MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Jule Moench and Sam Videen are professional artists. They act, dance and sing at Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. It’s a one-of-a-kind center where artists living with physical or cognitive disabilities have the opportunity to create and perform original works.
“We do shows in major venues like the Guthrie Theatre, we’ve toured nationally and internationally and this is our 26th year,”said Jeanne Calvit, founder and artistic director of the center.
Moench is living with Down syndrome and Videen is on the autism spectrum, but they prefer to be recognized for their talent.
They both take their jobs very seriously. However, outside of work, Moench and Videen have found love.
“In the summer of 2018, he wrote me a card saying he had a crush on me,” Videen said.
“Sam confessed his love for me by calling me on the phone,” Moench added.
Calvit says the two make a great pair.
“I was really happy because that’s hard to do for everybody to find a good relationship, but in the disability world, you’ve just got that many more hurdles,” Calvit said.
They started dating September 7, 2018, and they’ve been inseparable since.
"We tell each other about how cute we are – love names like Buttercup, Cutie Pie,” Moench said.
“We like going on dates at restaurants and watching a movie together," Videen said. "We like supporting each other and cuddling – we did the cuddling thing before the COVID hit.”
As much as they love physically holding each other -- Moench and Videen haven’t been able to spend time together in person for more than a year.
“Sometimes it’s been hard," Videen said. "We do the best we can and we have virtual dates on like holidays and my birthday and stuff.”
Their loving relationship has continued virtually. But Moench admits he misses comforting Videen in person.
“One day he just said out of the blue, 'It’s really hard when you can’t be with the one that makes your heart go boom’ and I thought, ‘Oh my God, we have a song there,’” Calvit said.
Those sweet words are now lyrics in a song for their next performance titled 'Zoomtopia' – a series of stories about how artists at the company have handled the pandemic. The show is expected to open its virtual curtains in June.
“We’re looking forward to doing the scene together because we’ve been working so very hard on this,” Moench said.
The two will continue to love each other through the screen until they can meet in person again.