While I was taking photographs of this fantastic 1950’s “Don’t Forget” hand statue I forgot what I wanted to say. It was something on the order of that despite the fact that this well manicured translucent plastic hand which is meant to sit on a stack of papers and remind you how important they are has sat on my desk for years, an ever-escalating mountain of notes continually builds under it.

The statue, only 5″tall, is very light so I spend a good portion of my day crawling underneath my desk where it or the papers it’s protecting have fallen each time I try and shove another paper under it. I forget where I bought it as well as why I bought it as it most certainly doesn’t work for the purpose for which it was designed but it’s so great looking I’m not about to to retire it. It’s been of no help whatsoever improving my memory or reminding me of anything but at least I get to look at something cute every time I look over and see what else I’ve forgotten to do on any particular day.

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The National Garden of Kitsch is landscaped with Astroturf. This petite little handbag only has enough room in it for a couple packs of grass seed but I throw my cell phones in it (I’m always losing one so there has to be at least two), two cameras (same reason) and two sets of keys (same again) and I’m ready to experience a sunny and pleasant day regardless of whatever it’s doing outside.

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Pigmy Will and Feathers – created, written, art directed and “acted” by me and Prudence Fenton, animation and special effects director for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and all around the animated visual genius – have added a new friend to their neighborhood. Whiska,  a pineapple who sees the world through polar opposite eyes than Pigmy or Feathers and who tricycles into town in this introductory episode (if I can be so generous and label something an episode that consists of a few seconds of poorly drawn and animated nonsense).

Pigmy Will is a prince of Kitsch and exemplifies what I love most about the genre, an eternally positive and happy outlook on life, choosing to forge ahead on one’s own individual path despite what anyone else may think about it.

Other Pigmy Will faves:

Pie Day

“The Counter

“The Boat Ride


Pigmy Will Holdings

La Bamba


I can’t tell you how many pairs of eyeglasses I’ve lost through the years. Easily in the hundreds as in addition to any prescription ones I may have had – during one insane year when Color Purple opened on Broadway I had 57 pairs with my current prescription –  I also have always collected vintage frames and was always leaving them places, sitting on them or finding them years later in the pocket of a jacket I outgrew either in size or taste.

Before LaLoop, which I’ve worn around my neck for the last seven or eight years and which saved so many pairs I can’t tell you, I used to pick up these vintage eyeglass holder pins whenever I saw them.  Tons of them were in the shape of vintage glasses, owls or little hands.

Other than a few shattered lenses or broken side arms when someone hugged me too tight this particular pin should receive a Lifeguard award for saving so many spectacles’ lives.

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Glasses themselves: LA Eyeworks

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This gargantuan vase honoring prescription drugs was handed out as a promotional item by drug companies in the 1950’s when they really went for great promo swag as opposed to the fat pens, squeeze balls and mortar and pestle post-its that flood doctor’s offices today. In those days, if you had a promo item it was SOMETHING.

A healthy 8″ high and almost obese 18″ around, this vase can hold enough RX to keep you going a lifetime.


The RX vase was made by Rex (not a stretch) Ceramics of Hollywood, CA., where these vases were most certainly and unabashedly popular.

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To any of you having company over today I’d like to suggest this insane little dip with a sloshed, poorly cut cucumber complete with little olive ring burp bubbles lying in a vat of fruity stuff. I have no idea what this actually tastes like but the arts and crafts aspects of it are spectacular and dips in general tower high on the Kitsch Top 10 of conversation sparking party foods.

Thank you, aKitschionado Nessa, for submitting this gem to the Allee Willis Museum Of Kitsch at! According to Nessa, “This was on the buffet at a church dinner my mom talked me into going to with her. There were little nuns in full habits spreading this stuff on toast.”  Nuns presenting a dip featuring anything drunk is excellence in Kitsch no matter how you dole it out.

I love food art anyway but there are several outstanding features that make me love Drunken Cucumber Man more than anything:
• Of course, the fact that he’s drunk and is served at a church smorgasbord.
• The fact that the arms aren’t attached to the shoulders and the way the shoulders are attached to the torso is so much larger than the little skinny arms that should be attached to that.
• The fact that the dip is “some sort of fruity stuff”.
• LOVE the bottle but couldn’t they have attached it to his hand?
• LOVE the pimento tongue.
• Skinny Legs and All
• Love the inside of the cucumber as a hat texture.

