This Tootsie Palette is one of the first things I found in a thrift shop after moving to Hollywood in 1976. I was so excited I could finally have feet like the stars!

Well, at least toes like the stars if I ever got it together to slide my tootsies into this awkward little gadget with the adjustable toe dividers.

Thank you to the as-requested-unnamed foot model for this little demonstration:

As the package says, you can even romp around in your Tootsie Palettes while your little tootsies are drying.

But that means you have to slip into the “portable” Tootsie Palettes also included.

And that means only half of your foot is given support should you choose to change locations while your little piggies are drying. But not to worry as the instructions make it clear they won’t fall off your feet because the black velvet ties “Hold With a Single Turn…NO KNOTS Necessary.”

For anything to demand that many capital letters I would expect a revolutionary, newly patented fastening method. But as you can see from the rhinestones and their quite normal backings, if you don’t knot the straps not only will you get blisters on the bottom of your feet from the half-only palette but also risk skin burn when you rip the tape off your feet you’ll need to hold these things on.

But despite straps that are barely long enough to knot and a piece of hard plastic that causes arch pain if worn long enough, it’s hard not to get excited about a foot beauty product that’s this excited about itself:

Although I love the little Toosie Palette logo, the shape could have easily been adapted into both a palette and a foot. From this…

…to this:

But aside from whatever deficiencies it might have, I think the “Styled In Hollywood” Tootsie Palette is about as great a Hollywood inspired kitsch product as there is.  Why aspire to be great, to be gifted in the creative arts, to win an Oscar, to rise above all the obstacles in your path to achieve greatness when you can just have beautifully polished toes?


This is a product worthy of an Oscar for Best Kitsch, a fake wood cardboard stand-up “plaque” that looks suspiciously like the piece of cardboard that comes with any cheap picture frame, stapled on, staples askew, emblazoned with a cheap gold embossed sticker with three imprints, none of which have anything to do with the Academy Awards other than a trophy featuring a nude female athlete that kinda sorta is in that Oscar trophy pose. All of this is encased in a really cheap brittle plastic enclosure that’s tinted gold to make it look more “fancy”.


The writing on the package slays me. As if any idiot wouldn’t know to “INSCRIBE IN ALLOTED SPACE YOUR OWN GRAND AWARD WITH ANY BALLPOINT PEN”.  How well written! And how worthy of ALL CAPS!


These “Awards for those you Love and Admire” – I guess ALL THREE stickers are Oscar worthy despite the lack of tie-in – were made by Syd Art Novelty Company, Inc. of New York in 1976.


The Do-It-Yourself Oscar is “Fun Giving for Gags”. Then come the words “Sports” and “Occasions.”, the latter of which somehow also merits a period.


Perhaps next time Syd Art could hire an actual writer rather than some family member to create language for a product that supposedly honors achievements in creativity.

Another excellent feature of this prestigious award replica is that the price tag is still on and it’s from the Hollywood Magic store, a relic a lot older than this do-it-yourself Oscar, that’s still alive and well on Hollywood Boulevard, just down the street from where the real Oscars take place tonight.

May you feel like an Oscar winner today! If so, get your Sharpie out.


Sunday night I went to Storm Lee’s birthday party. He’s a great singer and killed it on The X Factor, the British version of Simon Cowell’s follow-up to American Idol, soon to debut here in the states. Storm and I have only rendezvoused a few times, once at his birthday party and then when he came over after we met at a party a few months ago. We got along famously from the second he walked in my place. First of all, he had on excellent kitsch bling, a bulbous brass Mickey Mouse ring.

When I admired bulbous Mickey, he immediately gave me this:

Anyone who walks into your house for the first time bearing gifts is pleasure enough. But when they hit it on the nose as severely as a sunglassed, gold grilled Michael-Jackson-as-the-Sphynx pendant you can only hope that their personality is as good as their taste in gifts as this could be the start of a wonderful friendship not to mention music collaboration. It’s an even better sign when you’re both wearing the same shoes, albeit different colors.

