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Ruby Orman

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Member Since: May, 2007

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Norma Jean: A Bad Girl ‘Til the Day She Dies
by Ruby Orman   
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, October 22, 2007
Posted: Monday, October 22, 2007

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At first glance at Norma Jean Almodovar’s website www.normajeansgifts.com I was sickened in the best way. My monitor was flooded with gory images of cartoonish hand-sculpted dolls like I’d never seen. That impressed me enough, but I grew even more interested as I opened her other site describing her very controversial life.

“Growing up in a family of 14 kids, I did not have many dolls to play with during my childhood. My parents didn't have the money to buy toys, so we made our own. Of course, whatever it is you can't have as a child is what you crave the most, I think. So I grew up with a passion for dolls and made them out of whatever material I could find, including kleenex tissues.”

Having received very little formal art training, her sculpting abilities were unknown until she began making dolls for other police officers when she worked for the LAPD in 1972-1982. “But my sculpting skills at that time were quite undeveloped and all I did was make fairly simple dolls on a wall plaques of cops at Winchells Donuts (eating donuts!).”

After I left the LAPD and became a call girl, I did not do much sculpting or doll making because I was too busy writing a book about police corruption. The book got me into terrible trouble with the cops and I was arrested on a trumped up charge and sentenced to three years in prison (I was interviewed by Ed Bradley on '60 Minutes' who concluded that my book was the only reason I was in prison). During my incarceration, I got to work in the prison art studio. That's when I had the time and inclination to develop my sculpting skills as well as teach other inmates to do the same. And of course, I sculpted dolls- clowns, faces and other figurines. I had access to a kiln, so I learned how to fire the figures I made. Unfortunately, when I was released from prison, I did not have a kiln, so I more or less stopped sculpting for a while.”

Then, Norma Jean met a woman who imported air-drying material made from volcanic ash called Paperclay™ from Japan. After some experimentation with making jewelry, a friend suggested she make some of her cartoons of the OJ Simpson trial.
“Instead of a cartoon, though, I decided to sculpt a chess set of all the trial characters. It was my social commentary on the trial- that justice is only a game and most of us are merely pawns in that game. Originally I wanted to make the Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman characters with the wounds inflicted on them by the perpetrator, blood and all. My husband insisted that it wouldn't be a good idea- but my instincts to add a touch of horror to my creations had already been established. I did, however, give the Mark Fuhrman character a bloody glove, the one which didn't 'fit' OJ…”
Norma Jean moved on to her first doll wreath, using the characters she created from photos of the bar patrons at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Butte, Montana. It was created as a gift to the saloon during her stay in Butte as her non-profit organization was restoring an old Victorian Brothel for use as a museum. As a hobby,she continued making the doll wreaths in the following years. They were unusual and focused around holiday themes. Most were given away to family and friends.

“Then I began to make my characters a little edgier and more fun (for me). I started out with a couple of witches, red devils, frankensteins and vampires- for Halloween, of course. A friend of mine thought they were cute and wanted to get them mass produced. We got some samples from China- which were horrible- so I fixed them and my friend sent them out to a rep, who said they weren't scary enough.”

The set backs didn’t stop Norma Jean, however. After making custom gory doll characters for a customer in Florida, she realized she had found her niche.

“I LOVED making those characters for him- I love the process of thinking of ways to turn what would otherwise be an ordinary doll character into a monster- or victim. Some of my friends were absolutely shocked and 'horrified' when I showed them my Chefs du Mort©- they thought I had lost my head! I never knew that there are people out there who are afraid of 'horror' even though they know it is not real! I think that's when I got it- that I do have a darker side. It has been there all the time- the part of me that wanted to turn the adorable little cop dolls with donuts that I used to make- into cop dolls at the scene of a gruesome homicide.”

Norma Jean’s response to what horror means to her:
From the time we are born, every experience we have becomes a filter or lens through which we view the rest of the world. Those filters are ultimately what we use to define our preferences for every one of our five senses- hearing, tasting, smelling, seeing, touching. We are not dissimilar to computers, which operate using a series of 'on' and 'off' switches. If the input we get from any of those senses stimulates a positive response, a connection in our brain says 'on.' It is the way we develop our taste in music, food, art, movies and everything else we either love or hate.

