Taking an investigation into people’s personal collecting habits, we immediately turn to artist and designer Baron Von Fancy — whether he’s creating his own editions of paintings, drawings, lighters, socks or sponges, he considers all his concepts to be the byproduct of an artistic intelligence, with the same being said for his many unique collections. Curious and motivated by ideas of scarcity, Baron takes interest in the ingenious items that are often overlooked, as well as things that are mysterious and weird — this in particular comes together in his collection of peep show sex tokens. We decided to ask him some more questions about it.
Can you tell me more about the collection? How did you start collecting these tokens?
When I was a little kid growing up in the city, my dad would take me places — I remember getting off 34th Street at Madison and looking down and thinking I saw a quarter, but it was the heads sign of the peep show coin, clearly a naked woman. My dad was not anti-sexual about it, he explained what it was, a token for a peep, and said that if I wanted it, I should put it in my pocket and keep it. As I saw the city changing, Times Square and all that, I realized it was sort of thing I wanted to acquire more. The times I’ve gone to acquire these tokens and to see how gross and weird it is, the disgusting smell of cum and bleach, walking in and seeing a completely normal person looking vile, weird and crazy. In terms of sociology I think it’s insane.
Do you have any favorites in your collection? Any that stand out to you?
I just like that they were passed hand to hand for sexual pleasure, like these were their only purpose. I thought that was so gross and crazy to me in so many rude and disgusting ways, that I wanted to collect them.
Do you go and obtain them just by going to the actual theaters?
Most are from the actual locations, I have found a few on eBay, or some weird hobby shop places — people know that I collect them, and some have been given to me. But some of the coins have taken years to find, because the places went out of business and I had to track them down myself — I love that aspect, because to have them is something that I can’t always just buy outright. But they also don’t cost that much to acquire in themselves. You don’t need a lot of money to collect them. It's more about hunting it down.
You have quite a few collections — homemade prison artifacts, vintage Dolce & Gabbana pants, pre-9/11 Twin Towers memorabilia...
I’m just interested in things, I like to notice things. I like objects that people often overlook, like a token on the ground, and when you assemble them and show a collection of it altogether, people see and realize how great it is. I love things that look great together as a collection, as opposed to how people miss these things when they’re on they’re own.