DOLL CLOSET: Day Two Streaming Footage and Transcription

Doll Closet: Day Two

Streaming Footage Part One

Streaming Footage Part Two

Jesse Call-in Transcription
(timecode from Streaming Footage Part One)

AMBER: Well, cool. We’re together. How are you doing? How was the rest of your birthday yesterday?
JESSE: It was busy.
AMBER: Yea? How was work?
JESSE: That was what was busy. I was trying to answer all the messages on Facebook, and texts and stuff like that. Trying to keep—I had more calls at work than I usually do, so…
AMBER: Yea. Well, that’s a bummer on your birthday.
AMBER: Um, did you have any special dinner or anything? I know you had already gotten pizza with your fiancé but…
JESSE: Actually yesterday they had a meal for Christmas in our department, and someone brought a cake that they said was my birthday cake. I don’t know if they were--
AMBER: Oh, come on. That’s nice.
JESSE: joking around, but you know, when I went over to get the birthday cake, I went over to the coffee they had set up on the table, with those big plastic canteen type things that they put punch and coffee and decaffeinated coffee in or whatever, and when I went to get the coffee the spigot broke and the coffee shot out like a garden hose all over me and all over the floor and everybody laughed—
AMBER: Oh, no, that’s terrible. It’s because you’re so strong that you don’t know your own strength and it just broke off like Hulk Hogan.
JESSE: No, it was just broke anyway I think.

AMBER: (laughs) That’s terrible. Well I don’t know, maybe it’s some kind of birthday good luck or something.
JESSE: Yea could be.
AMBER: So, have you been watching the stream by chance?
AMBER: I’m a little bit frustrated because in order to get it fit really tight in the door way I had to recut the wood on the table saw to be just slightly longer than I thought, and then I’m hammering it in so it can be like as tight as fit as possible.
JESSE: Yea, well, it doesn’t have to be that tight. I mean, as long as you have the dry wall screws. Are they holding in? Are they not long enough or what? It looked like you might be having trouble getting the screws in far enough. Maybe it is a metal substrate behind the drywall. So, you might have to drill a real small pilot hole if the screws aren’t going in.
AMBER: Yea. Well the screws are going into the drywall, but the problem is yesterday—see, I didn't follow your advice exactly mostly because intuitively I just wanted to and I’m glad I did because it’s true that the top of the doorway is wider than the bottom.

AMBER: But, I just wanted to do a little test to get it in and then pull it down and build it on the floor like you suggested, but now because before I had the drill set to the setting that you recommended, you know before I had it on 17 and now I have it on drill bit, but when it was on 17 it struck the screw and I can’t get it out and it’s poking out and I just can’t get it out no matter what I try.
JESSE: Um, if you have a pair of channel locks maybe you can grab it and twist it out with a channel lock, you know like the big pliers the plumbers use?
AMBER: Oh yea. All right. I tried just a small plier. But obviously that didn’t work. OK. So I can come back to that because my goal is to finish the frame really quickly obviously because I need to get started on the rest of the door.
JESSE: Yea. Um, one other thing I noticed is if you’re not pushing on the drill hard enough you’ll tend to (ind) because you’re just, your bit keeps falling out its running around and grinding the head of the screws, so you’re going to strip the head of the screws if you’re not pushing hard enough. And I also recommend you have fine thread screws, just put it down on the number one speed setting, you have two speed settings on that drill, just put it down on number one.
AMBER: Um, which is not, that’s not the drill bit setting that someone else—
JESSE: It should be—you’ve got the same drill that I have—it should be the switch on top, just goes forward and back, one and 2.
AMBER: OK, those two things will help. (1:18:54) But then, what would you recommend me doing next? Next I was going to cut the plywood to size. Right? So, since my two by fours are 8 feet tall and the door is 37 and a half up top but it’s a little shorter at the bottom, how do I that, you know? Like, I guess I just draw, put together my frame, and then I draw I like trace it out on the plywood.
JESSE: That would be an easy way to do it but you’re not going to be able to use the whole width of the door because you have a pivot point on the one side of the door where the hinges are going to be. And they can’t overlap your frame because it’s got to turn inside when it opens the door.
AMBER: Oh right, so it has to be from the inside of one side and the outside of the other side.
JESSE: Right.

AMBER: OK. I can do that.
JESSE: And also, I didn’t realize you were going to use a table saw, if you would use a circular saw it would be a lot easier for ripping down on a piece of plywood like that.
AMBER: Yea, I know. I might take a second look but I’m pretty sure the table saw was what was available.
AMBER: I know that in your tutorial you had mentioned buying that set including the circular would make sense, but I wanted to just make use of what the center has here because they’re super amazing and super generous and they have a bunch of what we needed. So I tried to kind of cobble things together a little bit. But, I will go take a second look for a circular saw before I get started on the table saw. Though, I feel very excited to have used the table saw for the first time.
JESSE: Good.
AMBER: The circular saw’s a little scary. It’s a little like um, I don’t know like some kind of horror movie I saw as a child.
JESSE: Yea? (Laughs) Um, the one that I have is battery bowered and it’s not, it’s not as scary, but I mean they’re all dangerous and you have to especially watch your long hair and stuff like that.
AMBER: Yea, no kidding. Um, I think it’s worth tying it back just for that.

AMBER: I had one other question for you tech wise but basically I think I’ll on schedule if I finish the frame and I cut the plywood and the second thing I wanted to do after the plywood, like moving into the plywood category is to take the knot out of the—you know I sent you the picture from Home Depot of that awesome knot that I found?
AMBER: And I wanted to cut that out. So to do that, are you watching the stream right now?
JESSE: Yea, there’s a little bit of a delay but not too bad.
AMBER: OK. Well that’s fine, if you have it on mute. What I’m going to do is I’m going to bring the tool over that I think I’m supposed to use, and I’m going to ask you for help with that. Is that ok?
AMBER: Ok, I’ll be right back.

AMBER (setting phone down): You can talk right now because—
JESSE: Can you hear me, while you’re walking away? I want to see if you can hear me. I want to explain what happened. Um, I hooked up an old phone to my cable tv modem and it has the Internet and the telephone and everything. And the old phone, for some reason, it would not pick up, I couldn’t even hear it ring.
AMBER: That’s so weird.
AMBER: Well, can I tell you something really bad that happened?
AMBER: So, when I first called you, I texted you this but it went to your machine and it picked up just a small amount of your name.
JESSE: Yea, I heard that, but you know, who’s going to know how to spell it anyway?
JESSE: And Ren can edit that out, anyway. You won’t put it in any of the final version that’s something you’re going to put on, but you know, it’s not that big of deal.
AMBER: OK. Should I edit it out, because I’ve been posting the stream footage at night, should I edit it out of the stream footage before I post that?
JESSE: Yea, that’d be good.
AMBER: OK. I will do that. And um, Yea, gosh I just can’t believe, I was just like ‘Oh, Jesse’s picking up’ and my mouth was starting to move to say hello to you and then I realized it was a recording.  So I didn't hang up in time. But, um—
JESSE: Well, there was that problem, and then when I said well, I can’t even hear it ring, so let me call you and I called and some foreign guy answered and said that he knew what the real number was but this number that you have printed on your phone is his number now, and so he gave me the real number for your center there. And of course they have an outgoing greeting and there’s no one at the front desk to transfer it or something.

AMBER: Oh, gosh.
JESSE: I spent a few minutes trying to get connected.
AMBER: Well what ended up happening is I saw the red light blinking on the phone and the person who picked up is super amazing. His name is Machek and he works here at the Watermill Center and uh, we had a really nice dinner together last night. While I was performing he made a whole slow cooked meal and then we all ate and pet that cat, Jasmine that I texted you a picture of.
JESSE: Cool.
AMBER: Yea, so thank you for talking to Machek and I’m really glad that all worked out and that we were able to connect. So, I’m sorry I kept putting, I kept giving you his number.
AMBER: Because it’s printed on my phone, but now I see what happened.
JESSE: I’m sorry; you said I talked to Matek?
AMBER: Oh, not Matek, his name is Machek. Matek is our friend from the doll community.
AMBER: But their names sound similar. The person you spoke to hear at Watermill is named Machek.
JESSE: That’s who it was, ok.
AMBER: Yea. But I hadn’t thought about that. That sounds really similar to our doll community friend Matek, who I hope calls in on Saturday.

AMBER: Um, remember, he called in to Lolita?
AMBER: OK. So I’m going to go, I’m holding something up. Can you see it, or should I come closer to the camera?
JESSE: Um, how about give me about 30 seconds and I’ll see it when you hold it up on the stream.
JESSE: There’s a bit of a delay.
JESSE: As long as it has, you know the diameter is big enough to encompass the whole knot, you should be ok.
AMBER: OK, I’m going to go look at that and then come back to the phone, ok?
[Amber puts phone down and exits room]

AMBER: Yea, Jesse it’s perfect.
AMBER: But how, I put it into the drill, I have a video of you showing me how to do this that I took at your house. But, I just put it into the drill right, and then I push the button on the drill and it makes the hole.
JESSE: Do you have a center bit? Is there a pilot bit in the middle of it?
AMBER: What’s a pilot bit?
JESSE: The one in the center, it should be a small one in the center that directs the hole saw.
AMBER: Hole saw? Oh, yea, see this thing—I’ll wait 30 seconds so you can see. Oh, I’ll move closer to the camera, ok?
(Amber holds up drill bit to camera)
AMBER: Jesse, can you see it? (Picking up phone) Were you able to see it?
JESSE: It’s coming up now.
JESSE: Yea, uh, there’s no pilot bit in there. You have to put a drill bit in the center. There should be a small hole that goes right in the middle of that whole saw, and you should be able to tighten the drill bit down tight—
AMBER: Here, let me go get the drill bit and I’ll show you.