I believe in synchronicity. My life has always gone that way. I won’t be aware of anything and then something so pertinent to the immediate events in your life shows up all of a sudden, perfectly timed. That’s how it was with Storm and the Michael Jackson sphynx pendant.

The sphinx has always held special significance to me as I got my big music break with Earth, Wind & Fire, a group whose graphics and sets prominently feature Egyptian icons. Within hours of Storm gaving me the pendant, I went to a party for a soon-to-be-released documentary about the Fender Rhodes, the preeminent electric keyboard. I was in the documentary singing my first EWF hit, “September”, with Larry Dunn, the group’s original keyboard player who played the Rhodes on “September” and all my other EWF songs. The segment was filmed at my house a few months earlier. I had only seen Larry once since the early 80s and he had absolutely no idea that it was my house he was coming to to film the documentary. So the fact that I was seeing him once again on the very night that the MJ sphinx was bestowed upon me felt highly synchronistic to me. Here I am that night wearing it with Larry:

I remember not being happy with my choice of glasses. But Michael-as-sphnyx drew so much attention I didn’t have to worry about people focusing on my face.

So Sunday night it was only natural that I wear MJ sphynx to the person who gave it to me’s birthday party.

Also at the party celebrating Storm and admiring the sphinx were (L-R) International Chanteuse, Morganne, ASCAP’s Brendan Okent, and songwriters Robin Lerner and Ken Hirsch…

…and Jim Budman, not in the floral arrangement, who I came with and have known since I was a teenager in Detroit.

Did I mention that Michael Jackson-as-sphinx can also be worn as a pin?

I always appreciate when something is multifunctional.

I am multifunctional. And now Storm is multifunctional as both friend and music co-conspirator!

At that point in history, the 1960s, no more swag had ever been created for an American Presidency than for the first couple of Camelot, John and Jackie Kennedy. I have much of it, including busts, porcelain plates, copper plates, ashtrays, keychains and the like. But most of that is buried away and I’m too lazy to dig it out on a holiday. Here’s one that’s handy of a porcelain plate using the exact same image as on the creamer but for a new chair:

Here’s another of the exact same plate I have where the Kennedys have been replaced by a camper:

Many people would argue the Kennedys have never been replaced as a Presidential couple.

As you can see, the plate as American presidency was made in Japan.

My creamer, however, was made in the good ol’ USA. Squint and you can see it:

Here’s an idea of how tall the Presidential creamer is:

May we all stand tall this President’s Day (and have as nice of hair as the Kennedy’s)!

I’m about to tool around LA today looking for more kitschy architecture that I may have missed in my 9 trillion similar such drives and, as all my drives start out, the first stop will be to hit the pumps for a full tank of gas. If only gas was still as cheap as it used to be I could be cruising up the coast of California in search of kitsch palaces instead of just hitting the neighborhood.

$3.54 for 13+ gallons brings it to 3.6¢ a gallon. That’s about the same inflation that’s hit the price of these S&P’s. Originally given away at the stations for free with the purchase of a full tank, they now can go for up to 100 bucks a pair depending on condition and whether the seller understands their value as a collectible. I got these for quarter in some junk shop when I moved to California in the late 70’s. Back then, I used to collect S&P’s like crazy. I rarely used any of them and obviously hadn’t used this one until today when I went to photograph it and pulled the bottom out, creating this pepper disaster.

I actually didn’t mind the spill as I still have a stuffed nose from the almost-but-not-really cold I had this week. Suffice it to say my nose is clear now. I know that most people don’t use salt and pepper shakers this way but I’m all for multifunction whenever possible.

I would kill to know when this pepper was first placed in the pump. In my fantasy as a vintage collector, I’d like to think that it was back at Alabam’s in Buffalo, Wyo.

I’ve never known a gas station to offer “Soup-Or-Service” before so I think that placement of the condiment in the pump at Alabam’s 60 years ago is a feasible supposition.

As I sprinkle (new) pepper on my scrambled eggs, I can only hope that my impending late morning drive produces visual treats as beautiful as these Phillips S&Ps.

