual reality TV. He'll find out what his professors have to say in a critique in December.)

3. The 4,300 (and counting) visitors to the site who are participating in the polls are supportive, verging on nurturing. "The biggest surprise so far is how nice everybody is," Horowitz says. "I thought they would want me to do sadistic 'Jackass' kinds of stunts like crashing into the wall, but they really want me to spend more time with my mom."


And more time in therapy. In poll 38, the majority voted to have him to seek "mental help" from his psychologist Jessica Hess instead of Kate the Pyschic. Poll 52, created by the YouTube phenomenon called iJustine (who took over polling for a day last week), asked whether Marc should go to class. 54%  said yes; only 45% said play hooky.

When he needs to sleep in, voters let him. When he needs drugs for a headache, they give it to him.

Granted, there are vividly stupid moments, like when Horowitz ended up paddling a raft around Echo Park Lake with marshmallows under his chin and underwear on his head. (Yes, that poll, No. 22, was created by a 6-year-old.) There are also somewhat sadistic moments, such as when voters decided to let a personal trainer friend "abuse" Horowitz. But this is healthy sadism, at least.

Or, as Horowitz puts it, "I really thought some of the comments would be like: 'Dude, go kill yourself,' but they haven't done that."

"Or not yet," he adds. His project, sponsored by the public art group Creative Time, is not over until Nov. 30. Now up for grabs: What should he do for Thanksgiving with his mom, and what should he show at the Scope art fair in Miami?

--Jori Finkel
www.twitter.com/jorifinkel

Image: A screen shot of theadviceofstrangers.com

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