[Amber walks off camera to get bit]
JESSE: That looks good when you’re up close to the camera.
[Amber holds up drill bit pack to the camera]
JESSE: Ok, now I kind of feel like the astronaut talking to one of those space probes millions of miles away and they have to wait.
AMBER (picking up phone): You know it’s so much like that. It’s really cool because right now, oh, I ‘ll take a picture and I’ll text it to you and I’ll put it on the Facebook event page, because right now I’m talking on the phone in order to hear you really clearly, but we have the speaker that I think of as you mounted to a light stand. So, I’ll take a really quick picture and send it to you because it’s really funny. This is you, ok?
JESSE: OK. All right, the drill bit stuff that you’re holding up is a nice big set like I have so it should work. Um, I turned my phone, the phone that I had to hook up because the other one wasn’t working, the battery’s dead in it so I can’t lift up the handset, so I'm leaving it on speaker phone, so I don’t know where the microphone is on this. I hope I’m sounding clear enough to you. Now I need to see the middle of that hole saw, I need to see the face of it that’s pointing down toward the wood and see the hole in there. There should be a hole.
AMBER (approaching camera): Yea, there’s a hole. See? Can you see the hole?
JESSE: Eh, maybe in thirty seconds.
AMBER: Sorry, I’m so impatient.

JESSE: Ok, I see the speaker. (Laughs) It’s on a stand.
AMBER: It’s on a light stand.
JESSE: Ok, yea, that’s good. Now it should, if you find any size that they I don't know, whatever will fit up in there, say a 3/16th or something, put that bit up in there, and there should be a set screw that you could tighten up with a screw driver that will hold that bit in there.
AMBER: Ok, my, this is so frustrating because I want to know how to do this stuff and unfortunately it’s not always clear to me as someone who doesn’t speak tool language. But like, I actually can’t get this thing open. You know, this black box full of the drill bits?
JESSE: Really?
AMBER: How does it open?
JESSE: There should be like three tabs that, there should be like two tabs on the bottom and one and the top, it’s got like a hole if you hang it up on the wall with if you want to hang it on your (ind)
AMBER: Whoops. I just broke it. A little.
JESSE: Well, you just twist those. Well…
AMBER: It’s like you need a tool just to open it. Oh, here we go.
JESSE: Yea, it looks a little different from mine but it should—
AMBER: Whoa, look at that. Hold on, you’ll see it in 30 seconds.  It’s like a Crayola box. Now I get it.

AMBER: OK. So basically I’m just going to find something that fits in this hole. What number did you say it would be?
JESSE: Maybe a 3/16th. I wouldn’t think it would be anything as big a quarter ince. But maybe an eighth inch or a 3/16th inch bit. Yea, I see how it opens it up now. That’s similar to mine.
AMBER: OK, I think the one that says seven…I think it’s 7/32nds.
JESSE: OK, that would be good.
AMBER: But um, how do I get it to fit tight in here.
JESSE: There should be a set screw or something that you tighten down on the stem. The part that goes into the drill, it should have a screw or something in there that you tighten down to hold the bit in.
AMBER: It doesn’t. Here I’ll go up to the camera and show you.

[Amber approaches camera with drill part]
JESSE: Yea, there’s got to be something on the side, on the outside of it that you tighten with a screwdriver. Um, you’re walking toward the camera now so I’ll tell you in a minute…No you got to turn it, um, the part that you’re holding with your fingers opposite, yea opposite end of the drill bit, uh, wow, there should be some sort of a screw there that tightens the bit.
AMBER: Wait, hold on, maybe I have to big of a thing.
JESSE: It would be on the outside of the hole saw. If you would hold the hole saw in your hand and put the part, turn the part so that I can see the part that sticks into the drill. I could tell you. Um…I think the part of the Wi-Fi problem here is I’m streaming from my iPad to the big TV so there’s got to be lag time there too. Let me shut down the air plate TV and watch it straight off the iPad. I’ll get right back with you.
AMBER: OK. (1:35:51)

JESSE: Ok, you got your back to the camera right now.
AMBER: Jesse, I just, I just texted you a picture of it.
JESSE: Of what.
AMBER: Of the thing that we’re talking about, I don’t remember it’s name.
JESSE: Hole saw.
AMBER: Hole saw.
JESSE: OK, I see you texting it now, so…crazy. Just to make this work I have wires all over the place. Still some lag time, I didn’t think there’d be that much lag time.
AMBER: Jesse when you get a second can you mute the live stream?
JESSE: Can I what?
AMBER: Mute the Livestream. We just don’t want to hear any feedback.
JESSE: Right.  I put it on the iPad, I took it off the TV cause I thought there was a lot of lag time there, but it seems about the same.

JESSE: All right, the part that you’re holding…I’m looking at it now off the picture you sent me. I don’t know, it’s not going to work if you don’t have a way to clamp down that drill bit. It will spin all over the place. Is there anybody there that can show you how to put the drill bit in?
AMBER: Um, well, everyone here that looks at it says there’s no way that it’s tightening. Why don’t I, why don’t I just take one piece outside and see if—remember the person that you spoke to? His name is Machek.
AMBER: Maybe he knows and maybe I can just pop outside and if he’s here I’ll ask him really quick. Can you stay on the phone though?
AMBER: Oh, ok. Hold on.

(Amber exits)
AMBER: OK, so he had to go to New York for the Watermill Christmas party.
AMBER: For the holiday party. So, the problem is like there’s not, I know you’re saying there should be another thing to tighten it with, and there’s just, maybe this thing is missing a piece.
JESSE: I think it is.
AMBER: What should the piece look like?
JESSE: I don’t know because it’s a different kind of hole saw than what I have. But if you have the time we can skip this knot thing right now. If you have the time to go to Home Depot and buy a Dewalt hole saw I know exactly what those look like and I can…
AMBER: OK. That sounds good. But basically I think I understand the gist of it. Like, I’m going to be, I guess the one thing that I don’t understand is why would there be a drill bit, like why don’t I just put this thing on the back of the hole saw into the drill and isn’t this a saw on the outside? Like why does it need the drill bit in the center?
JESSE: OK, to answer that question best, I’m going to have you, if you have time, take a scrap piece of wood, and put in the drill bit, or put it in the drill, and try it and see what happens.

AMBER: Oh. That’s such a mean lesson.
JESSE: I mean, I can’t explain it to you. You have to have, you know you have to have that bit in the center to hold it, to hold it around the center point because if you don’t have that pilot bit, it’s like flying a plane without a pilot.
AMBER: Well, ok, but won’t it make a hole in the center of the knot?
JESSE: The drill bit will, yea.
AMBER: So why don’t you have a hole in the center of your knot?
JESSE: Oh, I do. That’s where the nuts are—the little nuts that I have—they are in that hole.
AMBER: Oh. Ok. All right. So I’ll just go get a different hole saw tonight. I’m picking my friend up from the train so, I can do it then.
JESSE: But you really ought to try that because I’ve done it too thinking I can do it without a pilot bit and it doesn’t work, it just walks all over the place.
AMBER: Oh man.
AMBER: Well, I guess that’s a good lesson, a tool lesson. Which is really what you’re giving me.
JESSE: Yea. Tough love.
AMBER: Tough love is right.
AMBER: Sorry, hold on one second. Ren is trying to tell me something. Um, Ren is saying maybe we can do it with a drill press.
JESSE: If you had it in a drill press and your, the wood that you’re taking the knot out of is small enough, that you can clamp it down to the table on the drill press, yes, that will work.
AMBER: OK. I guess, I think that, I don’t know for sure but it looks like Ren is into rebuilding it and that this piece is from a drill press, right?
JESSE: Um, you know what, that’s probably true. That’s probably a hole saw for being used in a drill press.
AMBER: And, the thing is there was no hole press back there in the tool shed.
JESSE: Right.
AMBER: So, ok, so what I’ll do is when I pick my friend up from the train I’ll just get a what do you call it again? A hole saw that’s Dewalt.
JESSE: Dewalt. The same brand that that drill is that you have. The yellow, it will be, almost everything they make is yellow so it will be a yellow hole saw. So get like a 2 inch hole saw. Or make sure that the knot
AMBER: Right. So basically the hole saw’s bigger than the knot. ‘Cause this is 2 and eighth. But the knot that I want to use is actually even a little bigger than that.
JESSE: Hmm. I thought it looked like it was a little bigger.

AMBER: Anyway. Enough about tools.
AMBER: I wondered if you want to talk more about the closet.
JESSE: OK, well first of all the other thing I wanted to tell you, because you have that frame made, don’t screw it tight to the doorway yet, because you have to leave that laying on the floor to drill out the places where the bearings are resting in the—
AMBER: Right. I mostly just wanted to get the measurements correct because just from my eye I could tell that the top was just a little bigger than the bottom. And then the other thing about it is I feel pretty frustrated at two by fours because one is eight feet like it’s supposed to be and one is just slightly taller than eight feet.  I guess that’s common.
JESSE: Did you cut them to the same length?
AMBER: No, because I was just trying to minimize the number of times I cut things. But I should huh? I should cut the one that’s slightly taller than eight feet?
JESSE: Yea, you should make them the same because you don’t want anything to be at an angle, you want it to be square.
JESSE: Everything should be, I mean it’s a rectangle with square angles in it. But since your doorway isn’t really square in the first place, you might have problems anyway. We'll find out later.
JESSE: Um, the other thing is…um, I guess we’ll get to that later. But ok, talk about the closet you said?

JESSE: My closet that I built for heather?

