Sunday, April 1, 2012

Steph - 8/25/11

"Don't make fun of my email address. I will be around August because where the shit else will I be."

Thus began my communication with Steph,'s resident sassypants and alpha female, one of only two women I would photograph during my east coast trip in August of 2011.

Even though is usually a non-visual place–as in, many people who regularly participate never post photos of themselves–Steph is an exception for one distinct reason: her tattoos. In early 2011 (or late 2010), she had the face of John Goodman tattooed on her right leg. In the run-up to the project, a Michigan tattoo place ran a contest on Facebook to select a winner for $500 towards their next tattoo. Steph's entry was for another tattoo of her next-most adored celebrity: Sam Watterson, or District Attorney Jack McCoy, from NBC's Law and Order, from whom she happens to have named one of her dogs.

"[G]enerally it works best to have someone come in the backyard so I can let [the dogs] out one by one to meet and so I can tell you what to expect from each one of them. They are all cruelty cases, and three of them don't really need the intro, but one of my girls needs  a minute to warm up and my Dachshund cannot be touched. No one is dangerous, they will not bite, but my Dachshund will probably yap the entire time. I know this sounds neurotic, but such is my life."

Thus was my introduction to Steph and her dogs. I arrived with my photo gear, we shook hands, and then she led me to her backyard and proceeded to let each dog out one at a time in order to get accustomed to me. There were six, including the aforementioned Dachshund–who mysteriously didn't have a problem with me–and a much larger dog who was still a young pup and chewed on the legs of my tripod during the entire shoot. 

In my notes for this photo project, I have nothing written down from my visit with Steph. I don't remember what we talked about, except that in talking about the message board itself, she revealed to me on the boards there is a secret section that is only for women. Steph was watching "a murder show" and drinking a Coke. The dogs wandered around during the shoot, and various ones appear in different proofs and final films.  

Steph is a force in the Michigan thread, though she's only met a few people from She insists that she regularly invites people to hang out, but they always bail. Of all the people I met on the trip, she was the subject most similar to their online personality, most notably because of her lack of tact when it comes to addressing anything, whether it's hairstyles, Jersey Shore, dogs, tattoos, or the melange of characters in the Michigan thread. 

When I emailed her to tell her my schedule was more open than I originally intended, because several of the other Michigan folks had busy schedules or just backed out, she bluntly replied:

"Every one in Michigan is a dick except me."