Sdtrk: ‘Fun city’ by Soft cell
(Before commencing with this part, have you read the previous section first? It’ll make more sense that way, trust me.)
MONDAY, 01 AUGUST
Since we’d be starting the day’s filming at 10am, once again, Shi-chan and I got up at 7am for preparation’s sake; also, since I spoke with Mari before hitting the sack last night, she wanted me to swing round and pick her up at 9am. Shi-chan wore the same gear as yesterday, with the exception of her black O-ring collar, and I switched to a white shirt (so we’d both have on white tops and black bottoms), a slim grey tie, and my Chuck Taylor trainers.
After prepping the Missus, I motored out to Mari’s place at a little after 9am. Now, the house where she lives has a bit of a problem, in the fact that her doorbell doesn’t work, and she’s in a room at the bipolar opposite of the main entrance. So in short, if she’s asleep, knocking doesn’t do any damn good. I rang her a couple of times from my car, as a large black dog happened to be wandering round loose next door, with no answer. As the clock was ticking, I ended up driving away at 10.25, letting Allison and Grant know that I’d be a little late.
As an aside, it turns out that yesterday we’d really lucked out with the weather, as it reached the upper 80s round 10am, with a high of something like 89°. Good thing we’d be inside for the majority of the filming today..
Having gotten home, and after leaving a message on Mari’s voicemail that I’d call her back before we hit Nippon kai, Allison and Grant appeared round 11am. They were more well-rested than before, and Allison was sporting a t-shirt that read ‘ACTION FIGURE’ across the front. ‘That would look good on the Missus’, I quipped. ‘I picked this up from a thrift store, but when it’s outlived its usefulness to me, I’ll send it to you,’ she responded. We’re holding you to that! 🙂
As our reservation at Nippon kai wasn’t until 1pm, our first objective stop on today’s agenda was to ostensibly film me wandering round an intimate boutique, picking out stuff for Shi-chan, so I suggested Priscilla’s over on Woodward. The three of us went up to the counter, and Allison explained the situation to the clerk, and asked if they could film me for a couple of minutes. The clerk, a short, slightly chunky blonde with apple cheeks, said that she’d have to call the district manager. After a two minute call, she said that the manager said no, so our raiding party schlepped on out of there. However, Grant did get some footage of me gazing at the Mannequins in the window. (NOTE TO PRISCILLA’S STAFFERS: Your Mannequins are in shoddy condition — get them refurbished.)
I’d suggested that we try over at a Lover’s Lane, another intimate boutique chain, but we reasoned that we might very well run up against the same wall there as we did with Priscilla’s. Then it occurred to me that we should give “Brown bag it” in Clawson a go, as not only are they independently owned, but they’ve been round much longer than either of the aforementioned chain stores, and I’m sure they’d appreciate the publicity/business. So we headed to “Brown bag it” (the quotation marks are apparently part of the name; don’t ask me why) and entered, waiting patiently to speak with the 60-year-old female clerk on the phone. As it turned out, we were rejected there as well. The clerk said that as a matter of fact, the store owner was the person she was just on the phone with, and he wouldn’t go for publicity like that. She explained that what it basically boils down to is that the cities of Royal oak and Clawson have these draconian ordinances regarding stores selling articles of a sexual nature, and too much publicity would draw attention to “Brown bag it” and possibly get them shut down. So they’re doing a ‘hiding in plain sight’ kind of thing; their front door (which is locked; you have to enter from the rear) has an 18 and Under Prohibited statement on it, and unlike Lover’s Lane and Priscilla’s, they don’t even have window displays, just block glass and brick. So basically, we’d come up trumps again..
We still had some time, but Allison wanted some footage of me doing something I normally do, only without the presence of Shi-chan. As we were driving away from “Brown bag it”, Grant hit upon the idea of perhaps someplace anime-related. At first, I thought, ‘ah, nice one, but the only anime store I can think of is Wizzywig, which is an hour away in Ann arbor’, but it struck me – Warp 9 might be promising. So Grant swung the rental round, as Warp 9 is across the street from “Brown bag it”, oddly enough. Well, the third time was indeed a charm, as the counter clerk said it wouldn’t be a problem for us to film in the store. Rock on!