AMBER: But also I wondered if you wanted to tell the story that you told me when we were driving to get lunch together in your hometown?
AMBER: You told me a story about getting in your grandmother’s while she was taking a nap?
JESSE: So you want to go in another sort of closet direction?
AMBER: If you’d like to, but it’s up to you.
JESSE: Um, well I don’t mind. I mean, it’s uh, it’s one of those things that made me who I am I guess. At a young age, the earliest I can remember, when I was 4 I think when my mom and dad split up and one day on the way to where mom moved to she had me and my younger brother, my younger brother was pretty much a baby. I don’t even really remember him being there. Maybe he wasn’t going along this time, but, we always stopped in the town, which was on the way to where mom moved to to, um, to see her mom, my grandmother. And my aunt, my youngest aunt that is my mom’s sister is only five years older than me and I remember it was just my mom and my grandmother in the kitchen and they were sitting there talking at the table and I wandered off. You know how kids do, they get into closets and pantries and whatever and so I went into the pantry where the food was kept, the canned stuff and whatever, there was my aunt, Sara white patent leather boots, little-- almost up to the knee, you know. (1:47:13) And I said, ‘Oh, wow, I like shiny things.’ So I put them on. And I remember I was standing in the closet and I was wearing my aunts boots and thought that they really made me feel different, made me feel like somebody different or not myself. And I kind of liked that feeling of alienation.
JESSE: So I, I was in there for a couple minutes and my grandmother was always paranoid that the kids were going to get into something and she said, ‘What are you doing in there?’ Mom came and opened up the door and saw that I was wearing those boots and she made a comment, ‘What are you doing’ You know, ‘take those off.’ And that was around four years old but another time when I was probably nine or ten and I lived with my dad who had moved in with his mom, you know and he was working a third shift and it was hard for him to take care of the two boys that he got custody of, and so we moved in with my grandma since she had bought a new house, this was my dad’s mom, not my mom’s mom. And one day when he was taking a nap because he worked third shift and he was trying to take care of us boys the best he could but he had to take a nap—

JESSE: And my brother fell asleep so I thought, ‘Hey, I was going to look around and get nosey’, so I went into my grandma’s room, l went into her closet, I think there was a dress there and I put on one of her dresses and some earrings, and I don’t know if I had some of her shoes and panties hoes or whatever, but I was just, I liked the feeling of alienation. Being something other than what I really am. And, I don’t know if I fell asleep or I just was just enjoying it sitting there and not doing anything, but I was in there for quite awhile and my dad started looking for us, wondering where I was, and kept calling my name and I didn’t answer because I was hurrying up trying to take everything off, and uh, about a minute you know of him calling my name I finally felt compelled to answer. So when I answered he said, ‘What were you doing in there?” and I said, ‘Well we were playing hide and seek and I fell asleep.’ And he opened up, it was one of those sliding door closets, and he opened up one of the doors, and he saw that I still had the dress on. He said, ‘Get that off. What are you doing?’
JESSE: And so, my dad knew about that and we never talked about it and my brother and I are really close and uh, when he wasn’t getting along with my stepmother when I was in the army, my younger brother moved in my with my grandma who at this time was living in an apartment.
AMBER: Your grandmother on your father’s side or the mother’s side that had the white patent leather boots?

JESSE: No, the same grandmother. My dad’s mom.
AMBER: Ok. Got it. So she was living in an apartment and your younger brother moved in?
JESSE: Yea, my younger brother moved in because he wasn’t getting along with my stepmother while I was gone in the service. I was in the army for a couple years and uh, the one night when I went up to visit him and sit and talk to my grandmother and whatever we got to (ind) and whatever and we got to talking, then we decided to go out and, my brother and I go out and take a cruise and he noticed there was a suitcase in my back seat in my car. And I was hesitant at first but I grabbed it and showed him what I had in it. It was a bunch of stockings and panties and bras and stuff that I found in an old abandoned house that somebody—a lot of the stuff had price tags on it so somebody had stashed them there.
AMBER: Oh, like it was brand new and it had store price tags on it? Or like garage sale price tags?

JESSE: Store price tags. So my—it was another guy like me that probably didn’t want to be found out and he probably owned this property and stashed all this stuff there because there were other things that made me believe that this wasn’t just a woman’s clothing.
AMBER: What other things?
JESSE: I don’t know, there was just, whatever it was it just made me believe because—
JESSE: The house still had all the furniture in it and it kind of made me think maybe this guy went there to dress up to get away from his wife or whatever.  But uh, when my brother saw that, at first he made fun of me and he said, he said, ‘I like these.’ And he was saying that he put on stocking before, stuff like that. And I said, ‘are you serious?’ And he said, ‘yea, I’ve been doing it for a couple years.’ And it was funny that he and I both kind of came out to each other that we were like that.
JESSE: That we liked those things. And, just like, looking at or feeling or seeing lingerie and stuff that was not meant for men but it made you feel like you were different. It alienated you from who, it was kind of an escape.  (1:52:21) So there’s that. OK, there’s that part of the closet.
JESSE: Now leading into one of the reasons I bought the real doll back in ’98, I was set to be married to my first wife, well actually my second wife. The first marriage is not even worth speaking about, it only lasted five months. But, I set aside some cash and I got this real doll before we got married because I thought this was my last chance to actually have something other than my wife that I can, you know continue on with my little fantasy, in my own world. And, so when the doll came, I had her delivered to a warehouse that I had some cars stored in and over the course of the next couple months I tried to figure out a way to get her into the house so I could have her whenever my wife was away or dress her up or do whatever I wanted to do that way I wouldn’t have to you know, it was kind of like I could project my fantasy on to her instead of myself.
AMBER: Yea. Right. And dress her up in the lingerie you wanted to wear.
JESSE: Right. And so that’s where the closet came in to being.  And I kind of like your, your comparing the two ideas into one theme, a closet because yea when I had the doll I had to try to find a way to keep her hidden also because obviously I didn’t want my wife to find out about it. Really, nobody in the community where I live would accept it anyhow, so one day when my wife was on out at one of those parties that girls do—selling candles or whatever, there’s many different kinds of parties that people do—but, she was away one time and I got to working on the door. (1:54:15) For the closet, after I realized there was that space behind that hole in the wall, and I guess we should back up. Yes, that hole in the wall when we first moved in this house where a door knob went into the plaster, in the teenage girl’s bedroom. I don’t know if she threw a fit and slammed the door into the wall but, I put a flashlight in there to see if, to see how far that hole went back in, and I realized it went back you know, a few feet so I thought that would that would be a really cool idea to put a door that I could put on that, that would like it was part of the wall.
AMBER: Right.
JESSE: But, it wouldn’t have a door knob on it, it wouldn't look like there was anyway to open it but, it would, but to me I would know how to open it.
AMBER: Right. 

JESSE: So, it was ideal. So I got to work on that idea and how I was going to do it. And then one day when my wife went to stay with her mom, in you know one of the bigger cities and I was here for a couple days alone and I knocked out all the existing plaster and threw it away and made the hole, a nice open rectangular area that I could put a filler door in and then I went to my place of work after hours and built this metal frame and a little locking mechanism and the metal rods that locked in the holes in the wall and turn the key. It all worked out really well and I only had one person came up to me when I was building it because of most of the other people on the off shifts, there’s only a few of them, most of them are working and not really paying attention to what was going on.

JESSE: But one guy asked me what I was doing and I told him I was building a locking cabinet for storing guns and stuff in it and I said that’s why I’m putting this knot in front of this lock cylinder and I said it’s going to look like it’s just a regular piece of plywood but you pull that knot out and there’s a lock going behind it. He thought that was a really cool idea. So, that door has been there since I don’t know probably, I don’t know at least the year 2000.
AMBER: Yea, that’s quite a while.
JESSE: I took it back off because, well for one, you wanted to see it. And you took it along with you to Watermill Center.
AMBER: Yea. It’s right here.
JESSE: And, I’ll probably close up that existing hole with regular studded wall because when I get married I don’t want any questions about why is this plywood hall, seal it with drywall. My previous wife, she didn’t really question it.
AMBER: Jesse, would you like to put the pieces of Heather into the room before you seal it with drywall?

JESSE: Well, that it’d be a cool idea.
AMBER: Yea. Then she would be in her original room.
JESSE: yea.
AMBER: Can you see, I know that you’re watching the Livestream, I have all the pieces of Heather laid out on the table.
AMBER: Whoa, that would be really…I don’t know part of me would feel really sad that she would be in there, kind of, without a door that opens. But, in another way, it was a special space for her, right? Like something that you built with such care.
JESSE: Yea. Well maybe just a small piece. You know. I don’t know if you heard me yesterday but I liked what you did with the picture that you made for the presentation of the Doll Closet performance where the finger nails are the same color red in the lettering and your shoes.
AMBER: Yea. And the paint container or the—
AMBER: What is that called that you pour paint into while you are rolling it?

JESSE: Uh, I don’t know, a can.
AMBER: Yea, a can. It was hard to find a paint can that was that color, of Heather’s finger nails.
JESSE: Yea, and the stool that you’re on.
AMBER: Yea. Well thanks for noticing. You always notice all the color details and I like that.
JESSE: That’s pretty neat.
AMBER: Yea, well and I don’t know, oh um, I’m going to put my fingernails up to the Livestream, and then I’ll tell you something about them, OK?
JESSE: And then what?
AMBER: And then I’m going to tell you something about them ok?
AMBER: OK. (Approaches camera and puts her nails out) Ok, so we’ll wait 30 seconds and then you’ll see my fingernail polish.
JESSE: I noticed it was pink yesterday.
AMBER: Yea, it is pink. But um, so the exciting thing to me about the pink, well first of all, remember you gave me a paint chip from the room of the doll closet?
AMBER: So I took that paint chip to Benjamin Moore in Dumbo, which is near my studio, in Brooklyn--oh right, you’ve been to Dumbo in Brooklyn because that’s where you proposed to your fiancé.

