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'Beetle Queen Takes Tokyo': A Bug-Obsessed Woman's Documentary On This Week In NYC

In antiques, Media on May 11, 2010 at 6:56 am

Loved the passion for insects from Jessica Oreck, a young woman animal keeper at the Museum of Natural History, whose first documentary opens this week in Manhattan at Film Forum.

She’ll even show up Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 and 8:20 with live beetles. Apparently (?), Japan is mad for beetles, one collector paying $90,000 for a rare specimen.

I heard her interviewed yesterday on one of my favorite radio shows, The Leonard Lopate Show, and her unlikely enthusiasm for creepy crawlies was lovely. If a woman could be said to be the patron saint of insects, she’s in the running.

Here’s a short video of her and photos of her apartment, with lots of tiny, cool things carefully curated within it like a mini-museum, with an interview with her, from one of my favorite websites, apartmenttherapy.com.

  1. Rhino beetles are a traditional pet for children in Japan. I saw them being sold in a department store with cages and accessories in Saitama when I was there. Probably not a bad first pet, certainly looks cooler than a goldfish. There’s also a popular video game similar to Pokemon where you can pit your virtual beetle against other players’ beetles online or at arcades. Interestingly, they were working together at the department store because they had the kiosks for the online game next to the beetle cages. It was nice advertising.

  2. I thought — Ms. Japan — you might enjoy this and know a bit about it. I was so intrigued to hear what an important part of Japanese culture beetles are, when in the U.S. they’re seen as gross — roaches, etc. — something to kill, not appreciate.

    I may geek out and go to Film Forum to meet her (and her beetles.)

    I’ve always had a soft spot for beetles since reading A.A. Milne’s poem about Alexander the Beetle:

    I found a little beetle; so that Beetle was his name,
    And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same.
    I put him in a match-box, and I kept him all the day …
    And Nanny let my beetle out –
    Yes, Nanny let my beetle out –
    She went and let my beetle out –
    And Beetle ran away.

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