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Jane Pratt Explains Tavi’s Role in Her New Website, How ‘It’s Liberating to Overshare’

Jane Pratt's new website, xoJane.com, kicked off this week with some juicy posts about sex with Terry Richardson, traumatizing bikini waxes, and the effects of institutionalization on one's hair. Pratt also threw a launch party on Tuesday night at the Jane Hotel, which felt like a nineties reunion: Pratt gabbed with Michael Stipe and Courtney Love by the fireplace, and the Beastie Boys' Mike D made an appearance. The morning after, we spoke with Pratt about the new site, particularly Tavi's role in it, and how she's holding up to brutal commenters.

How are you feeling this morning?
You're catching me at a good time, because I got about four hours of sleep. I went out after the party to a restaurant nearby, to eat again, with Michael [Stipe] and a couple of friends from the party. I always like to eat again. So we went out and then I got home really late and got up early this morning. I think I told you last night that I was actually going to sleep, and it would be the end of my adrenaline binge, but apparently not.

Yes. You said you've gotten, like, three hours of sleep since the website launched.
Maybe two hours of sleep Sunday night and Monday night, and now I've taken it to another level. Remember when David Blaine did that thing where he didn't sleep for however many days? He went into different phases: hallucination, dizziness, a teary phase. I think I'm going through those.

Sounds fun.
JP: Yeah. If David Blaine can do it ...

So, a lot of the work on the website so far has been really self-revealing pieces.
Yeah, we want to have personal stuff. It makes sense for us. A lot of general interest and fashion sites are really good with news, and we want to have our own stories, too. Obviously, no one else will have these. So, yes! From Emily, writing about her rapist friending her on Facebook to ... it doesn't really get more revealing than that. The thing is, I'm also revealing hyper-personal stuff about myself, too. So at least I'm not asking them to do it and then not doing it myself. It's challenging — but it's liberating to overshare.

So what exactly is Tavi Gevinson's role in the website?
Tavi is going to contribute. We haven't even figured out what her first post is going to be at this point, she might interview somebody. But she's going to contribute to this.

You mentioned last night you think the commenters have been brutal.
Uh huh, brutal. Do you think the comments about me were, in particular, brutal?

No, I think most people who work on the Internet would agree that commenters in general can be brutal.
Yes, we can all agree on that. I would have maybe gone into one of the crying phases if I thought you were saying that my personal commenters were more brutal than most. I don't think they are. I'm fine with it. I feel like I had early exposure to getting bashed after putting myself out there. Now it's more immediate and there's the anonymity thing a little bit more, but I was expecting it. I guess I just look at it in terms of the kind of comment they're leaving. Is it the kind of thing where they're bashing me and they're bashing something in the last sentence of the story? Because then it's like, "Okay, great, they read the whole thing." If they're engaged, passionately, then I'm cool with that. If it's a comment on the headline or something, then it's like, "Oh, maybe my story didn't compel them enough to read the whole thing." Especially someone who'll go and bash one story on the site, and then go bash another, and then go bash another and another. Then it's like, "Wow! That's good for traffic."

Has anyone regretted anything they've written so far?
No. I would say we don't have any regrets here.

It's early.
True.

Has it been hard for anyone to reveal so much about themselves?
Uh huh, there were tears in a meeting. It wasn't like I was pushing someone to write something really personal, and they were crying because I was saying they've got to do it. That did not happen. But I think it's more like, there's been a lot of emotion around here in general. We're all very personally invested in what we're doing. There's a lot of female energy playing off one another. Certainly, there's been crying in the office a few times over various things.

Are you the one to talk people off the ledge or vice versa?
Oh, I think it's been a mix. I wrote an e-mail to Emily at three-something in the morning about a headline, and she wrote back saying I need to safeguard my sanity. That was good advice. It wasn't her talking me down from me being upset, but she was saying, you know, pace yourself. You don't need to be up at three worrying about this. But other times I've been the one to calm people down, sure. I think I usually give a lot of advice to friends, and people come to me for that, and I tend to give it in a calm, nonjudgmental way. People say I seem calm, but usually that just means the maelstrom inside me isn't coming across. I'm usually not feeling calm. It comes off that way somehow to the outside world.

Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

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Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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