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Nocturnalist | Fixations in Abundance
By SARAH MASLIN NIR
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On a side street in Long Island City, Queens, young people in artful dishabille ducked through the doorway of a factory marked Alfred Mainzer Inc. Greeting Cards on Wednesday night. Inside, they headed down a rabbit hole of sorts — a hallway with a beamed ceiling so low you had to stoop — into a very odd world.
They were there at the Flux Factory, an artists’ collective, to learn about passions and obsessions at an event called Expert Oddities, where a group of artists across a variety of disciplines lectured on oddball subjects upon which they had fixated.
In the towering fuzzy hat and bright red uniform of a British beefeater guard, Phillip Buehler explained his particular fixation: Major Zipper, the similarly uniformed mascot of the Conmar Zipper factory in Newark. He salvaged the icon’s eight-foot head while photographing the building as it was being dynamited. For the decade since, he has amassed a collection of the mascot’s logo-ed ephemera: pens, lighters, four-foot statuettes and, of course, zippers.
One lecture was billed as an exegesis on shaving. It was in fact on the little-known utopian treatises penned by the founder of the Gillette razor blade company, King Camp Gillette, who envisioned a world city powered by Niagara Falls when he wasn’t dreaming up disposable razors. Denny Daniel hauled a table of antique gizmos to the floor, his Museum of Interesting Things, including an Edison cylinder phonograph to “show people where their iPods came from.”
With a tight bun, spectacles perched on the edge of her nose, and a hunched stance, Ann Hirsch, 25, explained in a Steve Urkel voice that she was a former star of the VH1 dating reality show “A Basement Affair” and offered pointers about how others as pathetic as herself (her words) could land a part.
Suddenly she whipped off her hair clip and pulled off her top and skirt to reveal a skintight minidress and she was Annie, the girl on the show, revealing that her 15 minutes of fame had been, unbeknown to the show’s producers, a piece of performance art. “There is no real me,” she said later.
Ms. Hirsch’s wasn’t the only strip show of the night. An artist and part-time stripper named Lea Donnan, 33, presented a slide show of the tools of her trade — her underwear.