It's one thing to write down your deepest, darkest secret on a postcard and mail it off anonymously to an address in the US - quite another to stand up in front of a room full of strangers and blurt it out.
But Frank Warren, who started the PostSecret art project in 2004, says his live events often prompt those who don't believe they have a secret to stand up and take the microphone.
Warren, who is visiting Australia on an event tour in April, tells AAP from his Maryland home he is amazed at how his little project has grown.
Initially he handed out 3000 self-addressed postcards on the streets of Washington, asking strangers to share a true secret they'd never told anyone before.
"I had hoped to receive about 100 or so coming back but the idea of the project spread online, went viral around the world and people found out about it on every continent," he says.
Now Warren has received more than half a million cards and posts a selection of them online every Sunday on a site he says is the most-visited advertising-free website in the world.
They range from the funny, through shocking and sexual with messages such as, "If she weren't such a `happy drunk', I think they'd call her an alcoholic"; "My hairy legs are like birth control" and "I steal whole carts of food from the grocery store - I just walk right out like it has all been paid for. No one has ever tried to stop me."
The blog of secrets has so far spawned five books and a series of websites in other languages, including French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
Warren says the book tours were what led him to create the events that are bringing him Down Under.
He says he found the question-and-answer sessions during the tours showed him that people also wanted to hear about the secrets that didn't make it into the books, which then led to a desire to open up themselves.
"So instead of sharing a secret on a postcard on a website, I'm hoping to be able to facilitate the social experience where people can tell their true secrets live in a way that can be electrifying," Warren says.
At a recent event, Warren says a woman came forward with a secret on a postcard she'd found while going through her sister's belongings after she had been killed in a car crash.
The next day the woman posted a video on YouTube thanking Warren for the closure she'd found bringing that secret into the open.
"The hardest part about losing someone you love is letting go of the few remaining pieces you have of their life," she says in the video, which has had about 20,000 views in the few short weeks it's been up on the site.
While the FBI has been in touch with Warren a few times about secrets sent to him on cards, he says live events rarely prompt tales of illegal activities - but they do happen.
"I was in London a few months ago and a woman came to the microphone, she must have been in her 60s, and she said, `I'm a college professor and every time I've delivered a lecture this year I've been high'.
"I don't know if that's funny or criminal - I guess it depends if you're paying tuition or not."
PostSecret events in Australia:
April 12 - The Tivoli, Brisbane
April 16 & 17 - Enmore Theatre, Sydney
April 18 - Hamer Hall, MelbourneApril 20 - Astor Theatre, Perth
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