Live-Streaming Your Broke Self for Rent Money

VideoLive-Streaming Your Broke Self for Rent Money

Jovan Hill, 25, dropped out of college and is unemployed. So how does he pay for his Brooklyn apartment and marijuana habit? His social media followers chip in.

By Mike Vilensky

Dec. 8, 2018

On a lazy Sunday in September, Jovan Hill, a 25-year-old unemployed man in Brooklyn, had a small ask for the 7,100 strangers watching him on the live-streaming app Periscope: He needed $7,000, quickly.

“Good morning, girls and gays,” Mr. Hill said, recording with an iPhone in one hand and smoking a marijuana blunt in the other. He wore a faded pink T-shirt, gray gym shorts and black Nikes. A black Pomeranian and two roommates could be spotted in his messy bedroom somewhere in the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens.

In the rambling seven-minute video, he talks about wanting to move to Los Angeles (“This city just breaks you, I’m so bored of being broken”), spars with viewers who leave nasty comments (“I love all of you so much”), smokes his blunt and repeatedly asks for money.

“I’m very poor today,” he said. “So if you want any tax write-offs, please donate to the Jovan charity.”

Within minutes, the donations started flowing into his Venmo and PayPal accounts.

Annie Wyrick, 25, a D.J. in Los Angeles, gave $100 along with a cryptic message: “Spiraling.” Rachel McFall, 22, a waitress in New Orleans, donated $10. Lindsay Scali, 21, an freelance filmmaker from Fort Myers, Fla., gave $1 with a note calling Mr. Hill the “unemployed king.”