Thursday, August 21, 2014

Craig Baldwin Day

'Craig Baldwin considers his work “underground” rather than “experimental” or “avant-garde”. Whereas the avant-garde is primarily concerned with formal exercise, and “experimental” implies some experiment (i.e. that something new is being tried for the purpose of determining whether of not it can expand the limits of cinematic language), “underground” would encompass not only formal plasticity but a political dimension; that of an oppositional subculture.

'As such, Craig Baldwin’s films have formal concerns as well as some kind of political commentary, usually concerning the exploitation of countries and people under imperialism, capitalist or otherwise. Even when he is inventing the oppression (as in the alien presence of Tribulation 99 [1991]) it is either a metaphor for a real-world situation or it is combined with verifiable history. The aliens of Tribulation 99 may come from the destroyed planet Quetzalcoatl, for example, but they are apparently working with Kissinger to subject local populations in Central America. The science fiction and the fact are intertwined.

'Baldwin’s work is most easily characterised by his use of recontextualised film elements, primarily drawn from his vast library of what Rick Prelinger, his fellow archivist and collector, calls “ephemeral films” – educational and industrial films chiefly made in the period between 1945 and 1975. These, along with a healthy dose of science fiction and period dramas, make the pool from which Baldwin draws. As libraries and schools began to renovate their A/V departments in the 1980s and 1990s, an avalanche of outdated materials became available, and the creative possibilities seemed obvious to the young director.

'Craig Baldwin was born in Oakland, California, in 1952. He began making Super-8 movies when he was a teenager – the kind of skit-oriented parody films involving friends and neighbours. He was drawn into the practice of collage rather naively; he was interested in cheap and readily available Super-8 dubs of Hollywood B-movies that were for sale in the ’60s and ’70s. From these he would assemble compilations, mixing and matching scenes from various productions to create new stories. He made them for his own enjoyment, but it became the basis for his process in subsequent years.

'To make his first film, Stolen Movie (1976), the 24 year-old Baldwin would run into movie theatres with his super-8 camera and shoot what he could off the screen, pre-dating the current practice of bootlegging feature films with camcorders. This was as much performance art/action as it was any kind of film document, and the piece, though perhaps extant, isn’t in circulation like the rest of Baldwin’s work. The director himself describes it as a kind of prank – interesting for the implications and the direction of his development more so than as a film in and of itself.

'Baldwin’s critique of power and its abuses is certainly a remarkable aspect of his films. Yet equally remarkable is the fact that he chooses to present those ideas through the textures of film. He could write essays or run for public office if he were purely motivated by political change. Instead, he chooses film, in all its scratched and dirty glory, and he does so in an age when most of his contemporaries are embracing digital technology. It is not the conservative drive of a purist that draws him to celluloid, but rather a love for the medium that first inspired him, imperfections and all.' -- Senses of Cinema



Craig Baldwin @ Other Cinema
Craig Baldwin @ IMDb
'From Junk to Funk to Punk to Link' by Craig Baldwin
Video: 2 exclusive clips @ The Wire
'Masochism of the Margins: An Interview with Craig Baldwin'
'Channel Zero: Craig Baldwin'
'Leftovers / CA Redemption Value: Craig Baldwin's Found-Footage Films'
'Cinemad podcast #10: Craig Baldwin
'Craig Baldwin: Archive Fever'
'Film Coctail'
'75 Reasons to Live: Craig Baldwin on Wallace Berman'
'Found Footage Film as Discursive Metahistory: Craig Baldwin's Tribulation 99'
'Mock Up and Mu Unlocks and Mocks the Mysteries of Scientology'
'No Copyright? Sonic Outlaws Director Craig Baldwin'
'Collage Maestro Craig Baldwin'
'Going Ballistic: Craig Baldwin’s Mock Up on Mu'

Lecture: Society of Spectacle
'Craig Baldwin is an experimental filmmaker who uses “found” footage as well as images from the mass media to undermine and transform the traditional documentary, infusing it with the energy of high-speed montage and a provocative commentary on subjects that range from intellectual property rights to consumerism. Baldwin believes "there can be joy in the discovery of unexpected meanings in collage and recombinatory forms. There can be pride in the exercise of ingenuity and resourcefulness in the face of zero budgets through improvisation and re-use of tools and materials, at hand or in the dumpster, rather than the mindless consumption of the next (expensive) gadget." He is currently a professor at the University of California at Davis. This lecture took place on March 29, 2012 as part of the University of Michigan School of Art & Design's Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series.' -- UM Stamps School of Art & Design


Craig Baldwin: Appropriating, Scratching and Decoding

Craig Baldwin: Dystopian Outcomes of Media Revolutions Past

AV Festival 10: Recycled Film Symposium: Craig Baldwin

from desistfilm

Your work shows an impertinence and rebellion that very few others have shown in their movies, How do you think this attitude has changed your way of using found footage, or collage as a technique, resource or language from your first works to your recent works with respect to this spirit?

Craig Baldwin: My first films were produced out of the punk movement, which is itself an impertinent and rebellious subculture. Hopefully that attitude has prevailed through these following three decades. Working with found footage itself is a sort of rebellion, of course, because it is an unorthodox way of producing a movie. Making movies out of the trash that I found in dumpsters was a solution to my impoverished situation in the beginning, but I became more comfortable with the technique even after my financial situation improved a bit. Now there are plenty of “Appropiation” artists who use previously-made imagery and audio, not because of poverty, but because of the semantic complexity, because of the ways that the layers of production and re-production complicate and enrich the filmic language; I do so appreciate the critical historical distance it gives me. At first I called my method “Cinema Povera” in an homage to the Italian “Arte Povera” movement. I later shot more of my own footage, and cut it in with the found footage, and so the style was broadened, from what could be called “found-footage collage” to what I now call a “collage- or compilation-narrative”.