If the nun who cooked this lived in LA I’d invite her to come to my next pot luck party. In the meantime, I’m pretty sure Drunken Cucumber Man dip will be present one way or the other.


Everything about this clock is wrong, not the least of which is trying to get away with looking like it comes from McDonald’s when it’s actually from the M. A Collection in China whatever that is. Made of chunky hard rubber yellower-than-mac-‘n-cheese-made-with-3-pounds-of-Velveeta yellow french fries popping out of a red fry bag…


…with a not quite centered clock in it, I got this as a gift in 1995. I’ve never changed the battery and for 15 years have watched the little yellow hand twitch as it tries to push itself past the 12. Apparently more money was spent on the batteries than making the clock.


Although it’s completely hollow the french fry clock weighs a ton.  Literally, it weighs over 4 pounds and I can’t figure out why. And there’s this strange bowling pin shape etched into the back…


…with no apparent purpose other than the designer apparently liked the shape.


Although one might assume it would pop out so it can be hung, unless you consider hiring a pile driver to pound it out there’s no way that sucker’s leaving the lead-heavy rubber anytime soon.

Despite its shortcomings or maybe because of them I’m strangely and loyally attached to this clock. Many things have come and gone in my kitchen since I owned it but the fries ain’t goin nowhere (mainly because they’re too heavy to lift).

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The snail is right up there with the owl and poodle as animal kingdom icons of Atomic Age Kitsch.  In the 1950s, snails  popped up as vases, plates, tabletops, ashtrays, purses, swimming pools, anything and everything that could be pounded into the instantly recognizable shape.


This 12″ x 9″ x 2″ ashtray is a classic baby pink with little smoke gray bevels and gold cigarette rests. I always thought this was the perfect model for a swimming pool and jacuzzi as there’s room for lounge furniture around the edge of the pool, the jacuzzi’s poolsize and the center where everything snail meets would make a perfect bar accessible to swimmers and spa-ers alike.

There’s no  manufacturers mark anywhere but the ashtray’s stone cold up-from-the-sea 1950s.  it lives outside as snails should on my 1960’s mint green fiberglass table with matching chairs.


It never moves an inch because it weighs as much as a whale. Literally, it’s the heaviest ashtray I own.

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I was already onto more sophisticated teenage fare like Hullabaloo and Shindig by the time Green Acres, a hokey journey into the countryside by two rich city slickers, came on the air in 1968.  But the hokier still theme song always stuck in my head so I was well aware of it. And there evidently was more to that theme song then there was magic glue or whatever it took for these “stay-on” clothes to stick to Eva Gabor/Lisa Douglas and Eddie Albert Jr./ Oliver Wendell Douglas (no garments for Arnold the pig) cuz they sho ain’t stickin anymore. Despite the directions, no amount of rubbing will get any of the 36 costumes that drop like dead flies as soon as you remove your hand to “stay-on”.


Everything in these Not So Magic Stay-On Dolls remains intact other than the plastic scissors and stand included in the original kit.  Apparently those worked better than the clothes or they’d still be in the box today as only two costumes were cut out before the original owner apparently lost interest.


Green Acres spun out of the success of country bumpkin shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction and ran on CBS from 1965 to 1971. Eva Gabor ran a lot longer with kitschifyingly wonderful products like this:


More “Stay-Ons”:


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This was a gift from Michael Patrick King, writer and director of Sex and the City, a couple of years ago for my birthday. I always thought the doll had a Carrie Bradshaw vibe to her, smiling and happy and looking good in red.  One day I slammed my shin into the table Rolly Polly sits on and it made such a great chime sound I didn’t mind the dripping gash down below.  I limped into my recording studio and dragged a mic to reach her, tilting her in all directions, spinning her  around and pushing her across the table. The different chime patterns sounded great and distinctive, sometimes carrying on for 30 seconds or more.

I love working with tracks I record just by banging on things around my house. This is nothing a skilled or trained musician would do but my specialty is hearing rhythm and time in places most people don’t. As my Color Purple collaborators used to say, “All aboard for Willisville!” as I continually heard things in different time signatures they thought a piece of music was in and never cared about working off of a grid, preferring instead for everything to play as it lays, natural and funky.  I love things that lazily and organically hang together and this little Roly Poly girl doesn’t disappoint.  I doubt MPK thought he was giving me a musical instrument for my birthday but that’s exactly what she’s become.

If you ever get a chance to knock one of these gals around I hope you do. She makes one of the happiest sounds in the world.

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