Back in June of 1996, I was putting together Issue 18 of Shouting at the Postman, and for some reason I thought it might be fun to have a survey of my readers to see how people practiced mail art. I was kind of new to mail art, and this was the heady days of the mid-90's, with the Internet looming in the near future, and I had plenty of time (enough time to put out 18 issues in 18 months). Also, this was a thing I did from time to time: I would make up funny form letters to send people with "loaded" questions for a laugh. I was surprised to receive some replies, which I promptly stuck into a folder and forgot about. Flash forward almost 20 years and I found the forms while going through my mail art files. I found the answers kind of interesting, so finally, here are the results.
Thanks to the 9 readers who humored me enough to return it: Ian C. Stewart (Autoreverse, Bizarre Depiction), Charlie McAlister (Flannel Banjo), J. Evans (Amazon Sally), Dan Landrum, Laura Poll, Eric D. Thompson, Kenyata Sullivan (Pandora's Lunchbox, WE Festival and The Majestic Twelve), Michael Leigh (A1 Wastepaper Co), and Malok.
This survey is strictly for my curiosity and the results may or may not be printed in a future issue. Please do not answer any questions that confuse you or make you feel uncomfortable. You will not be graded. Use only a #2 pencil. Oh, what the heck... use a #3 pencil if you want to.
Mail Art Name: _________________________________________________
City, State, Postal Code: __________________________________________
Country: ________________________ (89% from the USA, 11% from the UK)
Age: _______ (Of the 7 people who answered this, the average age was 33.5 years old)
Answers included: Kinkos Employee, House Painter, Nomad, Breather, Looking for my niche, Unemployed eternally, No idea what you're sayin', Artist and "Creator"
1. Do you participate in mail art?
❏ Yes (100%)
(If you answered "No" to this question, skip to Section 3)
2. When did you first start participating in mail art? _______________
(Of the 6 people who answered this, the average was 9 years before, so 1987. The earliest was 1974)
3. What type of mail art do you produce? (check all that apply)
❏ Postcards (56%)
❏ Collage (78%)
❏ Artistamps (22%)
❏ Rubber Stamps (22%)
❏ Zines (78%)
❏ Audiotapes (56%)
❏ Books (33%)
❏ Xerox Manipulations (56%)
❏ General Flux (67%)
❏ Video (33%)
❏ Poetry (44%)
❏ Computer Art (22%)
❏ Other ___________________ (FunBooks™, Letters, Color Glyphs)
❏ Other other ______________________ (Envelopes, General Localized Chaos)
4. How many pieces of mail do you receive every week? ___________
(Range was between 1 and 25; Average is 14.5)
5. About what percentage of mail do you answer? _______
(Range was between 70% and 100%; Average is 94.89%)
6. Approximately what percentage of material do you archive? ______
(Range was between 0% and 95%; Average is 43.13%)
7. Who got you "turned on" to mail art? ____________________________
Answers were: Friendship Books, Julee Peezlee & Kenyata, Can't Remember, Cynthia Haney, I forget, Me (your humble editor), John Sosnowski, Ti Parks, Jake Berry & Ivan Stang
8. Do you try to explain mail art to your non-mail-art friends? _________
(78% said "No" in some form)
9. Do you consider mail art...
❏ A hobby. (11%)
❏ An addiction. (33%)
❏ An art form. (56%)
❏ An ant farm. (11%)
❏ A tremendous waste of my time and money. (33%)
(The rest of the questions were jokes, so I'm not reproducing everyone's answers)
1. Which word most closely describes your current mental state?
2. If you could be any marsupial, which kind would you be?
❏ Other _____________ (2 people get extra credit for writing in "Wallaby")
3. If you had to choose between killing your boss and sawing off your own foot,
what kind of gun would you use? _________________________
(22% of people said "Cannon", but other interesting answers included "Love Gun" and "Squirt Gun".)
4. How come you never hold my hand in public? Is it because I'm not good enough for you? __________________
5. No, really, why are you ashamed of me? _________________________
6. If you would be given a million dollars to eat your own finger and toenails for the rest of your life, how would they know? ______________
7. Which would you rather be?
❏ Charles Dickens
8. I can fit _______ ping-pong balls in my rectum.
(Average answer was 12, with a range from 0 to 56. Other answers included "blue", "ouch!" and changing the word "rectum" to "mouth".)
9. Do you smell something burning?
10. If you have just returned from an important job interview and you
suddenly realize that you had a big piece of
spinach stuck to your front teeth the whole time, which would you do?
❏ Call the interviewer and make a joke of the whole thing.
❏ Return for the second interview even more food stuck to your teeth.
❏ Return to where you ate lunch and attack the cook with a cleaver.
