David D’Amato, effectively the central ‘villain’ of last year’s popular documentary feature “Tickled,” has passed away at age 55.
The New York Times reports D’Amato died suddenly on March 13th, an obituary that does not mention his involvement in Jane O’Brien Media – the company that produced the ‘competitive tickling’ fetish videos at the heart of documentary spawned.
In “Tickled,” filmmakers David Farrier and Dylan Reeve discovered D’Amato was the mastermind behind the group, which allegedly intimidated subjects of the videos if they did not comply with specific demands.
When confronted with the allegations in the film, D’Amato denied that he was affiliated with the company even though documents were uncovered that seemingly tied him directly to the business.
The sequel short “The Tickle King,” available for streaming on HBO, offers more to the story, but with D’Amato’s death there’s no true closure. David Farrier and Dylan Reeve have now issued a statement (via Stuff.co.nz) about the death of David D’Amato:
“We are incredibly sad to learn that David P D’Amato, the subject of Tickled, has passed away. We don’t know any specific details about his death at this time.
David D’Amato has been a part of our lives for around three years now – a very unusual three years – and despite the various lawsuits he brought against us, this news is something that brings us no joy, and has hit us pretty hard.
We mostly knew David through talking to those he had interacted with online over the last 20 years, and people that he had been close to.
We only met him twice; Once in Garden City, and another time when he turned up to a screening of the documentary in Los Angeles. We met a man who came out swinging, so to speak – threatening more lawsuits, while at the same time commenting that he enjoyed certain elements of the film.
It seems to us that underneath it all, he did have a certain sense of humor. It is also clear that he had certain troubles, and those are troubles that we hoped he would come to terms with at some point.
While making Tickled we always thought it was important to portray David D’Amato not just as an online bully, but as a person. That is why the closing minutes of Tickled are so important to us – an insight into D’Amato, the person. Ultimately we’ll never know all the things that made David the man he was. Like all of us, he was complex and complicated.
So we ask you to keep in mind that while David appears to have lived a fairly solitary life, he did have friends and family members. We ask that in comments online, and out there in the real world, you treat this information, and this man’s passing, with respect.
“Tickled” is now available to stream on HBO.