Anyone reading my blog long enough knows I’m an unabashed lover of junk food. My conscience has upped through the years but in a perfect world I would sustain myself on the Cheetos end of the scale. I learned how to make a Cherpumple and oftentimes take trips in search of the best food junk has to offer. Last weekend I took a trip up to Alameda, CA in search of real junk, both food and artifacts, when two of the most dedicated members of The Allee Willis Museum Of Kitsch at were filmed for a segment of The Style Network’s Clean House.

If you’ve never seen that show, the people it usually features are certified pack rats who must give up the bulk of their stuff in a garage sale. But in the case of kookykitsch and Meshuggah Mel

…it was that too much junk had accumulated for kookykitsch’s small kitsch storefront and was taking over their house. I knew that with all their “junk” this was going to be a DO NOT MISS sale so Mark Blackwell and I piled into my well-groomed van and headed toward the goods.

I can’t reveal the gems I acquired until after the show airs in the summer but I can reveal some of the spectacular junk food that was made for a kitschtastic party thrown in my honor by the aKitschionados up in the Oakland area, only two of whom I’d met before.

The party took place at the home of Rusty Blazenhoff and Ken Dashner two days before Valentines Day. Knowing that I love Jell-o, Rusty was gracious enough to prepare black cherry Jell-o hearts…

…and this Cool Whip and red Jell-o “salad:

Rounding out the Jell-o smorgasbord was this vodka filled lemon Jell-o mold with “I love Kitsch” spelled out in sunken Gummi letters. Trust me, there’s always room for Jell-O and there’s always room for kitsch. There were vodka Jell-o shots to wash it down.

Good Jew that I am (my constantly malfunctioning Mac Dictate software typed “good chew that I am”, which I guess is also appropriate), Rusty surrounded Jesus with these delicious Fluffernutters on Wonder Bread hearts sandwiches:

Everybody loves Fluffernutters.

Wonder Bread was a very popular foodstuff at the party. Jenny Martens also prepared these lovely tomato and cheese and minced ham scalloped tea cakes:

As you can see in my right hand in that last photo, I was very excited that Pigs in a Blanket also made an appearance. But I didn’t see the little sign that clearly marked them as ‘vegetarian’ before I popped one of Dorinda VonStroheim, a.k.a Baby Doe’s, treats in my mouth.

I munched down on a rubbery substance that had no pig in it but I must say that it did have an excellent hot dogish taste. I grabbed another one and took a bite, excited that I liked something vegetarian. But a half an hour later someone snapped this photo of the vestiges of it crushed flat as a pancake in my hand. At least I tried.

Lucky for me, Karen Finlay brought some real Pigs In The Blanket. I was remiss in taking a photo of her dogs/pigs but that’s her in the fabulous Mexican blanket-like skirt.

Chad Martens brought several varieties of Easy Cheese and spread them on reduced fat Ritz crackers with bacon bits and tomatoes.

The Martens also brought eternal vintage party pleasers, Triscuits. By the time I got to them there was no dip left in the center of the dish.

There not being a drop of anything I’m thinking that the Martens made a concious decision to allow the beauty of the sparkle plate to shine through, skipping the dip entirely. After all, Easy Cheese is tasty squirted on Triscuits and comes in a can so no dip is necessary.

Ken Dashner brought always elegant curly Cheetos and some Pabst Blue Ribbon to wash them down.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Todd Evans made this lovely cream cheese heart smothered in jalapeño jelly.

Clubhouse crackers, still in their plastic vacuform case, are always a perfect complement.

Rebecca Evans made a very fancy dish.

The pimento loaf with small green olives, toothpick swords, and asparagus star center deserves a close-up because of its excellent art direction. The missing pieces are probably because of me.

The bulk of the desserts were made by Maggie Lewis, aka windupkitty, an Allee Willis Museum Of Kitsch party faithful since the virtual doors opened in September, 2009. She made a plethora of blindingly kitschy desserts, among them peanut M&M cookies…

…and brownies with toffee dribbled on top…

Baby Doe contributed these chocolate “cake bites”.

