"We're All Mad Here"
The most important thing to have as a collector, besides tons of cash and lots of patience, is a friend with the same interest as you. Nothing enhances the moment you score an amazing toy than knowing someone who would be tormented by your find. There are entire online forums dedicated to people showing off their collections; the problem with those is that you don’t get to wallow in the envy that is plastered on each person’s face as they drool over your thirteen Ikea Detolfs worth of Kaws. Of course, it does help if they are into the same artists or style of figure as you; otherwise your bragging will never reach its full potential.
When I met Erica we discovered that we both shared a healthy obsession with the work of Tara McPherson. She had managed to buy a few of her toys and a print while all I had acquired was a case full of jealousy. My competitive nature suddenly kicked in like a screaming Valkyre descending from Asgard. Armed with a credit card and a computer I hunted down the items she had and the few she wasn’t able to get. The next time I saw her we didn’t even get into small talk before I brought up my recent acquisitions. The smile on her face grew bigger with each toy I mentioned; a smile that I mistook for happiness at my good fortune and keen internet hunting skills, when in reality it was driven by something far more sinister. “I went to New York last weekend and met her at a book signing.” This was a complete disaster. How on Earth could I measure up against such a pilgrimage to see the actual art goddess herself? There had to be something out there we both coveted more than anything…
That very thing was handed to me by Fate itself. McPherson has released a full size Circus Punk that was one out of only a hundred and hand signed on the bottom. This was like finding the Holy Grail and being able to use it to catch dust on your entertainment center. This was big and I needed a way to gloat that was unprecedented in our collecting relationship. I needed to throw a tea party.
I gathered everything necessary to capture this stunning portrait: clothing to fit the occasion, a small table, a few doilies, and my wife’s tea set from when she was a child. My new Circus Punk took a seat of honor and was surrounded by various other characters. Now all that was left was to take the picture.
Sitting on the floor in a suit and making small talk over tea with one’s collectibles can bring many thoughts to the person documenting the event on film. The first thought could involve the word “genius,” bringing forth the maniacal laughter of an arch villain; the other could include the word “sociopath” and leave them coming to grips with the apparent limits of your own sanity. This is why the tripod was invented; it doesn’t judge.
The campaign of revealing the image to her had to be extravagant and hit her from every side to maximize its impact; the true definition of “shock and awe.” I sent it to her cell phone, emailed it to all of her accounts, and put an 8x10 glossy in the mail to her home address.
It turns out the second most important thing to have as a collector are TWO friends that share your interest in case the first one doesn’t appreciate your sense of humor.