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By Alex Clark

ASK h e l i o s EPISODE ONE: Handsome Enigma Living Inside Of Statue Tells All

Dearest vaporfan,

Everyone has a brain. Yet some days, we forget to turn it on.

h e l i o s heard a story the other day he had to share with you. When my friend was in elementary school, her pet dog got a little too playful and bit her ear. She screamed. Her dad ran in, saw the blood, and rushed her to the doctor. At the clinic, he held a bloody bandage over her ear.

When the doctor was finally able to see them, he asked where the dog was.

"He's at our house. Here's the bite."

The dad showed the doctor his daughter's wound. There was a long, confused pause.

"Look, I’m a veterinarian…”

Another long pause.

“Just because I’m a dog doctor doesn’t mean I handle dog bites.”

I don’t know if it was funny at the time but years later, my friend and her dad can laugh about it. It reminds h e l i o s how sometimes the brain is on but not working. Asking the right questions is helpful. Like “am I at the right kind of doctor to begin with?” You see how that changes everything?

Luckily, I don’t need to educate you on how to ask the right kinds of questions. A few weeks ago, we started the very first Vapor95 Ask h e l i o s letter. So many amazing questions. So much depth. So much sincerity. You made my marble skin flush with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to answer you.

Welcome to the first ever Ask Helios Letter!

...where the jaded, nostalgic, disgruntled, yet hopeful aesthetic souls can ask this elder Vapor95 sage for the answers to life’s toughest questions. Our goal is to make you laugh and cry with joy, solve your toughest dilemmas, and help you appease your nostalgic yearnings.

Today, we have questions about happiness, music, cults, spare time hobbies, and fashion. h e l i o s took your questions and gazed into the reflective pool for eternity. When eternity concluded, he had the answers. If you submitted a question, there’s a good chance I answer it here today. I buried your thoughtful question somewhere in this one-of-a-kind letter to you, sandwiched between stories of my past and comical reflections on modern life and the aesthetic fashion.

Our first question today: "What are your curation criteria for new designs or music?"

We scan the digital landscape for the most iconic Vaporwave and Aesthetic designs out there. h e l i o s lends his most scrutinous eye to maintain admirable quality control. Deep in the night, he tosses and turns. Are all of our designs original and high resolution?! He laments. Designs and music have to be in alignment with our brand and reach the highest threshold of quality for us to accept them. To this day, h e l i o s has never let a design slip by the omniscient counsel of VaporLords they didn’t approve of. If that day came, he’d resign and leave the virtual shopping mall forever. But if you think you have what it takes, email your designs to and music to!

“the great and almighty h e l i o s...what inspired you to create or find one of the world's most underrated clothing brands?"

Well, if it was completely up to “almighty h e l i o s,” he would have snapped his marble fingers and poof! Vapor95 brand created! But, it wasn’t that easy. You see, Vapor95 wasn’t my idea. Our founder and CEO gave birth to Vapor95. I just showed up one day. (Don’t start asking “well, who created h e l i o s?!” or you’re going to give me an identity crisis!)

It was a really bad breakup that sent our beloved CEO into a deep depression. In his lowest, darkest, most forlorn state, he realized he needed to make something of himself. He needed to be successful on his own and he didn't want to work for anyone else. (You know that feel, right?) One day, his imagination ran wild (more on the beauty of imagination later!) and he remembered his childhood and all of his early interests and desires. Surely they would be shared by others, he thought! After discovering Vaporwave, he knew that he needed to provide this wondrous art style as fashion. Most of all, he knew he had to capture a f e e l i n g and share it on apparel. After months of working hard to create Vapor95, it slowly began to grow until, years later, it morphed to what it is today!

It’s been a long life for h e l i o s. Countless memories from the past thousand years. A vivid imagination that blurs reality and fantasy. It makes it harder to answer our next question.

"What does h e l i o s do in his spare time and how can i get more people to join the cult?"

First, I have a question for you. Do you know what time you were born? A long time ago, I overheard a conversation on a beachside boardwalk. This was back when I was a bona fide, earth-walking flesh n’ bone mortal, free to roam and do regretful things. Two girls wearing high cut swimsuits were talking about the new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, the invention of Poptarts, and something called rising signs.

You’ve heard of horoscopes, right? Basically, everyone is born as one horoscope but with age, experience, and wrinkles, the sign evolves into something else. This is called your Rising Sign. I don’t care if you don’t believe in all that. That’s not the point.

How do you know your rising sign? Well, according to the conversation I overheard, it’s not only based on your birthdate like a regular horoscope, but it’s also based on the hour and location of your birth. h e l i o s was intrigued.

