Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Secret Lives of Hofstra Students: Greg Mania

Happy 2013! I decided the first blog post of this year would be an article on yours truly by Maggie Urban-Waala of Hofstra University. We did an interview and she wrote an amazing article on me appearing in The Chronicle, however only a small portion of it was printed. Below is the full article. Check it out! 

The Secret Lives of Hofstra Students: Greg Mania
By: Maggie Urban-Waala

Photo credit: Ky Digregorio for PMc Magazine

Surveying the dorm room of Greg Mania, it is evident that he has a certain eccentricity about him. Looking no further than his personal appearance, it is clear that he encompasses this attitude in all aspects of his life.

The 6’1” blonde bombshell struts around campus with an additional 10 inches of hair teased to its maximum height, leaving most at least curious, if not completely puzzled by his ability to make almost anyone do a double take.

Today Mania is sporting black and white vertically striped pants and a vintage David Bowie sweater as he rushes into his room, flustered as ever, spouting on about nameless individuals he has to meet with and email immediately.

I sit at his desk taking in the room’s decorations, which leave one with a vamp-like taste in your mouth that is only heightened by the lack of natural light in the room. The shades are drawn and the main source of lighting comes from strands of Christmas lights draped along walls. While black, white and red remain the central color scheme, the single room is accented by pieces including bedazzled skulls, a disco ball, a zebra print area rug, and strewn books with titles ranging from “Psychopath Test” to “Love Janis”.

Seeing a bit more into his personal life makes it almost necessary to learn more about him and his life outside of Hofstra University.

Greg Mania is a fierce and hard-working senior at Hofstra majoring in Mass Media studies with a minor in German. The student possesses an array of skills ranging from writing in his highly esteemed blog to entertaining numerous crowds involved in the New York City nightlife.

He gracefully swings his exceptionally long legs over the edge of his bed, recalling his first few outings in NYC that took place almost three years ago.

Routinely ditching his dance lessons in the Upper West Side at 16, Mania would find himself wandering by himself in the Lower East Side against his parent’s instructions looking for gigs and watching the excitement that followed socialites in the “scene”.

The eager teen would then rush home to add the socialites on MySpace and Facebook, not realizing that they were also taking notice of him as well.

Besides gaining attention for his contagiously defiant yet playful nature in NYC, he couldn’t avoid it throughout high school as well.

“I’ve always had that in me, but I didn’t feel comfortable because every time I did something over the top the kids would look at me and say ‘What is he doing dancing on that table with his shirt off?’ but when I went downtown I realized that these people would not mind me being outrageous.”

Mania glances in the mirror, checking to be sure his blonde locks are firmly in place before he explains the confusion and popularity that has resulted due to the spelling of his last name, which coincidentally is not pronounced the way it would seem to be.

Despite this, the incorrect pronunciation of his last name stuck in his social life, and was almost too ironic considering his relatively manic personality. He began to run into an increasing amount of individuals who recognized him and praised him for living up to the name.

After doing a bit of networking, he eventually found himself tweeting back and forth with the drummer from The Dirty Pearls, a band that he viewed as “Good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. They’re not some lame band that tries to be badass.”

While experiences such as this make him noticeably glow while reminiscing, Mania explains that he understands, just like every other college student, the exhaustion of performing at his highest potential in multiple aspects of life.

Between keeping his hair at a skyscraper-esque height, networking with a range of characters in the city and attempting a normal college experience, Mania states he deals with the stress by simply “dying in between”.

Mania smirks and readjusts his position on the bed to lay on his side, resting his head on one arm as he recalls himself sitting in class in a constant state of struggle between brainstorming his next outlandish look for that night’s outing and needing to participate in a debate on Rousseau’s The Social Contract.

His packed schedule is overwhelming, but he explains that it is completely necessary because it is his natural anti-depressant to complete his responsibilities as a student and still be able to go out and cultivate his varying ensembles each night.

I ask him how and if he contains an off switch for his eccentricity in order to separate his Hofstra life from his NYC life, and he explains coolly that he is “Mania” 24/7.

He emphasizes the importance he places on staying true to himself, stating “I go to bed with my hair done all 10 feet tall, because I like to say, ‘If I die, I need to look good for the coroner.'”

Mania grew up performing in dance and theatre, which explains his laidback nature in response to the ever-present spotlight that he finds himself under at Hofstra and NYC alike.

Refusing to step out from the spotlight anytime soon, Mania struggles to recall all of the exciting new projects he is currently working on. Some of these include collaborating with reputable hair artist Chelsea Pickthorn, being hired to write a bio for up and coming NYC artist Brittany Campbell, providing comic relief and insight through his blog and Twitter accounts, and plotting new looks to sport at his favorite events.

Mania can hardly contain himself when describing a look that he plans to fashion soon which includes a mural of Lindsay Lohan spray painted on his hair from a stencil that he’s been working on.

Besides these current projects, Mania has a clear vision of his future that will include maintaining a creative environment at all times, writing and working as a creative director both in front of and behind the camera, and making sure to constantly push the envelope on gender ambiguity.

Mania expresses his desire to always remain active in the fashion world and inspire people through his wardrobe, stating, “For me, style is more valuable than fashion because style says who you are without you having to speak. It’s not about what you can afford.”

After mentioning the word style, Mania jumps up from the bed as if possessed insisting that he needs to go to the mall immediately. Once there, it is obvious that Hofstra is not the only place the icon receives blatant stares, especially after storming up to a women’s clothing rack in Express and demanding to try on a cheetah print jacket.

Although Mania clearly portrays his confidence through his style and personality, he notes that it is a struggle for some to fully embrace their own potentially unique fashion sense, explaining that although Hofstra is a very liberal community, there is always that yearning to fit in.

He proudly states his advice to those who are playing it safe, stating, “You don’t owe anyone an explanation for who you are.”

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