I’d never been to Warp 9 before; I’d passed it several times en route to other places, but never got round to stopping inside since they opened back in the late 90s, and I think I’m going to make a point of getting round there more often. Any place that carries not only Edward Scissorhands Kubricks, but the original Micronauts Rocket tubes is alright in my book. 🙂 Grant duly filmed me walking into the store and casting my gaze about, and Allison wanted to get me looking over a Chii figure from ‘Chobits’, and Armitage from ‘Armitage III’, as she had managed to license footage from both features.
After getting some good shots there, we made our leave, and I rung Mari to tell her that we’d be going home to obtain the Missus, after which, we’d pick her up, which we carried out. Ironically enough, Mari was to later tell me that since she thought I would knock on the livingroom window due to their non-functioning doorbell, she got a nap in on the livingroom floor. *grits teeth*
We showed up at Nippon kai round 1.30, about 30min late (our schedules were all kinds of screwed up that day, as you’ve probably sussed by now), to a crowd of five patrons at the last half of the lunch rush. One of the reasons that I love Nippon kai so much is that hardly anyone is ever there. Whenever Monti and I go for our monthly dinner dates, there’s usually never more than five or six other patrons there, and I’m talking Saturday evenings here, so I thought it would make for a perfect place for bringing Sweetie and a film crew.
After speaking with the manager / head sushi chef, and reminding him who we were, we were allowed to bring the Missus in through the backdoor into the shoji-screened private seating area in back. ‘Oh! Scary!’ was one of the comments I’d caught from one of the waitresses, but I didn’t hold it against them. In fact, it was kinda funny: after we’d gotten ourselves situated and ordered our food, one of the waitresses who recognised me as being a regular came back in with our green tea while Grant was filming.
‘What is her name?’ she asked me.
‘This is Sidore Kuroneko,’ I replied.
‘Ohh, Sidore Kuroneko,’ the waitress repeated, ‘She is your other girlfriend?’
I nodded. ‘I’m lucky.’ 🙂
Filming and eating continued as Mari and I sat on either side of the Missus at the end of the table, and Grant shot us interacting ‘normally’. Upon reflection, I don’t think I interacted enough with Sweetie, as I was concentrating on devouring my tendon (I, ah, kinda skipped brekky that morning) and helping Mari to not be so nervous on-camera. ‘Davecat is the only friend I have that I would go on-camera for’, she said. ‘You’re a good friend,’ Grant replied.
Allison asked Mari a couple of questions about how she met me and Shi-chan, and how she perceives our relationship, to which Mari said some very beautiful things, but the best part was probably before the legitimate question segment when Mari and I were speaking, and she had told me that she would’ve dressed Shi-chan differently. ‘For one, she’d be wearing more clothing.’ ‘What d’ya mean by that?’ I replied, opening Sweetie’s blouse up some more. When Allison asked what Mari meant, she said that I dress Shi-chan in the style that a guy would want her to dress, which is arguably true. It was actually pretty funny — one of those ‘you had to be there’ things — and I hope A & G manage to edit it into the finished product..
Allison had informed the head sushi chef that we’d be packing up our stuff and out of there by 3.30, as we were doing our shooting during Nippon kai’s after-lunch-before-dinner cleanup and restock time, but by the time we actually finished the Q&A segment, we ran into overtime by about 20min. Which sucked cos not only did Allison ask only about a third of the questions she’d written down, but the head sushi chef apparently had a doctor’s appointment that he had to reschedule, which none of us knew about. All of us alternately apologised and thanked him profusely, and I told him that next time Monti and I were up, we’d be ordering a large dinner. On our way out, he and the waitress who knew me (yes; next time I’m up, I’ll ask them their names) were asking me how I knew about karakuri, as that was one of the things Allison asked me to explain. They were also under the impression that I made Sidore myself! I explained that ‘a friend’ in California makes her as well as a few others, and each ningyou (Doll) costs around $6000. ‘When you come back, you can order a $6000 dinner!’ Ha ha! 😐
Yeah, Monday was definitely our ‘pressed for time’ day, but Allison said that she could probably use some of the extra footage from the cemetery shoot to make up for it. However, at that point, it was near 4pm, and we had to make some informed decisions as where to go next, as A & G had to be at Metro Airport by 6pm to catch their respective flights home. Grant decided we should probably get more location footage, and since practically everytime I mentioned Detroit either on- or off-camera it was closely followed by the phrase ‘urban decay’, they asked us where would be some good places to go film some blight. They were on the hunt for blight. Also, they never got a chance to film the Fox theatre yesterday, so they wanted to hit that as well. I suggested we take Woodward going south, as passing through Highland park would be a blight hotbed.
