The Amazing Shaye Saint John
By Ferguson Ulrich
Shaye Saint John burst onto the YouTube scene in 2006, with short, usually 3-5 minute, works of absurdly beautiful bizarreness which achieved both epic horror status as well as absolute original comedic genius. Shaye garnered a relatively large following, most likely of which not knowing what in the hell to think of her, or him, or it. A DVD was created and put out by Indican Pictures in 2004. Apparently some festivals and curators had shown the work, but as usual, most experimental curators where asleep at the wheel having blindly passed up the amazing work of Shaye Saint John.
The character of Shaye consisted of other worldly, almost alien like qualities; talkng in an odd extraterrestrial like voice and looking like something between a crippled multiple amputee victim and a severely botched plastic surgery patient (a rough backstory had spread of Shaye being an ex model in a horrible car wreck left badly disfigured). Shaye rolled with her whatever condition and poised as some sort of starlet with entrepreneurial ventures such as skin tape sessions and drip drop diets. Her epic catch phrases (“gawd! gams! twenty four seven!”) were delivered in a way that was all Shaye; a language of her own, existing in a world of her own with her sometimes sidekick Kiki and (imaginary?) friends that she bantered with on the phone.
It appeared the Shaye action was taking place in Los Angeles as indicated by early street performances of Shaye being wheeled around in a wheelchair getting pictures taken with tourists in Hollywood. The L.A. scene was fitting, but really it could have been anywhere, USA, as we see the reality wannabee star transgressions exist country-wide; the allure of making it, dieting down to look like the celebrities and ultimately becoming that star or starlet in some fashion. All an ingrained American dream that draws allure from every crevice of the country.
A legend in her own mind Shaye seemed to be. But the Shaye legend was cemented solid electronically and worldwide through the digital landscape, as evidenced not only by the online views, but the strong reactions, utter confusions, and high accolades garnered; Shaye was indeed, the real deal.
In reality the real deal was Eric Fournier. He was the creator of Shaye Saint John. It’s unclear of the exact particulars; was he the one behind the bizarro mannequin mask? Was he the sped up other worldly voice? Since it appears many of the Shaye pieces have a “moving camera”, perhaps Eric was behind the lens, directing all of the action and providing dialogue. We only know of Eric from the “directorial” credit he did leave on the DVD. It was assumed that he played Shaye, but never confirmed to my knowledge.
Sadly, Eric died early this year in late February. There are some old producer credits on his IMBD page, and some notoriety attached to him from being in a known punk band during the 80’s called The Blood Farmers. Other than that, little has surfaced as of this writing and as of this writers online searching.
YouTube accounts don’t automatically die when the physical body ceases operation, so Shaye continues to live on in the electronic landscape, garnering more and more views daily. On the Shaye YouTube profile page the comments do report and recognize that Shaye (Eric) has passed. Many of the comments from hate to praise all show what a strong and effective absurdist force we have lost.
For online links to Shaye Saint John including the DVD and the YouTube page which contains 50 plus pieces of Shayes amazing work, please visit – https://absurdistvideo.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/links-for-shaye-saint-john-rip/
Ferguson Ulrich writes on the new absurdist cinema and features videos and writings of current bizarre and relevant works at http://AbsurdistVideoArt.com
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Great article. I think more about Shaye and Eric will be revealed in the future, with more and more Shaye followers being drawn in over Youtube and articles such as this. I have heard rumours of unseen work and such.. Hopefully Shaye will live on, stronger, on the internet 24/7!
Please visit and like Larry Wessel’s new Facebook Fan Page for “Eric and Shaye” his upcoming documentary about Eric Fournier and Shaye Saint John…