A few years ago, a dear friend made me watch Shaye St. John’s ‘Broken Neck Doll’ video on Youtube. I was horrified. After I recovered from the sight of Shaye, bandaged and disheveled and announcing her medication requirements in a sped-up, helium inflected voice, I demanded to see it again. And again. Since that fateful night I’ve spent countless hours watching Shaye’s grainy, low budget videos, or ‘triggers,’ laughing, screaming, and wondering who unleashed this prescription powered psychopath on us.
While the origins of Shaye may be as murky as the details of Daft Punk’s true identities, there’s no denying the terrible beauty of Shaye herself. Her Old Hollywood glamour ruined by a tragic car accident (or so the myth goes), her arms and legs have been replaced by puppet marionette limbs that mysteriously function without any strings. Sometimes she wheels herself around in a wheelchair, other times she walks around in a caftan and matching headscarf, dramatically waving her doll hands and tossing her curly brown hair. I always found her face to be the most disturbing sight of all, sometimes bandaged, sometimes covered in a generic facemask cut apart at the jaw for easier movement. There’s something about the sight of a real mouth topped with dead plastic eyes that really spooked me.
Shaye plays with burnt baby-dolls, rummages in garbage heaps , goes on the Internet 24/7 and indulges in wire therapy because, well, that’s what Shaye does. Some of the videos have a narrative arc but mostly they’re vignettes of a deranged nature, full of dated, repetitive visual graphics and Shaye’s high pitched ramblings. In terms of it’s absurdity and total illogical point of view, the only thing that even comes close are some of the more random hypercolored cutscenes in the free-associative cult Adult Swim show, ‘Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!’
Shaye’s website, is not for the faint of heart but worth exploring. If you’re really daring, get his Triggers DVD . It’a funhouse mirror of a compilation that’s almost impossible to navigate, so just close your eyes, pick a trigger and let Shaye tell you all about her friends.