Raleigh, North Carolina resident Skip Elsheimer is part of the latter group, and has carried his childhood enthusiasm way too far. While his colleagues are busy downloading Buffy the Vampire Slayer images, the 36 year old tracks down old 16 mm educational films, finding

Skip Elsheimer
them in dumpsters and old stock rooms, or buying boxes full of them at auction. He has over 13,000 now and, surprisingly, has made a cottage industry out of getting people to pay to watch them.

Actually, that's not so surprising after you've seen a few. What's really hard to believe is that their previous owners were willing to give them up - judging from the four DVD compilations Elsheimer has released on the Fantoma label, there's no end to their bizarro entertainment value. His Social Engineering 101, for instance, is full of the kind of well-intentioned bits of propaganda that in the '50s helped little girls to understand how important it was to smile at boys and get them to ask you out. The Sex and Drugs comp has some of the most surreal treats, like a very sincere but outrageously awkward film about the difficulties of teaching the mentally handicapped about the birds and the bees. Then there's the one intent on picking apart pro-marijuana arguments piece by piece - narrated by none other than Sonny Bono, whose gold lamé outfit reinforces his street cred.

Elsheimer has shown items from his collection at venues as prestigious as the American Museum of the Moving

8pm Friday, April 18, $15
Robert Tatum Studio
811 South Flores, 299-8970
Image in New York, and this week he will be in San Antonio. Some of the titles he's bringing with him, with descriptions by the curator:

Are You Listening? - Children learn how to listen after they turn into giant ears and their teacher turns a giant mouth. Then they go to the zoo. Toothache of a Clown - An ether-induced look at dental hygiene with a clown. Great unless you are afraid of clowns and/or dentists!

Plastics - Exciting and beautiful footage of plastic manufacturer assembly lines accompanied by a wacky synth soundtrack.

Sally at 13 - Puberty is tough, especially for Sally, whose curiosity about sex is always getting her into trouble.

Morality for Youth - Made by the Church of Latter Day Saints, this film spells out all the temptations will lead teens to Hell.

And if those aren't enough to make you smell the dusty chalkboards, Elsheimer will bring along an ice-breaking filmstrip for the audience to read aloud. Just remember: No passing notes during the film, and those caught making smart-alec remarks will receive two weeks' detention. •


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