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Fucked Up Puppets

The Gepetto Files

"The Most Dangerous Thing on Strings"

We string up Puppet Master, Ted Talvitie

By R.S. Rhine

issue #12

G&C: That is one fucked up puppet show! How did it all come about? Was it a nightmare or a bad hit of acid? Are you high right now?

Ted: Ha ha! I'll be right after this interview. First I'd like to say I love your magazine. Great job. But yeah. One has to be a little...off to get going in this shit. About ten years ago I started sculpting. I had always been into underground comics and animation but could never seem to get going with it. Most of my friends at the time were rockers and punks. I wanted to join in on the fun. So I made a couple marionettes (string puppets) and had them perform at a loud house party on Halloween. It was Frankenstein and Carl the Zombie. Some dude that just got out of jail picked a fight with a puppet. It was Carl the Zombie vs. the Crazy Drunk Convict. It was awesome. He didn't pick a fight with me but the puppet. Too funny. After that I put together a troupe. We started opening for bands all over the Ann Arbor and Detroit area. Sometimes they open for us. It has totally changed my life in ways I could have never imagined. How's that for a first answer?

G&C: What exactly is The Gepetto Files? And what would someone see at one of your shows? Is there nudity? Are you naked? Is your audience?

Ted: The Gepetto Files TM is the show. The "Files" are the stories. I suppose I'm Gepetto. I seldom get called that though. If someone came to the show they will see a puppet show they have never seen before. Or even thought existed. Shit that will stay on their brain forever. The characters are pretty twisted and fucked up. If there's a story, because sometimes there isn't, it has to do with universal truths. Adult fairy tales. Sometimes there is a ton of nudity. The show we got coming up will have some. Yes, I have been known to get naked. How did you know? I one time streaked in front of a cop car full of cops. They got mean really quick. Yes, sometimes a member of the audience is naked also. There was a scooter rally we were at where a hot lady showed her titties for the audience. What a finale. Currently we are rehearsing a show called "The Dirty Pigs". It's these strange puppets called humanettes that look like pigs with huuuuge dicks. It's really a shocker for the eyes. We will perform our version of "The Empire Strikes BAck" with them. Not all the shows have nudity though. But every show contains a lot of swearing, adult themes, and a good share of gore. Oh yeah, if you see one of our shows you'll laugh until your face hurts.

G&C: How did you learn to become a puppeteer? Correspondence course? Were you bor with strings on your fingers?

Ted: I just started without any knowledge. Then I went to the local library. I was lucky Ann Arbor had some books. Most libraries and book stores don't have shit. Lost art I suppose. After I took it as far as I could I joined a Russian puppet troupe in Detroit. No shit. I studied under Puppet Master Igor Gozman from Moscow. He worked me like a puppet bitch. It was true puppet ninja school. It changed my life. If I ever thought of giving up on puppets, Master Igor changed all that. He would say in a thick Russian accent "It's not supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be right! Do it again! Then we will take a break." I love that guy.

G&C: Is puppeteering like a secret ninja society? Do you have meetings and a funny handshake.

Ted: Actually it is. How'd you know?

G&C: Are you like the lonely freaky guy building puppets in your basement and talking to them? Do they talk back? Is your name really Norman Bates?

Ted: God damn dude! How'd you know? I am a bit antisocial, crazy, eccentric, and lonely. It works for me. I suppose it's better than being annoyed with boring shitheads. After I started puppets I did become isolated. I mean I'm never hurting for friends. But I just got puppet fever and stopped going out. Always working on something. One neighbor nicknamed me Ted Gien. Like Ed Gien the killer. Ha ha!! I was always in my attic building shit. Smoking down. Yelling at the walls. Peaking out the window. Actually I currently work in my basement. People know I'm working on something when I disappear for a while. That's why I like to perform live. I get all my social needs filled in one shot. Then back to the basement. Bwa ha ha ha!!!!

G&C: Have you ever killed a puppet? Or, at least thought about it?

Ted: No. I have never killed a puppet. I let them kill each other. But I have kicked one. And I am making a clown that's going to blow his brains out with a pistol.

G&C: Tell us about your puppet characters and how they relate in the show.

Ted: There are a ton of puppets in this world but here are a few of the main characters.

There is Cold Timmy, the red headed stepchild. His only friend is a piece of bubblewrap named Jeff. He's always cold.

Then there is Drunk SantaTM . He's always around even when it's not Christmas. He's mean, foul, drunk, disgusting, and violent. Just like Christmas in my house when I was growing up.

Then there's The Fuzzy BunnyTM . He is the main villian. He's a little Nazi bunny rabbit. He owns all the businesses in the world. Fuzzy Video, Fuzzy Donuts, Fuzzy Insurance, you name it. Don't dare cross the bunny or else.

Then there's GowardTM . One of my favorites. He's this little blond paranoid, dellusional dude with a gasmask. He never takes it off. He lives down in a bunker where he talks to himself. There's this little spider that always shows up to taunt him. We don't know if it actually is the end of the world or if GowardTM is just nuts.

