Pediophobia. It means to have an unreasoning fear of dolls. It’s a relatively common fear. Common enough to have been codified as a phobia. There are many theories on what creates this phobia, but the most commonly accepted cause is trauma. Some event in their past that makes one afraid of something that small children have played with since time immemorial. I’m not certain what, if anything started this fear for me, if it was some trigger that I’ve suppressed or forgotten or if it’s just always been there, lurking. I Do know that, for me, it’s always been something about the eyes. But Pediophobia is common enough that it’s been codified as an official phobia, with it’s own name and everything. Just in case you don’t suffer from this same condition, however, here are a few reasons more reasons that, just perhaps, you Should.
Number 5. Mandy the Doll
Let us start lightly, with Mandy, a doll that, while unusual and a little unsettling, isn’t malignant at all. Mandy is a doll that was made in Germany in the early nineteen hundreds and, in 1991, was donated to the Quesnel Museum in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada. Upon donating Mandy, her owner mentioned that she would hear crying sounds in the middle of the night, and when she went to investigate, found nothing. Well, after donating Mandy the sounds stopped. For her former owner. Instead, it was the museum staff who heard the crying sounds. Other little things started happening as well. Mandy would be in different positions than she had been left in, and tapping sounds would be heard, only for workers to find Mandy’s hand on the glass. What’s more, Mandy cannot be left alone with other dolls, as any other doll in a display case with her sustains damage, but if she is alone, the tapping and crying happen much more frequently. Ultimately, the museum settled for leaving her in a display case by herself with a stuffed lamb for company. Still, every so often, the crying or the tapping starts again. But don’t worry, this one has at least a somewhat Happy ending. Because when those happen after hours, Museum staff just pick up little Mandy and keep her in their laps while they work. It’s sweet. And quite possibly one of the creepiest things I’ve ever heard about. She just wants attention, really. So stop by the Quesnel Museum if you’re ever in Quesnel, Alberta. I’m sure Mandy wouldn’t mind some more Company. I won’t because just looking at her pictures terrifies me, and I’d like to not go running out of the room from a doll. Again.
Number 4. Letta the Doll
Just looking at this one gives me a sense of terror. Yes, that’s just because it Is in fact a doll. But more than that, it’s a doll that Looks more terrifying than anything Hollywood has rolled out. And the name Letta, (Or Ledda, depending on who you ask,) comes from the fact that it occasionally screams “Letta me out!” Yeah, uhm. Check please! I’ve seen this movie. It doesn’t end well! At any rate, Letta was first found by a man in Australia who was visiting a house that had always frightened him as a boy. Under the porch, he found Letta, this delightful little doll with its strange features, it’s human hair, and it’s likeness of a human brain under its scalp. He felt compelled to keep it with him. (That horror movie comparison is getting better and better.) Anyway, some paranormal researchers looked into the Doll and came back with the potentiality that Letta was a doll made by gypsies who had lost their son. Animals don’t like being around this little guy, and attempt to attack him, pictures will fall off the wall as he’s brought into rooms, and it tends to rain if he’s brought outside. Oh, and again, he will change positions on his own, and emit a pulse while held. I’ll just be over here. Way the Hell away from That.
Number 3. Robert
In East Martello Museum in Key West Florida is Robert. Robert has lived here for a long time. He’s a little temperamental and cranky, and he’s finicky about pictures. You have to ask his permission first, but that’s really just good manners. Robert is also, like the others, a doll. Long ago, Robert was given to the child Robert Eugene Otto by an acquaintance of the family one who, the story goes, wished them ill. After that, The young boy would have conversations in two different voices while alone in his room. The family would also hear devilish giggling around the house, and wake in the middle of the night to find all of the furniture in the boys room uprooted and overturned. Afterwards, all he would be able to say was “Robert did it.” People also reported that they would see the Doll moving about the room on his own through the windows. The boy held onto the Doll throughout his life. As an adult in his own house, he gave Robert the Doll his own room. His wife didn’t like that at all and locked Robert the Doll in the attic, solving the problem once and for all. …Until she died of “insanity” shortly thereafter.
It’s said that Robert was by his owners side when he died. These days, he sits in his glass case in the museum, content for the most part. So long as one asks for his permission before taking his picture. If one doesn’t, then one often finds that their luck takes a decided turn for the cataclysmic. In fact, Robert’s case is decorated with the letters of former patrons who hadn’t heeded that advice apologizing, and begging for Robert’s forgiveness, in the hopes that he’ll take back any curse he may have placed on them. They hang prominently where all can see them. Like warnings to the unwary. Or trophies.
