November '09

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Latvia-born animator Signe Baumane drew on her strong (and hilarious) opinions regarding sex to create "The Teat Beat of Sex", now available on DVD. Seriously, don't read this at work.

One day this online entertainment company contacted me. "Wouldn't you want to pitch something for us?" they asked.

"Sure."  I said, eager to please.

I prepared about 10 pitches for the online entertainment, and went to the meeting.  It was sunny 10:30 AM.  A small room and a table that filled the room. Five men sitting at the table. 

I pulled out my papers, getting ready for the meeting and while doing it, as a small talk, I was ranting about men's obsession with the size of their dicks (which I find odd, not to say more. See Episode 1:"Kirby").  Now, you could ask how a woman finding herself in a small room with five men who she is about to pitch 10 ideas for the online entertainment starts to rant about size of man's penis.

I do not know.

I often rant about sex. That's my excuse and the thing, I guess. It is a character failing, too. You should see when I visited Korea.  The animators, men who knew my work, would inevitably steer me towards the subject of sex and because I don't really see big difference between subject of sex and let's say, cooking a good meal, I gave them the satisfaction (I mean, conversational satisfaction).

In any case, those five men in the small room were laughing out of their chairs. "That's it!" they said.  "Pitch no more! Do a one-minute episode of this and we'll take it." And they walked out of the room.

So I went home and started to work like a mad woman on the size of the penis. After a few days I started to think, "Wait a minute, this is a lot of work, I wonder what they are paying." So I called and asked.

They said, "We'll give you $1000 for one minute, and we want everything - rights to the character design, story, EVERYTHING. We'll own the damn film."

I said, "No way you own anything for $1000!"  And I hung up. 

The deal was off, but I was in the groove, I finished the first episode, started to work on the next one, about pussy juice ("Juice", episode 2).

Then the Italian producer Pierre Poire, whom I met at Sundance in 1999, called. "I am looking for a project to produce." he said.  "It has to be about love or sex. I am tired of the war and constant aggravation. We need more loving."

"I am working on sex right now." I said, and e-mailed him the 2 episodes I had completed.

He called right back and said, he'd produce more episodes, and we started our magic collaboration.

I recorded my improvised rants at Full House sound studio with the help of Greg Sextro and later - David Lawson.  I took the recording home, deciphered it and started to animate.  I didn't have a storyboard - to keep the thing fresh and exciting for me, so it's all improvised animation.


I had an intern, Vera Lui, (she is very talented on her own right) to scan in the drawings, and production manager Sharlene Lin (she is a 3D animator, very talented) to color and supervise the process. Later, Daniel Pinto replaced Sharlene and Vera and he was great!  And that was that, I think.

We did 1 minute every 10 days, and worked from June till end of September like maniacs. My hair started to fall out as it always does when I am under stress and lacking sleep.  Sex life, though, does well under stress (sex is a cure for stress, after all) if you can find time for it.

"Teat Beat of Sex" went to Berlinale, Venice, Sundance and more than 120 festivals.  Some people reacted very positively to the film. They said the episodes were very needed for our time.  Then there were people who had walked out. I understand that, too.  After all, women are supposed to smell like roses and have no talk about sex.

I find it strange that men who claim to crave for sex more than any other animal are looking for it in the wrong places.  Product advertisement is driving male sexual education. Billboards show what's supposed to be sexy but it is very far from true sensuality.  But everybody buys into it!  Sexy advertisement kills healthy sex.

So, with "Teat Beat of Sex" I am only trying to straighten things out - to fix the misunderstanding between the sexes. (ha ha ha! is that possible?)  Have you noticed, there is an ongoing war between the two genders?  Like, men are from Mars and women from Venus? Isn't that crazy???? We aren't aliens to each other! Basically women and men want the same thing - a hug at the end of the day.

I understand the need for lovers to explore the new ways of having sex; novelty is a mother of a lasting relationship.  But if a man wants to have sex only with a woman who has no genital or whatsoever hair on her body (except for her head) because of his claim of perfection as seen on TV, that reeks of something so bizarre! Nothing wrong with experimenting and shaving your hair time to time. All right..nothing wrong with anything in CONSENSUAL adult sex!  Oppressed sexuality takes many forms, like a plant growing from under a pavement... Distorted it is indeed, nothing resembling a healthy plant, but the most important thing - it is ALIVE!!!!!!!! Keep having sex!! Please!

Making "Teat Beat of Sex" was pure fun, more fun than any other project I've worked on, mostly because it was all improvised, it kept it fresh and exciting for me.

If you really want to understand where the imagery of "Teat Beat" comes from, you should study Eastern European cartoonists, illustrators and animators. After living in USA for 14 years I can't really deny who I am and where am coming from.  Eastern European illustration tradition is alive in me.

Whatever you expect from a film with the title that has word "sex" in it "Teat Beat of Sex" will still come like a shock to you - a shock of delight or outraged sense of propriety, it depends on what kind of person you are.

Every time when my Mom says, "I would like to see the film that you are most famous for."

I say, "Tomorrow, Mom, I have no time right now."

Buy the DVD with all 15 episodes for only $15!  $1 for one episode!!!

Illustrations for this article are the property of Signe Baumane.

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