I have been lucky enough to meet some incredible people through this blog and my writing career. Today, we get a special treat. We get to look into the depraved, highly-intellectual mind of my new friend Lady Ristretto. Without further ado, I give the floor to the Mistress of Kool Kink . . .
Action Figure Erotica: how adults play with their toys
Once upon a time, it all began with Robot Chicken (RC). I was in grad school working on a Phd in theater when I saw its first episode.
It was dazzling, elegant, simple. Fifteen minute episodes comprised of seconds-long sketches using a variety of toys and action figures from the eighties. The writing was tight, funny, and smart.
RC is to comedy as Action Figure Erotica (AFE) is to sex.
But AFE aspires to be more than RC. Or, perhaps, it aspires to be as smart and sharp as RC is at its best.
Of course, this genre is merely the red-headed stepchild of historical fiction. Our culture certainly has a boner for historical accuracy and museum quality fiction. Gary Oldman just won an Oscar for his nuanced portrayal of Winston Churchill. Daniel Day Lewis also portrayed Lincoln, Philip Seymour Hoffman was Capote, and Judi Dench as Queen Victoria. These are only a few. Audiences jizz over watching these difficult, meticulously detailed, highly quaffed performances. It’s as if the real people are resurrected and we’re watching a reality show with extreme pageantry, and we all gain cultural capital.
I reject Museum Quality and Historical Accuracy. I don’t believe that Accuracy can be attained. History is a story written by an academic using facts and artifacts to interpret an event in time. Even AFE is History. It isn’t good history, but it does follow the strict definition of history. And it has a lot of sex in it, even when it is gratuitous and used as structurally as punctuation marks.
I have too much education and it has influenced what AFE stories I tell. I’m attracted to the brainy intellectuals, those figures who have been made into action figures because of their scientific or literary work. I love mythological figures as well, for they are at the heart of much cultural history, and can be as influential as real people. This includes every character from any story, from Gilgamesh to Rick and Morty.
Who wouldn’t want to read a sex scene between the multi-armed Hindu goddess Kali and President Abraham Lincoln. Or Marie Curie and Medusa?
So what is AFE exactly? Are there rules? These are my guidelines:
- The main characters must have been made into action figures. It doesn’t matter if the subject is a real or fictional person. I wrote a story about Bernie Sanders and Anne Frank. Yes, Anne Frank has an action figure. I have more flexibility for supporting characters, to make the stories more interesting and my life easier.
- The definition of what constitutes an “action figure” is pretty loose. Sometimes to make things easy on myself, I’ll go so far to include bobble heads. Generally, anything that is a small representation of a person counts.
- No particular genre is required other than erotica. There has to be fucking. Any kind of fucking. It doesn’t have to be extreme, strange, or vanilla. Of course, interesting scenarios do present themselves. How would Cthulhu fuck? Would Quasimodo be into cuckolding? Can Medusa’s snakes function as sexual organs? What would William Howard Taft look like as he orgasmed?
- Avoid copyright wars. I usually have no problem stealing images and writing plays that are collages of copyrighted texts; I get on my high horse and scream that I’m stealing in the name of art. But when it comes to using copyrighted characters in a text through which I might make money (there’s no money in theater), I don’t make my life potentially miserable. I force myself to creative. For example, Marie Curie saves the Titanic with the help of Kent Calhoun, a flying alien with superhuman strength, and his billionaire friend Brewster Wainwright, a brooding genius that has built a mechanical suit for himself that makes him look like a bat. You can still have your way and it does make it more fun for the audience to be in on a subtle joke.
- Don’t worry about timelines or justifying why youthful Albert Einstein, Rosie the Riveter, and Victor Frankenstein are living in the same era. Time isn’t the point. Accuracy isn’t the point.
- Because of its inspiration to RC, don’t assume that AFE must be funny. The scenarios sound absurd, but the stories needn’t be. My Marie Curie has PTSD from an abusive marriage and is an alcoholic. With the help of Bernie Sanders, Anne Frank works through the trauma she endured in Auschwitz. And Abraham Lincoln is suffering from shell shock and taking a siesta in the desert, working himself back up to returning to the civil war. There are also fun elements—such as a brothel of (My Little) Ponies run by a cyclops. I mix up the drama and absurdity; that’s what I learned from watching M.A.S.H. through my childhood. That’s what life really is: horror and clowns. Clowns who make us laugh and then hit us in the face with a hatchet. (But you needn’t be so extreme.)
Above all, I believe in fun. The fun doesn’t have to be pie-in-the-face, but not every treatment of history must look like it emerged from the British Museum. That’s what action figures are: they are toys representing some of the greatest minds we’ve ever known (imagine the great minds that haven’t been documented by history) available to us so we can play. The toys aren’t fixed in scenes as characters in movies. They are autonomous and designed to be put in new stories with new people, inviting us to be creative and playful.
That’s the most important thing: AFE must be playful, creative, and sexual. Shouldn’t that be something we all be in our own lives?