the doll games
shelley and pamela jackson


interview: babette and bruce jackson

Br: I had this odd feeling that you might have been closing yourselves off because of all the ideological issues around male and female.

You mean because we didn't want anyone knowing that we were playing silly doll games? Or because of the kinds of games we were playing?

Br: Well,there was the whole business around "dainty ladies". It seemed like you were figuring out something about the caricatures of female roles, that the caricatures were things you could talk about and play around with.

What were dainty ladies?

Br: Well, Shelley would talk about this [laughs] B*****-type doll as a "dainty lady." But I don't remember the specifics of it other than that it wasn't an idealized image, that clearly there was something–

Ba: ironic–

Br: –ironic about it. Because Babette would make fun, and we would make fun of some of the things that were stereotypically feminine, and I'm sure that you picked this up.

One of our stock characters was an exaggeratedly feminine one.

Br: Did you call her "dainty lady"?

No, they had names. We had one named Dawn who was like a mini B*****, and she was very vain and shallow, very silly and frilly and goo goo about boys, and we made fun of her. So yeah, there was definitely an ironic commentary going on there.

Ba: And that's what I remember from this house. Whereas prior to that I remember more the straight story of the kings and queens and princesses and so on. But by the time we were here that had shifted over to exploring and playing with all of these different roles.

What did you sense our idealizations were? I mean which roles or characters did we think were good? Or could you tell? Were we opposing the dainty lady to–

Ba: I guess my sense was– but I don't know whether that was just my hope [laughs]–that you were investigating the absurdity of some of the characteristics of the stereotypically feminine. But I don't know that I ever figured out what your positive–

Br: I wasn't aware of any positive.

Ba: Yes, it was more the rejection of certain things.

But we had heroes. The Skippers were always heroes. They were never silly. I mean they changed who they were or they changed heads and they changed genders but they were always the good guys.

Br: The interesting thing to me is how the experience of Up Haste and your take on the feminism that you were experiencing there and other places, how that affected your games.

Well, I think it was true, our main characters were in opposition to the dainty lady. The main bad role model was a kind of a B*****-type with big boobs and really feminine and beautiful and vacuous, and our dolls, the good ones, were much more heroic and adventurous and–

Ba: Boyish.


Ba: Those games must have taken place almost entirely in the back room. I don't remember them at all.

Br: I don't think that you wanted to tell us about those. Because I never felt like I should be inquiring, or that you were interested in telling us what you were doing.

They definitely became very furtive, especially when they all became about sex.