The Mystery Pit Photography Of Duncan Edwards
Studio 588's newest quicksand pit is a mystery.
It looks good on-camera and you can sink for the camera easily. No more should be expected from a quicksand pit at a movie studio.
However...I couldn't tell by looking at it...or being in it...what it was.
Do you think it looks like quicksand?
? ? ?
I've been in so many natural mudpits by now that I know that you can't judge a sinkin' hole by the way it looks. I've played in sand, coal slurry, peat and clay.
Some mudpits are dead giveaways. One glance at the wet spot, and you know that you'll sink down like a shot if you step in.
Some will surprise you. I have marshy bogs with grass growing on top. These look like any other grassy ground until they give way under your weight.
None of the natural mudpits I've been in look like the mystery pit.
But if quicksand, by technical definition, is...
It doesn't feel like sand, though, or even like dirt. It doesn't smell like a natural mudpit either.
It can't possibly be real dirt. If it was, it would smell earthy, peaty, gritty, mossy, or swampy...not so spotlessly clean that I wondered if I even needed a shower after sinking in it.
Since we don't know what it is, does that mean that the formula has finally been discovered?
And from this special, top secret substance, a perfect thing has been created?
Is this true fantasy quicksand?
I have always been interested in quicksand, but I have only been sinking in real mudpits as if they were quicksand seriously since 2005.
Something changed me from a dreamer and an artist...
(Yes, "quicksand art" is a genre.)
and an off-and-on-again-video-crew-member-and/or mud-actress...
(Give you three guesses as to why I know about this studio?)
who snagged a good mudpit mostly at mud shoots with an occasional mudding with a rare mud pal...
(Waiting for other people to shake loose with mud is not the way to go. And why is that? Well, if you are frustrated because you can't seem to score a good mudpit, why would this be magically easier for somebody else? Us dedicated mud folks have hundreds of hours into our searches! Are we going to give our hard-earned treasures away? Actually, it is not impossible but we really, really, need to like you, and trust you.)
...to a real doer who sinks in real mud frequently, with or without companions...
(One to three times per week during the summer, known among mud fans as "The Sinking Season".)
...or whether or not anybody sees it or even knows that I did it.
The moment of change came at a natural claypit graciously shared with me courtesy of a mud partner who collected and sampled quality clay mudpits the way other people buy and taste fine wines.
He lead the way on three days of heavy mud time. And he didn't bring a camera.
He educated me thoroughly on how to get to, in, out, from and all around a real honest-to-goodness natural bottomless clay mud site in the very heart of 115-degrees-in-the-shade godforsaken gadzooks boondocksland of hellishly hot uncivilized wilderness smack dab in the middle of...
Which is something every girl ought to know.
And I began to see plainly what I'd already suspected:
Real things rarely are the same as fantasy things.
I consider real things to be better than fantasy things, if for no other reason than that real things are real. In the end, you can't do anything at all with a fantasy but fantasize about it. You can't see it, touch it, or sink in it...
(With one exception: The mystery pit. Whatever those little grains of sinking matter may truly be, they are not a figment of my imagination.)
I find the fact that fantasy stays only in my head and cannot be experienced to be truly frustrating.
Some things about real things turn out to be better than the fantasy. Real mudpits are more beautiful than I could have possibly anticipated...
...and real mudpits feel more wonderful than I imagined.
And some things that you were always sure that your fantasy was...aren't so at all.
Quicksand, for instance, isn't actually quicksand...at least for me.
But we'll get to that.
Sometimes if you work with reality, you come astonishingly close to your fantasy. Three and a half feet of mud, experienced at a layback angle, really can feel like bottomless quicksand. But do you see what I mean?
Part of the fantasy had to be adjusted. The bottomless pit did not exist.
But I made it work.
For me, anyway.
And some expectations can never be met. Due to the laws of physics and the numerical facts of mud density vs. human density, Hollywood quicksand is mostly a liar.
Perhaps this is why so many people never get off the armchair. It would ruin the fantasy.
Just as the mystery pit isn't really quicksand, most of the mudpits I've sunk in weren't really quicksand either.
Natural claypits are smooth and silky. And so dense, you can't sink in past your chest. Claypits are constant; barring flash floods, a claypit changes very slowly. Clay is cool, soft, comforting and sensual.
And claypits are not quicksand.