❏ Climb up into the bell tower and "thin the flock" with a sniper rifle.
11. When you have a dream that you're falling, what happens next?
❏ You wake with a start to find yourself surrounded by penguins.
❏ You wake up to find that you're really skydiving and you fell asleep.
❏ Ed McMahon appears and tries to sell you insurance.
❏ You get out of bed and write a hate letter to Martha Stewart.
12. Who do you think about when you masturbate?
❏ Ernest Borgnine
❏ Jesse Helms
❏ Queen Elizabeth
❏ Burl Ives
❏ Richard Nixon
❏ Orson Welles
❏ Julia Child
13. Which sentence best sums up your personal philosophy?
❏ Treat everyone how you would like to be treated.
❏ Strangers really like to listen to me talk about all of my problems.
❏ I start punching when I run out of beer.
❏ Don't kill someone too large to eat in one week.
14. If I could change one thing about myself, I would...
❏ End my bedwetting problem.
❏ Quit shooting heroin.
❏ Stop putting ping-pong balls up my rectum.
❏ Try not to blame "the voices" for killing all of those hitchhikers.
15. My dream job would be...
❏ Cleaning fish for 15 hours a day.
❏ Postal worker.
❏ Anything involving entrails.
16. When I'm depressed, I like to...
❏ Burn holes in pictures of my relatives.
❏ Blame Willard Scott.
❏ Chase strangers with a loaded shotgun.
❏ Neuter neighborhood cats with my garden clippers.
17. I like reading Shouting at the Postman because...
❏ The articles are concise and well written.
❏ No stories about dumb things like the environment or world hunger.
❏ Six pages of text is about the length of my attention span.
❏ Every issue contains secret messages that only I can understand.
1. If the entire Jackson family was drowning and you only had time to save one, which one would it be?
❏ Jackson Browne
2. If the following child TV stars were in a prison cell together, which one would be nicknamed "Sweetie"?
❏ Gary Coleman
❏ Todd Bridges
❏ Emmanuel Lewis
❏ Ricky Schroder
❏ Adam Rich
❏ Jay North
3. Which "Sweathog" does the above ink blot most closely resemble?
4. If the following TV show characters had a supernatural battle to the death, who would win?
❏ Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie
❏ Samantha from Bewitched
❏ Grandpa from The Munsters
❏ Mork from Mork and Mindy
5. It's well known in the puppet world that many Muppets took drugs. See if you can draw a line from the Muppet to the drug they took.
|Dr. Teeth||Nitrous Oxide|
|Miss Piggy||Psychedelic Mushrooms|
6. If you were Mike or Carol Brady and two of your dumb-ass kids got
lost in the Grand Canyon which would you do? (check all that apply)
❏ Walk around the canyon, yelling out their names repeatedly.
❏ Sell them to the Indian tribe in exchange for certain "love herbs."
❏ See if you could trick the other four kids into getting lost too, then discreetly take the mule train to the rim for a clean getaway.
❏ Sue the pants off of the U.S. Park Service.
7. Why is Erik Estrada sexier than David Hasselhoff?
❏ Erik rides a motorcycle while David carries a life preserver.
❏ More high-speed crashes make Erik more macho.
❏ Erik's out there on the highways and byways getting things done while David's sitting on his fat ass on the beach with Pamela Anderson.
❏ Even KITT the talking car wasn't as cool as Erik's sidekick Jon.
8. If you had to spend a year trapped on a desert island with a famous duo from the 70's, who would you want to spend it with?
❏ Tony Orlando and Dawn
❏ Sonny and Cher
❏ Donnie and Marie
❏ Captain and Tenille
❏ Starsky and Hutch
❏ Smith and Wesson
9. Speaking of Tony Orlando, why were there two people collectively known as "Dawn"?
❏ Tony had a serious drinking problem for four years they performed together and was afraid to ask if they were one person or four.
❏ They were siamese twins who were named before they were separated.
❏ They started out as "Tony Orlando and Dawn and Dusk" but the record company thought the "Dusk" thing was too depressing.
❏ Nobody really remembers.
10. Why were K-Tel records so popular in the 1970's?
❏ They contained all of the hit songs performed by the original artists.
❏ Widespread use of PCP or "Angel Dust" rendered teenagers easy prey for albums with bright colors on the cover.
❏ If you play them backwards, they contain a great recipe for S'mores.
❏ Unchecked lead in the water supplies caused brain damage.
11. Why are K-Tel records so popular in the 1990's?
❏ They're only 25¢ now.
❏ Kids are discovering and mocking their parent's bad taste.
❏ Widespread watching of MTV has rendered teenagers easy prey for albums with bright colors on the cover.
❏ Those who do not remember Top-40 are doomed to repeat it.