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Three Wolf Moon Eclipses Amazon

How a lowly tee by Bulgarian artist Antonia Neschev found fame, fortune and the hypothetical love of many women...

"Antonia...?" crackles the Bulgarian accented voice buzzing down the line from fuck-knows-where Florida. "No... She is away at the moment... She is travelling for the next two weeks... But I can give you her email address...? You are from Dazed...?"

So first up before the back story, kudos to anonymous phone guy for knowing about Dazed. I forget to quiz him on that one before the line goes dead but it's a minor detail so we'll let it slip.  

Calling long distance numbers off random websites isn't a regular pastime but I've been trying to track down artist Antonia Neschev. Born in Sofia in 1962, Neschev graduated from Bulgaria's National Fine Arts Academy in 1982 (I'm lifting this from her website, you should check it out). She moved to the USA in 1996 and has since pursued a career in art that's attracted minimal attention. Which is not to make a judgement. It's just a fact.

Some time towards the end of 2008 a low-key New Hampshire t-shirt company, The Mountain, licensed an image by Neschev of three wolves howling at the moon. The resulting tee is beyond kitsch, goes past irony. It's probably located somewhere in the realm of the un-wearable.  Ignoring all of this though, some time in November one Amazon user posts a five star review of the item, and six months later, May 2009, it's become the top selling clothing product on the site with sales up 2,300%.  

The review, posted by Bee-Dot-Govern, was a tongue-firmly-in-cheek sideswipe at the trailer trash tee. "This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that's when the magic happened," wrote Bee.  The review went on. And on. "After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women." The comments section lit up not long after, other users getting in on the joke and posting their tales of sexual conquest linked to the mystical powers of Neschev's image.

So far about 15,000 people have rated the 82 pages carrying 807 reviews. That's a helluva lot of traffic, the sort marketers get hard ons over in presentations with clients at ad agencies.  And that's kind of the point of the Three Wolf Moon phenomena.

Having infiltrated Liverpool Street Station with a co-opted copy-cat flash mobbing and set up an imitation karaoke sing-a-long in Trafalgar Square, brands have cottoned on to the fact that the only way to sneak into our media-savvy brains these days is to hunt us down in public places and pressgang us into congealing as audiences for events which kind of aren't really events at all. We, the consumers, have become the subject and object of commercials. The medium and the message. It's like Baudrillard and McLuhan had a lovechild and called it Ad.

OK, so the Amazon reviews were funny and the t-shirt's cheap enough to warrant an impulse purchase. But what the whole Three Wolf Moon thing really shows is that we're still looking for escape hatches, exit ramps to counter-country. We can recognise a loophole when we see one. We're finding new ways to engage.  It might still boil down to consumption but at least it's on our terms now. You create the object and if we want, when we want, we'll create the brand.  All things considered, the best thing about Neschev's design is that it's become emblematic of a gigantic, spontaneous up-yours to advertising.  Which is probably worth $12.15 right?

Three Wolf Moon T-shirt is available to purchase on Amazon.