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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Hard Figure Phobia (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Bob Baker
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A post by Jay Johnson on his blog http://hellandhayes.blogspot.com/ about ventrilo-phobia inspired me to ask all of you why you think some people are "creeped out" by hard figures. I'm not talking about all those cute furry things you guys make talk, but good old hard figures. And I'm talking about adults, not kids.

I don't think it's simply because of "evil dummies" portrayed in film and on TV. Some people just seemed spooked by a human-like doll acting human. I think the problem is not with ventriloquism, or with us, but rather with the creeped out person him/herself. Perhaps they are very suggestible, and the puppet reaches them on a deeper emotional level than some other people. Or maybe they feel an inanimate object should stay that way. (Think how you might feel if a statue in an art museum suddenly showed signs of life.)

Last year I brought Mrs. Goldman (Selberg Granny) to a costume shop, and within a few seconds of seeing her the salesgirl said, "I have to get someone else to help you; those things creep me out!" I like to think it was Mrs. G and and I who was the culprit.

At any rate, your thoughts on this subject are most welcome.

Bob
Wanlu
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I have had some people say something similar about my wooden Selberg Smile It was a very cute Selberg girl which I eventually sold Smile The lifelike features of the Selbergs is propbably the reason why they creep a lot of people out.

That is why I kept my Poyner figure...he's cartoony and kid friendly.

My Hartz old lady never got that comment...but my Nelson-Jackson figure got that similar comment from one of the make-up artists in the tv studio, Mr Harowtis freaked her out. Smile Simlar thing with my Payes old man.

One figure that freaked me out one night was my Mack...not because of his looks but because of his age and history. He's a 1919 head and was actually used in vaudeville long time ago. It was owned by the late John Schaibley and repainted by the late Frank Marshall. Too many "late" people have handled this head...so late at night during practise, it just gave me the creeps Smile

I guess the more lifelike a figure is...the creepier it is specially to a non vent...

Wanlu
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marshalldoll
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Bob I have one room with over 100 figures in it and I myself have no problem with them but I have had quite a number of people that have come over and have said they can't go in the room because the figures are creepy. I stop them in their tracks and say remember they are just pieces of wood and totally inanimate. They can't move on their own. After some talk I usually get them to finally come in and they find out the truth. They are just dolls. No problem after that but I do find it most interesting.
Dan
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Ony Carcamo
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Quote:
On 2009-03-12 16:58, Wanlu wrote:

I guess the more lifelike a figure is...the creepier it is specially to a non vent...

Wanlu



I agree. I also got those reactions when I had my Selberg figure. I feel figures with cartoony or puppet-looking features are more "audience-friendly." Figures by Marshall, Hartz, Semok, Lovik, McRay, Spencer, etc. fall into this category.
Ony Carcamo
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Lou Hilario
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I always perform with my Selberg Max figure on a stage. The kids are comfortable when it is at a distance. But I have a funny portion when I do get close to them, but I can't give that away.
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chris mcbrien
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I have been SO tempted to have a hard figure made...I have my own ideas for characters. At the same time, I ask people about what they liked about my show after my performances. SO many people over the years have told me they were happy I didn't pull out "one of those creepy old time dolls"...when I push about what this means, it always...ALWAYS..lands on a hard figure that gave them the creeps. The only puppets I hear that are hard figures that people like in the larger media are characters like Dunham's "Walter" and his other characters like the Dead Terrorist. These seem to have defied the creepy label..perhaps it's because they have a more surreal "cartoony" look?
For me, I find that although I want to try out a hard figure my audiences like my soft figures. However, I still think if I find the right "fit" for me that this won't be the case...
Speaking of "case", I've been trying to find a good case for my puppets for a LONG time...anyone have any suggestions? I must go through three cases a year, then give them away in my quest to find just the right case...
Dickens & Dave
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This is a topic I always get a kick out of, and in trouble too sometimes.

Like Bob said, I don't think it's just the "evil dummies" portrayed in movies, although that has surely contributed to it, and I really think it's most of it. The funny thing is, the one mentioned the most by people wasn't even a vent figure in any way, shape, or form - I'm sure you've all heard the reference to "Chucky", I know I have enough times. But there are some people who just seem to get spooked by them for no reason.
Now here's where I got in trouble, more so with other vents.

Now naturally, when it comes to kids, I'm very careful to be aware of that possibility, and do everything I can to prevent doing anything that might foster a fear, as I mentioned in another post, that's the reason I started using some soft figures.

But when it comes to adults.....that's another matter.
It's great if they get wrapped up in the illusion when watching a vent perform, that's what we all hope to achieve, but past that, for a reasonable thinking adult to attribute more to a figure, like they're something to be feared, is just foolish and they should know better.
So, again, when it comes to adults, I can't help myself, I have a tendency to play up the whole, "the dummy is alive" thing, and I will admit to having a great deal of fun with it.
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Ony Carcamo
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Here's what happened lately: Because I'm currently having a national tour (which is taking me to many cities and provinces), I was forced to create a new, ultra-small body for my Hartz wood figure Nonoy. I wanted to travel light and I don't want to carry a bulky regular-size hard figure along with my other props/puppets.

I found out that the ultra-small body made my Hartz fig more cartoony and, thus, more kid-friendly! My kid audience loved him! They come close to him without fear. I may used this new body on him from now on.
Ony Carcamo
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ColinDymond
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Phobias are hard to pin down. I did some NLP training and you'd be surprised at some of the things people are scared of! As part of the fast phobia cure Richard Badler normally plays silly circus music but a woman in our group was so afraid of clowns she couldn't even listen to circus music!
marshalldoll
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We just had Thanksgiving dinner and had 27 guests. My wife Helen slaved , sorry off point, and in the guests were 4 children ranging from 4 to ten years old. They all walked around looking at the figures and had a great time. None were frightened by any of the figures. If children have not been influenced by someone why would they be scared? I showed them the figures and even used Happy to show the movements and the kids were ennamored with the figures. Yes there were some adults that would not go into the room but the kids were fine. Just an observation that I made this past week.
Dan
http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
CaptKirk
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Some of my adult family members had issues with my figures being "creepy and weird" UNTIL we made them laugh. Then they were OK with them. My grandkids don't like them much at all. As a matter of fact, they didn't much like the latex puppets I used to have either. I guess laughter can be the cure for what ails you, IMO:o)
Servante
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Maybe the problem is that, if a vent figure looks too much like a human being, but is infused with some sort of magic life, it creeps people out. A figure with a more caricatured face comes closer to a cartoon and is less scary...and the audience is then in on the "joke" that the ventriloquist is creating an illusion, because a caricature character could not actually BE a living creature.
People seem, for the most part, not to be bothered by display mannequins; but display mannequins are not endowed with occasional life.
Also, it's been my experience that, for some, the vent figure is creepy UNTIL it talks. It's the fear of what COULD be that contributes to the fear.
And then, should they encounter the figure sitting by itself backstage, that fear of Magic Life without the control of the ventriloquist seems to return for some people.
I dunno. Fascinating to think about, though.
-Philip
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