Charlie, Billy and dolls that go bump in the night

Billy is one of many hand-crafted dolls by Mary Shaw, a fiction film from 2007 called “Dead Silence“.  Mary had no children of her own so her dolls became her children.

Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. If you see her in your dreams, be sure you never, ever scream or she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.

BILLY DEAD SILENCEBilly was designed during the mid 1930’s and was favored by Mary Shaw at that time.  During one of her last performances in Ravens Fair, a boy heckled her during her show.  That boy was Michael Ashden, that she later kidnapped, and kept confined as punishment for causing her embarrassment in the rather prestigious theater.

When the boy turned up missing, Mary Shaw was immediately suspected.  She was a loner that kept to herself and only seemed to be comfortable with the public with her dolls.  The Ashden family and a few friends busted into her dressing room, assaulted her and ripped out her tongue.  Having ended her life, Ravens Fair would be rid of that old Mary Shaw for good, or so they thought.  Upon her death, she had very specific arrangements.  She would have her likeness be altered to look like a doll and she was to be buried with all of her dolls.  Her request was fulfilled and she and her dolls were buried in a corner of Ravens Fair Cemetery.

She had the ability to haunt and kill many people of Ravens Fair for decades.  The nursery rhyme was a way to pass along the fear, her lore wouldn’t never die.  At least, not before all of the families involved in her death were killed off.

9532562639_c1d183faa7_b

Charlie McCarthy was also made in the late 30’s, modeled after Edger Bergen‘s doll used in his act.    Much like the original tradition of the ventriloquist doll, the original replica was made of wood.  Several carnations of the same doll were made over the decades, the final version was the Vinyl (the version I own) produced in the 70’s.   Even if I have the box and all his accessories, he isn’t worth all that much as a collector’s item.  If one happens upon the antique from 37′ that may be worth a bit.   Charlie is less the ‘haunted doll’ than Billy is but Billy is based on the original Charlie McCarthy.

As for Mary Shaw seeking to be buried with her dolls, I believe it’s a version of the Madam Alexander story.  One of my dolls (Victoria) just happens to be one of the original molds she chose to be buried with.  The rights to the rest were sold off a number of times since her death.  Some of her most precious doll molds were buried with her when she died.  So, even an infant doll with a doll maker’s past can be creepy to some people.  It then becomes iconic.

BillyThey’re just dolls right?

Charlie is often confused for Billy.    Clearly different dolls but to the person with a phobia of dolls, they’re all just like Billy.  Haunted dolls that could kill you.   People often ask me why I keep such a doll around, as if I’m taking an unnecessary risk.  I find that funny.  The doll is merely a bit of nostalgia from my childhood.  Practicing ventriloquism was a challenge and I like challenges.

The 70’s knock off doesn’t have the same functionality as the 30’s version, it then makes Charlie a prop.  People are so often spooked by inanimate objects.  I keep him around for the effect.

Sin Jones

Advertisements

Too offensive for the public… Dead Baby Dolls

IMG_2446This doll was deemed too offensive to the public. It was too lifelike, too morbid and too “real”. Nevermind that it’s a miniature doll, or that Vampire and Zombie infants were completely acceptable at a public Library event called “Monster Fest”.

Mothers that have lost infants in childbirth were offended and I was asked to remove it from my vending table. Once again the question is asked: “Is Art Satanic?”

My little art doll sure was a topic of provocation, do I stay or do I go? Why continue to support an event that has an unspoken criteria of acceptable items? A library is full of information arcane and yet, when that knowledge is portrayed through material objects, it’s too offensive to know. Go figure.

October is a strange month, it’s a time for hallmark holiday fare and a time to react to figments of one’s own imagination. It used to just be the 8th month on the Roman calendar (mensis-months) then by the late 16th century, menses was adopted to describe the crisis of Women during menstruation. Sounds legit.

IMG_2445

The baby doll itself is thought to be a ritual object. To little girls everywhere, it was a Mother’s way of teaching their daughters how to nurture to later become Mothers. If she mistreated her doll, it gave Mothers opportunity to correct the child’s behavior. While imagination is taken into account, I doubt the things imagined ever were, at least not in any real meaningful way. The battery of tortured dolls found in every household or garbage bin should demonstrate that dolls are objects to project upon.

I’ve never played with dolls in a traditional sense, they’ve always just represented intent. When I was given my first baby-doll, even then I knew it wasn’t really for me to have a doll to play with. It was a replica of that idea and like any poor emanation it tends to deteriorate over time. I received a doll just like the girl next door, not because I wanted it but because “I” was to be just like the neighbor’s child. Watched-over to determine if that intent would thereby be projected upon me.

I observed the girl next door for cues and wondered why I didn’t actually believe this was a “real” baby like she seemed to. Why, I asked myself, did pretending to put a doll to bed, change its diaper or rock it back and forth feel stupid and acting. Who was the act for?

If you’re caught not playing with your dolls like you should, you’re faced with demands and projected guilt: “Why aren’t you playing with that doll I bought you? You know, I spent a lot of money on it, it’s a collector’s item!”

What’s a little girl to do? Meet expectations, play-act to satisfy the demand, or collect ritual objects?

For me it was the latter, which is why I don’t know that I qualify as a doll-collector.

When I see a discarded doll at a yard sale or thrift that catches my eye, I feel impelled to alter it. They don’t all end up like this, mostly they end up collected but changed in some manner, whether literally or metaphorically.

I do like dolls, some even make me giggle, like that little fat fucker that sits atop a kitchen shelf. The epitome of too much “Mangia!”

IMG_2444Perhaps even the mass produced doll is art, it does provoke me to project my ideas upon it (maybe even some paint). Art, some say, is magic and that every manifestation of it is a ritual object. If it can manage to alter your perception then it qualifies as authentic.

I’ve decided to keep this one and continue to contemplate whether it’s an art doll or just causality having been provoked by it.

SIN JONES