I have quite a collection of large framed vintage mosaic pieces and this massive 19″ x 33″ poodle is unquestionably one of the best in breed. First of all, with all of his gaps and glue blobs he’s obviously someone’s crafts project:

I also like all his bulbous tufts of fur:

I do wish he had little pink or red fingernails on his paws though. One splash of accent color always helps a visual.

I have a lot of other large framed mosaics, among them this homage to the World Of The Future that’s mounted on one side of my bedroom dresser:

Then there’s this homemade homage to orange tones that I use as a table top:

I used to use this hulking 20″ x 60″ blue and gold tile piece as a table top but I like it better sunken into the face of the counter that’s built over the foundation of my house downstairs in the rec room:

There’s also this fantastic bar tableau:

It’s the front of a homemade (not by me) bar I found for $5 at a thrift shop about 10 years ago.

There’s also this 9″ x 24″ musical instruments mosaic that hangs in my recording studio:

All beautiful, though it’s hard to compete with the personality of a well groomed poodle.

Especially this one that greets anyone who walks into my kitchen:

As many of you know, one of my favorite things in the world to do is to take rides with my BFF, Charles Phoenix, and go to places in and around LA that most people don’t know about unless they live in that part of the city. One of my absolute favorite things about LA is that there are so many different sections of the city. But the shame is that so few people who live here venture east of downtown. Charles and I, on the contrary, always venture east and, trust me, it never disappoints. If you’re heading south on the 101, make sure you drive farther than this building (and not just to get off to go the Music Center, Disney Hall, or MOCA).

In our particular case, our drive occurred in Charles’ brand new Dodge Challenger. New as in just hours old and now we were taking it on it’s virgin voyage. The new car smell added to the adventure.

One of the great things about having a friend who you share such keen interests with, coupled with the fact you’re both considered authorities of sorts on the topic – incredible vintage and/or kitsch architecture, signage, cars and the like – is that you can be fascinated almost anywhere you go. Charles and I only had a couple of hours so we headed for a quickie run down Whittier Blvd. Seriously, unless you’re blind, elitist or have absolutely zero kitschEsthetic genes in your body, Whittier Blvd. is breathtaking. So here’s our ride in the order it occurred…

We overshot our exit on the 101 so got off at Seventh St. and wormed our way back to Whittier Blvd. Which was fine as we wouldn’t wanted to have missed this spectacular hot dog roof:

Always special is this dinosaur and soda cup diorama, neither object of which has anything to do with the business underneath.

We always take First St. to get to Whittier Blvd. as one of our favorite houses in the city is there. But I’m dismayed to report that the vines have been plucked on the formerly eye-boggling ‘grapes house’ which used to look like this…

… but sadly now looks like this:

Don’t start me…

Thank God, further down the street some old movie theaters with original neon still survive.

It took all our strength not to stop and see what the Valentine’s Day decorations looked like inside Unique Dollar but we had limited time so kept driving.

I absolutely love store names like this:

Here we are at Whittier Boulevard. As soon as you turn onto the street you know you’re in for an excellent time warp experience.

Perhaps you should have the great 60’s guitar anthem, “Whittier Blvd.” by Thee Midnighters, on as a soundtrack while you tour the street with us. Press the following if so:

Charles and I were starving before we even left the house. We almost stopped here at the ‘they-don’t-resemble-Shaq-and-Kobe-other-than-they’re-big’ Bionicos food truck:

But luckily, Charles knew a “great Mexican restaurant full of pigs” just down the street.

The photorealistic food on all the windows was beautiful but all the rest of my window shots had too much glare to post.

Porky’s was definitely filled with pigs.

The menu was thrilling and pig filled too…

… though neither one of us ordered any of that particular animal.

I was especially impressed that the salad Porky’s served Charles consisted solely of radishes and lemons. I say save time in the kitschen and leave it at that.

When we left we would’ve stopped at the dress shop next door…

…but we were too excited to get across the street and go here:

There’s lots of excellent merchandise like this inside Whittier Crafts:

There’s also an abundance of carefully crafted and spelled signage:

Speaking of signage, there’s vintage overload in this part of LA:

There’s also incredible architectural detail like this 1950’s cement block facade…

… and this excellent 1960’s tile motif which I wish you could see closer than this photo I took. It’s like an explosion of vintage flooring but on a building.

Whittier Blvd. is definitely known for the automobiles that cruise it.

