The Sexipedus Fantasticus and Third Hand Capo History
When we began marketing the Third Hand Capo
in 1979 we packaged it and tried to explain what it was and how it worked
on the package, and soon after decided that this was scaring people away,
and making it look like you had to go to school to use it. (Which is sort
of true.) So we created the Sexipedus Fantasticus to make people like
it even if they didn't understand it.
The full text reads:
"In the beginning...there was the conventional capo, capus limitus. Despite a great proliferation of numerous species, the capus limitus remained a primitive organism, capable of only a single useful function. Then from the mysterious depths of the ancient seas emerged a new creature, unlike any that had come before. Its unique, segmented body gave it an unprecedented adaptibility, enabling it to leave the capus limitus behind in the primordial soup... and walk upon the land!"
Followed by what we came to call "the habitat rap", a mock zoological description of the critter's habits:
Habitat - At home on any acoustic, electric, or 12-string guitar. Has been sighted on banjos and even mandolins.
Behavior - Can usually be found duplicating the sound of open tunings, and creating new tuning-like effects. It will function as a normal capo if needed.
Range - Flourishes in the diverse climates of folk, rock, classical, blues, country, and ragtime guitar music. Seems to dislike disco.
Social Life - Easily domesticated and highly gregarious, it will quickly make friends with any guitar player. Enjoys helping beginners as well as challenging serious guitarists.
Environmental impact - The sexipedus fantasticus has no known natural enemies, and is greatly feared by normal capos. Environmentalists fear it may cause their extinction.
Years later we changed "Seems to dislike
disco" to "Seems to dislike rap." You have to keep up with
Not content to have the sexipedus exist only as a graphic, we actually constructed a large three dimensional one for a trade show. It almost killed us, literally. We made him out of a broom stick, some foam rubber, copper pipe, pieces of pipe insulation, and bits of cloth. We found 6 matching pairs of kids shoes. The foam we used for the body segments was light colored. We got some black spray paint, took the foam outside and painted it. And painted it, And painted it. And painted....well, you get the picture. The foam just soaked up paint. It took can after can to get complete coverage. We took it inside and started doing other things while waiting for the paint to dry... and woke up a couple of hours later with splitting headaches. The paint fumes venting off the foam had knocked us out cold in the confining space of my small living quarters. Here he is, at the scene of the crime.
We imagined a newsletter based on the sexipedus. It would take the form of a tabloid newspaper called "Third Hand News". Our masthead motto was "All the gossip, rumor, and outright lies we dare to print". We had a lot of fun with the idea, and filled pages with prospective copy. I got my friend Jeff and his wife Linda, both of whom are elegant dressers, to pose outside a local mansion with the sexipedus on a leash. The accompaning article was about how their sexipedus had won "Best of Show" at some highly prestigious competition. My favorite article concerned a dispute between an imaginary tribe of native Americans, whose treaties with the US assured them the right to hunt the sexipedus, and a group of animal rights advocates called "Friends of the Sexipedus" who were determined to disrupt the event. The "Third Hand News" was never published. Eventually I'll dig out the material and publish it here on the web, where the ink is cheap.