Hello! Let me begin by saying that I’m honored to help add volume to the unstoppable day-glo tsunami of pop-and-sub-culture that is the World of Mondo. I’ll keep introductions brief and get right to today’s goodies. For more information about who I am, please visit http://wileywiggins.com. My assistant/bodyguard/biographer Niki and I spent this past weekend in San Francisco, thanks to the generosity of the San Francisco Film Society. After ingesting the requisite late-night mission-area burritos (delicious but dense boluses that we would continue to incubate inside our guts for the remainder of the weekend), we set our sights on Japantown. On a tip from Mondo Tees headquarters, we hit Super7 – an art toy mecca full of colorful objets d’art, books and shirts.
Saturday marked the first solo show of Lamour Supreme, but we were there too early to see the exhibit, and I had to be at the Clay theater that evening for the Film Society event we had come for. After a little gentle coaxing, the Super7 rep on duty let me photograph a few of the pieces that would be in Lamour’s show, as well as some shots of the store.
I bought a couple of Organ Donors toys on my way out, after ogling a gorgeous, mega-sized Frank Baum Wizard of Oz art book (if you’re not familiar with the actual Oz books beyond the movie, you may be surprised at how much tougher kids a few generations back were than our current crop of disinfected, peanut-terrorized CG-hypnotized lost-causes. At one point in the Oz books, the Tin Man finds his own head in a barrel of discarded body parts and they have a nice chat. The rest of his original bits get sewn together into a Frankenstein’s-monster-flesh-golem called “Chopfyt”.)
After Super7, we immediately hit Ichiban Kan. Ichiban Kan is like a Japanese 99 cent store- everything is Japanese, and everything is around $1.50. Every time I go to San Francisco I fill up a bag with random stuff from Ichiban Kan. Stationary, snacks (Pocky! dehydrated squids! Pink mystery fluids!) dishes, gadgets, bento boxes and bags and miscellaneous bits of plastic junk all emblazoned with amazing engrish nonsense to amuse and mystify. I barely even look at what I am buying when I go there, I just shovel that shit into a bag and I’m always surprised and delighted when I get home.
Finally we stopped in New People, a multi-level cultural center that boasted a genuine gothic-lolita clothes store. Niki and I were delighted to see a white otaku dude dressed in full on bondage-strawberry-shortcake pink gothic lolita garb, with a pink dress and frilly socks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a pink parasol hidden somewhere as well. Can you imagine the beatings that guy must have taken to get to where he could proudly stride through the streets dressed as an anime girl? Or maybe he’s one of those home-schooled weirdos who never had to deal with the outside world and its cruel, socializing slurs and beatings, and has always existed in a pure state of self-actualized Sailor-Moon pervery. Either way, I salute him (and, no, I didn’t take a picture of him). However, it would have cost Niki 100 bucks just to buy a pair of socks in there, so we preceded to the gift store, where I immediately impulse-bought a Phaidon book of art by one of my new favorite artists, Yayoi Kusama- the polka dot queen.
Kusama hits a lot of sweet spots for me; a love of repeating patterns, a mystical horror that I associate with Op art and the way human perception systems work, and a fondness for women in spandex unitards. In the sixties, she filled rooms with millions of teeming psychedelic blobs, phalluses, and giraffe spots. She staged orgies of hippies covered in polka-dots to protest the fact that people were interested in artists only after they had been legitimized by death and commodified by their inability to produce new work. In short she’s kookoo awesome terrific, and she gets to live and have unlimited access to neon paint and sculpting foam after my cultural purges remove 95% of all currently existing media.
The top floor of the New People building was a gallery with an exhibit by Yoshitaka Amano, the artist behind Vampire Hunter D, Gatchaman, and a good chunk of character design in the Final Fantasy games. Now, I generally find playing Final Fantasy games about as exciting as doing my taxes, but I love Gatchaman. The sideburns, the white bell bottoms, thigh high boots, and bird-themed helmets. The art on display at New People were large panels of plastic that resembled painted animation cells, with lovely, bright glitter backgrounds. Every image was lickably candy-colorful and included Gatchaman characters drawn slightly more wobbly and sexualized and psychedelic than we’re used to seeing them… as if they were getting ready to boil down from characters into just a bundle of lines and fields of color with eyes.