Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chambre Ardente :: The Bone Trade and Celebrity Body Parts

I was following a lead that our indefatigable stringer, Mr. Joe Williams, had provided me when I stumbled over someone who set my heart fluttering – not to mention my hands perspiring and my breath quickening.

Necrobilia dealer, Walter R. Scully, is dedicated to providing the “the pleasure of being just a fingernail away from immortality.” Literally. As he says, “look how excited people get about an autograph, say an autographed picture of Judy Garland, so imagine the excitement if you could buy the hand that wrote the autograph.” I first fell for him after reading a Gregory Whitehead interview with him in Cabinet magazine.*
Leftovers/ The Bone Trade’ >>

Visiting his website The Bone Trade, I was further excited by the range of celebrity bio-souvenirs he is retailing. Amongst other services, Scully retails hairs from Elvis, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, Ronald Reagan’s polyp, single eyes from Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens, and Charles Lindberg, and an unauthenticated (but highly possible) complete set from Edgar Allan Poe… and, of course, the indispensable Lady Di bits and bobs. He also has a handy news feed that provides up to the minute market information. I was excited to read, for example, of the theft of Bader-Meinhof brains. Like any reasonable conspiracist, I have a little trove of mementos of those who have gone before. A tissue sample or two courtesy of the B-M would round things out nicely.**
Walter Sculley’s The bone trade site >>

Whitehead has, it transpires, maintained his relationship with Scully, consulting him in the mysterious ‘Case of the Book Eaters,’ glossiophiles whose hunger for the Word outstrips their ethics… or good sense.
Hungry for God >>

If you or I had been in Massachusetts in 2003 we would have been able to see ‘The Bone Trade’ screening at MASS MoCa
New Video The Bone Trade to Show in MASS MoCA's Prints & Drawings Gallery >>

“Gregory Whitehead is a playwright, performer, and media artist whose work frequently walks the tightrope between reportage and fiction. His radio adventures, mockumentaries and audio cartoons have been broadcast throughout North America, Australia and Europe. Whitehead is the former director of the International Institute for Screamscape Studies, and presently presides over the sprawling Laboratory for Innovation and Acoustic Research (LIAR). A co-editor of the book, Wireless Imagination: sound, radio and the avant-garde, his writings on electronic media, shock culture and performance have been widely anthologized. He lives in the Berkshires, and is the proud owner of a single hair from the head of Queen Victoria.”

Frankly I think he sounds a bit hot too. Wish he’d get someone to do his web pages for him though… >>

*I was there because Mr Williams had kindly sent me a link to “The Pigment Connoisseur “ – a colourful partculate topic I long to return to in the future. >>

**I have of course enquired as to the availability of the Skin Armour, or any other Intersol bio-memorabilia. Walter has promised to give me first option on any that come into stock, but unfortunately none have thus far. Walter Mr Scully says that Musrum body parts are astonishingly rare and even blood or tissues sample come onto the market very rarely. He said all his inquiries as to the contemporary whereabouts of the Skin Armour drew blanks. I‘m beginning to wonder if it has been destroyed or lost forever. Mr Scully encouraged me not to lose hope, and suggests that it is probably hidden in a collection somewhere.

Elvis Image from The First Church of Jesus Christ, Elvis >>