Counterculture has almost become a hackneyed word. You even mentioned that it had been assimilated by the established order of “the arts” How does your work respond before this need for irreverence and political response in these times, especially in a United States governed by the media and social networks.

CB: It is certainly true that alternative or opposing social forces are constantly threatened by co-optation and assimilation in this culture which ravenously consumes itself. There is so much need for production and yet so few “original” creative/critical ideas, that corporate producers–as well as academics-–are constantly drawing from the underground, or the margins. We call our project “Other Cinema”; we point to the periphery, to the outside, at a time when everything is becoming so consolidated. Media-cultural networks, devices, and practices of the mainstream political and commercial world manage to produce the illusion of consensus…yet, in fact, there is no center. It is a “paper tiger”, as Mao once said. More people, especially artists, should point at that sham which stands for “consensus reality” and call it for what it is, which is a shell, a superficial screen of appearances and assumptions, as suggested by Guy Debord in his Society of the Spectacle.

So many artists are concerned with making “beautiful” things–and I don’t put them down for that–but other artists, activists, and minority sub-cultures can be doing research and developing modes of negating the lies and suggesting progressive solutions to the problems of everyday life, both local and global. Not only the commercial world, but also the academy, and the Art world itself, try to “recuperate” and co-opt many of these alternative gestures, and so it is difficult to stay out of the vortex that draws Difference and Otherness into the black hole of their illusion.

I have tried to move away from idealistic ideas of “Beauty”, and towards understanding informed, dialectical critique as a creative process itself…not so much the production of aesthetic objects (read: commodities) but towards a generous engagement with real historical process. This contemporary impulse might explain the mobilization of so many artists to documentary films recently.

The Spanish Eugeni Bonet prefers to speak of found footage as “dismantling of films”, in relation to the original montage of material that has been found. This idea of “dismantling” seems to fit better with your work’s profile. What do you think about this?

CB: Yes, I am familiar with Bonet’s essay and I applaud any scholarly thinking around found-footage filmmaking. But my films are way too heterogeneous, too multiplicitous to fall under the rubric of “desmontaje”, because the trace of the original source is so fragmentary. Joseph Cornell, a mid-century American artist, used to keep large reels of found material largely intact, and just removed or added a few shots to the largely uncompromised original. But in my case, it’s even rare to have two or three shots from the same movie adjacent to each other. So what one sees is not so much the shape of the source, but of a “sample” of it, though that is enough to conjure up a sense of its position and resonance in film history.

I sometimes talk about my films in terms of The Analytic and The Synthetic. Perhaps Bonet-–now I’m wondering if he’s a critic or a maker himself?–-is stressing The Analytic. Because my films are so busy with editing–-both picture and sound–-my production focus has been more on The Synthetic, that is, more on the organization of a montage that holds together across the cuts…I’m at pains to keep it all glued together.

In your works there is a common theme, to denude types of power relations (the communications in Spectres of the Spectrum, the rights of the author in Sonic Outlaws, for example). How have you continue this critical vein, now as a cinematographer or curator?

CB: I appreciate your insightful reading of the critical impulse behind Spectres and Sonic, and in fact all of my other works. Frankly, it would be hard for me to get involved with a project unless it was some sort of critique of established power relations, be they governmental, corporate, religious, and especially military. I hope it’s true that the same–well, “negative”–perspective succeeds in shaping our weekly screenings. Though there are very many “pretty”, visually attractive films in circulation, increasingly made by designers who now flood the art schools, our instinct and apocalyptic fear (ha!) draws us towards those works which manage to take a position, a point of view, and perhaps suggest an argument about historical and/or contemporary social reality.

Increasingly, my own work has moved away from the rather facile binary morality of “good” (colonial subjects) vs. “bad” (US military and Intelligence) towards a hopefully more nuanced exploration of creative thinking around structural problems–as well as “historiography” itself–which may be suggested by models taken from sub-cultural ethnography, art-making, and literature…which is why my movies are so packed with language!

My new project is a cinematic mounting of the critique of The Spectacle, advanced by both the philosophical aphorisms of the Situationists and the “cut-up” techniques of the Beats. Rather than situate an anti-imperialist collage in the remote “failed states” of the developing world, I have moved my focus back home–-to a deconstruction of the commodity culture of bourgeois society.

What future do you see for this “dismantling” film, for this culture of bricolage, or of jamming, especially considering the paths that it has taken in the last ten years?

CB: Now with the proliferation of copying and post-production devices, many kinds of “dismantling” will certainly arise, for many reasons that I can’t possibly know. Of course these can be disavowed as “nerdish” exercises of short-sighted pop-cult aficionados, who remain captivated by the most trivial aspects of celebrity culture and mass media. Some may call themselves pranksters, even hackers, but I suppose to really “dismantle,” one should have a larger view of culture’s role in Neo-Liberalism’s global reach. I’m talking about doing more actual research, even naming names, and the contemporary art world’s enlightened move towards documentary, a valorization of knowledge, and even social intervention. This new “documentary” activity will hopefully include contributions from engaged citizens, non-academics, even techno-peasants, and perhaps this sentiment against the Spectacular take-over of our lives will naturally produce a lush underground garden of ingenious works by cinema-povera practitioners like myself.

