Three Imaginary Girls

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{Tickled opens in Seattle for an exclusive engagement Friday, July 1 at Landmark’s Guild 45th Theatre}

Oh dear. I wasn’t quite prepared to fall down the rabbit hole of cat-fishing craziness Tickled is. The genesis of this film started with New Zealand television journalist David Farrier investigating a story on “Competitive Endurance Tickling,” which led him to a company on Facebook called Jane O’Brien Media that produces tons of CET videos. But when David messaged Jane O’Brien with inquiries, all he got back were homophobic insults — so Farrier and his friend, Dylan Reeve, decided to investigate even further.

With each new piece of information, Farrier discovers a weird, decades-old mystery unfolding … and I feel like that’s really all I can say without ruining it. As imaginary embracey said in his SIFF review of the film, “This is a truly astonishing documentary which achieves Serial-esque levels of true-life suspense; the more clueless you are going in the better. For real, you guys. FOR REAL. And the end of the film isn’t even the end of the story.

One of the most confrontational subjects in the documentary, Kevin Clarke, who films CET videos for Jane O’Brien Media, has mounted a campaign to stop the lies he believes the film is spreading about him and his employer.

The whole documentary is fascinating, but the thing I keep coming back to is that Clarke seems so concerned with the fact that Farrier & Reeves also feature a tickle festishest in the documentary, as he is insistent that CET videos have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with porn, and definitely not with sex. Like, at all. According to this guy, Competitive Endurance Tickling is a legit sport.

From the Jane O’Brien Facebook page:

Jane O’Brien Media offers fit, 18-25 year old guys the chance to compete in Endurance Tickling Reality Competitions. High pay and all expenses paid for accepted participants. No nudity, sex, or fetish oriented work ever. Applicants accepted from anywhere in the world.

So I guess my question is, if that’s true, what is the audience for these videos? Are there really a people out there who watch these things to see how long the guys featured can endure tickling? Considering the Jane O’Brien Facebook page is full of shirtless dudes showing off their abs, I’m really, really skeptical about that. Also, check out those comments. I mean. 

Anyway! Once you’ve seen the film, you can learn more about Clarke’s views on the, as he calls it, “liarmentary”on his web site. I’d also recommend taking a look at this video filmed during a Q&A after Tickled‘s L.A. premiere. 

I basically can’t stop thinking about this, and I hope Farrier & Reeve give us an update on what’s happening with all this madness in a few months.

Side note: After writing this, I fear what Facebook ads & Google search results will now come up in my feed ..