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← My life as a work of art

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Showing Revision 1 created 06/03/2019 by Leslie Gauthier.

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    My day starts just like yours.
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    (Laughter)
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    When I wake up in the morning,
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    I check my phone
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    and then I have a cup of coffee.
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    But then my day truly starts.
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    It may not be like yours because
    I live my life as an artwork.
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    Picture yourself in a giant jewelry box
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    with all the beautiful things
    that you have ever seen in your life.
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    Then imagine that your body is a canvas.
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    And on that canvas,
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    you have a mission to create a masterpiece
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    using the contents of your giant jewelry box.
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    Once you've created your masterpiece,
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    you might think, "Wow, I created that.
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    This is who I am today."
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    Then you would pick up your housekeys,
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    walk out the door into the real world,
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    maybe take public transport
    to the center of the town.
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    Possibly walk along the streets
    or even go shopping.
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    That's my life every day.
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    When I walk out the door,
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    these artworks are me.
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    I am art.
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    I've lived as art my entire adult life.
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    Living as art is how I became myself.
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    I was brought up in a small village
    called Fillongley in England,
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    and it was last mentioned
    in the "Domesday Book,"
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    so that's the mentality.
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    (Laughter)
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    I was raised by my grandparents,
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    and they were antiques dealers.
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    So I grew up surrounded
    by history and beautiful things.
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    I had the most amazing dress-up box.
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    So as you can imagine,
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    it started then.
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    I moved to London when I was 17
    to become a model.
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    And then I went to study photography.
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    I wasn't really happy
    with myself at the time,
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    so I was always looking for escapism.
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    I studied the works of David LaChappelle
    and Steven Arnold,
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    photographers who both curated
    and created worlds
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    that were mindblowing to me.
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    So I decided one day to crossover
    from the superficial fashion world
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    to the superficial art world.
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    (Laughter)
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    I decided to live my life as a work of art.
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    I spend hours, sometimes months,
    making things.
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    My go-to tool is a safety pin,
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    like this --
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    they're never big enough.
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    And I use my fabrics time and time again,
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    so I recycle everything that I use.
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    When I get dressed I'm guided
    by color, texture and shape.
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    I rarely have a theme.
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    I find beautiful objects
    from all over the world
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    and I curate them into 3D tapestries
    over a base layer
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    that covers my whole body shape...
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    because I'm not very happy with my body.
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    (Laughter)
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    I ask myself, "Should I take
    something off
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    or should I put something on?"
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    100 pieces maybe,
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    and sometiems I do that.
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    I promise you it's not too uncomfortable --
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    well, just a little --
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    (Laughter)
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    I might have a safety pin
    poking me sometimes
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    when I'm having a conversation with you,
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    so I'll kind of go off --
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    (Laughter)
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    It usually takes me about
    20 minutes to get ready,
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    which nobody every believes.
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    It's true --
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    sometimes.
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    So is my version of a t-shirt and jeans.
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    (Laughter)
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    When I get dressed
    I build like an architect.
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    I carefully place things
    until I feel they belong.
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    Then I get a lot of my ideas
    from lucid dreaming.
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    I actually go to sleep to come up
    with my ideas,
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    and I've taught myself to wake up
    to write them down.
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    I wear things until they fall apart,
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    and then I give them a new life.
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    The gold outfit for example
    is the outfit that I wore
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    to the Houses of Parliament in London.
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    It's made of armor, sequins and broken jewelry,
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    and I was the first person
    to wear armor to Parliament
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    since Oliver Cromwell banned it
    in the 17th century.
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    Things don't need to be expensive
    to be beautiful.
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    Try making outfits out of bin liners
    or trash you found out on the street.
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    You never know,
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    they might end up on the pages of Vogue.
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    There's over 6,000 pieces in my collection,
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    ranging from 2,000-year-old Roman rings
    to ancient Buddhist artifacts.
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    I believe in sharing what I do
    and what I have with others,
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    so I decided to create an art exhibition,
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    which is currently traveling
    to museums around the world.
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    It contains and army of me --
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    life-size scultptures as you can see behind me,
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    they're here --
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    they are my life, really.
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    They're 3D tapestries of my existence
    as living as art.
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    They contain plastic crystals mixred with diamonds,
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    beer cans and world silks all in one look.
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    I like the fact that the viewer
    can never make the assumption
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    of what's real and what's fake.
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    I find it important to explore and share
    cultures through my works.
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    I use clothing as a means to investigate
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    and appreciate people from all
    over the world.
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    Sometimes people think I'm a performer
    or a drag queen.
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    I'm not.
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    Although my life appears
    to be a performance,
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    it's not.
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    It's very real.
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    People respond to me as they would
    any other type of artwork.
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    Many people are fascinated and engaged.
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    Some people walk around me,
    staring, shy at first.
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    Then they come up to me and they say
    they love or absolutely hate what I do.
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    I sometimes respond and other times
    I let the art talk for itself.
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    The most annoying thing in the world
    is when people want to touch the artwork.
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    Then I understand.
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    But like a lot of contemporary art,
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    many people are dismissive.
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    Some people are critical,
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    others are abusive.
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    I think it comes from
    the fear of the different --
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    the unknown.
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    There are so many reactions to what I do,
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    and I've just learnt not
    to take them personally.
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    I've never lived
    as Daniel Lismore the person.
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    I've lived as Daniel Lismore the artwork.
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    And I've faced every obstacle as an artwork.
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    It can be hard.
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    Especially if your wardrobe takes up
    a 40-foot container,
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    three storage units
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    and 30 boxes from IKEA --
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    (Laughter)
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    and sometimes it can be very difficult
    getting into cars,
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    and sometimes --
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    well, this morning I didn't fit
    through my bathroom door,
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    so that was a problem.
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    (Laughter)
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    What does it mean to be yourself?
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    People say it all the time,
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    but what does it truly mean?
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    And why does it matter?
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    How does life change when you choose
    to be unapolegetically yourself?
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    I've had to face struggles and triumphs
    whilst living my life as art.
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    I've been put on private jets
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    and flown around the world.
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    My work's been displayed
    in prestigous musuems
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    and I've had the opportunity --
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    that's my grandparents by the way --
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    by the people that raised me --
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    and there I am --
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    (Applause)
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    So I've been put on private jets,
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    flown around the world
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    and it's not been that easy
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    because at times I've been homeless,
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    I've been spat at,
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    I've been abused, sometimes daily,
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    bullied by entire life,
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    rejected by countless individuals,
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    and I've been stabbed.
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    But what hurt the most was being put
    on the "Worst Dressed" list.
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    (Laughter)
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    It can be hard being yourself,
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    but I've found it's the best way.
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    There's the "Worst Dressed."
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    (Laughter)
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    As the quote goes, "Everyone else
    is already taken,"
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    I've come to realize confidence
    is a concept you can choose.
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    I've come to realize that authenticity
    is necessary and it's powerful.
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    I've tried to spend time
    being like other people.
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    It didn't work.
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    It's a lot of hard work,
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    not being yourself.
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    I have a few questions for you all.
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    Who are you?
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    How many versions of you are there?
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    And I have one final question:
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    are you using them all
    to your advantage?
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    In reality, everyone is capable
    of creating their own masterpiece.
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    You should try it some time.
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    It's quite fun.
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    Thank you.
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    (Applause and cheers)