6 of Craig Baldwin's 8 films

Wild Gunman (1974)
'Mobilizing wildly diverse found-footage fragments, obsessive optical printing and a dense "musique concrete" soundtrack, a maniac montage of pop-cultural amusements, cowboy iconography and advertising imagery is re-contextualized within the contemporary geopolitical crisis in this scathing critique of U.S. cultural and political imperialism.' -- fandor



RocketKitKongoKit (1986)
'This kaleidoscopic, amphetamine-paced tour de force uses a barrage of found-footage images and rapid-fire narration to trace a history of Zaire since its independence in 1960. The CIA, German munitions manufacturers and American popular culture are all indicted in this comic critique of neo-colonialism. Centering on President Mobutu's lease of 1/0 of the country's total land area to a West German rocket firm, the film explores both the explicit and implicit historical contradictions that this astonishing arrangement poses and is posed by. With sources of imagery ranging from corporate advertising through 1950s instructional films to Tarzan flicks and musical components oscillating between aboriginal sounds to contemporary electronic compositions, a critical irony is established between the several voice-over discourses and an energetic montage of "found" visuals. Self-reflexively ordered like a plastic model kit, the film perhaps proposes another, more imaginative model of historiography.' -- collaged


Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1991)
'Upon its release in 1991, Tribulation 99 became an instant counter-culture classic. Craig Baldwin's "pseudo-pseudo-documentary" presents a factual chronicle of US intervention in Latin America in the form of the ultimate far-right conspiracy theory, combining covert action, environmental catastrophe, space aliens, cattle mutilations, killer bees, religious prophecy, doomsday diatribes, and just about every other crackpot theory broadcast through the dentures of the modern paranoiac. A delirious vortex of hard truths, deadpan irony, and archival mash-ups—industrials, graphs, cartoons, movies from Hollywood B to Mexican Z—Tribulation 99 constructs a truly perverse vision of American imperialism.' -- Other Cinema

the entire film

Sonic Outlaws (1995)
'By their own reckoning, members of the Bay Area recording and performance group Negativland got themselves into trouble by having too much fun. Their prank began with a pirated audiotape of Casey Kasem, the normally boosterish-sounding disk jockey and radio personality, as he cursed a blue streak while trying to record a spot about the band U2. Sensing opportunity at hand, Negativland enthusiastically mixed these mutterings with samples from a U2 song, then put out a 1991 single on the SST label with a picture of the U-2 spy plane on its cover. "We didn't know how prophetic it was that the plane was shot down," one member of Negativland says now." Sonic Outlaws, a fragmented, gleefully anarchic documentary by Craig Baldwin, approaches this incident from several directions. Some of the film is about the legal nightmare that ensued from Negativland's little joke. In a highly publicized case, U2's label, Island Records, charged Negativland with copyright and trademark infringement for appropriating the letter U and the number 2, even though U2 had in turn borrowed its name from the Central Intelligence Agency. SST then dropped Negativland, suppressed the record and demanded that the group pay legal fees. Trying to remain solvent, Negativland sent out a barrage of letters and legal documents that are now collected in "Fair Use", an exhaustive, weirdly fascinating scrapbook about the case. Sonic Outlaws covers some of the same territory while also expanding upon the ideas behind Negativland's guerilla recording tactics. Guerilla is indeed the word, since these and other appropriation artists see themselves as engaged in real warfare, inundated by the commercial airwaves, infuriated by the propaganda content of much of what they hear and see, these artists strike back by rearranging contexts as irreverently as possible. Their technological capabilities are awesome enough to mean no sound or image is tamper-proof today.' -- collaged

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

part 6

part 7

Spectres of the Spectrum (1999)
'Unlike mainstream agitprop auteurs whose labored work must be endured as part of the ritual of leftist credibility, Craig Baldwin's film's are dizzyingly ambitious collages that both attack and engage. His 2003 feature Spectres of the Spectrum is typical in its complex skewering of the American mindset that cloaks its invisible wars, clandestine nuclear programs, and other nefarious activities behind the bland reassurances of postwar pop culture – most especially 1950s educational TV shows like Science in Action and kitschy biopics of science-heroes like Ben Franklin, Marconi, Edison, Roentgen, Samuel Morse, and others. As much a product of editing as of directing, Spectres of the Spectrum is one of the most exciting and challenging pieces of pure cinema in the past few years. In an interview with critic Alvin Lu, Baldwin says, "I hate to describe myself as a moralist, but there really is this drive behind the film, not only to make something that's beautiful-slash-ugly, but also to raise consciousness. That's my missionary zeal."' --


@ the 'Spectres of the Spectrum' world premiere, San Francisco

Mock Up on Mu (2008)
'A radical hybrid of spy, sci-fi, Western, and even horror genres, Craig Baldwin's Mock Up On Mu cobbles together a feature-length "collage-narrative" based on (mostly) true stories of California's post-War sub-cultures of rocket pioneers, alternative religions, and Beat lifestyles. Pulp-serial snippets, industrial-film imagery, and B- (and Z-) fiction clips are intercut with newly shot live-action material, powering a playful, allegorical trajectory through the now-mythic occult matrix of Jack Parsons (Crowleyite founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab), L.Ron Hubbard (sci-fi author turned cult-leader), and Marjorie Cameron (bohemian artist and "mother of the New Age movement"). Their intertwined tales spin out into a speculative farce on the militarization of space, and the corporate take-over of spiritual fulfillment and leisure-time.' -- Spectacle Theater