These were all within a two block radius of each other:

I wonder where the people who rented this limo were going?

I’m going to guess A. Torres Tuxedos as starting at :34 that’s where all the action took place when this classic car parade was shot.

Just a few blocks from A. Torres is this 1930s tamale shaped building. It used to be a Mexican restaurant.

You can see how the tamale ends twist at the sides of the building:

Whittier Boulevard has quite a few incredible old Deco buildings like this:

At the other architectural end, I love when business facades don’t quite live up to their names.

But even more, I like when a business is named one thing on one sign and something else on the other.

And even more than that I like when a store’s displays have nothing to do with what their awning says they sell.

Although this isn’t on Whittier Blvd. we passed it when we headed back to the freeway. In a city where spectacularly detailed murals abound, this is the one that makes our kitsch hearts sing:

Maybe you can appreciate it more if you see it closer:

Although we usually like to stay out past dark to catch all the neon, both Charles and I had places to go Saturday night so we headed back  early. Although I wish I could end with the penultimate kitsch shot, there’s absolutely nothing kitschy about this one other than the brains of the occupants.

Last weekend I drove down to San Diego to see a performance of my musical, The Color Purple. I rarely get a chance to see the show but when it’s anywhere near LA I choose which performances I’m going to see by which town has the best thrift shops and then I make a whole trip out of it. For this performance I mapped out all the second hand shops between LA and San Diego. But we left too late so dealt with the shopping jones in one antique mall in Solana Beach on the way to SD. I especially love antique malls this time of year because the Khristmas Kitsch comes out in full force.

Which is why no one should ever travel without a camera at this time of year. There is far too much kitsch to document by storing the wonderfulness in your head only.

The first thing I came across was this Bedazzled holiday fauna interpretation. These trees on felt or velvet are common Khristmas kraft faire but this one was done with more precision than most that line thrift shop shelves this time of year, with everything lying at the bottom of junk drawers messily glued on to form the tree. This crafter used chunks of resin to fill in the gaps between jewels instead of just accepting patches of black velvet  looking like dead branches on the tree.

I am so not a Mickey Mouse connoisseur so don’t know the vintage of this, but were I to let the mouse run around my house it would likely be in the form of this plastic cup with the big feet and double holed grip.

You can always count on a sweater smorgasbord this time of the year.

I dig homemade Christmas decorations but for $95 Santa’s mail won’t be delivered anywhere near my house this year.

Were I of the right religion I would definitely have gone for the following. If anyone ever spots Moses rolling through the rushes in mosaic let me know.

I’m definitely not into these little guard guys but you always see them around at Christmas. This one is particularly festive. I especially love his rubber chair leg tip shoulder:

I know that it was the individual bunches of tinsel that were for sale here but if I were someone who was decorating for Christmas I would’ve bought this whole thing and used it as a giant ornament:

Barbie, of course, always gets in on the Christmas action. With this kind of packaging I wish she were made out of chocolate:

Little baldheaded children with long eyelashes always look good dressed for the holidays:

I know that snowmen always abound in Christmas decorations so nothing special here other than the homemade quality of these three. I especially like how off-center the nose is on the guy all the way to the right (the snowman’s right, not yours):

I always like light up yard decorations of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. I love how coiffed Jesus is in this one, especially in his pink pantsuit, and how much baby Jesus looks like a bubbling soufflé.

Vintage Pebble Art is great all times of the year but looks especially good in these praying Christmas portrayals:

Although it has nothing to do with Christmas, The Color Purple, the musical I co-wrote and which is what brought me down to San Diego in the first place, has an awful lot to do with a little girl praying and writing letters to God. Seeing my show for the last time for a few months until I fly to Detroit in April to conduct my high school marching band playing a medley of my greatest hits in the lobby of the Fox theater, where The Color Purple will be, was an excellent early Christmas present for me, especially after a day of such kitsch as aforementioned lighting up my eyes with wonderment. Look what God has done!

And speaking of purple and Christmas, it’s still not too late to order a lovely Pigmy Will ornament for the tree or to use as a hat on little baldheaded rubber Christmas children.

Each ornament and tree topper is a unique work of art crafted by Pigmy Will, Feathers and Whiska, when he’s in a good mood.

Adorable! Seasonal! Real art! CHEAP! And mailed within 24 hours of placing your order.

