The Snack Master, a 1-1/2″ long aluminum tube with a wooden plunger, is the vintage quintessential kitsch kitchen accessory that cuts holes in food, making teeny round, bite-size appetizers. Which means that you can turn a slice of American cheese into a slice of Swiss cheese with one simple plunge not to mention whipping up little toothpick skewers of bologna, liverwurst and other festive lunch meats to impress your friends!

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This particular tube is featured today not only because of its unique function as a standout 1950’s convenience kitchen tool but because I had dinner with a real Tube last night, Michele Rundgren, wife of Todd and member of the historic Tubes (“She’s A Beauty”). Michele and I met in 1986 when Cassandra Peterson a.k.a. Elvira brought her to my  Tourist Trap party here at Willis Wonderland.


Though we hit it off we didn’t see each other again until we met at Street last night, 24 years later, during a trip back to LA from Hawaii where Michele and Todd now live.

Michele had never been to Street before and was very pleased with the menu.


We ordered enough food to feed all of The Tubes with Earth Wind & Fire thrown in on on my end.  We started off with Albacore Sashimi,


followed by Toasted Amaranth with slivered almonds, cuzco corn and roasted yam in almond milk.


Then Malaysian Black Pepper Clams, simmered in oyster sauce with cracked black pepper, palm sugar, soy and lime,


and Thai Rice Noodles with Chinese broccoli, seasoned pork, tomato, mint, Thai basil and chiles.


Even though we were only half way through the meal when we snapped this photo with Chef Susan Feniger we were so stuffed it felt like we were hugging balloons.


Our food fest continued with Tatsutage Fried Chicken marinated with soy, mirin and sake, crispy fried rice batter topped with spicy kewpie mayonnaise sauce, with pickled vegetable slaw and chilled soba noodles.


Then we tried two new as-yet-unnamed dishes that were sent out from the kitchen with pasta, pork, chickpeas, feta, parsley, lemon and shredded crispy pasta sprinkles…


… and albacore with mushroom aioli on top of arugula and corn salad with honey truffle vinaigrette.


This was all topped off with Espresso, Chocolate and Halva – espresso jelly, chocolate ganache and sesame halva cream; served with sesame-matzo candies. I forgot to take a shot of it until we picked off all of the candies.


I’m sure that Susan and co-chef Kajsa didn’t need the aid of the Snackmaster to assemble our mindboggingly Around-The-World-In-8-Dishes meal but imagine what they could have thrown together had such a handy tool been at their side.



Disco is one of my favorite genres of music EVER.  For the most part I love more sophisticated fare (like “Boogie Wonderland”!) but way back in 1975 I fell hard for the sugary pop sweetness of “Get Dancin'” as performed by the ultra-camp and feathery Sir Monti Rock and his Sex-O-Lettes. Co-written by Bob Crewe (Lady Marmalade, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and just about everything the Four Seasons sang) this song actually had a great melody and background vocals and exemplified the happy state of mental funktitude that Disco made your brain drip with.



I am so absolutely not a cook so the fact this 1950’s kitchen tool de-veins and peels a shrimp in one fell swoop isn’t what I cherish most about it but, rather, the gorgeous aesthetics that grace the box. From the pre-psychedelic background pattern on the lid…


… to the gorgeous color palette inside, the bizarre lower arm graphic with little devils popping out of it as they rise in steam from the non-boiling-over pot below, the meaning of which completely escapes me,…


… to the shiny ribbon and Shrimpmaster tag laden layer of brittle plastic that still ripples over the pristine utensil – all of this is mastery in 1950’s package design.


I bring up the Shrimpmaster today because I dined at Street last night with three as artfully designed friends, two of which were vegans and one who was vegetarian. So as not to send them screaming from the table when my usual steaming platters of Tatsutage Fried Chicken and Lamb Kakta Meatballs arrived, I ordered Andouille Sausage And Shrimp Gumbo. Yeah, it was pumped full of delicious smoked hot link sausage but all evidence of that was hidden under the okra, corn and red beans and rice while massive shrimp played lookout on top.


The monster Crustaceans were beautiful and clean, as if someone in the kitchen took to them with a Shrimpmaster, though I know the chefs are skilled enough to accomplish this without the handy vintage tool.

My dinner companions were Tiffany Daniels, Mito Aviles and ChadMichael Morrisette.


Tiffany played Squeak in the first National Tour of my musical, The Color Purple. Squeak’s crowing scene in the show occurs in a bar brawl with the much beefier Sofia. Compared to Sofia, Squeak is a SHRIMP.


Just last week, Mito and Chadmichael led an ‘art attack’ on the West Hollywood City Council and not so long ago hung a Sarah Palin mannequin in efigy from their roof, an act that was plastered throughout the press. These boys are certainly NOT SHRIMPS when it comes to self expression.

As far as the SHRIMP-worthiness of our meal, there were no such critters in the vegan dishes like Indonesian Peanut Noodles:


And none in the Stir Fried Chinese Brocolli:


The Toasted Amaranth with slivered almonds, cuzco corn and roasted yam in almond milk was a no shrimp zone as well:


Crossing into vegetarian territory there was positively no shrimp in the Ono Sashimi.  Our waiter pointed out that this particular serving resembled an actual fish.


The rest of the meal was filled in with Burmese Lettuce Wraps, Fried Plantains, some kind of specially made vegan desert with too much fruit for this candy worshipper to want to try and a big ball of smooth chocolate something sprinkled with powdered sugar. No shrimp were harmed in the making of any of these dishes. But had there been a need, I know the Shrimpmaster was primed and ready for service.