p.s. Hey. ** Kier, Hi, K. Sometimes it seems that way, ha ha. Thanks about 'MLT'. Awesomeness supreme about the happy visit with the wise sounding curator. 'Unshelling and shelling again': huh. I wonder what that means exactly, do you know? Perfect on the corrected timing too. Yeah, sweetness all around. And, yeah, his being taken with work by you that isn't your favorite work by you is very interesting, no? A confidence expander hopefully. Cool, it sounds like the visit couldn't have gone better. Congrats, maestro! Thanks for explaining that about the eating disorder. Good! My day ... Zac and I met with Christophe Honore, our film's ass. producer and mentor, for a pep talk and wisdom exchange, and that was great and really needed. Then we went to the place where we're renting the sound/light equipment for the shoot to check out some things. Then we walked around and ate burritos. Then we met with one of the five performers who are playing a technically sort of minor but key role in the upcoming scene. Then Zac and I went separate ways and did different late minute stuff for the film. I looked for padding for the insides of the Krampus costumes that two of the performers will wear to bulk the costumes up and protect them during this moment when they get badly beaten up. No luck, but we'll find that. And other film stuff. Then I had a really nice coffee with one of this blog's d.l.s, Etc etc etc, who's visiting Paris. That was really cool. Then I came home and did more film prep work and crashed. That was it, I think. Today we start rehearsals and go into high gear. Should be interesting. Wow, more seemingly really great news about the school problem being solved! Well, yeah, that makes sense. It can be like that in the States with art schools too. Oh, I'm sure they'll accept you, if that's true, You might even get a bidding war for your attendance. That's so, so great! All this good news is so very, very heartening, my pal! And, of course, how was Thursday on your end? ** Tomkendall, Howdy, Tom. Oh, shit, about your neck. Tricky things, necks, so treat it gingerly, as I'm very sure I don't need to tell you. Cool re: the novel work. Yeah, I'd love to read it, but, yeah, it would take me quite a while, probably, 'cos my immediate future is warped and swamped, but, yeah, I would really like to! Feel better! ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. No, I'm not using music as an inspiration for this novel, or not consciously. It's a very un-novel like novel, and I'm trying to keep it that way, and I'm trying to break with some of my construction-related habits for that reason. When it gets into refining/editing, I might pull in some music influence if I need to. The only deliberate influence I'm using right is fairytales, or their form and strength and purpose. Yeah, I'm really curious about that latest doll's supposedly ultra-realistic skin development. That's super interesting. And the fantasy thing you talked about is a real interest for me too, mostly because I can't quite get my imagination around 'the sex doll'. The sex doll has never interested me much at all, and making the post was sort of a way of trying to find my way into getting the way that a usage of such a thing could become adequate on some level. Your close attention to the post, to posts here in general, is so heartening and means really a lot, man, and I so appreciate that and getting to read your thoughts since my thoughts about the posts and why I made them and etc. can feel weirdly lonely. A fleshlight in your novel, or so far, very curious! So, yeah, thank you! ** David Ehrenstein, Good morning, Mr. E. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, T. I know, isn't it? Great: that idea for a story. And so, so lucky you to have October in Tokyo. I'm missing Tokyo a lot right now and wanting to plan a trip back there. I'm so happy that 'The Plum ... ' is being republished! You know I love that book! I prize my copy. Wonderful. Let me do an announcement/birth post for it here, if you don't mind. Unless that will making your exploding in November even more of a possibility because we definitely don't want that. ** Steevee, Hi, Steve. Yes, I've been wanting to see that documentary you mentioned too. It wasn't online as of a few days ago when I made the post. I looked for it, as you can imagine. That older 'Guys and Doll's documentary I posted is quite interesting. I haven't seen the latest Breillat, no. I've heard a lot of really positive things about it, and I will definitely see it. I think I missed its theater run. So, you weren't too excited about it? ** Keaton, Hi, K. I think I maybe remember you mentioning at some point that you sold sex dolls? I don't know why, but whenever I see a Fleshlight, I think of that movie 'Alien'. How's it, bud? ** Hyemin Kim, Hi, Hyemin. I'm excited about 'Kindertotenlieder' playing in NYC. It's my very favorite of the pieces I've made with Gisele, as you may know. Yes, I totally understood about the need to stay one-on-one with your work. I get like that a lot too. Well, maybe Ashbery has talked about it but I haven't found any interviews where he did. It seems like there must be one or more that's not online since I think he must always do interviews whenever a new book of his comes out. Yeah, like I said to Thomas, I have no inherent interest in the sex doll as a thing or an idea, which was why I did the post: to see if I could overcome that ennui. Not sure if I have or not, though. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hey, Ben. Right, I liked that 'Guys and Dolls' doc too. I hadn't watched it until I found it while making the post. I'd forgotten that Sturtevant did that work with blow up dolls! Shit, how could I have spaced on that? That would have so contributed to the post. ** Okay. Not so very long ago, Chilly Jay Chill sort of suggested that I do a Craig Baldwin post, and it was a great idea, and so there it is. If you don't know Baldwin's work, it's very worth checking out. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sex Doll Day

* texts collaged from numerous sources.


8 AD.The First Sex Doll Story Told. In Metamorphoses, Ovid wrote of a myth involving a woman sculpted from ivory by Pygmalion. Her name was Galatea and he became so obsessed with her, bathing her feeding her and of course sleeping with her, eventually Aphrodite made her into a real woman.

11th to 12th CenturyTouching of Naked Statues Encouraged. Naked women made of marble, called “Sheela-na-gigs,” were carved into the sides of English and Irish churches to ward off evil spirits. The carvings had exaggerated vulvas and a legend at the time said caressing these sexy busts gave you the power to heal others.

