Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana?

At wacky tacky we're not just interested in sedentary pursuits.  As busy as we are in front of the computer researching and planning our next adventure, so are we in developing new and interesting produce.  You didn't know that we were farmers, did you?  In fact, we are doing our best to enrich our world with not just the fruits of our labor, but with the fruits of our trees.  We cultivate, propagate, and demonstrate our organically-grown oranges.*  As a wacky tacky blog exclusive - and world premiere - we unveil our newest crop, a varietal citrus we like to call The Jimmy Durante Orange.

The Jimmy Durante Orange
Latin name - citrus schnozzolae

The resemblance is uncanny....almost Tropicanny...

Yes, the fruit grows compete with all of the facial features.

Seeds for The Jimmy Durante Orange can be purchased by calling Circle 7-2099.  Eat your heart out Gregor Mendel, ha cha cha cha!

"Young at Heart" - Jimmy Durante

What's My Line - Jimmy Durante
I can't help myself...

Cheers & Good Night Mrs. Calabash - wherever you are!

Mr. Tiny

* To tell the truth, we really just have one orange tree that grew one funky orange.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jimmy's House: It's a Jungle in There!

Quietly lurking behind this unassuming doorway in Eagle Rock, CA lies a menagerie of animals so wild that they are practically tearing down the walls!  Our friend Jimmy keeps a collection* of wildlife so varied and so large that his home is really a jungle of sorts and you'll find nods to the strange and exotic in every nook and around each corner.  It is wacky tacky on safari!

Can't you just picture this guy in his former life?
I wish I could have been there to see him driving his mini car in the 4th of July parade.


I call this one Motel 6 - he'll keep the light on for you.

I so wanted to add a Dali moustache this guy.
Too surreal?

With this kind of zoo, one never has to worry about feeding time...

...or does one?

The very-rare, highly-desirable two-nicorn.

My own history is so colored by Disneyland that I kept expecting these guys to start singing.

Surprisingly, one doesn't suffer from sensory overload.
Simplicity is the key in achieving harmony and balance in this design.

The thing that really sets our wacky tacky hearts afire is the 
combination of disparate themes and cultural references.

This photo was actually taken in the darkest part of the home.
I believe the glow is from the spirits of those dearly-departed
 shriners who were tragically killed in a hippopotamus stampede.

I'm not entirely sure what Jimmy does for a living but I'm pretty sure he is a dentist.

I love to find curated vignettes in homes.
They tell a story about the owner - this one is a scary story.

Who do you think would win this staring contest?
My money's on Johnny Four-Eyes.

A black panther TV lamp creates moody dimension in a bookcase.
The zoo keeper at work in front of his vintage barkcloth curtains.
Undoubtedly he is looking for his next capture.

Thanks Jimmy for letting us into the enclosure!  As directed, we did not feed the animals.

Hatari! (1962)

wacky tacky would love to feature your home, garden or business!  If you have a wacky tacky interior, exterior, garden or workspace (or know someone who does), please contact us and you could be a wacky tacky design star!


Mr. Tiny

*If you are offended by taxidermy, please note that Jimmy is an avid collector of vintage pieces.  He is a lover not a hunter.  Also, you might be asking yourself, "Does Jimmy even speak rhinoceros?"  He'd say, "Of 'course-eros,' can't you?"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Profiles in Vintage: Get Out, Get Under the Paper Moon!

"Get Out, Get Under the Moon" - Helen Kane

"What do you do in the evening when you don't know what to do?"  Do you ever run across those old-timey photos of folks settin' on the moon with their sweetheart?  It is easy to sound like a neo-vintage crank and sit around wondering why you were born in an era bereft of such lunar fatasy.  It is even easier to wonder why nobody does anything cool like that anymore.  Well, fortunately, there is a blithe spirt among us who has not only resurrected the tradition of paper moon photography, but also finds loving homes for vintage clothing - all under the charming and aptly-monikered Paper Moon Vintage.

To get you in the mood, I thought I'd share a small variety of vintage paper moon photos showing that paper moons aren't just for lovers.

Pert and perky



Western!  Throwin' a lasso around the moon.