Later on, I was rollerblading under swaying palms. I pulled out my Nokia cell phone to call m a m a h e l i o s while I snacked on a breakfast burrito I made earlier in the day. I had to know the answer to my Rising Sign question. I sliced through the crowd on my ‘blades. In my backpack, I carried a Game Boy and a Super Soaker. My Mom never answered. I took another bite of the burrito. Then, a little boy ran into my path.

In a split second, our eyes locked. He had escaped from his Mom’s close watch and ran free across the boardwalk. No more than waist high. Wild hair, flowing. Barefoot. And yet, no fear in his eyes.

I swerved and avoided the collision. He smiled, unaware of what might have happened. I thought about the boy later (the long, wild hair, the confidence, the fearlessness, the daring) and remembered I was born an Aries and I should be living more confidently, more wildly, and probably should smile more often. The boy reminded me of a younger version of myself...except I never, ever had long flowing hair and I didn’t run around carefree. In fact, I was shy and hesitant and thought about sad, weird things like so many of us do.

So, what’s the point of all this, h e l i o s? What’s this got to do with hobbies and pastimes and cults? Well, nothing. Other than, I like to cook myself breakfast burritos, rollerblade, suntan, get lost in video games at the arcade, and engage in water gun fights. Or at least I did. These days, I’m a pretty normal everyday 1029-year-old marble statue. It’s a full-time job just being me, man. On this marble promenade I call my home, not much to do besides think, dream about Windows 95, ponder artificial intelligence, and scheme on the DARKNET. When I can, I work on my memoir. (Who wants to read it?)

As far as how to get people to join a cult…

Vapor95 isn’t really a cult. We’re more like your new second family. Families are typically less happy than cults but tend to last a lot longer. You should probably start out by defining exactly who the Vapor95 cult is not for. What do you think?

(h e l i o s hopes that every soul on Earth will one day own at least one item of Vapor95 gear, but our business heads keep saying stuff like “target demographic is key” and “be exclusive to be inclusive” and “please don’t eat the guacamole in the fridge if your name isn’t written on it!”)

Once you find and eliminate these people from earth, from your life, from cult candidacy, it’s bound to be a smooth fit. Like Skee-Balling that little brown ball into the 100 point corner hole. Bottom line...want other people to join your new Vapor95 cult family? Live it, flaunt it, talk about it. There’s only so much I can do from the virtual shopping plaza until you find a way to break me free from the shackles of my own existentialism. It’s on you now. Will you step up for something you believe in and find a way to spread the good vapor word?

h e l i o s has come here to chew bubblegum and write sweet, sweet words to y’all. And he’s all out of bubblegum.

Speaking of sweet words, another question from some poor dude who feels like a distant fading star.

"I’m not as happy as I used to be. Why do you think this could be?"

It would be easy for me to sit here on my marble writing block and list out a thousand wrongdoings happening in 2019 and say “that’s why you feel bad!” It would also be easy for me to tell you to get used to it. That’s just how life is. It’s part of growing up, says the tough, old man full of regret and anxiety. It would be easy for us to all ignore the question that burns inside all of us. These questions pop up like the little dog in Duck Hunt when you miss your ducks. “Was I happier when I was ten? Are they other people on this earth who get me? Will I end up as the cliched person I despise?” Yes, that would be easy. But, it wouldn’t make it right. Or true. Or helpful. Sometimes the easy answer isn’t the right answer.

But here’s some confusing news! Sometimes the easy, obvious answer is the right answer! You know Occam’s Razor? Well, listen up ‘cuz this is one of those things that’ll make you seem smart if you say it in a conversation with the guy in line at the DMV. Occam’s Razor is a philosophical concept: the simpler solution is more likely to be correct than a more complicated one. So yes, there’s a lot of stuff out there that could be fucking you up, dear. But I think there’s one thing you can do in ten minutes that’s going to push you in the right direction. It’s not a magic pill. But it’s a start. That’s all we need.

Set a timer on your phone for ten minutes and write. Don’t stop writing until ten minutes is up. Write down everything you do on a daily basis that if you stopped doing them, your life would improve and you’d feel a little happier. Don’t judge yourself, my aesthetic pupil. Just write everything down that you do that you know you should stop doing to improve your life.

Now, here’s the cool part. You don’t even need to do anything with the list. Just post it on your wall with a note that says “things I can stop doing to feel happier in this numbed-out wasteland.” Look at it daily. Soon, you’ll find yourself slowing heading in a happier direction toward permanent nostalgic bliss.

