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Interview With Mr. AMPIX

by J.

Preliminary note

From January 1st, 2004, Ampix has unfortunately stopped his business. We keep this page up has a testimony of what is a significant part of the devotee history.


Most readers of OverGround will know of AMPIX, the company that has been selling photographs of amputees and romantic stories about amputees for many years. Mike R. of AMPIX has agreed to be interviewed for OverGround and to take us behind the scenes of this organization.

Q: I'd like to begin by establishing what exactly your connexion with AMPIX is. Would you say that you are Mr AMPIX ?

A: Yes, I'm the primary contact!

Q: Did you found the organization?

A: Yes I did, in conjunction with a partner, Ray, and three other people!

Q: Is AMPIX a commercial operation in the sense that people are employed full-time in the business, or is it a part-time activity?

A: It is a part time business.

Q: How many people are involved with the business?

A: Two of us are left. The other three are long gone.

Q: Are any of them amputees?

A: If you mean directly, no, not currently, although we are in constant contact with many amputees. When we started in 1973, one of the original people involved in the business was an amputee. She has long since left the organization.

Q: Are you a devotee yourself?

A: Yes I am.

Q: When were you first aware of feeling the special attraction to women who are amputees?

A: At about age 14, but my initial interest goes back to about age four. I was in the hospital and watched a little boy with one leg get away with anything he wanted and was still applauded as being a brave little person. After that, I played at being an amputee whenever I could and dreamed about being one. When I was 14, I saw a female amputee who was about 25, got sexually stimulated, and decided that day I'd rather take care of an amputee than be one myself.

Q: If you know, or if you can remember, the circumstances that led to the formation of AMPIX would you tell us about them?

A: In 1973, I found an ad in a magazine for picture of amputees. I immediately ordered most of then and received only part of them. The company had gone out of business almost overnight.

I searched constantly for them by responding to ads and inadvertently found Ray, the man who co-founded AMPIX with me over 23 years ago. After we got together, we looked together for the people who had offered the pictures and within 6 months, had located them.

We struck a deal with them, funded the operation, and took over the business end of things. Within a year, the others had bailed out and we've been running it ever since.

Q: How big is your collection of material, and what media do you range over? I know about photographs, and stories, I did hear that you distributed Super-8 movies, and audio-cassettes, and I suppose - Is it the case? - that you produce and distribute videos.

A: The collection of color and black and white prints numbers in the thousands. We've had a lot of written material submitted to us over the years (maybe 500+ stories and articles) plus other forms of media such as audiotapes, videotapes, and films.

We still offer videotapes and we've reissued the complete black and white collection on CD ROM.

Q: Where do you obtain your material?

A: Recently, we have been generating our own or contracting with people to generate it for us. In the past, we have relied on the submission of material from other devotees. We still actively solicit material from devotees and offer a liberal swap credit for its use.

Q: I should imagine that copyright infringement must be a problem with the widespread publication of images of amputees on the Internet. Do you have any means of protecting yourselves from this?

A: No! In fact, we never have. Our material has been copied and distributed from the start. We're businessmen and hobbyists, not policemen.

I'm a professional speaker/trainer and one of my areas of expertise is Intellectual property Law (Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks). We knew going into this endeavor that unless we wanted to turn ourselves into complete blithering idiots trying to chase down people for copying our material, that it was going to happen so we said 'Why worry?' and never have.

This isn't an open invitation for people to copy our material but if they're going to do it, so be it.

Q: Would you care to estimate what proportion of the pictures uploaded to the various ftp sites on the Internet are unauthorized copies of AMPIX material?

A: I haven't visited the sites personally, but I suspect that all of of our material has been copied to a variety of sites.

Q: What impact is the Internet having on your business?

A: We've increased our exposure to a lot of people who would never have found us if we were not on the Internet.

As you'll recall, our policy from the beginning has been one of total secrecy and anonymity for our clientele.

I personally don't care who knows about my interest because I decided long ago that it didn't make any difference. I'm married to an amputee, Nancy (#1155 in our catalog) and if anybody asks about my interest, I'll tell them.

However, many of the hobbyists are completely secret about their interest and are very guarded in their contact with others about the interest. The Internet has given a lot of people the opportunity to indulge their interests without having to expose themselves.

Q: Do you have plans to exploit the Internet commercially?

A: Yes and no! We're advertising on the Internet and offer sample photos and trailers from our videos. We also allow the client to order on-line with credit cards but we do NOT deliver the material via the Internet.

Q: How many customers do you have?

A: Sorry - that's proprietary information.

Q: What is the breakdown of these by nationality?

A: Most of them are in the United States. After that, it's England, Germany, and France.

Q: Do you have any female customers?

A: Maybe, but it's difficult to tell. We have clients that represent themselves as being female but we have learned that many of them are really males who are working behind an alter ego

Q: How do you find models?

A: Through hobbyists and other contacts we have made. It's a tricky proposition because many people consider what we enjoy as deviant and socially unacceptable. Once we have the opportunity to interface with the women, we usually get a warm response.

Q: Do potential models approach you?

A: Yes they do.

Q: How frequently?

A: Unfortunately, not often enough!

Q: How do they find out about you?

A: Referrals mostly. Most amputees, male or female, know at least one or two others.

Q: Do you advertise in the mainstream magazines for the disabled?

A: No!

Q: Do you run your own studio and darkroom or do you rely on people to supply negatives?

A: We use a commercial service to do all of our processing.

Q: Do you ever use professional photographers?

A: Yes, whenever possible.

Q: I recollect that AMPIX caused a stir in the St. John's amputee listserv a while ago by advertising for models there. Did any models volunteer for all that?

A: Actually, we didn't place the ads there. We posted them in the AOL [America on line] and Internet news groups. Then, we got flamed by the self-appointed, self-anointed hobbyists who objected to our ability to advertise and willingness to pay for the modeling services.

The posting in listserv was someone else's doing who thought they were doing us a kindness. I didn't place the ad and the individuals who flamed us were not moderators, except in their own minds.

Q: You have recently started a small WWW home page. Have you any plans for developing it?

A: We have expanded it into a sample and ordering site.

Q: Suppose that I was a beautiful young woman who was an amputee and Ianswered one of your ads for models. What would I experience?

A: A genuine offer to become a model, complete with a description, model release, price structure, and scenarios that we would like to see.

Q: I recollect that you undertook some research into the kinds of people who became your customers. When was this work undertaken?

A: The original survey was done in 1976 and we periodically ask clients to answer some questions when we send out material to them.

Q: Was it market research or something more academic?

A: Both. We have used the responses to determine different venues and subject matter but the original survey was used to write the most definitive book ever attempted on the topic. It's called The Amelotatist - a statistical profile. It's in the Library of Congress, Johns Hopkins, and many other major universities. It has been used as the foundation for virtually every study, book, Doctoral Thesis, or detailed treatise on the topic since I wrote it.

Q: Did you consult academic researchers or did you just plunge in and ask the questions you were interested in?

A: I have an in-depth background in marketing research so I consulted with academicians prior to issuing the survey. I had assistance in the analysis from a professional in the field.

Q: Is the report still in print?

A: It's out of print, but we're going to re-issue it on computer disk next year

Q: Have you considered repeating and updating it?

A: I'm currently preparing a new questionnaire that will be made available on both the Internet and via Snail Mail.

From the material received, I'll write a new version of the book based on both old and new findings. When the survey is completely prepared, I'll notify you and if any of your readers are interested in participating, their inputs will be welcomed.

Q: Thanks, Mike, for agreeing to talk to us about AMPIX.

A: Not at all, J., it's been my privilege.


Note

Ampix is no longer operational.

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