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Salt and pepper shakers have always provided an excellent opportunity to spice up any meal. As a firm believer in making meals as entertaining as possible, cat chefs Salty & Peppy, typical of the genre since the 1950s, can always be counted on to achieve that goal. Six inches high with screw-on chef caps they’ve seasoned everything around here including the fried egg I just burnt myself for breakfast.

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As Kitschmeister General I love, love, love the San Fernando Valley, just inches from the center of Hollywood and pumped full of Kitsch like a buffet line at Trader Vics. This is the first in a series of short films I’m making glorifying the Kitsch monuments that abound around me for Part 1 features everything from Roman architecture and giant submarine sandwiches to clowns, frog families, volcanoes, giant fish, horses, shoe cars and very happy houses.

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For the full glorious and kitschyfied tour:

And check out


As if the dangers of using a cell phone while driving aren’t pronounced enough already now we have the ubiquitous gadget coupled with driving danger #2, drinking.  Accompanied by a convenient clip-on carrying case, this was actually really well designed to pass as the real thing when it was first manufactured a few years ago.


Should you ever see anyone sticking their cell phone in their mouth you know it’s God they’re calling.



I’m not sure what flavor of liquid came in this bottle but the Sweetie logo featuring an early ’50s extra-pert secretarial type sucking on a straw that looks more like a striped cigarette would have had me buying this drink no matter what it tasted like.  Beautifully designed with the concentric circles on the pyro-glazed logo echoing the raised flanges of glass above it, the aesthetic effects of this squat little 8″ Sweetie bottle would make anything taste good.


There had to have been at least two flavors of Sweetie soda as some of the bottles are only two colors with the red and white reversed in the graphics. I think Sweetie’s hairstyle is shown off far better in red.


Even with nothing in it the Sweetie bottle weighs over a pound. Which means that no matter what it tasted like Sweetie was one heavy drink!

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This is one of the most popular things in my house. It sits on a bar as you walk from my dining room into the kitchen and has been pumped full of M&Ms since the day I bought it at the Rose Bowl swap meet for 35 cents. My house is pretty much a health food lover’s nightmare anyway but even the strictest vegetarian can’t resist scooping out a handful as they pass by.


This almost foot long honey weighs a ton, almost like it’s made out of cement. Loaded with M&M’s – I top it off every morning so it rises out of the glaze like The Big Rock Candy Mountain – it’s weathered every earthquake since I’ve had it. Everything else around it crashes to the floor yet the faithful candy dish doesn’t shift an inch. So even during the scariest moments there’s always something happy to eat.

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From 1989 through 1991 I art directed and hand built the set and props for “Just Say Julie”, MTV’s first ever clip show starring (Uptown) Julie Brown. Julie was one of my best friends and we had a ball, especially as it was so early in MTV’s scripted show evolution that no one from the network paid much attention to what we were doing so we just went nuts.  We shot 10 shows in three days each of the three years. The art direction budget was insanely small, something like $500. It made no sense financially to do it so my deal was that I could keep everything once the shoot was over. This is when my collection of Kitsch went into serious overdrive. I still have just about everything but none of it so close to my heart as the 14 foot long astroturf couch with sandtrap ashtray and golf club feet that sat in the middle of Julie’s living room.


Many illustrious guests sat on the couch.


Even Elvis showed up one day.


Yesterday, Julie and I both showed up at Street.


We talked about how much freedom we had doing “Just Say Julie” versus what usually goes on in Hollywood where you’re stripped senseless of any brain material once you sign a contract and are beholden to create by committee. But with the (thank God) rise of the Internet, power has been turned back over to the artist if they have the brains and balls to use it, a topic I’ve been obsessed with for almost 20 years.

We did a lot of eating while we talked. We had Moroccan Spiced Winter Squash with popcorn,


Tatsutage Fried Chicken,


Mini Kobe Beef Chili Dogs…


… and Spinach Varenyky, which I forgot to photograph until I finished.


Julie was more diet conscious than I and only ate the insides.


Julie and I have a longstanding history with food. In 1989, she won the Best Food award at my Night of the Living Négligée all girl pajama party with her spectacular “Cabbage In Rollers” appetizer featuring cocktail weenies stuck into a cabbage face with a jar of barbecue sauce sunk into the head.


I know the beautiful cabbage head is hard to see in the photo. You can see it a little better in this one where I’m demonstrating that the rollers are actually edible as Cyndi Lauper turns away in disgust.


Always a reliable party guest for showing up with festive pot luck food, Julie brought some delicious mouthwash to my Smock It To Me (Art Can Taste Bad In Any medium) party in 1991.


All in all, I don’t think Julie or I have lost much of our spunk or drive over the years. I look forward to decades more of friendship, food AND fantastic couches!



I never drank coffee before I was 21 and almost fainted in a doctor’s office after he gave me a shot and a big cup of coffee to keep me from going down all the way. Slowly but surely over the next few months I built up a taste to it and by the time I started living in recording studios in the late 70’s when I got my big break with Earth Wind & Fire I was up to 20+ cups a day as social breaks at the coffee machine and playing Pong was the only time I ever saw sunshine.


I never actually used this cup to drink out of, mainly because it was too heavy to pick up full and take a delicate sip from and the coffee was too cold by the time the weight was manageable. So it’s spent three decades as a candy dish, pen holder and even made it on to MTV from 1989-91 as part of “Just Say Julie”, the first music video clip show ever, when it hung in Uptown Julie Brown’s set that I art-directed.


I used to work around the clock. Now I’m at a more human 12 – 16 hours a day. But oftentimes the nights still seem like a bottomless cup.