When news broke in mid-March that David D’Amato, the antagonist of David Farrier and Dylan Reeve’s infamous TICKLED documentary, had died, it was a shock for everyone I know who became obsessed by the strange tale. The filmmakers issued a plea for respect over his passing, and seemed genuinely affected by his sudden death despite the grief he – and his much-moneyed team – had caused them.
TICKLED revealed that the internationally renowned documentary about the seriously exploitative world of so-called ‘competitive tickling’ only really exists because of David D’Amato, who is barely seen in the film. I loved it when one film critic totally nailed it by referring to him as “a kind of tragic super villain, hurling legal threats and stand-ins at Farrier and co-director Reeve at every opportunity”. He was a dangerous man but clearly also a very troubled one, and upon hearing of his passing Farrier and Reeve issued the statement below:
Statement on Death of David D’Amato
We are incredibly sad to learn that David P D’Amato, the subject of Tickled, has passed away.
We don’t know any specific details about his death at this time.
David D’Amato has been a part of our lives for around three years now – a very unusual three years – and despite the various lawsuits he brought against us, this news is something that brings us no joy, and has hit us pretty hard.
We mostly knew David through talking to those he had interacted with online over the last 20 years, and people that he had been close to.
We only met him twice; once in Garden City, and another time when he turned up to a screening of the documentary in Los Angeles. We met a man who came out swinging, so to speak – threatening more lawsuits, while at the same time commenting that he enjoyed certain elements of the film. It seems to us that underneath it all, he did have a certain sense of humor.
It is also clear that he had certain troubles, and those are troubles that we hoped he would come to terms with at some point.
While making Tickled we always thought it was important to portray David D’Amato not just as an online bully, but as a person. That is why the closing minutes of Tickled are so important to us – an insight into D’Amato, the person. Ultimately we’ll never know all the things that made David the man he was. Like all of us, he was complex and complicated.
So we ask you to keep in mind that while David appears to have lived a fairly solitary life, he did have friends and family members. We ask that in comments online, and out there in the real world, you treat this information, and this man’s passing, with respect.
David Farrier & Dylan Reeve
Which brings me to the return to Rialto Channel of TICKLED tonight, followed by THE TICKLE KING, a 20 minute follow-up to the highly successful and controversial documentary that attempts a little closure… although not as much as D’Amato’s death. It features compelling, previously unseen footage documenting the bizarre and unsettling events that happened to filmmakers as TICKLED premiered at film festivals and theatres throughout 2016, with elements almost impossible to believe. Think: lawsuits, private investigators, disrupted screenings and surprise appearances… and more. It also answers a few of the key questions that bothered a few people when the TICKLED credits rolled, and is the perfect follow-up to one hell of a twisted tale.
Word has it Farrier and Reeve are currently at work on yet another shocker of a doco, to which I say, BRING IT ON. Watch tonight’s lineup and get very, very excited.
TICKLED AND THE TICKLE KING Thursday 11 May at 8.30pm
Click here to remote record