A trio of friends, two of whom are from Queens, have volunteered to watch “Cats” for 24 hours straight if and when they raise $15,000 for Housing Works, the nonprofit that works to create a supportive community and offer services for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Stephen Kendall, Emily Lind, and Kris Imperati are the “Cats” fanatics who created the challenge.
The idea came to Kendall, a White Stone native who currently lives in Astoria, after he and Lind went to watch another animal-themed movie.
“Emily and I tried to come up with a creative project to do together, and after watching ‘Dolittle,’ I jokingly came up with the ‘Cats’ idea,” Kendall said.
Kendall said Lind needed some convincing, though, so they came up with “an ungodly amount” of money to raise. On the other hand, Imperati, who grew up in College Point and now resides in Manhattan, didn’t need much convincing and thought reaching $15,000 is “totally doable.”
“If I’m 40 when we hit the $15,000 I’m not gonna promise I’ll do this,” Imperati said.
That’s a few years from now, though. And in a month of creating their GoFundMe page, they’ve already raised $4,800.
The rules are simple: If they make it to their goal, they will 1) watch “Cats” on a loop for 24 hours; 2) take breaks during the credits; 3) can have friends come by to join them at any time, as long as they are watching the movie with them; 4) are allowed to talk over the movie; 5) every cent raised will go to Housing Works; and 6) will live stream themselves watching the movie.
Why “Cats,” the CGI-heavy film with an all-star cast that includes Judy Dench, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, and Tayor Swift, that broke the internet when the trailer came out and received abysmal reviews from critics?
The self-proclaimed “connoisseurs of garbage movies,” who are also huge fans of the original Broadway musical the film was based on, watched the movie when it first premiered in December 2019.
“It was the best theatrical experience I’ve ever had because the entire audience had that feeling of ‘Oh my god, we love it but it’s garbage,’” Kendall laughed.
More than anything, though, they want to bring awareness to the “dual crises of homelessness and AIDS.”
Although Kendall, who’s a mental health counselor, Imperati, a human resources generalist, and Lind, a Brooklyn-based writer and podcast host, aren’t affiliated with Housing Works, they want to help the 30-year-old nonprofit continue their work of providing services to more than 30,000 New Yorkers.
“It’s cliche, but a rising tide moves all ships,” Imperati said. “Everyone has opportunities to leave their communities better than they found them.”
That’s what the three hope to do, but with some fun along the way.
“‘Cats” is the perfect fit because we want to do good but we also want to do it with joy in our hearts,” Imperati said.
They are also hosting a few events to encourage people to donate to the GoFundMe. On April 18, they are going to put on a show “Cats”-themed variety show, “Old Deuteronomy’s Comedy Jam,” at the Footlight in 465 Seneca Ave. in Ridgewood.
Imperati said he even made a Judy Dench-inspired costume for the performance. “I got this thing ready to go,” he said.
In the meantime, they’ll continue to tweet at the stars of the movie to see if they can reach their goal a little faster.
While Imperati emphasizes that all donations are tax deductible, he had one more message for a “Cats” cast member: “Taylor Swift, if this reaches you, please cut us a check for $10,000 and put us out of our misery.”
For more information, visit their GoFundMe page titled “Make Us Watch Cats For 24 Hours.”