Nicole is the inspired founder, owner and operator of Paper Moon Vintage.  In order to give you the most accurate representation of PMV, I though it best to give you the info straight from the "Lady in the Moon" herself.  I love a good interview and Nicole was kind enough to subject herself to our onslaught of questions.  Even though I asked a million (with the intent of having the option to edit), she answered every single one, quite candidly, and I just couldn't bring myself to take red pencil to any of it.  So, sit back and enjoy one of our most scintillating (and hefty) blog posts to date.

WT: How long have you been in the business?
PMV: Vintage Clothing business- almost 6 years. Had my first Paper Moon made about 5 1/2 years ago. Been doing photography on and off since 2001.  

WT: What's your favorite era?
PMV: That's easy- the 1920's through the 1930's. 

WT: What got you started?
PMV: Meeting certain people (that became good friends of mine) that were into that era, and being inspired by them. The interest was already there for me, having always loved old movies (mainly Fred & Ginger, and musicals); I just needed to be shown the way.  
WT: What is the best thing you've ever found/bought/sold?
PMV: That's tough. If by best you mean most valuable wearable item, that I "found" and then sold for profit- that may be a 1910's pair of white canvas Keds sneakers that were basically given to us from an old storage shed, as an afterthought.  After researching them and listing them on ebay, they sold for over $600.  They turned out to be highly collectible and one of the first ones made.  I also have the most amazing beaded and sequined 1900's dress, certainly museum worthy, that someone basically donated to the shop I co-owned....but I haven't been able to put it up for sale yet!  
THE Keds
(photo courtesy of Paper Moon Vintage)