You can see all twelve styles of ornaments and tree toppers here: http://store.alleewillis.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=ornaments.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of making Pigmy Willl’s acquaintance you can see him at http://www.pigmywill.com or hit him up on youtube, http://www.youtube.com/PigmyWill.

Merry Christmas and happy ornament shopping from Pigmy Will!

I hope all aKitschinados are having a very happy holiday season so far. Brighten it up with the most unique Christmas ornaments around and be even happier!

Seasonally yours in Pigmy Will,



Yes, my birthday’s today and were I’m not so lazy and overworked that would mean it’s time for me to make one of my signature spewing fire and lava volcano birthday cakes. Ranging from a foot to four feet wide and anywhere up to 25 pounds and two feet tall, these overdosing towers of junk have accompanied me rounding the bend to another year ever since I first saw a commercial for The Special Effects Cookbook in 1992.

The real recipe calls for a nicely constructed “lifelike” looking volcano, but I’m an artist and into Kitsch so it should be no surprise that my cakes are hulking, unrecognizable lifeforms wayyyyy out of the realm of what the cookbook author had in mind.

My version is made of up to 10 layers of anything I want – vanilla, chocolate and cherry cake, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, Rice Krispy treats and any other foodstuffs appropriate for celebration, surrounded by Jell-O or whipped cream and accented with Snickers, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, multicolored frosting and flaming sugar cubes-soaked-in-almond-extract torches, all of from which spews lava made from eggs, water and dry ice.  In the 17 years of cooking/sculpting/drilling these things, even the most vegan amongst us ends up with their fingers plugged into this heart attack mound of sugar stuff. The cake is big enough that guests can easily locate a germ-free area in which to do their excavation. Here’s my Birthday ’94 Volcano before it blew:


And here’s the first Volcano cake I ever made in 1993:

volcano-cake5 volcano-cake6

See it erupting!:


Here’s me making a second 1993 lava spewing dragon cake in case my first volcano was too small to feed all my guests. A drill is one of my most necessary kitchen utensils.


Here’s my Volcano Birthday cake, 1997. Rather than stack four cakes on top of each other and risk an avalanche, or whatever it would be called if a volcano tipped over, I erected a mountain range.


Top view:


I won’t be baking any Volcanos this year because my friend, Charles Phoenix, is baking me one of his signature Cherpumples, three pies stuffed into three cake and presented as one. A most happy birthday to me!!

I always love handmade crafts, especially these Knit-Wit kind of animals, usually poodles, that are more often than not made to fit over either liquor bottles or toilet paper. This one with the wayward tongue was made to fit over toilet paper but the crafter either ran out of yarn or was sneaking nips from the bottle as they only equipped the canine with a mini skirt, not enough to even pull over a full roll.

And here’s how she looks over a liquor bottle:

Here she is with a roll of toilet paper fully inserted:

Here’s a normal size roll of toilet paper and the much used roll of toilet paper that was able to fit inside the poodle.

Obviously, this poodle cannot efficiently to do her duty covering either of the objects she was meant to serve. All of which would be a total drag if she weren’t so damn cute. She can just sit here with her googly eyes and do a half-ass job and I still love her.


I can’t tell you how many of these little sewing gadgets I bought throughout my teenage and young adult years. The ads in the back of magazines for these always made it look like you’d be sewing like a fiend in no time. In actuality, all I did was constantly poke holes in my fingers and make incredibly messy seams and hemlines in all the clothes that I ended up ruining trying to use one of these things.


Just getting the thread in was trouble enough let alone attempting to do the fancy stitches it promised to magically do.


I had no idea what  most of these were supposed to look like in the first place but I’m sure they weren’t supposed to make the fabric pucker and snag the way my projects always ended up looking.


I actually never minded the mistakes because I always loved what these Magic Stitchers looked like –  part fishing lure,  part rocket  and part medical device –  so I ended up saving all of them and eventually used them in some kind of sculpture or art assemblage.


This one was bought from the J.L. Hudson Co., THE department store in Detroit when I was growing up.


Although this wasn’t one of mine but, rather, was acquired more recently on eBay, I remember this box well as Hudson’s is exactly where I used to purchase the multitude of Magic Stitchers that tore up my fingers and had me almost flunking Home Ec.