15th CenturyThe First Sex Dolls at Sea. Called “Dame De Voyage” in French, “Dama De Vinje” in Spanish or “Seemannsbraut,” in German, these female dolls made out of sewn cloth were used by sailors aboard their ships to occupy their time (and bodies) on long trips at sea.

1941Nazis Invent the Modern Sex Doll. The world’s first sex-dolls as we know them were created in Nazi Germany at the request of the SS leader, Heinrich Himmler. Called the “Borghild Field-Hygiene Project,” Himmler came up with the concept to stop the “unnecessary losses” of Nazi soldiers due to STD’s. The Project was considered ”Geheime Reichssache,” translated: ”More secret than top secret.”

The sculptor on the project, Arthur Rink, created three dolls. Typ A: 168 cm bust. Typ B: 176 and Typ C: 182 cm. According to Rink, The SS wanted the breasts “round and full” and SS Dr. Olen Hannussen insisted on “a rose hip form, that would grip well.” As for the face, the team agreed it needed a cheeky and naughty look. They asked to borrow the face of an actress of the time, Käthe von Nagy, for the doll, but she declined. Dr. Hannussen suggested an “artificial face of lust”, which he thought would be more appealing to the soldiers. Technician, Franz Tschakert agreed saying, “The doll has only one purpose and she should never become a substitute for the honorable mother at home… When the soldier makes love to Borghild, it has nothing to do with love. Therefore the face of our anthropomorphic sexmachine should be exactly how Weininger described the common wanton’s face.”

Going along with the Nordish Nazi vision of beauty, a tall leggy blonde rounded out the form. The first model of Borghild, Typ B, was completed in September 1941. Later, this blonde life-sized woman would inspire Ruth Handler to create the Barbie Doll for girls.

1955 -- Bild Lilli. The first sex doll is marketed, which is 11.5 inches of plastic and is named Bild Lilli.

1975The Stepford Wives. A film about the quaint town of Stepford, Connecticut where men have beautiful robot wives that are all absolutely perfect … except for the fact that they’re creepy. Trivia: Diane Keaton turned the role of Joanna down the night before signing her contract, because her analyst got “bad vibes” from the script.

1977 -- Hohoemi. The history the best Japanese sex dolls brand started in 1977 when the future CEO of Orient Industry decided to make the kind of doll that he knew men needed. He came up with Hohoemi. She's a simple lady compared with the sophisticated silicone dolls of today but she certainly was a popular and durable creation. Made from urethane and PVC, Hohoemi was essentially a head, bust and waist with hole ... and that's it.

Early 80’sThe First Sex Robot is invented. British Company, Sex Objects Ltd. creates a sex robot, named “36C,” for obvious reasons. “She” also had a 16-bit microprocessor and voice synthesizer that allowed primitive responses to speech and push button inputs.

1985 The Term “Gynoid” Coined. The term “Gynoid” was a name given to a female robot designed to look like a human female. It was given to us by Gweyneth Jones in her 1985 novel, Divine Endurance.

1987Britain Lifts Prohibition on Importing Sex Dolls. In 1982 a blocked attempt to import sex dolls into Britain began a court case about whether or not to lift the import ban on all “Obscene or Indecent” items. The sex companies finally won the case in 1987, lifting all prohibitions. This opened the floodgates to all perversity in England.

1994 - Fleshlight. Back in 1994, Steve Shubin had a problem -- his wife was pregnant with twins and, being over 40, her health was a concern. Sex was off limits during the course of the pregnancy so Shubin had to take matters into his own hands. But not by using his hand. Deciding he needed something else to use, he started daydreaming. Eighteen months and $750,000 later, the Fleshlight was born.

1995The Inflatable Sex Sheep Sold. Muttonbone Productions, Inc. creates a life-sized, anatomically correct inflatable sheep called the Love Ewe. It is sold mainly as a gag gift.

1996First “Realistic” Sex Doll Created. At 29 years-old, Matt McMullen stops making scary Halloween masks for a living and creates the first female sex doll that is anatomically correct in look and feel. Her name is Leah. McMullen goes on to create the company Real Dolls, one of the most popular sex doll companies in the world. The dolls have a poseable PVC skeleton with steel joints and silicone flesh, which is advertised as “the state-of-the-art for life-like human body simulation”. They are now available in 10 customizable body styles, with a choice of 15 faces and five skin tones. Prices begin at around $6500, with some models costing over $10,000.

2001 -- Joe.

2002 - Guys and Dolls. The BBC produces a documentary called "Guys and Dolls." It chronicles the industry and the men who buy life-size dolls them. A California company called Realdoll began making realistic, lifesized dolls back in 1996. Since then, they've sold thousands of them for upwards of $10,000 each. The men interviewed in the documentary talk about how the dolls influence their lives. While they sometimes feel isolated from real life, they say the companionship they feel with the dolls is worth it.

2004 - Inflatable Sex Doll Raft Race. Today (August 21st, 2004) the second annual Inflatable Sex Doll Raft Race will be organized in North Russia/Leningrad region. Anyone over 16, and of either sex, is allowed to take part in this second competition. The participants will have to swim in the complicated Losevsky rapids of the Vuoksa river near St. Petersburg. The rapids are usually used for rafting in canoe and catamarans. This competition isn't a sexually chauvinistic event; in last year’s edition (real) women rafted on the dolls. All participants stated that these rubber ‘products’ are economical in usage, they float wonderfully. They gave some pet names to their dolls: Mary and her Poppins; Speedy Sterlet, Cleopatra... All participants must wear a helmet and a life vest. They also have to remain sober and those who are seen drunk are disqualified.