WT: For what do you look when you are on the hunt for vintage?
PMV: Anything old and nice, well made, basically- I am getting pickier and pickier as to condition - too many satchels of vintage waiting to be repaired. But if the price is right, I have to rescue it.... 
WT: Has the range of era's for which you shop widened or narrowed since you have been in business?
PMV: Narrowed. At Hobo's Vintage (the shop I co-owned) we sold even up to the 80's, but would carry mainly 50's through 70's because it's just the easiest to find. I started hoarding the older stuff from the beginning, of course my favorite being the 20's and 30's. This is also because of practicality- it's just not wise to have delicate antique clothing out for grabs and mixed in with the other decades. So I started to specialize in selling that on-line only. Now for my own Paper Moon Vintage, where I am always in control and there with the garments, I specialize in late 1800's through the 50's, nothing past the 60's. The motto is "the older the better," for me.  
WT: What is your ideal vintage item?  Have you found it yet?
PMV: Something either deadstock, with its original tags still on it, in the original box or something with a famous person's name in it somewhere (such as if it was used for the actor in a movie). I love when a clothing item has the date on it somewhere, or better yet, a whole history with it - maybe a photo of a person wearing it decades ago.  There are lots of good stories like that among us vintage collectors.  
WT: Do you have a dollar limit even on rare/desirable items?  Is there a point where you say, "I'm not paying that much for…!"
PMV: Certainly!! I can't shop at "normal" vintage shops in the L.A. area because I am too used to finding things at wholesale/lot and resale prices. Once you start digging around the flea markets and swap meets, it's pretty hard to pay the real price. But every now and then, for a good 30's dress for myself, if I love it enough, I will treat myself to someone else's discovery.  
WT: Do you find that running your own business allows you more freedom or less?
PMV: More- all the way!! I love the flexibility. I can work as late as I want listing things on-line, trying to book events to sell or set up my paper moon; it's a lot of computer work and networking.  Since I have a three year old, it's the best thing. I've done the whole full-time job thing, working in Archaeology for 5 years.  I can only do it if I really love the job. I love being able to sleep in sometimes, and do creative odd jobs here and there. But even if I do get another job again, which I am planning on doing, I will still be running my own business, because it is fun for me, and I will see where I can take it. 
WT: Is managing a business easier, harder or just as difficult as you imagined?
PMV: I think it can be just about as difficult as you want it to be! It just depends how seriously you take it. If you want to go big time and get a business loan, there is a lot more pressure to make it successful. This is a possibility down the line, but right now I am just trying to keep it a passion to share, while hoping to make a living as well. It can be very difficult to be self-motivated enough sometimes. I hope I have what it takes. 
WT: Without giving away your secrets, do you find your best goods through hunting & pecking (swaps, thrifts, yard/tag sales), internet (etsy, ebay) or private sellers?
PMV: It's all about the thrill of the hunt and making the discovery, for me. One hint, while at swap meets look for any clothing in booths where the dealers don't really deal in clothing. They are the ones that may have some killer old gladrags, and don't know the value. I have found Edwardian and 20's clothes for $1-$5 in isolated boxes surrounded by stuff. My other favorite is estate sales, because they are usually just trying to get rid of everything. It's also always good to ask if they have any old clothing, because sometimes they don't even bother to put it out. 
WT: Much of the vintage community adheres to a very strict standard, what is your view on incorporating vintage-inspired/new clothing into one's wardrobe?
PMV: Style shouldn't have any rules, just good taste. And snobbery is snobbery. I'm all for wearing and mixing up new clothing that has great vintage-inspired style. It's really about the overall look.  I love when someone can't tell if what you are wearing is vintage or new, just because overall it just looks great together and reflects a time when people paid more attention to detail in what they wore. Then there's the whole other option of making new clothes, but from vintage patterns or just look like from another time- such as you do yourself, Mr. Tiny, or the talented Lauren Maringola of Wearing History, who actually reproduces vintage patterns. That is just fabulous! I am also a preservationist, and there are many vintage garments that should not be worn, but taken care of. 
WT: What separates vintage enthusiasts from trekkies?
PMV: Ha! Not much, actually. You can be a nerd about vintage clothing, or a nerd about Star Trek, and you are still a nerd for something. Many people are both, actually. I think it's cool to get really into something, research it and really know it, and collect it. I think that's healthy. It's only when it goes extreme and becomes an obsession that it's not!  
WT: Are you a vintage purist?
PMV: I appreciate it 100% when I see it and do like to look like I stepped out of time for certain events (re-enacting), but I lean more to the fun and creative aspects of it for style, rather than for re-enacting. It's hard to mix items from different decades and have it look good- it does need to make sense. I'd say I'm more of a style purist. At the same time, I applaud anyone who has the initiative to dress in a different way than the norm and express themself that way.  
WT: Polyester, yea or nay?
PMV: There is a place for it, as for all things, but I prefer not to see it, nor wear it! If it's a disco party, sure! I'm all for that fun. But I can't help cringe when I see those drop-waist 1960's polyester dresses, in awful colors, being used as a 1920's "costume". It is a step up from the bagged fringed and sequin flapper dress, I suppose. The 60's still had some great styles, but it really ruined the mainstream image of the 20's, thanks to Thoroughly Modern Millie, and such. It is just cheesy and “costume-y,” rather than classy and beautiful as the 20's really were. 
WT: What was the first item of vintage you ever purchased?
PMV: I was wearing outdated clothes when I was little, and liked it.  A neighbor had given us a big bag of the cutest vintage outfits all in my size. But it wasn't really till college I started shopping at thrift vintage stores, like Aardvarks and Jet Rag, for a somewhat "bohemian" look. I just knew I liked fun and unique clothing, and old stuff, and was trying to find my style. It was a very gradual process, so I can't pinpoint any one item.  Although I have a funny story about my first "flapper" dress; I was going to what may have been my first 1920's-themed show and just getting into trying to mimic the flapper look. I called all the vintage stores asking if they had "flapper" dresses - you know the beaded kind - but with no luck. Little did I know how rare and fragile those really were. I found a fancy, sequined and beaded 1960's long top in an antique shop and used it as my first flapper dress. It's pretty funny to compare that, my first attempt, to about a year later when I think I got it down pretty good. Like anything, we get better as we learn and go.  
WT: Is your personal style more casual or formal?
PMV: I'd say formal. I love dressing up and feel at my best then. I wear a cute little dress, usually 50's, just to go to the store and do errands; it makes people smile, I swear. It's easier to me than putting on pants and a T-shirt. But I love to come home, and just not care at all about what I'm wearing and just be cozy. It is a lot of work to dress nicely, and we all need time off from work sometimes.
WT: Favorite labels/designers?
PMV: I'm not a designer and label guru, but NRA labels and Schiaparelli do send shivers of joy down my spine!  
WT: Who are your style icons?
PMV: Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich, all the Ziegfeld girls... 
WT: Have you ever been tempted to beat someone up so you can steal what he/she is wearing?
PMV: Yes, but not often, since I do usually love what I'm wearing. :)  I think people would be happier if they loved what they were wearing.  
WT: You are such a stylish woman, aside from yourself, who is the best-dressed person you know and why?
PMV: That is a tough one, as I have come to know many a stylish lady. I would have to go with my first main inspiration, and that is Janet Klein. Being introduced to her music - all 1920's and 30's songs - done authentically today, did so much for me. We became friends, and I was so thankful to be about the same size as her. She has the most amazing wardrobe; it's a perfect blend of brand new vintage-inspired as well as amazing authentic vintage items. Being exposed to the sights and sounds of the era I love, especially the Vitaphones from the 20's, really inspired me to mimic the style of dress, like she does so cleverly.  
Nicole in action at Cicada Club
(photo courtesy of Photos With Class)