Satan has his own talk show called The Devil's AdvocateTM . We interview dead celebrities. It's too funny. Satan makes a great talk show host. He once placed in the national Mtv VJ contest. Him and my buddy Razor Ray. Out of thousands of people Razor and Satan got to the top ten on national TV. They were gonged by that ugly, stupid lead singer from Smash Mouth. I'd like to smash that toads mouth. By the way, Razor is a real person. Puppets and people have been known to work well together.

G&C: What the weirdest thing that's ever happened at one of your shows?

Ted: God! There's so many to choose from. Ok, we once drove two hours in an ice storm on Valentines Day to perform at this bar called Alvins in Detroit. We forgot the soundtrack tape at home so I had to remake the score from the cassettes in my car in the dark. I'd tell the sound guy "play this for 3 minutes then play this." It was very tense. Then me and another puppeteer get into a fight during the performance. The audience is watching a puppet show. All of a sudden the puppets start swinging around the stage and the voices they hear are "You mother fucker!" "I'll kick your ass!" And they weren't in puppet voices either. What a mess. The audience was none the wiser. They thought it was great. We ended up making about $50 that night. And the act we opened for was this screaming dude with a guitar, banging a dildo on the floor. People still come up to me about that night. There were lots of nights like that.

G&C: Who or what inspired you to become a puppeteer?

Ted: Jim Henson was an influence. But actually it was more Walt Disney and Iggy and the Stooges. Really, I don't know. It just happened and I never looked back since.

G&C: Do you have a day job? Or, do you scare people?

Ted: Yes and yes. I'm actually a pretty normal, nice guy once you get to know me. Ha ha!! And I have some lakeside property for you in Arizona too. Bwa ha ha ha!!!

G&C: What do your family/ friends think of your sick show?

Ted: My friends dig it and are supportive. My immediate family treats my puppet obsession as if I was a junky. If I mention anything about the show or puppets they change the subject or leave the room. I think they feel that if I never started this mad show I'd be happier and farther along with my life.

G&C: What puppets do you have planned in the future? Or, do the puppets make all the decisions?

Ted: Actually it's a mutual decision. I'm currently working on a musical act of Taliban prisoners and marines. It's called The TalibandTM It's very funny. They sing punk rock chain gang songs. We just started the shows own pit band/orchestra. We are called Lighter Thieves. The show is becoming more of a rock musical lately. I'm really enjoying this part. Then there's Cletus The Fetus. He's very cute, pink, and veiny. He's in a jar. I'm currently working on 25 new puppets. Then there's 150 or so that I started that can't seem to finish. It's really quite overwelming if I think about it. Sheesh.

G&C: Can you get laid being a puppeteer? What's your best puppet pick up line?

Ted: Yes. "Want to come see my puppets?" Ha ha!! Actually it takes a rare breed of gal that gets into puppets. Some are really freaked out. Some could care less. But some, they are all about it. Most girlfriends often get jealous of the attention and time the puppets get and eventually move on.

G&C: Have you ever tied a girlfriend to strings and make her do weird shit?

Ted: Not yet. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm actually doing a photo shoot for the on-line Gepetto calendar next month and we'll be using rope and chains. Can't wait.

G&C: Have you ever had sex with a puppet? Can puppets fuck?

Ted: You sick fucker. I don't fuck my kids. The puppets have been known to screw each other for the audience though.

G&C: How do you make a puppet?

Ted: One part thought, two parts emotion, three parts action. It starts with an idea on my brain. Then some sketching. Then I sculpt the head. Then I stop and think about it for hours, days, months. Sometimes years. Then one night I'll be like "THAT'S IT!" And I'll finish the whole thing in a couple nights. Sometimes it's an easy creation. Other times it's a torturous creative process that lasts years. I can't explain it.

G&C: We heard that some of the puppets are made with human bones, is that true?

Ted: I'll never tell. Bwa ha ha!!!

G&C: What's your dream for The Gepetto Files? Carnegie Hall? The Hollywood Bowl? Skid Row?

Ted: Three parts. Be the best rock-n-roll opener ever. See the world. Have our own TV show.

G&C: When you die can we make you into a puppet?

Ted: I have already made a puppet of me. But maybe we could fill it with my ashes. I'd be down for that.

G&C: Where can people go to see your show?

Ted: We'll be at a couple venues in Detroit this month. Check our homepage or Myspace page for details. "gepettofiles.com" We are currently mostly working on video projects. Trying to catch a big fish to help us evolve to the next level. If you are in the Detroit area we still do shows around town opening for bands. So check the local listings or the web site. We are planning some trips though. New York, L.A., Seatle, Chicago, are all in the works. All I can say is keep your eyes and ears open because The Gepetto FilesTM will only get bigger and better. Guaranteed. How's that?

G&C: And our final question -- what would you do to foster peace in the world?

Ted: Good question. First. Get rid of GW Bush. And quit arming everybody all over the world. People can't get food and clean water but they have AK47s. What's up with that? And airdrop doobies and boobies. People wouldn't fight if there was titties and weed everywhere. At least I wouldn't. Thanks for the interview boss.