Vintage Plumbing and Wiring
A view of a narrow gallery room with a screen mounted on the wall at the far end. There are two yellow chairs facing the screen. On the screen are a pair of legs in black stockings with illegible captioning along the bottom of the screen.
Four: This description introduces the video to people who are blind or partially sighted. The video is captioned for those who are hard of hearing.
Vintage Plumbing and Wiring is a 6-minute video by MJ Sakurai. In it, the artist compares vintage human bodies to vintage bathroom fixtures, machinery and household wiring, as a way of demonstrating how older people can enjoy sexual intimacy. This description does not include the full narrative voice-over. To hear it, please listen to the video.
As the video opens, a woman’s voice hums the Beatles tune, “When I’m 64.”
The camera pans up a vintage pedestal sink. A bare arm appears and a rubber-gloved hand languidly polishes the sink and claw foot tub.
A bare hand caresses the tub’s claw foot and moves up a bare female foot, leg and thigh
The camera zooms in on a sink drain with the sound of gurgling water.
A woman’s voice says, “I own and operate some vintage plumbing and wiring. I know what turns me on and it’s different than what it used to be.”
There’s a close-up of an electrical switch with the cover removed.
A vintage chandelier appears. The camera pans over a nude male body, followed by a shot of vintage cast iron drain pipes.
Then we see interlaid shots of vintage blacksmithing equipment and nude male and female lower torsos engaged in Yogic breathing.
Hands stroke a bare female abdomen.
The voiceover continues, “Unless there’s a fertile female involved, pregnancy isn’t a concern among elders.” We hear whirring and clacking machinery.
A vintage red valve control appears in close-up.
In half-light, nude male and female body parts appear.
We see a vintage dry pipe valve and pressure gauge.
The voiceover tells us, “When ovaries stop producing estrogen at menopause, tissues thin.” A hissing radiator is heard. We see a vintage iron radiator top.
In voiceover, we hear, “A variety of remedies may be used to manage this condition.” We hear irregular metallic banging in the pipes, and see vintage plumbing pipes.
This is followed by interlaid images of a nude female body and vintage piping.
Two outstretched palms receive a blob of jelly. We see a tin of olive oil and tube of Motion Lotion beneath the vintage pedestal sink. We hear whirring and sawing sounds.
A vintage pipe cutter operates at a blacksmith’s shop. The operator applies oil to machinery parts in motion.
The voiceover tells us, “Mechanical abrasion is often also the cause of urinary tract infections in vintage women.”
We see close-ups of a nude female body, interspersed with shots of a tub drain, machining tools and vintage machinery.
The voice continues, “Even the most virile vintage man may not be capable of the erections of his youth.”
We see a flaccid carrot with an overlay of fingers caressing a bare arm. The carrot gradually becomes turgid.
A nude female neck, shoulder, arm appear, overlaid with images of vintage knob and tube wiring.
Male and female hands meet, clasp and intertwine fingers. Interlaid male and female torsos appear.
The camera pans down the vintage blacksmith’s equipment to show a blazing forge fire.
Against the forge fire a hammer descends on a punch working hot metal.
The woman’s voice asks, “Is it possible for elders to connect in deeper, more meaningful ways?”
In the vintage bathroom we see nude leg backs as a woman and a man step into the claw-foot tub together.
The voice says, “When it comes to vintage sexuality, the only sure things are—our plumbing is good for a lot longer than generally known, and our wiring warranted until we’re ready to get tucked under the sod comforter.”
The video closes with a scene of cattle grazing in a green pasture. In the foreground a woman’s face disappears into the turf. A hand lifts the turf to allow a wink before the sod is pulled over the head.
This video was produced at the Centre for Art Tapes in Halifax. The artist wishes to thank Lukas Cardona, Chuck Clark, Arthur Dauphinee, Bob Douglas, Tom Elliott, Greg Ernst, Marie Kohler, James MacSwain, Liz McDougall, John Matthews, Sherman Palmer, Wilfred’s Machine Shop and the Mahone Bay Centre.
ART IS IMPORTANT!
Seventy-plus years of existence: breathing, listening, feeling, observing and thinking with varying degrees of depth, clarity and success. Forty-plus years among the working poor as a single parent of two daughters (now in their second age) and solo. Retired in 2012 to Mahone Bay and now occupied with an array of voluntary cultural and physical activities. With exception of bout of Lyme disease in 2015, enjoying excellent health. Looking forward with my crone and geezer pals to older age before being gathered in.
As we are sensual beings, sexuality is a part of vital healthy aging. Our plumbing for intimate connection may be functional for longer than generally recognized, and poignant couplings have always been possible through our wiring. Surely, as life force sensual energy conducted by our wiring continues to manifest after we expire. This is a six-minute video (interlaced, colour, monaural audio) with selected images of antique knob and tube wiring, plumbing fixtures and piping, and vintage electrical equipment for woodworking, blacksmithing and metal shop interlaid with body images. The voiceover addresses some basic nuts and bolts issues of sensuality in our third age.
MJ (Mary Jean) Sakurai completed a BA in Criminology at the University of California, Berkeley, in the 1960s. In subsequent decades she worked in a variety of administrative and clerical positions, including at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the 1970s. Since 1991 she has been involved in a wide array of community-based activities with Nova Scotian organizations such as Atlantic/Halifax Jazz Festival and JazzEast Music Education Gala, Atlantic Fringe, Kinetic Studio, GraineryFood Coop, Raging Grannies, Scotia Festival of Music, Mahone Bay Refugee Sponsorship Group, and East Coast Tango Society. She also undertakes freelance editorial work.
In 2008 Sakurai received a Media Arts Scholarship from the Centre for Art Tapes, Halifax, and produced the six-minute video Vintage Plumbing and Wiring. The artist lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.