AMBER: Oh my gosh, that’s so wild we didn’t talk about this yesterday, but when you proposed to your now fiancé right in front of me when I was working at the carousel, we were just like, I don’t even know, like fifty feet from my studio.
JESSE: Really?
AMBER: Yea, because the carousel is right next to my residency this year. I didn’t even think to tell you that but that’s part of why I have that job is that the funder for the residency is also the person who restored that carousel for like, twenty-five whole years.
JESSE: Really?
AMBER: But yea, there’s a paint shop, there’s like a little hardware store that has a little paint shop inside, and they sell Benjamin Moore paint, and I took the paint chip that you gave me to them and they did a scan, and so what they determined is that the color of the room was like the Benjamin Moore brand named, “Secret Garden.”
JESSE: So, is it an old vintage paint style. Or are you saying that’s—
AMBER: Yea, the contemporary name for it like, I don’t know what year that paint, that room would have been painted, but whatever year it was I'm sure that was around the year my bedroom was painted as a little girl, cause it’s the exact same color.
JESSE: Huh, so I bet it was in the 70s then.
AMBER: Yea, and then they um, at Benjamin Moore they just went ahead and did the little scan. They have a scanner um, that tells you basically like the CMYK breakdown, and then they match it as close as possible to one of their color brands. So the name of the color that’s like, you know available now is called Secret Garden. I just really like that because you know we’re talking about this secret room and this hidden closet and I love that it was in a room um, you know, that was painted a color now called Secret Garden. Anyway, maybe I’m just nerdy about it, but I really liked it.  (2:01:39)
JESSE: That’s really, that’s a cool connection.
AMBER: OK. So then, the reason I held my fingernails up to the camera, is that I went to go get a manicure while Ren and Barry kindly worked on all the audio the other night, and um, I was looking through all the pinks and I was trying to match it to all the paint that I’ll be painting the walls here. Um, which is that paint that I found from your chip, but I couldn’t find a pink that I thought that would look good, like on camera, and also would match so I went through all the names and I found a pink called “Secret Stash.” (Jesse laughs) That’s what I used, so. Anyway, um, I don’t know I thought that you would appreciate that because we’ve talked about fingernails before because I remember us chatting, remember when we did that video chat last spring and we were chatting a little bit about how you said you didn’t want to paint your nails as they are.
AMBER: You said that you would like to paint your nails if your nails were different.
AMBER: And then, what did you say, I was joking a little bit with you because at that time we were planning on hanging out a little bit in the summer in Ohio, ‘cause I had to drive that car from New York to Iowa.
AMBER: And I was like, oh we should paint our nails together. But you weren’t into it.
JESSE: No, I uh, my I don’t know, they’re white and they’re man hands and I don’t know. They look all right but there’s one of them that’s really bad. I split it in the middle when I was in the service.
AMBER: Oh, wow.
JESSE: But, I don’t know. Maybe putting artificial nails on it or something. But, you can’t find any there that long anymore.
AMBER: Oh, I can.
JESSE: Like long ones.
AMBER: Oh my gosh, Jesse, I can find you long ones for sure.

AMBER: Yea. Let’s just, we’ll revisit that but, um, I don’t know. I think it’s possible and I think it could be really fun because I’m very into my nail care and I think it could be something that we do together. Also, I was remember that when we did that chat, what’s it, you said something about being reincarnated because you were like, ‘No, I don’t want to paint my nails when you come to town.’
JESSE: Well, I mean, ultimately if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I’m happy with who I am now, but, you know if there is such a thing as reincarnation I hope I come back as a woman because I like that kind of stuff. I like I like fancy things, I like soft things, it’s just part of whatever made me this way, I don’t know if it’s because, you know, missing my mom because I lived with my dad and I only had my grandma around. My grandma was one of the softest, nicest, most forgiving people I’ve ever met. And, I’m not saying she was ultra feminine, because she wasn’t I mean, just part of my soft personality came from my grandma.
AMBER: Well, I like your soft personality.
JESSE: Thanks.
AMBER: You know, it reminds me of--it’s so funny. I have an aunt who makes these watercolors, so you know she lives in a small town in Iowa and this small town like, I don’t know what it’s called. It’s not community access television but it’s just like the local channel, did a feature on her which is amazing right? And um, they showed her watercolors. They were calling her a folk artist. And she’s so soft spoken and sweet and round like I am, you know, she’s curvy like I am and um, I had forgotten that she was this artist and I was remembering last night that she’s both really soft and feminine and also um, in this way that is I think unique to the small Midwestern town that we’re both from. Also not particularly, I don’t know how to say this because I don’t want to say that she’s not feminine, but I think that my um, expression of femininity and my ID as a queer fat femme has a lot to do with things like nail polish and bangs and red lipstick. And when I dress the way that I dress in my real life in New York when I’m in my small town in Iowa, or when I came to visit you in Ohio and we went to visit that little pub, I felt really out of place.
JESSE: Really?
AMBER: Yea, I felt like—I mean, I feel this way in my small town in Iowa but I just felt like a lot of eyes on me. (2:06:29) You know, like I felt a little judged, for the red lipstick look in particular. I feel like thats the code for that in, at least where I’m from is a little bit like uh, on the slutty or sex worker end of the spectrum. But maybe I’m misreading that. Do you know what I mean?
JESSE: Yea, because not a whole lot of people where lipstick like that, I mean I like it, I like seeing that. But not a lot of people around here do that.
JESSE: Um, before we get to far, I…
AMBER: Oh right, I don’t have my time today.
JESSE: I probably have about another ten minutes.
JESSE: But if I can like, maybe make a point here, like what I was getting at for buying Heather and since I bought Rhiannon also—I never thought I’d buy another doll but since Rhiannon was in, or since Heather was in such bad shape and the dolls that they’re making now are so much more better—
AMBER: Oh my god, they’re unbelievable.
JESSE: I really wanted to continue on. I felt it would be healthier for me to continue on with another doll that I could present my, or project my fantasy on to. I think it would be better than, better for me to buy another doll and continue that way than it would  for me in my community to be found out as being a cross dresser or something. So, I don’t do that as much anymore. You know what I’m saying? I try, I’m trying to since I have a new girlfriend, I’m going to be married, I’m trying to be more of a man, living up to my expectations as a man and trying to um, when you were in my garage I pointed out some places where I had some stuff hidden—
JESSE: I really am trying to get away from that.

JESSE: Trying to get any clothes that I have left behind from me you know experimenting I want clothes and the shoes that I have left behind to be sized for Rhiannon so if they’re ever found I can say well I have a doll and that goes with my doll.
AMBER: Right.
JESSE: If they find my twelve shoes they’re going to say these are way too big for that doll.
AMBER: Right.
JESSE: So you know I’m trying to be a bit more um, I guess there’s nothing wrong with it if you want to continue cross dressing or whatever, but in my community if I was found out as that it would be a lot harder probably to live down than it would be for me being found out as having a doll.
AMBER: That makes sense to me.
JESSE: And I could still project that part of me onto Rhiannon.
AMBER: Yea. I mean, I support what makes sense for you and I just have such um, big feelings of care and love for you. I also feel just, I have to be honest, like a little bit sad, about um, you know the fact that that isn’t something you feel you can express. That it isn’t something you feel you can talk to your fiancé about or talk to your community about. And I absolutely understand and come from a really similar community, um, but I just wanted to say that out loud. Like I both identify with you, understand the space on a pretty deep way, um, as far as where specifically you’re from, and feel really excited about your generosity of sharing with me and sharing with the Livestream. And then just also feel a little bit sad that it if this is something that feels important to you but it feels like something you have to stifle. Do you know I guess I just wish it wasn’t that way and I’m wondering if um, that’s something we could talk a little more about tomorrow if you want to. Not that I’m trying to change your mind, whatsoever.

JESSE: Yea. Maybe, but I mean you understand too where I’m coming from because of our similar upbringings.
AMBER: Yes, totally.
JESSE: It’s better to leave it in the closet than it is to be ridiculed if it was found out. So, I kind of live a duel life I guess, but that's if anybody is hearing what I’m saying and they can identify with it, or maybe they can’t identify with but they’ll understand it a little better that that’s one of the reasons guys like me have dolls because I didn’t really play with Barbies when I was little. I played with dirt bikes and I was a normal boy but um, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that it would be really fun to get into fashion and stuff like that and so it’s better to have a doll to project that fantasy on to then it is to keep on stifling yourself, like you said, I will probably stay you know in the closet because I don’t want to be found out that I have a doll even. It’s a lot easier to go that route than it is, in my community anyway than being found out as—and by the way, I will say this. And I told my brother about this too. My brother was pretty upset thinking that ‘Oh my family name is going to be shamed’ and everything but I was pulled over by the police one time while I was wearing the mini skirts and heels, and they came in with their flashlights. It was at night and they had their flashlights all over my car and at the time you know I worked on a lot of stuff, I’m into a lot of different things. Well, I had my car apart and you know the dashboard was tore apart and everything and I was just driving down, down the road to back in, I don’t know ’91 or ’92 back when there weren’t that many cell towers and I had to drive down the road to get a cell phone signal so I could call my girlfriend. This was the girl who died of cancer but—

JESSE: But, at the time I thought it was kind of, I was dressed up and I thought it would be cool to call my girlfriend at the time while I was dressed up. So I had to go down the road and I didn't tell her that I was, but it was just one of those things.
AMBER: Right.
JESSE: I went down the road and pulled off on the side in a ditch of this back road and sure enough the police came and wondered why I was pulled there, in there. And I told them I was talking to my girlfriend. And of course not many people had cellphones back then but mine was built into the car.
AMBER: Oh wow.
JESSE: And they shined the flashlights all over the car and they said, ‘Huh, we don't see your girlfriend.’ They were giving me a hard time.
JESSE: And uh, then they started noticing that I had heels on and my mini skirt and whatever and they just gave me a warning you know, you’re not supposed to pull off to the side of the road. You’re not supposed to be parked in a ditch and whatever. And uh, they kind of had me, they detained me for probably twenty minutes and I um, was getting pretty nervous and then they finally told me I was free to go. But then they said, ‘One more thing would you mind stepping out of the car. And I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’
JESSE: And they just laughed and said, ‘Ok well, you’re friend would probably not appreciate you doing this’ and they told me to go home and get changed so. I told my brother that and he was pretty embarrassed that you know the family name is going to be shamed. But that’s the only time I had ever been caught.
AMBER: Yea, and to your knowledge they didn’t, the police officers didn’t share that story?

