Reel Thing

We still can't decide which type of educational filmstrip did the most damage to our delicate young psyches--the ones in driver's education that made us fear accelerating over 20 mph and crossing train tracks, the sex films where cartoon kids reacted stoically to the news they'd soon be experiencing nocturnal emissions or menstruation or the animated shows about nutrition where smiling pieces of fruit, dancing blocks of cheese and singing dinner rolls taught us about the food pyramid before being gobbled up as part of a healthy diet.

So we can only imagine the dark sense of humor and high appreciation of kitsch that drove Skip Elsheimer, the founder of A/V Geeks, to start collecting discarded and outdated educational filmstrips. The Raleigh, North Carolina, collector has 8,700 such films that he has bought in school auctions, stumbled across in flea markets and dug from trash bins. Twice monthly he picks a handful related to a theme and shows them at a local gallery. The films range from technical manuals about childbirth and office safety to cautionary tales about drugs, teen pregnancy and, Elsheimer's favorite, venereal diseases. The funniest are likely the films from the '50s and '60s about proper social behavior, how to be popular and proper grooming. A typical line from The Popularity Parade is, "Often, the boy who does not seek popularity, but shows that he has a mind of his own, wins admiration."

Elsheimer is showing some of his favorite films during an A/V Geeks tour of Texas and New Mexico. Called The Best of the A/V Geeks II, the program includes LSD Case Study in which a girl describes her first acid trip (which we're convinced is how some of these films were made) and Telezonia, a film produced to help extinguish fears people had about using telephones. Feel free to laugh at his antiquated gems; no one is going to smack your knuckles with a ruler this time.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Shannon Sutlief