Full disclosure: David Farrier, the reporter behind documentary Tickle King: The Hunt For The Truth In Competitive Tickling, is a buddy of mine. He appears in my movie and he's a friend to both animals and cryptids, which places him high in my esteem. But even if he wasn't, this story would appeal to me just because it's so damned weird.
You may or may not be aware of a sport called Competitive Reality Endurance Tickling. It's not unlike wrestling or rugby in that not only is it taken very seriously by its organising body, its organised bodies are seriously homoerotic. Anyway, it exists, so that's something.
The story of Tickle King began when David Farrier, a respected New Zealand journalist, saw an agency ad from "Jane O'Brien Media" seeking "ticklish male athletic fitness models (aged 18-25)" for "situations in which attractive, ticklish, and masculine guys are actually tickled in two different restrained formats." There's no way around the fact that this all sounds a bit gay, in the literal sense. That's not strange in and of itself; far stranger things exist in the dark corridors of the internet. But models were and are being flown from all around the world, put up in LA, and paid cash, all to take part in an hour's tickling. Where's the money coming from? What's the point of all this? Farrier - who happens to be bisexual - sent the agency an interview request and received a sternly-worded response indicating they had no desire to be associated with "homosexual journalists."
The investigation that followed soon became a rabbit hole of homophobia, conspiracy, the military, blackmail, and abuse, leading to a 53-year-old Don Corleone lookalike named David D'Amato, previously jailed by the FBI for fraud and online abuse involving impersonating a young woman named Terri and recruiting young studs for tickling videos, then mercilessly attacking them electronically if they ever spoke out. The conspiracy spans the Internet and the globe, and it gets more bizarre and sinister the more you read about it. The intentions of D'Amato and whoever he has working with him are opaque, but always centred on tickling videos, the production of which is still ongoing in Los Angeles.
The full story (up until this point) has been documented via written word in Farrier's three investigative pieces, which I highly recommend reading, but now he wants to make a documentary about it, seeking out Jane O'Brien Media and David D'Amato to get at the truth in person.
Do you want this documentary to be made too? Head over to Tickle King's Kickstarter page to help out. I for one am desperate to see where this goes.