How's that Star Wars taken over your life? Is Batman memorabilia peeking out of every corner of your house? Then you may need Elyse Luray, an appraiser, auctioneer and historian in popular culture—and the star of Syfy's newest reality series, Collection Intervention, which premieres tonight.
"All the people on this show collect with a focus," said Luray during a conference call with journalists. "Their collections have just gotten very big and out of control, and they just haven't had the time, or maybe the space, or maybe the economics to get it back under control. But, they're not collecting everything under the sun. ... They have boundaries and they have a focus."
However, the collections have taken over their lives, and most of them have no idea what their collections are really worth. "You'll see throughout the whole season, the first thing I says is, 'Okay. Do you know what its worth?' And 90 percent of them say no, because they haven't taken the time to make an inventory."
From the couple who have a Star Wars collection that has taken over their lives to the man who has an overwhelming Catwoman collection, Luray goes into homes with enormous collections and tries to help collectors get their collections under control.
Luray, who herself is a collector, isn't surprised when she walks into a house that's bursting with collectibles. "It's kind of been part of my life. For me, when I walk in and I see these collections, it's the norm. It's totally normal for me. I don't look at these people and think, 'Wow. These people ... What is this?' I've been seeing it for 20 years, and I actually admire it. I think it's a big feat to have a passion and be able to collect. Not many people can do it. And if you can stay focused and really go out there and get a collection like that, I'm very impressed," she said.
She insists these people are not hoarders. "I actually don't think that any of the people that are on the show we're looking at as if they're unhealthy. It's when a collection gets out of control, either from a monetary point of view or from a space point of view, that we come in and help people," said Luray.
"It's important, I think, for everyone to have passions and to collect. What the show really tries to do is to curate, streamline and focus. So how do you display your collection? How do you curate your collection? How could you get rid of some of the things that don't add to your collection? And at the same time, not let it overtake your life," she added.
Her job is to help collectors figure out if they're focusing on the right things. "What are your main things that are really collectible? What things don't fit into your collection? Are you displaying it properly? And then to really take a hard look at the economics of your collection. Are you spending too much money? Do you have the money for it? How can you streamline that? Are there things that you can sell that maybe add to storing the collection properly or getting the collection appraised and under insurance?" said Luray. "So it's really more about helping people who have large collections focus on how to curate their collections the best."
In this six-episode season of Collection Intervention Luray will take on collections of Star Wars, Transformers, Catwoman, robots and Barbie.
Also, "We see an underground collection of really movie posters and underground art. We see action figures. What else? ... Action figures. Movie posters. Barbie. Oh, hot rods. They have a big hot rod collection. A GI Joe collection. So you know, another comic collection. ... And I will say this, there's not a collection besides Barbie that I walked into where I haven't seen Yoda. Yoda is everywhere."
After Luray helps collectors pare down their collections, she then helps them figure out the best way to sell their pieces, whether it be by auction, at a collectibles show or in another venue. For some collectors, it ends up being about helping out their own financial situation. For others, it's about donating to charity. But in the end, what it's really about is the collector honoring the collection they have.
Luray believes if you have a passion for collection, then you should collect. "I think you can collect on any level. And you know, it's not cheap to go to the movies, but you could spend one night, instead of going to the movies, going to a flea market. There are finds out there. You can easily collect things that are not worth a lot of money. ... No matter what your economic means are, you could still collect," she said. "There are ways to curtail. But I wouldn't want anybody to ever stop having a passion for collecting. There are ways to do it no matter what your economic means are."