JESSE: Oh, share that story?
AMBER: What, what I’m asking is, to your knowledge did the police officer share that story with other people, like in a gossip way. Did it get back to you that it had been—
JESSE: Not to my knowledge but, no. There have been, there have been some comments with people saying some things to me later on in later years that made me wonder, you know how much do they know about me?
JESSE: It may have been, but I don't care.
JESSE: I mean, I try not to be found out but I mean if it happens it happens.
AMBER: Yea. Well some of what we’re up to now is kind of providing this public but anonymous platform to have this conversation. Maybe that’s where we can pick up tomorrow is talking a little bit about that.
JESSE: Well, it’s turning, it’s kind of turning into psychological therapy for me, but I don’t want to go off base or off target for what you’re, you know, I hope this is what you’re you know, get the community to understand us you know especially the guys that own dolls or whatever because it is an oddity where I’m from but I’m sure it will eventually be accepted.
AMBER: Yea, and maybe that’s some of my interest. As you’re talking I’m thinking a little bit more about conversations we’ve had in the last I guess two full years now, as someone who dates people on a transmasculine spectrum, as someone who’s in a queer community in New York City that talks a lot about gender, uh, in obviously in a very accepting way um…yea, I mean I want to be careful about our conversations because I both identify with where you’re from and feel really happy to be out on all the levels that I’m out. So you know, I think some of our interest in each other has to do with both of those things, right, so like we get the small town Midwestern-ness um, we get some of the gender stuff, and I think perhaps some of your interest in me and this public and anonymous platform for you to have this conversation and in my position as being out as queer and out as someone who dates transmasculine people um, you know, I’m kind of wondering if that’s some of your appeal in our relationship. But of course, I don’t know.

JESSE: Um, I…I don’t know I guess I don’t understand, you’re asking me if uh…
AMBER: Well, I mostly wanted to address your question if we’re getting to off base. And I wanted to—I answered in such a very long way and I’m sorry, I think we are not off base at all. And I hope this is the conversation that we have, partly because I hope that building this closet could be a vehicle for your self-representation, however you wanted to interpret that. So, I feel open to the possibility that we talked only about the closet and the logistics of the closet and hiding the doll. Um, but I’ve been very happy to connect with you on some of the gender stuff that we’ve talked about over the last two years, partly because it’s content that I think about all day every day. But also because I think that I tend to interact with people in this one certain community in New York City that has you know, shared politics and um, for the most part a shared way of talking about gender and trans folks. And I think that our way of talking about gender uh is really different.
AMBER: Yea. Our conversations have words like cross-dressing.
JESSE: Yea, because—
AMBER: And that’s not a word for example that we use very much in my community in New York.

JESSE: Yea, maybe we can expand on it tomorrow.
JESSE: But I’m going to have to get ready to go to work here pretty soon so.
AMBER: Yea, definitely. Oh my gosh, it’s the day after your birthday so I guess that means you won’t get coffee spilled all over you.
JESSE: No, I should be ok today, maybe I won’t have to work so hard.
AMBER: I can’t believe you got coffee spilled all over you and you had the most calls on your birthday.
JESSE: And I had a speeding ticket in the morning.
AMBER: Oh my gosh, that’s right. You get a lot of speeding tickets you seem to imply.
JESSE: Yea. Well, I guess we’ll talk about that later.
AMBER: All right. Well, hey are you going to watch the stream if it’s possible?
JESSE: Yea, I watched a lot of it yesterday at work so if you have any questions or problems you can feel free to text me—
JESSE: I’ll do the best with answering the texts also.
AMBER: OK. I’ll also send you more pictures of Jasmine the cat.
AMBER: All right. How you feeling?
JESSE: I’m feeling all right.
AMBER: All right. Well we’ll talk over text. You have a good day at work.
JESSE: OK, thanks a lot.
AMBER: All right, bye.
JESSE: Later. Bye.

DOLL CLOSET: Day One Streaming Footage and Transcription

Doll Closet: Day One

Streaming Footage Part One

Streaming Footage Part Two

Jesse Call-in Transcription
(timecode from Streaming Footage Part Two)

AMBER: Oh my gosh, Jesse, I’m so glad to talk to you.
JESSE: Good.
AMBER: But here’s the thing, I just have to ask you—and I’m sorry if I’ve asked you a couple times—to turn the Livestream off again.
JESSE: (indecipherable)
AMBER: Because we can hear it.
JESSE: Oh, oh, I just muted it. I just muted it.
AMBER: (laughing) OK. I like that you just asked me how I knew.
JESSE: I had it off…(ind)
AMBER: Yea, we’re hearing some feedback.
JESSE: OK, I think I know what it is. There’s a window behind here. AMBER: Oh, yea AMBER: yea yea. Every place that you have the Livestream, if you don’t mind closing it, that would really help us out.
JESSE: Yea, I just realized that I…(ind)
AMBER: Oh my gosh, that’s what was going on. But also, there are things on our end so you know, we’ll just start from here.

AMBER: And we can hear each other, it’s beautiful.
JESSE: Sounds good.
AMBER: Good. Ok, great. So Jesse, happy birthday!
JESSE: (ind)
AMBER: Say that again?
JESSE: (ind)
AMBER: Hmm…you’re breaking up.
JESSE: After you laughed, I could see that you said something, but I couldn’t hear what it was.
AMBER: Oh, ok, yea. But I think we have a really good connection now. So lets just get to chatting and I also want to tell you for like the fifth time now that you can hear me: happy birthday.

JESSE: (breaking up) Birthday, it works for about ten seconds and then
AMBER: Hmm…well we have full bars on our end and I know you do too, so we may just have to keep our fingers crossed for tomorrow, but, let’s just keep chatting as long as it feels comfortable. Um, so I started saying earlier I broadcast your instructional video for the first hour. From 11 to noon, Eastern, and it was amazing.
AMBER: Did you watch it on Livestream?
JESSE: Yes, I said I watched it but I was supposed to get around for work also.
AMBER: Oh yea, yea, yea.

AMBER: Um, so I’ve watched it a couple of times now, and the main and the main thing I have a question about is how I get the two by fours into the doorway. Right, so you said to just drill in those dry wall screws, but is it as simple as that. Like, I just…how many would you put in, that kind of thing. How do you, how do you recommend I get that stuff done?
JESSE:  If Watermill is ok with it, then you could shoot some drywall screws through the doorframe that’s already there. I don’t know if it’s metal or made of wood, if you could go over or not—
AMBER: It’s um, it’s just, it’s just drywall.
JESSE: But what’s behind the drywall, what’s that attached to?
AMBER: Here, let me find out. You said I should just knock on it? (35:29) [walks over to door and knocks on it]
JESSE: Yea…it might be metal.
AMBER: I can’t really tell from knocking on it because I’m not an expert like you.
JESSE: It sounds like wood.
AMBER: Oh, it does? You such an expert, even from far away! So that’s good news right? I could just put the drywall screws right into the drywall and wood?

JESSE: Uh, lost what you are saying, can’t hear it.
AMBER: I said that’s good news right? That I can just put those two by four screws into the drywall and the wood on the frame?
JESSE: Right, uh, that’s what I would do.
JESSE: Are you hooked into the Livestream with an audio cable on your phone?
AMBER: No, I’m not. I’m hooked into a speaker and then we’re recording the speaker into the Livestream, which isn’t ideal, but it’s what we can only pull off today since we had that technical problem right before we started streaming.
JESSE: Ok. Um, I don’t know if it’s a Wi-Fi problem or if it’s the chord you have hooked in your phone, unless it’s just a power chord.
AMBER: No, this is just a chord to a speaker, I think our issue together right now is Wi-Fi.
JESSE: Well, whenever you picked up the phone and pulled that wire, moved that wire, I missed some of the stuff you’re saying.
JESSE: But, yea, if you would built that two by four frame, as high as you want it, say about six foot, or so, and then you know obviously the wood’s in the doorframe so it fits in there snug, and then shoot some drywall screws, one on each side of the bottom and one on each side of the top so all together four screws, that would hold that frame in there.
AMBER: And then how do I—I’d have to cut the third two by four to be the length of the doorway. And then do I drill it like on the top into the other two that I’ve already adhered to the sides?

JESSE: I don’t understand like what 3rd two by four. If you make a rectangular, just a rectangle, and then fit it into that doorway so you have a top and the bottom and both sides, there’s four—
AMBER: Oh, oh, ok. I didn’t realize, cause I’m putting one on the bottom too, yea?
AMBER: OK. Gotcha. And then you’re saying what I can do is build that—‘cause that’s not in the video, the two by four section. So I have a lot of questions about it. And you know me, I’m asking like the most basic questions but that’s my skill level with tools. So um, so I can build that rectangle on the ground and then adhere it into the doorframe…
AMBER: Yes, OK, cool.
JESSE: And then, after you get it a nice tight fit, and you got it screwed in and everything and it looks good, then unscrew it and lie it back on the floor so that you can after you build the door you can set the door into it.
AMBER: Oh, ok.
JESSE: Because drilling out the little round nests for the bearings that press on the pipe nickels, you’re going to have to drill out that on the top and the bottom two by four and it’s going to be easier to just lay it on the floor to do it—
JESSE: You have a (ind) in the doorway.
AMBER: So that, that I hadn’t understood that in the video. So the two by four frame that you built, you eventually adhered into your own doorframe?

JESSE: Um, in the original door, it was already existing in the construction of the house, so the only thing I had to do was put that that top two by four, that little piece that’s about four inches by four inches,
AMBER: Right
JESSE: I put that in the top to put that top bearing in
AMBER: Gotcha.
JESSE: So the top had enough support.
AMBER: I see. So if I were to start with that task today, like, if all I got done was that rectangle, I wouldn’t adhere it to the doorframe, I would save it and do that very last? Just to like underline and confirm.
JESSE: That’s true. You don’t really have to screw it firm into the doorway. You could just make sure it fits tight.
AMBER: OK. Cool.