Number 2. Pupa
Pupa was given to her owner in the nineteen twenties, in Triest, Italy, and owned all her owners life until her death in 2005. Pupa is still in her original clothing, so much did that owner cherish and care for her. She told her grand children that Pupa had a life of her own, and that she was her best friend. After her death in 2005, her children were given reason to believe. As they were walking by where the Doll was kept, they would hear tapping and look up to see Pupas hand against the glass, or her legs crossed when they hadn’t been before. She will also move things around the case and, oh yeah, the family has also found the inside of her case steamed, and the words “Pupa Hate” scribbled as if with a child’s fingertip. There was one relative who may have managed to capture her walking about on her own. But on the several occasions he tried to upload the video to youtube, a mysterious white fogged up the video, and the words Pupa No!! Scribbled in the same handwriting. Oh, and here’s the best part. No one knows where Pupa and the family are. They’ve never seen fit to tell the Internet where they live. She could be next door to you, or worse yet me. OK. Onwards. Because my nerves can’t take looking behind myself any longer. Onwards to…
Number 1. Isla de las Munecas
Oh God. Bloody Hell in heaven no. No no. No no. Fine. One last entry. Then I’m done. Isla de las Munecas is the Island of the Dolls. It’s just south of Mexico City and it is Covered in the broken body parts of thousands join thousands of Dolls. Dolls that, according to the stories, are possessed by the Spirit of a little girl who drowned many years ago. Theoretically, the dolls will move their limbs and whisper to one another and even open and close their eyes.
The story goes that the island’s caretaker was unable to save a little girl from drowning. But, not long after, he saw a doll floating in the water nearby and quickly grabbed it. Hanging it on a nearby tree in an attempt to give the girl some type of respect and memorial. However, this did not bring him any peace, and he continued to be haunted by the Spirit of the little girl. Time passed and he was driven to hang more dolls in an attempt to appease the girls spirit. This behaviour did not stop when it became apparent to him that the dolls themselves were becoming possessed. The caretaker continued this until his death. In 2001 he was found dead, drowned in the same spot he failed to the save the little girl. They say that the caretaker has joined the other spirits of the island and, from time to time will move the dolls he collected in life.
Today, the island is a tourist destination, and available for anyone of a strong disposition to visit. And to anyone who goes there, I wish you all the luck. Because, to me, that seems like a circle of Hell.
So to all of you who, in your travels, come across discarded playthings of youth, take care. Because it doesn’t matter whether you find them in thrift stores, antique malls or in old, crumbling buildings, you never know whether something that you’ve taken a particular shine to has, in fact, taken a shine to you.
In the 1920’s, Prostitution was legal, brothels flourished. Petty thieves, drug dealers and street walkers packed the all-night bars of Montmartre where cheap sex and cheap booze drew the tourists. The art students’ ball took over the streets in a public orgy of alcohol and sex. These years were called les annees folles (the crazy years)
You’ve probably seen those images, but you likely have no idea who she is.
Alice Ernestine Prin, nicknamed the Queen of Montparnasse, and often known as Kiki de Montparnasse, was a French artist’s model, nightclub singer, actress, and painter. She flourished in, and helped define, the liberated culture of Paris in the 1920s. She became a fixture in the Montparnasse social scene and a popular artist’s model, posing for dozens of artists eventually becoming a muse and lover of Man Ray whose images of her are above. She has frequently been called the first feminist.
Nudity was not uncommon or controversial. Naughty postcards were definitely a thing.
Josephine Baker is another fabulous example of the modernity and licentiousness of 1920’s Paris.
Josephine Baker sashayed onto a Paris stage during the 1920s with a comic, yet sensual appeal that took Europe by storm. Famous for barely-there dresses and no-holds-barred dance routines, her exotic beauty generated nicknames “Black Venus,” “Black Pearl” and “Creole Goddess.” Admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars, and she received approximately 1,500 marriage proposals. She maintained energetic performances and a celebrity status for 50 years until her death in 1975. Unfortunately, racism prevented her talents from being wholly accepted in the United States until 1973.
She broke out onto the stage and into fame with this dance. It was like a choreographed orgasm. She was known for looking for the man with the perfect penis. Casual sex was normal and it was taken for granted that friends all slept together.
Le Cabaret de L’Enfer was a Hell-themed café in Paris’ red light district (aka Pigalle, the neighborhood of the Moulin Rouge), created in the late 19th century and operating up ’til sometime around the middle of the 20th.
Once inside, the revelers witnessed a snake transform into a devil, were heckled by Satan, and were warned repeatedly of the scalding temperature.
And right next door to the Cabaret de l’Enfer was Cabaret du Ciel (“The Cabaret of the Sky”), a divinely themed bar where Dante and Father Time greeted visitors and comely ladies dressed as angels pranced around teasing patrons. The evening’s entertainment was presided over by St. Peter himself, who anointed the boozy crowd.
1920’s Paris was full of debauchery and sin, but much is the same and it is still the cultural mecca of the world. Even if you can’t still party with Kiki De Montparnasse or visit Heaven & Hell.