Haunted Orthodontic Retainer that Channels Malevolent Spirits

I have a special place in my heart for the additive value of story and the art of the scam . This is why I’m keen on Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn’s Significant Objects project – an experimental literary and anthropological mash-up that demonstrated that “the effect of narrative on any given object’s subjective value can be measured objectively.” 

The project auctioned off thrift-store objects via eBay; for item descriptions, short stories purpose-written by over 200 contributing writers, including Meg CabotWilliam GibsonBen GreenmanSheila HetiNeil LaBute,Jonathan LethemTom McCarthyLydia MilletJenny OffillBruce SterlingScarlett Thomas, and Colson Whitehead, were substituted. The objects, purchased for $1.25 apiece on average, sold for nearly $8,000.00 in total.

Okay, so that’s awesome. Now, let’s see what happens when this knowledge is applied to the dark arts – specifically witchcraft. Yes, witchcraft. A recent episode of the podcast Here Be Monsters featured an interview with “Malibu Ron,” a self-identified scam artist who Vice dubbed an “Etsy witch.” Here’s why:

Malibu makes his living selling trinkets supposedly imbued with spirits: sex demonswerewolvesmermaidsdjinnvampires, etc. They aren’t. Malibu sells his intangible beings and spells online for as little as $5 and as much as $11,000.

You can see where this is going, right? Thusly, I attempted to create my own significant, if haunted, object via the power of story.

The object in question is my brother’s old retainer. He wore it in his mid-teens and left it in a box that remained at my parent’s house when he moved out a few years later. That box traveled between storage units as our empty-nester parents decamped to smaller dwellings over the years. Finally, it became my responsibility and has infused my own private “Smithsonian Box” with a never-ending supply of weirdness since. When reunited with the retainer, my brother refused to take it, so… Now, it’s a Haunted Orthodontic Retainer that Channels Malevolent Spirits on eBay.

Of course, I couldn’t stop there. I had to create an entire business identity to give the seller account some narrative umph. Hence…

Easy-peasy logo design via Squarespace. And, yes, I now own yet another domain name.
Easy-peasy logo design via Squarespace. And, yes, I now own yet another domain name.

I also grabbed some stock art for shop…

Instant paranormal collectibles shop.
Instant paranormal collectibles shop.

Then – the fun part – I wrote a little story for the item’s eBay description, which can be read by clicking through the eBay embed below. Throughout the creative fugue state that precipitated the whole scenario, I began to think of eBay as a largely untapped publishing platform (move over Medium) and am considering integrating the Accursed Curios shop and its paranormal environs into the larger world of my one-man transmedia worldbuilding endeavor. I mean, we all need a little more magic in our lives, right?

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