2005Japanese Company Begins Renting Out “Dutch Wives.” Dutch Wives is the Japanese term for high quality silicone sex dolls. By the end of 2005 the Japanese company Forest Dolls had over 40 shops nationwide. The hourly rental rate, in 2005 was 13,000 yen an hour, or $146.00. Wigs and costumes were also available to rent.

2007Lars and The Real Girl. A film about a man in relationship with a sex doll, nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay written by Nancy Oliver.

2007The “Sexual Audio System” Is Invented. A Japanese company adds an mp3 player attached to a built-in pressure sensor in the chest of its sex dolls. It takes 4 AAA batteries. The dolls also come with real pubic hair and detachable heads.

2006 - 2008 - Sex Doll becomes Art. Artist Amber Hawk Swanson commissioned the production of a life-like sex doll, a RealDoll, made of a posable PVC skeleton and silicone flesh, in her exact likeness. Her doll, Amber Doll, began as a Styrofoam print-out of a digital scan of her head. Her face was then custom-sculpted and later combined with the doll manufacturer's existing, "Body #8" female doll mold. After completing, "The Making-Of Amber Doll" and "Las Vegas Wedding Ceremony" (both 2007), Amber Doll and Swanson went on to disrupt wedding receptions, roller-skating rinks, football tailgating parties, theme parks, and adult industry conventions. In the resulting series, "To Have, To Hold, and To Violate: Amber and Doll," ideas surrounding agency and objectification are questioned, as are ideas about the success or failure of negotiating power through one's own participation in a cultural narrative that declares women as objects. Swanson's work with Amber Doll, herself a literal object, deals with such themes through an oftentimes-complicated feminist lens.

2009The First Male Android-Sex Doll. Germans make the first male Android-Sex doll, named “Nax.” It has an “automatically soaring penis” and “artificial automatic ejaculation.” It costs $10,000.

2009 - Air Doll. Air Doll is a 2009 Japanese drama film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. It is based on the manga series Kuuki Ningyo by Yoshiie Gōda, which was serialized in the seinen manga magazine Big Comic Original, and is about an inflatable doll that develops a consciousness and falls in love. The movie debuted in the Un Certain Regard section at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. It opened in Japanese cinemas on 26 September 2009. Director Koreeda has stated that the film is about the loneliness of urban life and the question of what it means to be human.

2010The First Sex Doll with a “Customizable Personality.” At the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, Doug Hines, owner and designer for TrueCompanion, revealed Roxxy. She costs a mere $7,000 and reacts to tactile and verbal stimulation. Personalities range from “Wild Wendy,” an outgoing party girl to “Frigid Farrah,” the shy librarian type. Her interests can be modified according to the owner’s conversation preferences.

2010 - Sex Doll Fashion. A Dutch artist named Sander Reijgers is recycling inflatable sex dolls into the most bizarre clothing. Perfect for a rainy weather, these waterproof hoodies were made by customizing existing tracksuit tops with heads, breasts and other pieces from 50 blow-up dolls that Sanders received from a “sponsor”.

2011 - A music teacher has been arrested after he was caught in a sex act with a child-like doll outside an elementary school. Officers were called to the school in Tennessee, following reports of a naked white male on school property. Daniel Torroll, 56, a private music teacher, was seen performing sex acts on the doll under a bridge that links the Spring Hill school from the main road. The responding officer said he could be seen by people driving to the school. Police later discovered Torroll had cut holes into the doll, News 2 reported. Torroll claimed he did not know he was on school grounds.

2011 - These high-heeled shoes that look like inflatable sex dolls are part of a collection of footwear by Tel Aviv designer Kobi Levi. The Blow shoes were designed to highlight how high heels are synonymous with sex and accompany a second pair where the heel illustrates the act of sex itself.

2012 - Just-in Beaver. US adult toy manufacturer Pipedream Products has produced an unofficial Justin Bieber blow-up sex doll. Named 'Just-in Beaver', the not-related-to-Mr-Bieber-in-any-way product retails at around $26. The company's advertising blurb – which rather dubiously fixates on 'Beaver' recently turning 18 – describes 'Beaver' as a "barely legal boy-toy who’s waited 18 long years to stick his lil’ dicky in something sticky! When he’s not busy beating up paparazzi or beating off, he’s up to his high-tops in hot Hollywood tail!" The company also produces a 'Dirty Christina' doll modelled on Christina Aguilera, and a doll named 'Finally Miley' modelled on Miley Cyrus.

2012 - "Doll fetish is the desire to be transformed in to a doll or transforming someone else into a doll. This can be a living being such as a rubber doll or an inanimate object such as a lovedoll. The attraction may include the desire for actual sexual contact with a doll, a fantasy of a sexual encounter with an animate or inanimate doll, encounters between dolls themselves, or sexual pleasure gained from thoughts of being transformed or transforming another into a doll. This website was born out of a love of reading doll stories, and the thoughts, fantasies and desires to become one. Whilst this site deals mainly with Doll transformations and people turning into dolls, there are a few mannequin, fembot & objectification stories here."

2012 - Turkish rescue workers rushed to retrieve an inflatable sex doll from the Black Sea after panicked residents mistook it for a woman’s body floating offshore. The country’s Milliyet newspaper said police cordoned off a wide stretch of beach in northern Samsun province and sent a team of divers into the water to rescue what appeared to be a drowning woman. The team quickly discovered it was in fact a blow-up doll, which they tactfully deflated before throwing it away.