I think it’s brilliant that someone would carve tiny bite-size chunks so one can stuff multiples of them in their mouth without feeling like they consumed a whole piece of cake. You can down more that way and psychologically it doesn’t put on any calories. I only wish that jar of Maxwell House was full to wash the bites down.

Windupkitty also cooked up some excellent haberdashery for the evening. She’s very shy and prefers to be photographed from the back.

Here’s a close-up of her Pigmy Will chapeau:

Windupkitty also presented me with the stunning felt hat that sat on my head throughout the entire evening and has hardly been off my noggin a second since I’ve been home.

We did manage to get a nice shot of Windupkitty from the front though when she brought a few of the more embarrassing albums I had songs on for me to autograph.

I don’t actually think they’re embarrassing. It’s just that when you’ve written a lot of Earth, Wind & Fire, Pet Shop Boys, Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, Aretha, The Color Purple. etc., Richard Simmons and The Del Rubio Triplets are not the LPs that usually come up for me. I, of course, love that Windupkitty stuck to the theme and schlepped these to a party honoring me and kitsch.

The evening was topped off with a nice sophisticated game of Twister.

Our Clean House honorees, Jessica, a.k.a. kookykitsch, and Mel, a.k.a. Meshugga Mel, had to retire early for more Clean House filming in the morning.

Just as Mark and I were about to follow them out, I noticed a set of dishes in the dining room and commented that I had 109 pieces of the same 1940’s “Bambu” by Weil Ware pattern. Before I knew it, boxes were laid out before me and I was packing up the pieces from Rusty’s bureau to take home because she wanted to make room for new dishes

I was hyperventilating from excitement so much I forgot to take a photo of the dishes on her shelf but here they are sitting with their relatives back at Willis Wonderland:

One person who didn’t make many of the shots was Mark Blackwell, who I drove up with and who was taking most of the photos seen here. But I did manage to get this shot of him as he emptied out the 40 pound freezer bag that he had to constantly lug around and refill with buckets of ice from the hotel ice machine to keep the cold packs cold that I had to constantly slap on my just-operated-on knee throughout our stay. We were so sugared up by the time we got back to the hotel, having to let a 40 pound bag of ice pee in the shower seemed like a fitting shot to end a most fabulous kitschified evening.

Not the normal pair that dangle from the rear view mirror, these 6″ soft dice feature sexual maneuvers on one game piece and the body parts to which they are to be applied on the other. The dice look nice and clean but seeing as they came from a thriftshop I’d suggest surgical gloves before tossing them and letting fate decide your next move. Which could be any of the following…

As the dice were made by Spenser Gifts, the pedestrian ‘kiss lips’ is to be expected.

Here’s to something swingin’ swingin’ above your dash or wherever you wish to place them (and thus have something placed upon you).

This 1980’s plaster salute to love was a hot ticket item in Mexican swap meets in Southern California throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Although back then they were too cheesy for my just-out-of-the-gate budding love of kitsch which, although quite robust, still hadn’t crossed the line to full blown Camembert such as the love interpreted here. Thank God, I had the presence of mind to buy these Siamese lovers as lamps, plain sculptures, towels and any other material their love could be possibly be moulded or stamped upon.

The lamp lovers are very fit.

They look much more romantic backlit.

Her hair sweeps back and his sweeps forward, representing the push/pull magnetism of the universe.

With the lights on, the lovers look a little dusty in the chest area. This is why I hate this kind of matte finish on ceramics; all the imperfections show.  Like in real life, leaving the lights on despite the fact you spent all day at a flea market and haven’t had a chance to shower yet.

Most of all, I love that my cat Niblet loves spending time with the lamp lovers.

May anyone reading this be glowing all day today.  And remember, the real glow comes from within, so mate or no mate, I hope you wish yourself a very very VERY happy Valentines Day today!

When I, along with Hidden Los Angeles, put out the call a few weeks ago that for Valentine’s Day we wanted to bring as many V-Day cards as possible to Milly Del Rubio, the last surviving Del Rubio Triplet, I was hoping that at least a few of you would put pen to card and help amass a stash. I’m happy to report that hundreds of cards have been rolling in!