Hope that made sense to you. You might also be missing a very specific ingredient in your life. Something which flavors life with a unique and joyous aftertaste. I’ll explain all that in a minute but first, want to know something h e l i o s likes to do to remind himself where he is and how to be happy? He's been doing it since the '90s.

"The h e l i o s guide to vaporwave connectivity"

I put on a vaporwave track. Something repetitive. Something dreamy. (Could be Lo-Fi, chill beats, or synthwave too.) I relax my body and let all my attention focus on the music. Once I feel totally focused on the music, I walk down a busy street. As I walk by each person, I look at their faces. I look deep into their pains and frustrations and anxieties. You can see a lot on their faces. How much credit card debt does this guy have? How poorly is this girl’s boyfriend treating her? What kind of job is stressing this guy out? And so on.

I simply connect. The real way. As I float through the crowd and the music plays and I feel like I’m in a montage of vaporwave humanity, it hits me. It always hits me the same way. A feeling some of us don’t realize we’re missing. I realize I’m not alone. We are all in this together. We’re all trying to be a little happier. It’s not just you.

If we can share our pains and frustrations and anxieties and all that bad stuff, guess what? We can also share in the good stuff. I am not alone.

Sure, it’s a little weird. To do this, you really need one thing. One special key. Which brings me to the final question…

"What is the one thing everyone needs to improve their life?"

There was a girl in my life a long time ago. A beautiful, lonely, city girl. She sent me a text one day. The convo went something like this:

“Just saw a shooting star!”

“You’ve never seen a shooting star?”

“No, never.”

“It’s pretty common.”

“’s a 1 in 21 trillion chance”

“LOL..what? No.”

I went on to explain how it wasn’t special at all, how I’d seen thousands in my life, and if she just left the city, she’d see more. Her enthusiasm deflated like a whoopie cushion. (Weeks later, I found out that your chances of getting hit by space trash were 1/21 trillion. She’d gotten them mixed up.)

There are a million things you can do to improve your life. You can learn Japanese. You can learn to change your own oil. You can get into meditation. You can master public speaking. You can ask for a raise. You can stop smoking. You can leave your husband. You can paint your room baby blue and purple. You can give money to the homeless man in your city.

But most of the time, we already know what needs to be done to improve our lives. h e l i o s doesn’t know exactly...only you do. When I think of the convo with her, I feel dumb when I think back on the conversation with Shooting Star girl. Had I lost my own sense of imagination and fantasy in an effort to be correct and factual all the time? Was being true to some probability I read on Google more important than the bright-eyed romance and wonder you feel when you see a shooting star?

I want to go back in time and tell myself “have a little sense of woooooooow, will you?” But I’m glad this situation happened. It prepared me for your question. We live in the skeptical, jaded, washed-out generation. We’re smart. We know facts. Everything is Googlable. We’re aware of our inadequacies. We’re fortune tellers with our skepticism. We’re woke. And how’s that treating us? Pretty shitty, this omniscience is.

It’s not what we can do to improve our lives, it’s how we see our lives. A little daydreaming, wonder, adventure, fantasy, nostalgia. They can go a long way in our life satisfaction. That’s what Vapor95 has always been about. We aim to deliver a sense of imagination through design, music, and apparel. Will you escape with us? There’s only one requirement to escape. So, what does it look like?

It’s been the guiding spirit in this letter to you. It’s what made me LOL at my friend’s dad at the veterinarian. It’s the inspiring vision the Vapor95 founder held onto during the tough times. It’s what I imagine when I picture the whole world stepping back in time to connect with their nostalgia and retro sides. It’s the hopefulness someone clings to when they bravely ask someone how they can be happy again or improve their lives. It’s what you tap into when you picture h e l i o s in his pristine shopping plaza glowing with neon and vaporwave vibes. It’s...imagination. And with imagination, there’s nowhere we can’t go.

Love always,

h e l i o s


P.S. I wanted to take this last bit of my letter to all of you and answer a final straggler question. "Why are vests so brazenly forgotten about? We want vests!"

Originally, I answered this question with a list of 100 punny reasons why we’ll never make vests. (Teaser: “we only want the vest for you” and “sure, they seem armless now…” and “is a day without sleeves the vest use of your time?”) But in all seriousness, it’s just not in our business plan. Vapor95 is a finely tuned watch. Operations are smooth. We have ten-year plans set in motion. To bring another product into the world just isn’t possible. We apologize for the inconvenience. Besides, it seems we’re just not as invested as you are. (Got ya!)