How else can one explain one's preference for classical music over rap? Or the desire to have one's body rubbed with silk rather than sandpaper? One person can look at raw fish and think "sushi" and "dinner," while another gets sick at the thought of any fish- cooked or raw. We all respond in different ways to the thousands of cues we get from our body as it reacts to whatever stimulus. So how could I explain to my friends and family why I enjoy creating grinning skeleton chefs holding miniature stainless steel cooking pots containing bloody heads with eyes open- staring back at the viewer, more than I enjoy creating 'normal' dolls?
From the time we are born, every experience we have becomes a filter or lens through which we view the rest of the world. Those filters are ultimately what we use to define our preferences for every one of our five senses- hearing, tasting, smelling, seeing, touching. We are not dissimilar to computers, which operate using a series of 'on' and 'off' switches. If the input we get from any of those senses stimulates a positive response, a connection in our brain says 'on.' It is the way we develop our taste in music, food, art, movies and everything else we either love or hate.

How else can one explain one's preference for classical music over rap? Or the desire to have one's body rubbed with silk rather than sandpaper? One person can look at raw fish and think "sushi" and "dinner," while another gets sick at the thought of any fish- cooked or raw. We all respond in different ways to the thousands of cues we get from our body as it reacts to whatever stimulus. So how could I explain to my friends and family why I enjoy creating grinning skeleton chefs holding miniature stainless steel cooking pots containing bloody heads with eyes open- staring back at the viewer, more than I enjoy creating 'normal' dolls?
In reality, can a skeleton become a chef? Or a woman with a hatchet in her brain attend a party? Are there really zombies and mummies which can terrorize a town and kill everyone? If someone's face was falling off or their head covered with spikes, would they be chasing after their victims with knives or other weapons? And if they were able somehow to do that, would they get up and continue the chase after being blasted in the head and chest with a bazooka? What these characters are then, are cartoons. They are harmless fantasies that give us an escape from the real world- which, in my opinion, can be far scarier and more vicious and heinous than anything any writer, film maker or artist could ever dream up!

Her take on feminism:

"Ever since I can remember, I have been a libertarian feminist... which means that I favor rights for everyone, including men (after all- I have eight brothers, should I believe that they ought not have the same rights as their 6 sisters?). No one gets to have more rights than anyone else- especially not at the expense of any other individual or group. You cannot ask for rights that you do not allow everyone else to have, even if you don't like them or whatever the heck they stand for.

With all my heart and soul I believe that my body does indeed belong to me- and only to me. I am a literalist when it comes to the feminist slogan "Choice means Choice." That means I, as an adult, get to make choices for my body and my life which other people may find objectionable, harmful, offensive or demeaning. If they find whatever it is that I have made a choice to do or to be, fits in any of those categories, they are welcome to feel that way and not make the same choices for themselves, but they absolutely in no way have a right to impose their choices or values on me or anyone else who has not asked for their opinion or advice.
I have lived my life according to my values, not the values arbitrarily imposed on society by one religious or political group or another. As a woman, I believe I have the right to live by my values and no one can convince me otherwise. Back in 1972, I took a job with the LAPD that many considered the domain of men. Even though at the time women were not hired as police officers, I was assigned as a civilian traffic officer to work at night, alone in a patrol car, without a gun. It was risky, and in retrospect, perhaps foolish, but I chose to do it and no one wanted to protect me for my own good. No one thought it would be better for me if I were arrested for having a job which was truly dangerous, nor did they want to send me to jail where I would learn the error of my ways and decide I should do something else to earn a living. However, this is the excuse used for keeping prostitution illegal and arresting those who choose to engage in that profession. And even more outrageous is the allegation by both the radical leftist feminists and the religious conservatives that women would never choose to become prostitutes, and therefore all must be victims of a paternalistic society in which all other women are demeaned simply because prostitution exists.

To me, feminism is about empowerment- about taking control of one's life. Just because I am a woman doesn't mean that I can't stand up for myself. I don't need other, more "enlightened" women to pat me on the head and tell me that I am a victim of paternalism, or that if I choose to exploit my physical assets, I am being "objectified " and "degraded." Feminism is not about trading a paternalistic society for a maternalistic one, in which a group of female academics who have never had to survive in the real world get to tell the rest of us females what is and is not acceptable for us to do, to think or to be.
That is why I chose to become a call girl at age 32, and why I became an activist in the sex worker rights movement, something I have done for the past 25 years. And it is why I was willing to risk going to prison for writing a book about something I believed was horribly wrong, because I had something to say and I was going to say it regardless of the penalty for being a 'bad girl.' If society considers me a 'bad girl' because I stand up for what I believe in, then I relish being a 'bad girl' and hope to be one until the day I die."


Click here for Norma’s book, Cop to Call Girl.

Web Site: Pretty-Scary



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