Every single card is wonderful and beyond appreciated. Some of you went beyond the call of duty and created extra special wonderfulness:

If you haven’t sent a card in already please show Milly the wuv and send one to her NOW c/o me, 11684 Ventura Blvd., Suite 430, Studio City, CA 91604.

Here’s Milly at a Valentine’s Day dance a couple of years ago:

So Milly won’t be sitting alone this year, I’m bringing all your cards to her nice and early this coming Monday morning, Valentines Day itself. Here’s the Valentine’s Day card The Del Rubio’s sent me in 1996:

Here’s what I sent back to them:

Anyone who ever went to one of their shows can tell you that The Del Rubio Triplets made you feel like every day was Valentine’s Day.

Here’s to a golden V-Day for Milly and for you too!

And, once again, it’s Milly Del Rubio, c/o Allee Willis, 11684 Ventura Blvd., Suite 430, Studio City, CA 91604.

I love things that are ‘off’ but born of popular trends and then spin off into their own orbit, making a firm landing on the terra firma of Pop Culture themselves. In the early 1970’s, Mego Toys, the po’ cousin of popular doll brands like Barbie, did just that, popping out one cheaply made, shabbily dressed femme fatale after another.

I love product names like “Dinah-Mite” because of their shameless attempt to cash in on other popular trends of the day, in this early 70’s case, second rate karate films starring wannabe Bruce Lees, third rate female detectives in the shadow of Coffey and Foxy Brown, and, most predominantly, J.J. Walker’s Good Times outasite colloquialism, “Dy-no-mite!”.

One lady who is certifiably DYN-O-MITE!, not at all cheaply made and most likely a karate master is my good friend and fantastic actress, Jenifer Lewis. She of close to 200 films and 60+ television shows fame and easily one of the most hysterical people on the planet. Last Friday night she whooped and holla’d – and I mean HOLLA’D – in “So Much Love – An Evening with Jennifer Lewis, A Fundraiser to Benefit Rogue Machine Theatre” at The Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in LA.

Jenifer and I go way back to when she was one of Bette Midler’s Harlettes in the early 80’s. In addition to being great friends, we’ve always supported each other in all the crazy things we both do. When my alter–ego, Bubbles the artist, worked full-time to support me while I worked on The Color Purple musical from 2001 through 2005, Jennifer was first in line with the commissions. Here’s a beautiful salad bowl that Bubbles made of her.

You can see it’s a dead ringer:

Jenifer has always been known for her mouth, which is large and always going. Another woman who was known for her skills with verbiage was the great comedienne, Moms Mabley, who Bubbles committed to acrylic the same year the bowl was made. Moms now hangs on Jenifer’s kitchen wall.

I got a shout-out at her show when Jenifer told the story of going to an audition at Disney where out of the blue they asked her if she could play an old lady. The painting of Moms flashed in front of her eyes and, as if she magically lost all her teeth, she channeled Moms and landed the role of Mama Odie in The Princess And The Frog.

Many friends came to see Jenifer perform Friday night. ‘Friends’ being the operative word as she  introduced her musical director, Michael Skloff, my Friends theme song co-writer, who performed the song, TV theme version, at the show.

Also there was Dawnn Lewis

… Vanessa Bell Calloway and Prudence Fenton

Paul Mooney

…Shangela Laquifa Wadley of RuPaul’s Drag Race 2 and 3…

…and one of my favorite tv actresses of all time, Marla Gibbs.

I have a huge collection of vintage Jet Magazines. Here’s one of them:

Dinah-Mite has Marla’s hair and they’re both wearing purple.

Also wearing purple are Jenifer and I on the opening night of my musical, The Color Purple, on Broadway, December 1, 2005.

Thank God our purple outfits fit us better than poor Dinah-Mite’s.

I should show you Dinah-Mite’s fashionable go-go boots while we’re examining her outfit:

Unfortunately, despite the fact that we both had on fabulous sneakers, I didn’t photograph Jenifer or my shoes Friday night. There’s only this chest-up shot of two Dyn-o-mite friends after one Dinah-mite evening!