Policy and mission
Frequently Asked Questions
An Interview with Vera Littleby Paul
Q: Tell us a little (well, you see what I mean...) about yourself and your background.
Q: What has happen to you and how did you initially react upon becoming an amputee?
Q: How did you learn about amputee devotees and what was your initial reaction?
I hadn't had any experience with the internet and asked some friends to walk me through it. We typed 'amputee' and 'sex' into a search engine and eventually found a picture of a woman masturbating with a coke bottle. She was an above the knee amputee. Actually it was a typical porn picture which someone had altered in photoshop to make the woman an amputee, but I didn't realize that then. Soon after that I found "Amputees are Beautiful," Carol Davis' site. I realized that what I had suspected was true.
I wasn't prepared for the intensity of the attraction for some devotees, or for some of the behaviors and feelings of devotees. But, I welcomed the idea of a ready made audience. I have never felt that I didn't deserve attention because of my physical differences.
I found the devotee audience very committed to their interest and very willing to support the people who provided content and products for their interest.
Q: Have you become intimate with some devotees and, if yes, what is your conclusions now that you have been in contact with some?
I am aware of a sameness of tone and content in much of the online text and material, written by and for devotees. Most likely this is because the people in the community are influenced by each other.
There is an effort to speculate on who is a devotee. if you hear of someone who is with an amputee, like Paul McCartney, he must be a devotee. This is an issue of semantics; who is a devotee? Some of the text I've read on devotee websites suggests that anyone who would find an amputee attractive is a devotee. It paints a black and white picture. Devotees are attracted to amputees and every one else is repulsed by them. If a person is with an amputee who is not a devotee, there is no way he could find the amputee physically attractive. And if he did, then he must be a devotee.
In my small experience of the world, people are capable of a whole range of emotions past attraction or repulsion. Because a person could be attracted to a person who had an amputation doesn't make him turned on when he sees a stump. For example, I had a hairy boyfriend for about 4 years. Body hair wasn't anything I thought I would be much attracted to- actually I never thought much about it. However, I've come to really love his pelt. I am not attracted to all body hair and I don't seek that attribute in someone else. So I wouldn't say I'm a hirsute fetishist.
There is the assumption that the idea of amputations and deformations hold appeal only for devotees. But, I think that people have always been somehow fascinated, horrified and mystified with the physical 'other.' This is because Amputation is a powerful metaphor and it has had its place in literature and art. Amputations and references to amputees can be found often in history in various forms- fairy tales and children's literature (example: Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Cripple, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz) Comic books, movies, and TV shows (The Bionic Woman, the 6 Million dollar man, Star Wars, Robocop). The interest and appeal of the physical other made some disabled performers famous in traveling side shows (the 1st disabled community?) . Deformation continues to be a crowd pleaser on TV talk shows (the modern day version of freak shows) and human interest stories. There is also a particular obsession with cyborgs in fiction and film, the melding of man and machine. This has obvious implications for prosthetic wearers. In art and fiction, the medical trauma has proven to be an opportunity for a metaphorical as well as physical transformation.
Q: This might be looking like being a little off-topic but actually it isn't, because perceptions of and reactions to devoteism may vary widely depending on the answer: are you straight, lesbian or bisexual?
Q: Do you remember what you were thinking about disability before becoming an amputee yourself?
Q: What is your present activities and what are your projects for the future?
I am interested in the history of disabled people as performers and public figures and the way they have used media to alter their audience's perception of themselves (like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for example). The advent of the internet is a culmination of this phenomena because of the access it gives to anyone to self publish.
This summer I have been thinking a lot about myself as a representative, or spokesmodel, for the present and the future. In this age of technological sophistication, we rely on machines to live. And yet, we possess a distrust and fear of where our progress will take us. I, as someone who relies on prosthetics to function, represent a positive example of what we can do with technology. I have been thinking about ways to incorporate some of these ideas into my work on the The Vera Little Media Project. I am video documenting the progress of the fitting of my new prosthetics as the first part of a Human Cyborg Project. I am trying to work out some of the details of how to afford to put this work on my site.
I also am working on a new magnet set (The Super Hero Edition!) and I plan to offer a new photo series for sale. This is on top of all my sculpture and animation work. I am a girl who likes to keep busy.
Q: You call yourself "cyberprincess". That's fun. What do you mean by that?
Q: Your 2 websites have 2 different destinations. One, "The Vera Little Media Project", is essentially centered around you, while "Homunculus" is more centered around your work. Could you put both of them in perspective in relation with you being an amputee and the influence your work might have on the devotee community.
Homunculus deals with the darker side of my brain. Its mainly an online journal and portfolio. It is also home to the webcam, which I turn on when I'm working. [No longer the case]
Q: Body image is an essential issue, for women in general, and for amputees in particular, even more than for other form of disability where the modifications are less dramatic for the body appearance. Being both, you are actively working on this through your websites. Tell us more about it.
Q: Disability and sexuality; that's combining two taboos. That's probably one of the reasons why devotees are having such bad reputation. What's the position, from the amputee perspective (and one who loves to go after conventions, for that matter)? Could it be that there are as much untolerant people amongst the disabled community than there are in the community in general?
Q: Devotees are not very well perceived by the amputee community. Granted, some have behaved in less than standard manners, to say the least. But I believe there is more to it, like the tremendous difficulties for amputees and disabled persons in general, to recognize the fact that they are "different", and that this difference is actually a feature and not yet another limitation. You already know that I believe that this is one of the keys to understanding devoteism. As you are different (disabled) being different (artist) being different (provocative), I'm curious about your position about "being different".
I think the dynamic between amputees and devotees is often a complex one. As you said, there are many amputees who are very resentful of their physical circumstances and this may prevent them from viewing devotees as anything other than perverse. However, the devotee's emotional and psychological position is as relevant as the amputees. Many devotees seem to suffer from pent up guilt and shame and it often seems very important to them that their interest be seen viewed as normal. Acceptance is important to many devotees, as appearing normal is to many amputees. The desire to fit in is one that surpasses issues of amputees and devotees.
Q: To me "normality" is the probable equivalent of "pretty-boring-indeed", being very conventional myself in all aspects of my life and body apprearance, this might be an element of my attraction towards amputees and disabled persons in general. The struggle of the disabled persons, and amputees in particular, to look, live and "be" as normal as possible is a wonder to me, but it's a fact. There is a social pressure and an imposed vision of what we "have" to be that causes terrible damages in the well being of mankind in general. I know: I'm a perfect example of the result of this pressure. Any idea about what to do to tackle this issue (not necessary from the amputee point of view, but also)?
Q: You've mentioned once that a significant part of your audience is made of people that are into some form of body modification like tattoos, scarring, piercing, branding, Teflon implants, etc,... and you suggested that devotees might be part of them.
It is understood that Vera Little, aka Lisa Bufano, passed away on October 3d, 2013 which makes us all very sad.
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