Andrew Novick collects things. Lots of things. But Novick is no garden-variety hoarder. Each of his prized objects, which are catalogued and line shelves in his garage, evoke some kind of story for him, and the collection, once the subject of an exhibit at Adam Lerner's old Lab at Belmar, is like a museum of memories: some personal, some linked to pop culture and others tied to thrift-store ephemera.
One of Novick's most prized objects is a little pink tricycle with handlebar streamers and a dump truck bucket, purported to have once belonged to JonBenét Ramsey. The story of how it came to be in his possession is a tale that, mainly for legal reasons, remains untold. Still, the trike and its psychic energy (including segments where actual psychics examine it) will now drive a documentary film being made by Novick, with help from a team that includes producer Theresa Mercado and director Robert Muratore (The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus, Doc of the Dead). Simply called JonBenet's Tricycle and in its early stages of filming, it's a documentary that’s as much about Novick's manias as it is about revisiting the hoopla surrounding the whole JonBenét mystery on the eve of the notorious Boulder Christmas murder's twentieth anniversary. Both facets remain endlessly fascinating in the public eye.
The film won’t have answers, Novick says:“It was taken from the property, but I’m not going to tell in the movie how I got it. And if the police want to talk, they'd better do it now, while I’m making the movie. It’s pertinent to the story. Is it stolen property? My movie is a commentary about that. The trike is just a trike, and I’m its caretaker." That last statement carries a lot of weight. Novick is not merely obsessive, he's obsessed with sharing his obsessions, and also with mass obsessions, from Japan-Pop to haunted houses – to the unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey. So JonBenet’s Tricycle can’t help but be about Andrew, too.
“Andrew is such a character,” says Mercado, a longtime friend who shares Novick’s fascination for the macabre. “I’ve always thought he is somebody someone should make a movie about. He’s such an outrageous, absurd character, who is also kind and would give the shirt off his back to anyone, and that’s what makes him so genuine.” When Novick first told Mercado, an admitted fan of “murderbilia,” about the trike, she was hooked. “I thought, holy shit! What, how, where, when can I see it, and how do I know this is really JonBenét’s tricycle?” she recalls. “First of all, it’s a such a tragedy – this sad story about a little girl murdered on Christmas. And second, it immediately appeared that the parents might somehow be involved, though it’s never been proven.”
Another view of JonBenét's tricycle.
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And Novick already had all the materials they needed to fashion a documentary about the trike and the torrid tale behind it, from historical tabloid covers to taped television news stories that sensationalized the mystery daily for months and, as it turns out, decades, given the renewed interest in the story twenty years later. “We’re telling the story more from an Andrew perspective as this weirdo who collects all this weird shit and somehow has JonBenét’s trike,” Mercado notes. “The main character is the trike, for sure, and the secondary character is Andrew.” Other than that, Novick and Mercado don’t want to give away all the goodies, but Novick’s quirky reputation alone is good reason to want to see the finished product.
They’ve already completed a ten-minute explanatory short that’s been submitted to Sundance, Slamdance and SXSW and will be screened here as part of the Denver Film Festival (with Ovarian Psycos, at 9:15 p.m. November 10 and 8:45 p.m. November 11 at the UA Denver Pavilions 15). But key part of the project is happening now: The team launched a thirty-day Kickstarter campaign today, with a goal of completing filming by the end of the year.
There’s fun involved, of course – beginning with unusual Novick-esque Kickstarter swag, including a bag of cereal dust at the level of $55 or more. And you can meet Novick and the team at a JonBenet’s Tricycle launch party from 9 p.m. to midnight on Friday, October 21, at Jake's Sports & Spirits, 3800 Walnut Street. Along with screenings of the Kickstarter video and Novick-centric clips, party-goers can enjoy free coffee and – because Novick is a wacky-foods enthusiast, too – fried Oreos (yum!), as well as free drinks for the first fifty supporters in the door. Learn more about JonBenet's Tricycle online.