Review of Tickled: A World of Tickle
A documentarian/journalist from New Zealand uncovers a world of tickle fetish that could have been just a sports commercial, but what David Farrier and his colleague Dylan Reeves uncover is a nefarious world of power, dominance and exploitation of people for one person’s fantasy/fetish.
David Farrier comes across a video on Youtube, where hot, jockish, sporty guys are engaged in competitive tickling. He is intrigued by the whole concept and wants to know more about this new ‘competitive sport’ he stumbled upon. A bit of digging and he realizes that there is more to it than meets the eye. He looks up the Facebook page of a company called Jane O’Brien, who seems to sponsor/produce these videos. Farrier contacts them and to his utter surprise, in the response that he receives, the company alleges that Farrier is trying to push some sort of a ‘gay agenda’ and that the videos have nothing to do with anything homoerotic and/or pornographic (neither of which Farrier ever suggested). But this email begins a never ending campaign to discredit Farrier, which only further peaks his curiosity.
He and his colleague/friend Dylan Reeves set out on a journey to unravel what’s behind this curious bunch of videos that he found on YouTube. After dealing with threats of lawsuits and bullying, which seems to emanate from Jane O’Brien, the duo documentarians end up in Los Angeles in search of locations where these videos are apparently shot.
They struggle to find ‘actors’ who will speak on camera to help unearth this universe of fetish videos and their end use clientele. Simultaneously, Farrier comes across Richard Ivey, an open fetishist, whose websites ‘My Friend’s Feet’ among others, gives Farrier a real peak into this world of power, dominance and pleasure.
Ivey invites them to his home in Florida, shows them around his establishment where he invites men of different body types to partake in tickle videos for money. Ivey makes Farrier privy to this entire world of tickle video making, which completely blows Farrier’s mind in terms of the concepts of all that he knows.
After his discovery of Ivey, Farrier is even more determined to find out who Jane O’Brien is. From fictitious names like Terri DiSisto, to finally the real mastermind behind what is a whole industry of exploration, what Farrier uncovers is shocking and just completely absurdly real.
All kudos to the resilience and perseverance that Farrier and his colleague Reeves demonstrate, regardless of threats of legal prosecution, threats against their reputation and even their lives.
Well-shot and tightly edited, this kept me glued to the last minute and until the final reveal. Fetishes and people’s interests are neither surprising nor really anyone’s concern. However when one person’s behaviour begins to impact or even destroy the lives of so many people, then it becomes a game rooted in power, money and control. And this combination is only a recipe for complete disaster. What is revealed is a whole lot of this and much more. This was surely one of those revelatory documentaries that keeps me experimenting with the genre once in a while.
Tickled is now playing at Cinema du Parc.