TICKLED Debuts Feb. 27 on HBO and THE TICKLE KING, an Exclusive Follow-Up for HBO Digital Platforms, Debuts the Same Day
After stumbling upon a bizarre “competitive endurance tickling” video online, wherein young men are paid to be tied up and tickled, pop-culture reporter David Farrier reaches out to request a story from the company behind it. Delving deeper, he encounters fierce resistance, and the more he investigates, the stranger it gets, leading to the discovery of decades of abuse. The shocking documentary TICKLED chronicles his probe when it debuts ( /PT) on HBO.
The documentary will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and affiliate portals.
Immediately following the premiere of TICKLED, HBO Documentary Films debuts THE TICKLE KING, an exclusive 20-minute follow-up for HBO NOW, HBO GO and HBO On Demand. THE TICKLE KING features new, previously unseen footage documenting the bizarre and unsettling things that happen to filmmakers David Farrier and Dylan Reeve as the documentary premieres at film festivals and theaters in 2016. Lawsuits, private investigators, disrupted screenings and surprise appearances are just part of what they encounter along the way. Amidst new threats, the duo begins to answer questions that remained once the credits rolled on TICKLED, including whether the disturbing behavior they uncovered will ever come to an end.
TICKLED, the feature-length documentary debut of co-directors David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, follows New Zealand TV reporter Farrier and his tech-savvy friend Reeve as they seek to untangle the mystery behind a competitive-tickling competition. When Farrier discovers these unusual videos – featuring tied-up young men enduring a cavalcade of ticklers – online, he contacts Jane O’Brien Media, the company responsible for the competitions.
To his surprise, Farrier is met with a barrage of homophobic rants and threats from the company, which, he admits, “made [him] more curious than ever.” The filmmakers are immediately hit with legal threats and three “associates” of Jane O’Brien Media fly to Auckland to talk Farrier and Reeve out of their investigation.
Eventually, Farrier and Reeve travel to hidden tickling studios in Los Angeles and uncover a vast empire, known for harassing and harming people who protest their involvement in these films. Along the way, they gain insight from journalists Hal Karp and Debbie Scoblionkov, who previously investigated similar stories; tickling fetishist Richard Ivey, who makes his own videos, but in a non-exploitative manner; former casting director Dave Starr, whose participation in providing young men for “tickle torture films” led to him experiencing the wrath of his former employer; and participants who have seen their lives ruined by a mysterious and vindictive online bully.
As Farrier and Reeve fall deeper down the “tickling wormhole,” they unmask a bully who has hidden behind the anonymity of the Internet for two decades.
Compelling and disturbing, TICKLED illustrates the damage that can result from wealth, privilege and an obsession with power and control.
The film premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
TICKLED is directed by David Farrier & Dylan Reeve; producer, Carthew Neal; director of photography, Dominic Fryer; editor, Simon Coldrick; executive producer, Justin Pemberton; associate producers, Stephen Fry, Richard Ivey. For HBO: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.