Near my home are lots of organic peat bogs. Peat is surrounded by cattails, may have carp trying to swim through the more watery areas (which is amusing), and is best when softly freshened by a steady stream of flowing water. Peat is aromatic but fickle; I've watched my peat bogs go from sinkably soft to firm enough to stand on within days during draughts.
And peat bogs are not quicksand.
On my very first expedition, I encountered purple, gritty coal slurry near a pond. This stuff will scrape a layer of skin right off your legs. And if you don't move, it gets stiff and locks around your limbs.
It was also the only natural mudpit I've ever used that fits the definition given by the dictionary. It was real quicksand. At the time, I was sure that I'd found Mud Nirvana, but now I know that this didn't feel as nice as the boondocksland claypit or my local peat bogs! Can we spell exfoliation?
Besides, I had to work very hard to sink in it. It is a good thing my companion was so much fun, and that I didn't know then what I know now:
The most enjoyable quicksand pits in Nature may not be quicksand at all.
Every mudpit, quicksand or not, has its own personality. I love each one for its own unique qualities.
One of the first things that had to be compromised when I set aside fantasy for reality:
I got the first inkling that awesome sinkwear was not the wave of practical mudding when I asked my mud partner from boondocksland what I should wear to the big mudpit. I was used to guys thinking they needed to dress a mud girl up like a doll so that they would have something cute to look at out in the mud.
Maybe a leather bra or a shiny lycra catsuit or a butt-hugging micro-miniskirt with fishnet pantyhose is something that a guy thinks looks nice in mudpits...you know...real hiking wear.
Some guys like thong bikini bottoms...now, that'll get Park Patrol going!
Guys all have their favorite thing.
I knew that the fantasy of being admired for looking hot while sinking in quicksand was in trouble when my boondocksland mud partner dressed me to the neck, wrists and ankles in modest, nondescript, colorlessly bland cotton, an outfit to protect my skin against hot sun and cool mud simultaneously.
What...no flirty bright miniskirt with a funky patterned bra?
But it's okay.
We're at the real fantasy quicksand pit.
It's all right to dress as a fantasy.
It's not a crime to dress as a fantasy anywhere you please as long as you don't cross the legal boundary of decency. However, the above ensemble, while cute, does look weird on a hiking trail.
Sometimes, though, I've smuggled in a nice dress. Although guys seem to prefer the above scanty "hot" look on women in mudpits, my personal preference runs to tasteful, feminine items with enough class to appear at a semi-formal dinner.
I think pretty dresses with lace, ruffles and generous skirts are lovely in mudpits.
(Unfortunately, airlines are charging for checked luggage now. The outfit you see here didn't take up nearly as much room in my carry-on.)
Since semi-formal dresses look even weirder on hiking trails than the outfit that I have on here, I don't get to wear them in mud very often.
I live in a northern climate. Reality means dealing with facts. And one fact is, things can be cold up here! Fantasy flies out the window on those days when I need to win the battle over weather. Mudpits that fail to warm up require wetsuits or stockingfoot waders over sweats...I can get into mud all the way 'til it freezes under me in November, but visually, this loses a lot in the fantasy department.
And sometimes you can have a little something...a shiny top, a cute pair of shorts...as long as it rinses out nice, doesn't show dirt, and won't make some dog-walker on the trail's eyes pop out.
And footwear...don't get me started on footwear!
(Hold on, rant coming!)
To all the guys with footwear thangs going, do ya got any idea how good mudpits can be at ssssssssssucking almost anything off your feet?
In fact, quicksand doesn't really swallow human beings alive and whole.
Its favorite foods are shoes, boots, socks, sandals and slippers!
Didn't you know that?
If your boot won't slide down its greedy throat because your whole body is still attached to the foot that's inside, quicksand will grab onto your heel like a starving dog'll clamp its teeth onto a bone, and then your whole leg is stuck!
Bare feet, however, slide out of the stickiest mudpits like snakes shed skin.
Problem: I have to have something on my feet because of the thornbush-weed-and-tiny-branch factor, not to mention the not-knowing-what's-under-that-mud factor.
Feetsies are tender.
So I have spent more time revising footwear for use in mudpits than I have spent testing any other item of clothing and most of this has nothing to do with how anything looks. Yes, I know you've got a video of a cute chick sliding down a rocky embankment toward a claypit wearing...