2013 - Missy is launched into space. An inflatable sex doll named Missy was recently launched into space making history as the first sex doll to have entered the earth’s outer atmosphere. Check out the video and watch Missy being hooked to a hydrogen-filled balloon then shot towards the cosmos at a speed of 426 metres per minute when, at an altitude of 31,090 metres, her balloon burst and she shot straight back down to the ground.

2013 - Student arrested for posing by Russian WWII memorial with an inflatable sex doll. A university student has been jailed in Russia for posing for a photograph in front of a Second World War memorial – arm in arm with a blow-up sex doll. Anastasia Polnikova, 23, was charged with hooliganism after she and three friends took the inflatable sex aid to the memorial near the Federal University in Stavropol, Russia. Wearing WWII head gear and waving a Russian flag, the drunk students borrowed the doll from a friend and walked through the park to take the pictures before posting them on the internet. Detectives are hunting Miss Polnikova’s three unnamed friends who went on the run after police issued arrest warrants for them all. Stavropol’s Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesman Eugene Nuykin said: ‘The identities of all the people who appeared in this photo are known to us and they will all be punished.

2013 - Sex Doll Commits Suicide In Czech Online Dating Ad. An ad for the popular Czech dating site Lidé is called "the bleakest thing you’ll see this side of an Ingmar Bergman film". It features a sex doll, devastated now that her man has found a real human to have sex with, jumping off a balcony as she replays in her mind the bittersweet moments the two of them had shared.

2013 - Chinese Site Sells 'Child-Sized' Sex Doll: Protest Group Launched. A Chinese website is under fire for selling disturbingly life-like child-size, sex dolls. The disturbing advert, spotted by an advocacy group on Facebook called Dining for Dignity, shows the model of a girl, who does not look much older than 9 or 10. Described as a “beautiful young girl sex doll for men,” the item costs $178 and is available to ship worldwide. Worryingly 57 of them have been sold so far to customers in the US, UK, Japan, Germany, and more, the advert shows. The product listing boasts that it is highly flexible, and that "all three holes can be used." Dining for Dignity has now set up a protest page to pressure DHgate – one of China’s top global merchants platforms – into removing the item or banning the seller. Its petition reads, ”This negligence is fueling human sex trafficking, pedophilia, violent rape, and more.”

2014 - Synthetics. Synthetics launches a new line of male sex dolls with removable parts depicting the various boner stages. "We are proud of the beautiful, hand-crafted items we produce," writes Synthetics publicity department, "and we want them to be appreciated as multifunctional rather than simply pigeon-holing them into the easy go-to connotation of the word 'sexdoll.' We view our products as usable art, and our clients as art collectors."

2014 - Sexflesh Full Sized Sammy Sex Doll. There are a lot of positive things going on with this sex toy. First of all, washboard abs. While not structurally relevent it’s a nice touch and speaks to the meticulous detail molded into the rest of the toy. The penis is stiff but moldable, which is a VERY nice touch. It’s 7.5 inches in length, 5.75 inches in circumfrance and 1.8 inches diameter – a nice large penis without being a monster! There are two holes for fucking. The anus and mouth. Both are ribbed and both have “exit holes”. This means the tubes you fuck on the doll are open ended. This makes cleaning it VERY easy and is definatley something you should look for in any high end sex doll (ie. more than $150). The anus is tight and gives a great amount of pleasure. One of the best things about it is that when it gets lubed up, SexFlesh feels very close to the real thing. The outer layer is covered in it, which gives the whole thing a nice skin like feel. Admittedly, the eyes are a little shocking, but if you’re looking for a high end men’s sex doll, this is the one.

2014 - New Japanese sex doll looks just like a real woman with ‘new level’ of realistic artificial skin. A new sex doll has been created in Japan that is so realistic they are ‘barely distinguishable from real women’. The £1,000 doll, made by Orient Industry, is made from a high-quality silicon, hailed as the ‘next level’ in artificial skin. This gives each figure an unbelievably realistic look, especially in the eyes – previously a problem area for doll-makers. The fake women also have moveable joints so they can be placed in any position and owners are even able to tailor their woman in bust size, hair colour, and physical appearance. Company spokesman Osami Seto said: "The two areas we identified as really needing improvement were the skin and the eyes. We feel we have finally got something that is arguably not distinguishable from the real thing."


