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The Iraq Issue 2002

Animal Autism

"I was always obsessive-compulsive," says 29-year-old Narumi Ogawa from her crowded apartment in LA, "especially about animals."

“I was always obsessive-compulsive,” says 29-year-old Narumi Ogawa from her crowded apartment in LA, “especially about animals.”

Narumi grew up in Japan where, on her own accord, she would clean all the hallways in her school before opening bell and tend to the school rabbits after every class. She had few friends and found companionship in things like occupational therapy (incessant cleaning) and tending to her family’s four dogs and nine cats. “I used to make mud bowls for the animals to eat out of. I made about five new ones a day. By the time I was 18, however, I was getting bored.” That’s when she moved to LA and started making Internet porn sites. The meticulous details of web design are perfect for her caffeine-riddled brain. Of course, web design doesn’t fill the animal void, and in LA people get uncomfortable if you work more than 30 hours a week, so Narumi befriended her 72-year-old neighbor and started following her to knitting classes. “I’m by far the youngest one there,” she admits, “but these old ladies are pretty smart. You should see the designs they come up with.”

The designs Narumi comes up with are exactly what you’d expect from a tiny, Japanese, obsessive-compulsive, Internet-porn-technician, animal fanatic with no friends. She has invented a fucked up yet hyper-cute world of imaginary friends that sell for about $40 apiece and are going way faster than she can make them. “I make at least four or five a day and they keep disappearing, which is hard. It’s hard to let them go, but I have to. I can’t even see out my windows right now, there are so many stuffed animals in here.” Narumi understands their popularity: “I think it’s because people see them and remember the imaginary world they made up when they were kids. It’s fun for them to go back there. It’s fun for me, too.”

Narumi’s dolls are available at the VICE LA store (323 661 2741) and from Narumi’s website