Magic-Stitcher_2174 Magic-Stitcher_2171


I used to actively collect figurative sculptures made out of plastic fruits and vegetables. Largely crafts projects, I loved them because most of them were so completely stupid looking but you could always tell a lot of love went into making them. I eventually stopped collecting these anthropomorphic fruit and vegetable people because in order to stand up straight most of them were made out of really light, cheap plastic food that would crack after a couple of  years leaving them looking like accident victims. Much like what happens to actual vegetables that I periodically have a conscience to buy only to end up jamming them down the disposal when they start curdling and smelling up the frig because they’ve gotten too old to eat. But as with anything, I love when things have dual purposes like plastic fruit for display/plastic fruit for body parts. Like what a great shape an apple makes for a head or how natural the sprouts on the top of an onion look for hair.  And until now, that’s how I prefered to experience vegetables.


But a few nights ago I ended up staying up most of the night after stumbling on this guy on YouTube who also makes excellent use of vegetables for purposes other than which they were grown. Here he is playing a cucumber trumpet:

I’ve never heard a carrot used as a pan-flute before:


This would definitely be a way to get me to pay attention to broccoli:


Cabbage is one vegetable I actually like though I prefer it as cole slaw or with corn beef at a good deli. I’ve never experienced it in concert as a  flute.


Both apples and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” annoyed me as a kid. They still do.


I’m used to radishes being little round red things that I actually like but I guess if I knew they could be used as musical instruments I could wrap my mouth around this one too:


I have no idea what a butterbur is but it’s leafy and would probably taste good on top of a hamburger.


I’ve never had trouble with scallions as I love them in tuna fish salad.


I may have a Grammy and songs I’ve written may have sold over 50 million records but I can’t blow a watermelon and make it sound like a clarinet no matter how strong my musical proclivities are.  I suppose there’s nothing to stop me from trying but in the meantime I’m doing fine without adding this skill to my repertoire and I’m just going to enjoy my fruits and vegetables as really cute plastic people.



This vintage cleaning product can may be a little worse for wear but so am I as I hobble around my house shining it back up to its usual state after a couple hundred people trounced through here yesterday in celebration of John Lloyd Young’s debut exhibition featuring his very first works of Kitsch Pop art. I love that cleaning products in aerosol cans were so new when this came out in the 1950s that it was made of silicones (more than 1!) and was referred to as the “push-button cleaner”.


John Lloyd might be referred to as the “push-rhinestone artist”. He does phenomenal work jeweling everyday food products like a box of Cornflakes, a can of Spam and a bucket of the Colonel’s favorite.


Most of the food appearing as bejeweled art was actually served at the party. If you had a couple minutes to spare we would even toast you a Pop Tart.


I’m sick that I didn’t take a photo of the gigantic three-foot round pizzas that arrived to match this piece John Lloyd made of himself holding his Tony for  Best Actor in a Musical for Jersey Boys (trouncing my own musical, The Color Purple, I might add) surrounded by a melange of Tony’s Pizza boxes.


The intricate jeweling doesn’t read well in the longshot so here’s a close up of the pie:


I won’t see all the photos from the party which was a benefit for AIDS Project LA until later today but here are a smattering of some a friend snapped until I post the real deals tomorrow.

Honoree and hostess:


Michael Lerner, me, RuPaul and Charles Phoenix:


Stu James, Lesley Donald (Both in The Color Purple), me, JLY and Jai Rodriguez:


Prudence Fenton, Mark Blackwell and me:


Mito Aviles, me, Tiffany Daniels (Squeak in The Color Purple) and ChadMichael Morrisette:


JLY and me and our shows as bejeweled by the artist:


I need to get  back on my hands and knees and start cleaning so I’m ready to look through the real photos when they arrive later today.  Thankfully, the Bonami can contains handy instructions for how to use the contents:



I love, love, love crafts projects, especially when they go awry, and this coffee cup with saucer collar is one of my favorites. That it says “Happy Mother’s Day” despite its unmistakable portraiture of a mustached, bow-tied man is just the tip of the kitsch iceberg! The glitter is gooped on with an overabundance of still visible glue. Mom is decidedly not dishwasher friendly. Precision was not on the side of the hand that shaped the facial features, all of which are made of felt with excessively crooked edges. And the glitter on the handle nose makes it grossly uncomfortable to pick up, not that you would want to anyway as the saucer, should you be imbibing your Mother’s Day joe with Dad or any other human being, blocks your vision when tilted toward mouth.

I can only hope there’s an equally as lovely Father’s Day cup with mom’s face on it sitting somewhere on this Mother’s Day.