AMBER: Um, I’m mostly just thinking how to start. I have everything pulled together and I have a table say all ready, which scares me but um, you know, I don’t know, it’s a daunting task for someone who hasn’t used any of this but I’m really excited and I’m excited to work with you. And also, um, I’m thinking back to your (ind) on your birthday and Davecat and I called you.
JESSE: Yes. We had a moment—
AMBER: What’s that?
JESSE: We had a little trouble hearing each other then. It’s just a matter of getting set up. But tomorrow should be a lot better on the set.
AMBER: Yea. Totally. So, what are you going to do this year on your birthday?
JESSE: What did I what on my birthday?
AMBER: What are you going to do this year?
JESSE: This year?
JESSE: Oh, we went out to eat. We went out eat last weekend. And got a pizza and went to a place that we hadn’t been in a long time. I’d been there before and she’d been there before but neither one of us had been there together. So…
AMBER: Where? Where is that place?
JESSE: It’s a small bar, in a small town in my county that has the best pizza in the county and everybody, you see t-shirts around that say it’s the best pizza around and it is pretty much. I mean, it’s a good place to go.
JESSE: I hadn’t been there in years. I used to do little bit of computer work for them when the previous owners had it.
AMBER: Cool.
JESSE: So yea there was the telephone wires and stuff like that still I could see that I rang years ago.
AMBER: Oh, see you’re so good at all the technical stuff and all the building stuff.

AMBER: We need, we need you over here as part of our team on the phone wire. You know what’s so funny is somehow the trouble that we ran into today was because everybody uses cellphones. So to use a ground line ended up being more challenging than we imagined.
AMBER: Yea? It was worse than yesterday. Anyway, I’m wondering how the birthday pizza compares to the pizza you had the weekend before?
JESSE: Oh. Oh that was not really comparable. I mean, the one we had in New York was at a historic place and it was a world famous, I mean anybody that comes to new york should go there.  It’s uh, not that the business has always been in that building, but the building itself is a historical building. It has a significance and the pizza, the owners that own that restaurant now are very good working and the pizza was great and uh, we had a great time when we were there so, yea the only thing I regret is not buying a t-shirt from the place before we left.
AMBER: Well, do you- you know what I realized is that –I meant to text you before hand and see if you ok talking about the fact that we saw each other briefly.
JESSE: Oh, that’s fine.
AMBER: Oh, yea? OK. Good, ‘cause I’m still thinking about it. Like, my mind is still a little bit blown by the fact that you were in New York and you came to where I work and you know, and we acknowledged each other but not in the way that we acknowledged that we knew each other in front of you know, the folks that you were with. So how was that for you? Do you want to talk about it? Do you want to tell us, I don’t know, I would love for you to tell the story because I’m still thinking about it.

JESSE: OK. Um, well for people who know what this is about, I’m a doll owner. I have had a doll for—I don’t know, what’s it been, like, the first doll I had was in like 1992, I’ve always had (phone breaks up) in love with dolls…I’ve had a couple different wives before. One of them, that marriage didn’t last, and the second wife I had, she passed with cancer. And, the girl I’m with now I’ve known ever since we were in high school and so that was you know, 30 years ago. We’ve always thought about each other now through the years, we recently reconnected this year. I’ve been with her since February of this year and we realized that you know, we’ve what we both have and what we both want out of a relationship is the same.  (44:56) And so, I knew that I wanted to have her for the rest of my life if I could and she was thinking the same thing and we were going to go somewhere on my birthday and we decided not to go there and instead that we were going to go to New York because in a nutshell, my previous wife had had cancer and went to New York, which is two states over from where we live. The cancer specialist was in New York and they had a doctor there that was supposed to be the best at that kind of cancer and by the time we’d been through all these other treatments and everything and by the time we got to New York to see this specialist it was too late. So, when I went to New York a couple years ago it was for a different reason. I didn’t get to see what I wanted to see-

JESSE: And, my girlfriend now wanted her daughter to see New York before she got into her career and did whatever was her life, she wouldn’t able to – you know sometimes you can get trapped at the job or career or whatever, not have the freedom to do what they wanted to do before they got too busy--
JESSE: So we decided my birthday—
AMBER: Is she, she’s young, right, Jesse? Your girlfriend’s daughter?
JESSE: For my birthday and for her daughter we’d go back to New York to see it and I could make some good memories to replace the bad ones that I had. And I decided there really cool (ind) I could see the carousel, the place where you work and maybe brought you (ind) close together and it worked out really well. But I tell you by that fifth day we were in New York, we were so tired of walking around that my fiancé and her girlfriend or her daughter were so tired that they just wanted to stay in the hotel room, and I said, ‘No, we really have to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.’ And they were really they said it was a lot of fun with me, you know there so many different people walking across it; they thought we were the only ones being stupid walking across the bridge.

JESSE: So everything worked out well. I’m glad I got to see you and I’m glad you were there.
AMBER: But Jesse, how was it for you to act like you didn’t know me?
JESSE: Um, it was kind of scary because for one, my girlfriend is the jealous type and if she saw anything that she questioned she would probably have like doubt. If she knew that we knew each other she would have asked, want to know exactly why or how we were so friendly if we talked so much and that’s why I just had to play it off. But, it was fine.
AMBER: Yea, you know some of what, well, first of all, congratulations on your engagement, and you know, happy birthday again. And I think that it’s awesome to have been a small part of that day and you know to also be a part of your birthday two years in a row. So what I’m still thinking about in addition to all the warmth that I feel for having been a part is um the fact that you were, her daughter filmed the engagement right? I’m understanding that correctly that she was holding the Go Pro?

AMBER: And she was filming you proposing—
JESSE: She had no idea.
AMBER: Oh, she had no idea either?
JESSE: Nobody did.
AMBER: Wow, so when you handed off the Go Pro was it just ot like, what did you say to her?
JESSE: I said why don’t you hold this camera, and I'll get my iPhone out, and my girlfriend had her iPhone out pointing toward her daughter and getting a shot of the horses and stuff—
JESSE: And her daughter said to me, she says, “Oh, I don’t know what to do with this. What do you want me to do?’ and I said, ‘Well just point it around, you know.’ And then I said, ‘No, point it over here at us. Come a little bit further.’ And I was afraid she was going to lose interest so I pulled out the ring behind my girlfriend’s back.

AMBER: Oh my god.
JESSE And I held it up and her daughter’s mouth dropped, her eyes got real big and my girlfriend was still videoing her daughter and she did the same thing with her face but she didn’t know why.
AMBER: Oh my god. You know what, what was so interesting for me, Jesse, was ‘cause you know I work at the carousel so I’m there a couple times a week and I watch people get engaged all the time and I watch people, you know do there wedding photographs and bring their babies for their baby’s first ride. It’s such a magical place, but um, to watch you, someone that I know in this intimate way, but also with this distance. Like we’ve hung out in person, like what, four or five times?
AMBER: But that’s it. We’ve corresponded a lot digitally. So it’s kind of surreal just to see you in my non-doll life, like at my work, but also to see this intimate act and then to watch your now fiancé’s daughter recording you. You know, I guess the other thing about it is that because the carousel ride is like what 3 and a half minutes, two and a half minutes—
JESSE:  Yea.
AMBER: Um, you know I can see you in the rotation only every 30 seconds or so, so it was like piecing together this, um, amazing moment but in slices. So right, I would watch you go by, and I’m still thinking about it and still struck by it when you took the camera and pointed it at me, and I felt at the first time in our collaboration surveilled by you.

AMBER: Yea. Yea, it took me a minute but I was like, oh, this is Jesse’s video and I’m in Jesse’s video whereas I’m often making a video and asking you to be a part of it.
JESSE: Well, I wanted to remember that you were there, and what all happened. You know maybe some day—if it comes down to it, if I get put on the spot, if she finds evidence or sees the doll and I have to come out about it, I might have to tell her that you were there and say this girl right there, and I might point you out, and say that I’ve known you for a long time but I couldn’t really say it because—I mean, not really a long time but you know—
JESSE: But I couldn’t say anything because the only thing we really have in common is well, your performance and me being a part of it and the doll life but that's the only thing that’s really tying all this, it’s making sense that anybody that’s watching this, the doll closet and everything, doll’s have been a part of my life, but I’m not exclusive to dolls. I mean, I, I do have relationships but my dolls also they were another part of me that I can’t find in a real relationship. (52:14) So, uh, in the place where I live I really doubt anybody would understand it, so it’s important to have a doll hidden behind the secret (ind)
JESSE: And maybe through this performance people will understand why and how and understand doll owners a little better too.
AMBER: Yea. That’s my goal. I want to back up just a little bit though and assert that I think we have a lot more in common than just dolls and the performance.
AMBER: Well mostly because coming to your house a couple weeks ago, I felt really-- and I haven’t told you all this--but I felt so struck by the similarities in the, you know, small town-ness as far as where I grew up in Iowa and also just like I think we share a really similar class background and I think um—
JESSE: Really?
AMBER: Oh my god, yes, both of our fathers were mail man, letter carriers, and there’s the you know, generation before that, farm lives, and really there’s even just objects, like that paint that you have in the room of the house that you know, is yours, you’re saying that you didn't’ pick that pink.  But that pink is the same that I grew up with in my childhood bedroom including that cross. So, like, including that Lutheran cross that was in that pink room.

JESSE: Can you hear me?
AMBER: I can hear you. Could you not hear me for a minute?
JESSE: I lost reception for a minute.
AMBER: Oh, well I was just going on and on and on about the similarities in your house and some of the houses I grew up in Iowa.
AMBER: And I was talking about the pink room being the same color pink as my childhood bedroom. And—
JESSE: Really?
AMBER: Oh my gosh, yes. And that Lutheran cross. That silver cross with the wood background. That’s the same exact cross that I was given at you know whatever point in Sunday school. And then, also that Schwinn bike that you had hanging in your garage is the same that was my mother’s in Iowa. So it feels like, I think it was just like the small town Midwesterner and the shared class background that feels similar to me. But you know, I acknowledge that I live in New York City right now and our lives are pretty different other than the doll connection but I also think there’s some more, I don’t know, maybe some core childhood value in us or background that brings us together too. (55:01)
JESSE: Yea, I think so. That’s cool.
AMBER: Yea, I don’t know also I’m just, Ren was teasing me that I’m always talking about how I appreciate the way you talk and also how tall you are. You just kind of seem like men in my family. I’ll leave it at that because now I’m just going on and on and probably creeping you out a little bit.
JESSE: Nope. Nope. I’m all right.
AMBER: Ok good.
JESSE: You know, when I first saw you in LA I think, I don’t know for some reason I gravitated towards you (ind- phone breaks up)
AMBER: Wait, say that part again.