p.s. Hey. ** Jeffrey Coleman, Hi, Jeff. Ian William Craig: Thank you! I don't know his stuff at all. I'll start with whatever's at the end of that link. Much appreciated, man. ** L@rstonovich, Larsty! What a great pleasure! Hey, man! I still haven't read Bolano. It's getting pathological or something. Ugh, on the maladies that your summer brought along. But awesome about the inspiring newcomers, and the new poetry and continued novel attention. Great! Yeah, that ooioo track is very cool. It's a fresh album in general. I will check out that podcast and look for familiarity. Thanks! Yeah, L., very, very nice to have you here. I've missed you. ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. Yeah, I think I'm raring to go on the novel. That's the good thing about being forced to put it aside. I've built a lot of stuff in my head for the novel that hopefully I can just start implementing. Glad you dug the gig. Yeah, Warren rules in so many ways, through his music and of course through his label Orchid Tapes, which is just about the mostly reliably interesting label going. Thanks about that TAR thing. I appreciate it. Cheers to you! ** Hyemin Kim, Hi. In the interviews I've read, Ashbury never talks much about 'Shadow Train'. It's like a shadowy piece of his oeuvre. I agree about the hard cover jacket, yeah. Well, Zac and I are going to NYC for the 'Kindertotenlieder' shows at the end of October, so we'll go to Iceland either on the way there or on the way back, depending on whether one time slot or the other is preferable for any reason. My only contact with Starry was around the blog post. Hopefully, we'll get lucky and she'll get a new guest post idea. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, D. ** Etc etc etc. Hi! I emailed you back this morning. It looks like we'll able to sort it out for later today. Like I wrote therein, I'll be in touch again this afternoon. ** Kier, Aw, thanks a lot, K-ster! The Pallbearer album is really good. Fantastic that the referral is almost done! Was the eating disorder diagnosis one of the things that was preventing the referral from happening? Films in development! I love that you develop your films and don't just iPhone everything, even though that's what I do, and it serves my non-artistic purposes, I guess. So maybe you're with the curator right now. I mean as I type. Okay, how did it go? How deeply did he bow? We don't start filming until Sunday. Today's our last full get-ready day, and it's full of meetings and last minute errand running, and then tomorrow we start three days of full day rehearsals. The scene we're shooting on Sunday through Tuesday is the 3rd scene. Then, at the beginning of September, we'll be shooting the 2nd scene. Love, me. ** Steevee, Hi. The Pallbearer album is excellent. Probably their best, I think. ** Damien Ark, Hi, Damien! Excellent to see you! Lucky you to have seen Puce Mary and Pharmakon live. I almost got to see Puce Mary when they opened for Iceage here, but we ended up getting there just as the applause at the end of her set subsided. Wow, so cool about PM yelling at you. If you ever feel like scanning that photo, I'd love to see it. Me too, about the new Pharmakon. Oh, man, thank you a lot about 'My Loose Thread'. That's super kind of you. It's up there among my very favorites of my novels, but it's kind of been my most overlooked one as far as readers and critics go for whatever reason. I'm glad you're trying not to fall. Big strength to you in that preventative effort. Have you been writing? I hope the money stress hasn't interfered too much. Money stress has a horrible habit of killing off creativity or whatever, or it does for me. Have there been positive things about the move? Is there anything new that's been, I don't know, exciting or promising in the change for you? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Thanks about the gig. Cannibal Movie is really cool. The only organ plus drums thing works strangely well and has such an odd quality. Hooray about the Art101 progress at long fucking last! May the exciting updates continue. ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff. Thanks re: the gig. For some reason, I'm particularly really loving the new Martyrdöd album. Its fierce and pretty-ish in some very addictive way for me. The new Eno with Karl Hyde, you mean? I really need to get that. The new Spoon didn't do much for me on one listen, but I'm not done with it yet. Things are feeling more settled with the film, yeah. Not settled, mind you, but more so. Awesome re: the guest post if that pleases you and is okay, time-wise. ** Misanthrope, I didn't know that about Lesnar's ups and downs. I'm way behind on him. I think the last time I saw Lesnar do anything was when he pushed that kid with one leg down the stairs. Ages an ages ago. I've never found Cena to be anything but totally irriating. Like Kier said, LPS's knowing you're there if he needs you is huge. ** MyNeighbourJohnTurtorro, Thanks, man. It's always happy to me when you and I are on the same musical page. Developments? Everything has pretty much been about the film project for me, and that's been a situation of unending developments, I guess. Relevant to yesterday: we've finally figured out the live music component of the club/concert scene, which is the scene we're shooting. That was incredibly hard. We started out long ago wanting Iceage to appear/play in the scene. But our very limited resources killed that off. Then we wanted an Iceage-like band, since the scene was originally written to be kind of Iceage gig gone apocalyptic. But we couldn't find a band. Then we changed it to a laptop/noise guy with a singer. But we couldn't sort that out either, so now it's a guy playing laptop/noise guy with a great donated track and a spoken word accompaniest, which we hope will work. That scene has been a virtual hell to figure out and cast and organize. Anyway, that's happening. Thank you so, so much about 'My Lose Thread'! That's so good to hear. Like I said to Damien, it's one of the two novels of mine that I'm proudest of (along with 'The Marbled Swarm'), and, for whatever reason, it doesn't seem to be much of a favorite outside my own head, which is partly the fault of it having been completely fucked over by its publisher maybe. Anyway, blah blah, thank you a lot! I did read through the Pitchfork list, yeah. It's very Pitchfork-y. I remember being pleasantly surprised a few times, but I can't remember why at the moment. What do you think of it? Have a superb day! ** Matthew, Oh, I felt weird mentioning my own book, but, yeah, thank you for seeing why I did. I still haven't come up with suggestions, but my head is not at its clearest right now. I'll keep thinking/trying, and if something springs to mind, I'll shoot it out. Best to you! ** Kyler, Nice re: your beautiful day. Oh, sure, I ride everything that doesn't spin in a circle because I get motion sick when things revolve. But, yeah, I'm all over the rides. I'm not creaky at all. I'll tell you for sure when the film comes out, but it'll be quite a while from now. ** Sypha, Hi. Yeah, I tend limit my intake when I'm making something, but, in my case, of course, it's fiction I limit rather than music. Cool that you're recording new stuff! ** Bill, Hey! Ha ha, yeah, about the ooioo, kind of, that's good, I want to go find that deserted Belgian restaurant. Belgium is strangely good and full of abandoned cool things: chateaux, buildings, theme parks. I imagine that Zac and I will be doing a Haunted Belgoum tour at some point. Oh, man, no sweat about the blog post. I understand things being 'crazy around here' very, very well. ** Okay. I'm off to a day of film prep stuff. Today's post is another one where I can not remember for the life of me how and why it happened, but there it is. Cool or not, you decide. See you tomorrow.