Interview: Leigh Camacho Rourks’s Obsession

Editor Matty Byloos, Interview, December 24th, 2015

"Collecting is better than hoarding, I tell myself. Harmless."

obsession with tokidoki
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NAILED MAGAZINE: Tell me about an object that you’ve been completely obsessed with for most of your life.

LEIGH CAMACHO ROURKS: Tokidoki blind boxes are everything I want. Every. Single. Thing. They are little rectangle masses of competing colors. Image heavy. Delightfully tacky. Small enough to fit two in my palm. They are a secret, a dream, a no-telling-what-you-will-get state of surprise and suspense and ecstasy.

And inside is my childhood, all grown up.

Garish pop culture unicorns. Punk rock Hello Kitty kitsch. Spiked cactus cats and dogs.

Edgy promises of tattoos and zombies and skeletons and robots and David Bowie, oh my.

They are my obsession with collection in physical form.

I’ve collected everything imaginable and done it poorly each time. No care. No reverence. Just frenzy. A desperate need. First: stuffed animals. They ringed my bed and my room and spilled across the floor, each and every one inexplicably named Lucy. Next, Barbies, naked and re-clothed in toilet tissue fashion, heads popped off and feet absently chewed. Comic books, read and bent and worn and stacked. Books, spines broken, pages thick and swollen with bathtub steam. Hello Kitty. Sea shells. Pennies. In recent years, shoes. Buddhas. Toys. Trinkets. Name brands.

Looking back, they all represent things I’ve wanted. A glut of friends. A bit of beauty and sophistication. Adventure. Escape. Peace. Wonder. Money.

My obsession with collection got worse after Hurricane Andrew. Our home and everything in it chewed and spit and slobbered and thrown. Left molding in the yard. I was seventeen.

I’m still seventeen.

I’ve never really moved past the day I scoped filthy shovel-fulls of my childhood into a wheelbarrow to be counted and trashed.

And, of course, I have.

I’m forty, after all.

Collecting is better than hoarding, I tell myself. Harmless. Keep it small. Go for the compact. Make it quirky. Pretty. Shiny. Fun. Cute. Fill your life with beauty. Fill your life with joy.

I discovered Tokidoki on my honeymoon. A woman with a killer purse walked past, a thing somehow both couture and kitsch, black on black so the counter/cute-culture pattern was only visible when shifted in the light. It was everything I wanted to be, sophisticated and silly all at once. Great purse, I said. A new Italian designer, she told me. Tokidoki.

It was a few hundred dollars, more than I could spend on a purse. We’d only just started “real” jobs. We’d only just begun having extra. So I looked. I daydreamed. I became obsessed. Tokidoki wasn’t something you collected back then. The toys and blind boxes wouldn’t appear for a year or two. It was just something I looked at on the Internet. Just purses I dreamed of owning.

But as I watched the brand grow, I felt a frenzy. A need.

I was a weird kid. Awkward, nerdy, alone a lot. But I wasn’t really unhappy. In my imagination, all the things I collected came alive, were fun, were worth something. I never outgrew any of that. Not the weird. Not the awkward. Not the nerdy. Not the alone. Not the imagination.

Not the obsessive need for all the stuff.

There is a lot of Tokidoki to have out there. And I want it all.

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If you enjoyed this piece on obsession, then you might also like “#3: Josh Lubin” which you can read here.

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Leigh Camacho RourksLeigh Camacho Rourks lives in South Louisiana. She is an editor at Rougarou, a journal of literature and arts out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she is pursuing her PhD. This year, her short story “Moon Trees” was awarded the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award and her story “Pinched Magnolias” received the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize in Fiction. Her work has appeared in a number of journals including Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Pank, and Greensboro Review. Learn more about her here.

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Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).