JESSE: When I met you in LA, when we were at Synthetics studio seem like my (ind)…
AMBER: You said you gravitated towards me? I lost you for a minute but I think what you said is that when we met in LA at synthetics you gravitated toward me.
JESSE: Uh, I can’t hear you.
AMBER: Shoot! How’s that?
JESSE: Yea, hold right there.
AMBER: OK. I’m holding right here. So, I was repeating what I thought you said which is that when we met in LA at Synthetics that you gravitated toward me. Is that, did I hear you correctly?

AMBER: Oh, Jesse?
JESSE: You said what?
AMBER: Oh you think it’s this wire?
JESSE: No, I can hear you. It seems like a certain way you hold that phone. 
AMBER: Huh. Well, if right now is working I’m not going to move the phone.
JESSE: No, it isn’t.
JESSE: If I sit right, right by it I can hear you. Can you hear me?
AMBER: I can hear you perfectly.
JESSE: Ok, now I can hear you.
AMBER: Awesome. All right, well you were just saying—

JESSE: I was just saying about—
AMBER: Go ahead.
JESSE: LA when I met you in LA at Synthetics studio I seemed to want to gravitate toward you and hang out with you more than anyone else.
AMBER: Yes! That’s how I feel. That’s how it is at the doll meets. Because, not only are you awesome, but you have the most beautiful doll, Rhiannon.
JESSE: I’m a what?
AMBER: I said, not only are you awesome, but you have the most beautiful doll. Rhiannon is just so gorgeous.
JESSE (laughs) That part killed me.
AMBER: How’s Rhiannon?
JESSE: Rhiannon?
JESSE: I haven’t, I haven’t looked at her since you were here.
AMBER: But that door that you built for the instructional video that we broadcast at 11 will be the door for her new closet? Is that right?

JESSE: The doll [sic] that I built for the instructional video, I’m not really sure if I’m going to use it.
AMBER: Oh really?
JESSE: Yea, at least it was built within my new specs for where I’m going to put it in case I do, so…
AMBER: But now will your old door still fit it, because that’s the door I have here at Watermill.
JESSE: No, the old original door right in back of you, probably modify it to fit it out there.
AMBER: OK, ‘cause you’re not going to put it back inside the original doll closet, right?
JESSE: I doubt it because it will probably raise more questions than anything.
AMBER: Yea. Because Jessica, what would happen—
JESSE: Feel pretty bad about it
AMBER: What would happen if it did raise more questions? You just don’t feel interested in talking to your fiancé about it?
JESSE: I think, I can’t hear you again.
AMBER: OK. How are you on time, Jesse. It’s one o’clock. Are you good for getting to work?
JESSE: Can you still hear me still?
AMBER: Yea, I can still hear you. That’s ok.
AMBER: I just wanted to do a quick time check if we’re starting to break up again. Are you OK with getting to work? It’s one o’clock.
JESSE: Yes. I’ve already missed an hour, so I can probably give another 20 minutes.
AMBER: Oh, ok, great. Well, I was just starting to ask, like what would happen like, I don’t know, if there were questions that arose, like from your fiancé. Is there something in particular that makes you feel hesitant from sharing with her that you have Rhiannon and that you used to have Heather and that we’ve performed together for example?

JESSE: Well, one because she might not like, like most people around this community and she’s heard about what’s right and what’s wrong and we’ve talked about (ind) that some people in our community look down on and she’s kind of that way. You know, she finds it hard to understand or hard to tolerate other people.
AMBER: Like what people?
JESSE: Um, my nephew is gay and she makes fun of him and kind of my sister, if she were a good parent her son wouldn’t be gay and things like that. I don’t really believe that but,  I mean, on the other hand, my sister did do some things that were not—she wasn’t in my nephew’s life for a long time. So, that sucked. I mean, she just seems to be like a lot of people in this area, so I don’t think she’d really feel too good about somebody having a doll.
JESSE: But, I did take the movie, Lars and the Real Girl to her house one time and we watched it. She kind of, she kind of made some funny comments but at the end of the movie she said had the (ind) for some male dolls or something like that.
AMBER: Oh, haha!

AMBER: Well, there you go. Maybe that’s the way in.
JESSE: She’s very, I don’t think she would explore something like that.
AMBER: And what is it in particular about the dolls that you think she would feel resistant to? What would she imagine you were doing with the dolls that she would feel frustrated by?
JESSE: Well, for one, not that it’s any body’s business but my girlfriend and I are different with each other and I don’t really feel the need to do anything with Rhiannon. You know when I bought Rhe, I was kind of resigned to the fact that it was going to take me a long time to find a relationship because it’s hard to find somebody um, and then this girl came along that I’ve known for a long time and she is a lot of the things, almost everything that I was looking for. (1:03:25) But if she found out that I had Rhiannon, I would tell her my fiancé is number one, and Rhiannon is not that (ind). And you know, the other part of me that I can’t really express. And I’m sure she would be saying, or she would throw it in my face in the times when we weren’t getting along about you know, why don’t you go have sex with the doll. And you know, I don’t really have time to take Rhiannon out and do that sort of thing in the first place. So, right now at this point in my life I have a fiance and I have a relationship, and I have a lot going on with my life, Rhiannon’s staying put up inside except when I get her out and do a photo shoot which was great, when we were in Pennsylvania.
JESSE: I had a couple chances to do some really cool photo shoots. So, the thing that most people don’t understand and I really don't think my fiancé would understand is Rhiannon is to me something to project the lingerie and the clothes and the stuff I would like to see which I don’t think my girlfriend would really relate to because she’s more of a, I mean she’s explored the country, but she’s not really the type of girl that would dress up in all the stuff I’d like to see.
AMBER: Right.
JESSE: So that’s what I use Rhiannon for is more of a means to project this, you know, fantasy on to and take pictures of and um, that I don’t know if she’d understand or not, or if she’d even believe that that’s what I was doing with her.

AMBER: I think from what you’ve said it sounds like it’s more the lack of belief that it would be non sexual. Not to say that it is non-sexual, but that it would be sexual in a different way than she expects, right?
JESSE: Right. And I don’t want any argument to happen or anything thrown up in my face years and years from now, so it’s best just to keep that part of my life hidden.
AMBER: Yea. Yea, so then what does it mean to you to meet up with the other doll owners the couple of times that we do. I don’t know, it’s a really special time for me, so I’m wondering how it is for you to do the meet ups?

JESSE: Well, it’s a freedom. It’s the chance to do what you want to do when normally you can’t just do it freely. With the meet that we have there’s like three or four days at a time when we can do whatever we want and have photo shoots and see each other’s dolls and you know, different types of different materials, different clothing from what one might have.
JESSE: It’s just fun.
AMBER: Yea. Well, and I enjoyed this year putting, putting Rhiannon in the wedding dress.
AMBER: Yea. She looked so stunning.
JESSE: I’ve seen some of those, but I haven’t (ind) that shoot we did with Brandon, uh, and anther one that I did when I got home before I put her back in her storage place.
AMBER: Yea. How was that for you? That was your wife’s wedding dress, right? The wife who unfortunately passed away?
JESSE: Yea. It was a way of kind of like, I mean it was, I hadn’t looked at that dress, for well, since our wedding. And since the way she, she slipped away from me not only in her death, but also in I don’t know if you need this amount of detail, but we were actually separated for a couple years, well, right after she found out she had cancer she wanted to live off on her own and—
JESSE: Try to beat cancer without the stress in her life, but I was pretty much a lot of stress for her, because we weren’t getting along, and when we did come back together as best friends, I helped her through a lot of the travelling arrangements for the cancer, and you know just being with her, being there for her more than anybody else was. (1:08:08) It brought us closer together. And, when I moved all her clothes and belongings from where she was, she had an apartment. I moved it back home, as a way, as way of bringing everything back here because I thought that she never really should have left me. So, I got (ind) go through all her stuff and give it to Goodwill and whatever. So, in the process of doing that, I hung that wedding dress off to the side and I really wanted to look at it. It was kind of sacred. But that was one last piece of her clothing that I had to get rid of, so it was good bringing it along. Not really defiling it or anything dirty, but using it for a purpose so I could create a different memory and let go of any hurt from the past relationship. (1:09:03) So that’s what that was for.
AMBER: I felt really struck when you proposed to your now fiancé at the carousel in front of me that we had just done that you know, wedding dress shoot with Rhiannon a few weeks prior. So the timing felt really intentional. I hadn’t realized until your email, which was just a few days before the carousel engagement that you were going to propose, so um, I don’t know, I felt really struck by the timing of that. Like the wedding dress shoot was somehow the end of a chapter or the marking of a chapter would be more accurate.

JESSE: I was interrupted, I’m sorry.
AMBER: OK. I was just saying that I felt really struck by the proximity, by the timing of the wedding dress shoot and then you proposing to your fiancé.
JESSE: Can you hear me?
AMBER: Yea, I can hear you.
JESSE: I’m sorry.
AMBER: That’s ok.
JESSE: I couldn’t hear you for a bit.
AMBER: How about right now? I guess not. How about now Jesse?
JESSE: There.
AMBER: There?
JESSE: Um, yea.
AMBER: Ok, well I was just saying that I felt really struck by the proximity by the timing right, we had done the wedding dress shoot maybe just a few weeks before you proposed to your now fiancé.
JESSE: Right.
AMBER: So it felt um, surprising to me.
JESSE: It was-
AMBER: Yea, go ahead.
JESSE: I was just saying it was a way for me to move forward how I felt. Like now I can propose marriage because I’ve gotten all the other memories behind me and that was another reason to go to New York, was making good new memories out of the bad ones.
AMBER: Yea. That’s really powerful.