If we’d had more time (and if my capacity for thinking wasn’t completely destroyed from the heat), I would’ve suggested Rivertown and Chene park, but instead we commenced Blight Search ’99 over off east I-75 by Holbrook. We drove round a couple of factories and warehouses, Allison behind the wheel and Grant filming out the passenger side window, when we slowed down past the open door to some warehouse or other. A shop rat and some girl he was talking to noticed us and approached Grant’s open window with a wad of what looked like napkins in his hand, saying ‘Hey, check this out’. Then he must’ve caught sight of the Missus, cos at that point, he threw the napkins down and asked ‘What’s going on here? Who are they?’
‘They’re just people,’ Grant answered.
The shop rat turned suddenly hostile. ‘Go on, get outta here. You want me to break your $60, 000 fuckin’ camera? Get the fuck outta here.’ As Grant rolled the window up, Allison reversed the Taurus, with the shop rat peering in through the car windows all the while until we left the lot.
‘This is why I don’t go outside,’ I commented, only half-jokingly.
After our little encounter with the lower class, we managed to get some shots of parts of Hamtramck, as well as Woodward leading up to the Fox, and Elwood grill. As a final point of interest, Allison wanted to attempt filming in the semi-famous Michigan theatre, the forrmer-picture-palace-turned-car-park, so we headed there as well. It’s open for visitors, but unfortunately, we arrived an hour too late. *shakes fist* Grant filmed some of the surrounding buildings, whilst I summarised how growing up in Detroit has affected me as an iDollator, and as a person in general.
Finally, A & G dropped Shi-chan, Mari and myself back at the homestead close to 6.30pm, after a long but mostly rewarding day of filming. Mari and I signed release forms, only I had stipulated on mine that the end product would not be screened in Michigan. The reason for that should be obvious; without that clause, I could very well picture the documentary being shown at the Main Art theatre, followed by a review in our popular local alternative paper, the MetroTimes: ‘One of the movie’s subjects is Davecat, who owns a doll of his own, and lives in Detroit..’ Sure, bad press is better than no press at all, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
Speaking of the end product, I’ve not really given any other details! The film, which doesn’t yet have a title, should be between 90min and 2 hours in length, and Allison hopes to have it finished by the end of the year, so that she can shop it round to various international film festivals. Among the other people interviewed were Matt McMullen (of course), Hajime Sorayama, staffers at Orient industry and project LEVEL-D, Robert Parigi (who apparently lives just up the road from Allison), Gaby Wood (author of the ace book ‘Edison’s Eve’), iDollators Prof.Sakai and Ta-bo-san, a couple of staffers from Kobayashi Lab who worked on Android SAYA (Actroid-chan’s older, not-as-attractive sister), a few other individuals, and of course, Elena Dorfman. They’ll be sending me a DVD when the editing is finished, and as soon as I get any news, I’ll be sure to incessantly blab about it..
Handshakes and hugs and farewells for everyone, and our film crew friends were back in their red Taurus heading for the airport. I have to say that both of them did an extraordinary job of putting myself and Mari at ease, and being able to put up with my initial reluctance at immediate scheduling. They were both ace to work with, and I’m looking forward not only to the finished documentary, but to hearing from them again. Well done, Allison and Grant! Thumbs up!
Mari and I went inside to cool off and for a post-game chat, and assessed that the three of us presented ourselves really well. Every couple of years Shi-chan and I get another fifteen minutes of fame, and I’m glad, cos we’re doing what we can to promote the idea that Synthetiks, whether they’re high-end love dolls such as RealDolls, or full-fledged Artificial humans, are not something to be feared or reviled, and those who are interested in Synthetiks are relatively normal people who are open-minded enough to enjoy manufactured beauty, and appreciate the technological advancements that Synthetiks happen to be as well.
Perhaps the techs at Kokoro co. Ltd. will invite Shi-chan and I to meet one of their lovely Actroids one day! Anything can happen once you set your mind to it, you know