Hey...wait just a boggy sinkin' minute here.
Does that mudpit look familiar?
! ! !
After many revisions, I now have a pile of mudwear in mostly black...or other shades of...mud...and these items never see a washing machine. They are only rinsed by a hose or a lake.
Why waste valuable soap? It's just going back in.
And the aqua socks (swimming shoes) with the laces strategically added in the heels to wrap around the ankle to avoid sssssssuckage is my latest revision of footwear. Where do I store these?
In the garage.
Another fantasy concept that got all sunk to oblivion by experiencing The Real Mudpit:
(Duncan Edwards took this too, but he is not responsible for the special effects.)
I mean, let's get real, folks.
If the suck-ya-down deadly Hollywood quicksand myth was reality...
Nobody could enjoy a good sinking more than once!
I admit that now and then, there's a real-life quicksand drama in the news.
But it's not easy to kill off a real quicksand fan this way. Seems like folks are always blundering into the stuff by accident, especially in old and bad movies, but I dare you:
Go out and try to sink in some on purpose.
Just do it. Take a day off and go quicksand-hunting.
Unless you're just insanely lucky or a geology major...you'll won't get off solid ground.
It took me a long time to find my own mudpits. But mudpits are what they really are. Not one of the natural mudpits on my entire site behave like Hollywood quicksand nor does even one fit the dictionary definition. My mudpits are deep enough for fun, but one hardly feels in danger of sinking out of sight when in one.
And now that I have a collection, I know them the same way that you know the streets of your own neighborhood.
I did do a lot of dramatic scenes at the Studio, before I started collecting mudpits of my own...but even back then I was lying about this being scary.
Well, it's not lying. They call it "acting".
You see, I got to know those mudpits too. You can't do three DVDs worth of sinking scenes without learning something!
Here's an irony for you, though.
Unless you are in a safe place like the Studio where there is a hose by the pit, a hot shower in the building and help nearby...
In order to experience that in-depth sinking feeling in a natural environment for real, you must exercise a great deal of control over yourself and your environment.
It's not getting sucked to my death that's the danger, though.
I don't want to break a leg in a place where people never go. And since I use mudpits all the way 'til they freeze, there are months when I have to be careful about never sinking past my protective gear.
And yes, I do get in carefully. Just in case it is really deep, I prefer to sink at a rate that I can easily control.
In real life, I don't want any drama. I do my best to keep quicksand drama from happening.
I have a plan and a routine for natural mudpits. So far...it is a success.
Drama has not happened.
I do not need to experience quicksand drama.
None. Nada. Zilch.
The mystery pit is an easy conquest. It is already like an old friend.
One thing that that seems hard for me to come by at natural mudpits is...
But the Studio had a photographer right on-site.
I asked him to take some pictures of me at the mystery pit between real shoots with real models. And he did.
Did you figure out what his name is?
Most of my natural mudpits, though, just aren't easy on camera guys.
Duncan could handle it. He can get a shot anywhere on the planet.
But the mystery pit at Studio 588 is an easy conquest for him too. It does not require a photographer to engage in physical gymnastics to get a camera angle that's not blocked by weeds, nor does a guy need to get his legs soggy to the thigh because there's no solid ground anywhere near the model...not to mention, there's no risk of dropping the camera into the mudpit and losing it...forever.
Some of my sinking sites don't even have a place to keep a photographer. I have to put the camera on a tiny tripod and find a patch of ground that's not so soggy that it'll sink.
I've had people ask about using my mudpits for video shoots.
I can't stop anybody from dragging models and cameras anywhere they please. But it's a lot easier to film somebody blundering into quicksand at Studio 588.
And there's an irony.
I have had to work like an ox to get into some of my mudpits. And none of my mudpits are in a place where anybody would be likely to just fall into them by accident.
Meanwhile, at the Studio, they've built this nice mystery pit...and a peat pit...and a claypit that has not one, but two paths leading right into it so that anybody can fall in.
While we were shooting, we tried an experiment.
What would it look like if somebody laid on top of the mystery pit?
This is interesting.
Mystery grains roll over me but I am suspended near the surface of the fantasy quicksand...this pit does support my weight if I don't move too much.
I hadn't thought that this mass of wiggling, jiggling, rippling, rolling, jellified-looking whatever-it-is would let me get away with this.
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