AMBER: I feel really touched to have been a part. I want to talk to you more about that, but I have an eye on time and I want to respect the fact that you have to head to work and that we’re going to talk everyday so um, maybe we should stop here, and pick up tomorrow at noon when hopefully we’ll have the ground line in and no technical issue leading up to our chat. How does that sound?
JESSE: Yea, that sounds good.
AMBER: OK. Well, thank you so much. And I hope that you celebrate your birthday in a way on today, on the day itself.
JESSE: Huh. Yea. I’m sure it will be a good day.
JESSE: Even though I got a speeding ticket this morning and everything it will be a good day.
AMBER: Wait, what? You got a speeding ticket? You got a speeding ticket coming back from your fiancé’s house?
JESSE: I’m sorry I got to tell you about all the speeding tickets sometime. So I don’t get speeding ticket on the way to work I’ve got to go.
AMBER: All right, well that's a good place to end then. Thank you so much, Jesse. You have a good day. Happy birthday, again.
JESSE: All right, thank you.
AMBER: All right, bye.
JESSE: I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
AMBER: All right.

DOLL CLOSET, December 10-17, 2014 • 11am (EST) daily •

December 10-17, 2014
The Watermill Center (Hamptons, NY)
broadcast via Livestream beginning at 11am (EST) each morning with daily call-ins from doll owner “Jesse” beginning at noon (EST)

open to the public at Watermill for live viewing on December 13, 2014 • time TBD

Doll Closet will be the next in Amber Hawk Swanson’s series of durational building performances, and will invite conversations about the closet as a space of both queer secrecy and doll ownership. The performance is made possible by Hawk Swanson’s friend and collaborator “Jesse,” an anonymous doll owner she met through their shared involvement in the doll community. The performance is inspired by the hidden room Jesse built in his home where he secretly kept his 1998 model RealDoll, Heather, for fifteen years before donating her body to be transformed and reassembled in Hawk Swanson’s 2013 performance Sidore (Mark II) / Heather > LOLITA. Over the seven consecutive days of Doll Closet, Hawk Swanson will build a replica of Heather’s room. Jesse will call in during select hours of each day to provide guidance and instruction. The pieces of Heather leftover from LOLITA will also be present to witness the reconstruction.

In Doll Closet, Amber Hawk Swanson transforms the process of building and the resulting replica as a platform for members of the doll community—and Jesse specifically—to respond to mainstream misrepresentation of doll ownership. The performance highlights alternative narratives of owners who use their relationships to dolls as a way to explore their own gender, obtain uncomplicated companionship, and connect with a community in the face of social anxiety and loneliness. Doll Closet not only provides a necessary vehicle for members of the doll community to speak for themselves without risking their anonymity, but also asks what kinds of intimacies, relations, and unanticipated connections can flourish in secrecy. It explores how the interior space of the closet can be rendered as both capacious and collective.

Hawk Swanson has been a part of the doll community since 2005 after acknowledging her failed attempts to date “organic” women and developing an affinity with “doll husbands” who consider dolls to be life partners. In 2006, she commissioned the fabrication of Amber Doll, a RealDoll made in the artist’s likeness who became her artistic and romantic companion for five years. Hawk Swanson’s projects with dolls are part of an ongoing exploration of their material capacities for synthesis and salvation—that is, the personal and political promise of the copy.

Doll Closet will take place three years to date from Amber Doll > TILIKUM (2011) and one year to date from LOLITA—the first two in an alchemic performance series transforming lifelike silicone sex dolls into models of captive whales. Over the ten days of TILIKUM, Hawk Swanson transmogrified Amber Doll’s body into a replica of Tilikum, a bull orca living in captivity at SeaWorld Orlando who had been involved in three human deaths. In LOLITA, Hawk Swanson dismantled two other dolls, Heather and Sidore (Mark II), who were donated by their longtime partners and owners Jesse and Davecat. During the 70-hour broadcasted performance, Hawk Swanson used their silicone flesh and PVC skeletons to construct a replica of Lolita, the oldest living killer whale in captivity, while members of the doll and marine mammal activist communities participated via call-ins. In his calls, Jesse described the room in which he hid and surveilled Heather.

Doll Closet takes up the narrative Jesse introduced to LOLITA. During the construction process, Jesse will phone in to explain how, after noticing seven feet of empty space behind a wall through a hole left by the previous residents of his 1940’s colonial-style home, he fashioned a secret room secured by a locking pin system inspired by bank vaults and a surveillance camera—which both protected the closet and kept watch over Heather. Hawk Swanson will simultaneously receive phone and Skype calls from other members of the doll community, as well as manage a special page on the doll forum Our Doll Community where owners will share images of their dolls’ spaces. The act of building a “private” room in the open will thus generate a public yet interior space, where conversations can air what had previously been confined to secrecy. Through the durational process of replicating Heather’s original closet, Hawk Swanson expands her ongoing exploration of how replicas become unique objects and function as vehicles for discourse.

Preview video of the doll closet and its locking mechanism below.

Amber Hawk Swanson (b. 1980, Davenport, Iowa) is a video and performance artist living and working in New York City. Hawk Swanson has exhibited internationally, including at Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France); Denny Gallery (New York, NY); and Locust Projects (Miami, FL). Her recent residencies include Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace (New York, NY); Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (Skowhegan, ME); MacDowell (Peterborough, NH); and Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, NY). Her work is included in the permanent and MPP collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2006).
Amber Hawk Swanson’s is the recipient of a 2014 Franklin Furnace Fund Grant and a 2014-15 Sharpe-Walentas Residency (formerly the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Residency).

This work was made possible, in part, by the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by Jerome Foundation and by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Video production and streaming by Renato Velarde.

Doll Closet is dedicated to the memory of Barbara DeGenevieve, (1947-2014), artist, mentor, friend.

Sidore (Mark II) / Heather > LOLITA Statement

Sidore (Mark II) / Heather > LOLITA is my newest work in my alchemic performance series transforming lifelike silicone sex dolls into models of captive whales. LOLITA took place in my New York City studio over the course of six consecutive days with simultaneous broadcast via Livestream. The entire performance lasted 70 hours. The project was commissioned and made possible by Sidore (Mark II)’s and Heather’s longtime partners, noted synthetics advocate and doll husband Davecat and doll owner Jesse.

In a series of actions that are at once tender and destructive, I dismantled Sidore (Mark II) and Heather, two poseable RealDoll sex dolls, and repurposed their PVC skeletons and silicone flesh in order to build a replica of Lolita, the oldest living killer whale in captivity. Lolita has resided in the brutal confines of the Miami Seaquarium—a dilapidated aquatic park with a substantial animal mortality rate—in a shallow pool far less than twice her length for over 43 years. With troublingly unintentional irony, Lolita was named for the protagonist of Nabokov’s eponymous 1955 novel.

During the performance, members of the doll and marine mammal activist community participated remotely via call-ins. Doll husband Davecat read Nabokov’s Lolita in person and via Skype while I transformed both dolls. Over the phone, Jesse described the hidden room he built for Heather, in which she resided for fifteen years. On the final day of the performance, doll husband Mahtek called in to contribute a reading of the eulogy he wrote for his doll Pheobe’s first body. Each of these narrations was an integral contribution to my reconstruction. Former marine mammal trainers turned advocates, who recently appeared in the acclaimed Sundance and CNN documentary Blackfish, also discussed the realities of marine mammal captivity.

My project commingled synthetic, organic, and literary means to address the perverse power dynamics implied by Lolita’s naming and the conditions of her captivity. LOLITA casts a glaring light on the problematic fluidity between the perception of a seductive body and the body in undeniable captivity—particularly in marking a body as "seductive" to erase its “captive” status. In addition to addressing the specificities of Lolita’s long-term confinement and exploitation, the project poses broader feminist questions about surrogacy, domination, and enclosure via the suture of doll, female, and whale bodies.

LOLITA took place exactly two years after Amber Doll > TILIKUM, a ten-day performance involving my own RealDoll, Amber Doll, who was made in my likeness and was my artistic and romantic companion for five years. In 2011, I transmogrified Amber Doll into a replica of Tilikum, a bull orca currently living in captivity at SeaWorld Orlando who had been involved in three human deaths. My female-to-whale transformations explore material capacities for synthesis and salvation, and the promise of the copy. I have been a part of the doll community since 2005 after acknowledging my failed attempts to date “organic” women, and have developed an affinity with “doll husbands” who consider dolls to be life partners. Now, I work at the threshold of the art and doll worlds as a material translator between the two.

TILIKUM Sculpture Details / Making-Of Amber Doll

To mark the year anniversary of my completing my replica of Tilikum, I am posting details of the sculpture himself. I am also re-touching my Tilikum tattoo today as a marker of the date.

I have recently been interested in reviewing the 2007 footage of the Making-Of Amber Doll in preparation for FIVE DOLLS. I am posting some Making-Of photographs as connect the Making-Of Amber Doll with the Making-Of Tilikum in prep for future projects.

Cleaning / Ribbon Tying


A year ago today, I made the first incision into Amber Doll's flesh in order to transform her into Tilikum. Twelve pounds of silicone flesh was all that was left of Amber Doll’s original form after Tilikum was sculpted. My solo exhibition "All That is Left of You / Everything You Are Now," included two performances: "Cleaning" and "Ribbon Tying" and displayed the 556 non-orca parts of Amber Doll. To mark today's incision-anniversary, I have a new 3minute compilation of excerpts from "Cleaning" and "Ribbon Tying."


After transforming Amber Doll into a small replica of the bull orca Tilikum , then branding my body with his name and posing with him for pin-up images, I wanted to make work that addressed Tilikum's inability to re-enter the ocean.

For the reasons outlined in my previous post about the stresses of captivity for marine mammals—even if SeaWorld were willing—Tilikum is not a candidate for reentering the ocean on his own.

He was originally captured in waters near Berufjörður off the east coast of Iceland in November 1983 at about two years of age. (Born in August 1980, I am the same approximate age as Tilikum.) As I describe in my letter to Amber Doll, I will take (my replica of) Tilikum to Berufjörður as a gesture toward the re-entry that is not possible.

As a first step toward our joint travel, I visited a fjord about a thirty minute drive from Berufjörður. I shot a second Amber Doll > Tillikum pin-up during a windstorm there.