WT: Have you always been interested in photography?
PMV: Well, as much as the next person - I have always liked taking photos.  Actually, I almost failed my first high school photography class! It wasn't until college, when I couldn't decide on my major, that I realized it should be Fine Arts, and from there (after an Intro Photography class) I was hooked. 
WT: I am horrible with a camera (in front and behind).  Did you get training or are you self-taught?
PMV: My Bachelor's in Fine Arts was with an emphasis in photography; therefore, you can say I had training, but there's so much you really just learn from experience and being curious...lots of hours in the darkroom- it was right before digital really took over.  I went back to college right away for some Archaeology classes, and from there, when I got to be an excavation photographer, it was required to be all digital. It was new and exciting at the time. I loved Photoshop. I also got a lot of practical studio training when I worked a Summer at a portrait Studio.  
WT: What kind of camera do you use?  Digital?  Film?  Why?
PMV: I mostly use a digital SLR- it is just practical and cost efficient. However, with my Paper Moon, I am using the new Fuji Instax camera to give instant photos out. It seems like everyone loves the old Polaroid concept, and it's great that Fuji is still doing the same thing. It's only lately that I have realized there's something about film that just can't be matched, still, digital.  Do I just miss the smell of chemicals? Not sure, but I can't wait to get back into using film again right now. It's seems there's even a resurgence of it going on, with Lomography and the whole retro movement.  
WT: What is your favorite subject to shoot?
PMV: People and portraits, fashion, and anything that looks haunted and beautiful - preferably Art Deco.  

WT: Can you tell us a little about the history of paper moon photos?
PMV: It's interesting that there really is not much information on the start of this charming American phenomenon. There was a general fascination with the moon at the turn of the century, and many popular songs about the moon. The passing of Halley's Comet in 1910 probably caused a greater interest, and many Paper Moon photos from this time have a comet on the backdrop. Photo postcards became a huge fad due to new advancements in photography and with the U.S. Post Office. Studios took advantage of this by creating all kinds of interesting and fun photo backdrops and props, and the Paper Moon was one of the most popular from 1900 clear through the 1930's. Now, these real photo postcards are highly collectible and some of the most charming images we have of the past.
WT: Tell us about your personal collection of paper moon photos.  How many do you have?
PMV: Not nearly enough, maybe a couple dozen. I hope to have enough for an amazing book someday, not too far away. I do have a lot of other old postcards that have some type of image of the moon, but not necessarily a paper moon. At least we are able to look at them all we want on cyber space.  There's a nice gallery of paper moons on flickr:

(photo courtesy of Paper Moon Vintage)

(photos courtesy of Paper Moon Vintage)

Party Time on the Moon
(photo courtesy of Paper Moon Vintage

WT: Do you collect other types of photos as well?
PMV: Indeedy - any and all, 1940's and older. I love cabinet photos, snapshots with flappers in them, tintypes, anything showing fashions of the time, etc. It's especially great to find whole old albums or scrapbooks filled with photos. 
WT: How do people respond to your paper moon photo shoots?
PMV: Usually with gasps of delight, and this still pleasantly surprises me. I have a poster board with examples of photos, so you can see right away how they turn out- how it will look while you are sitting on the moon with the man in the moon! I think it touches deep reaches of our memories of the collective past. Some people don't quite get it, but still think it's seems like a "cute and quaint" idea. Maybe they are just indulging me, but I thank them for that.  

Janet Klein and her "man in the moon"
(photo courtesy of 
Paper Moon Vintage)

Grey DeLisle & a pal
(photo courtesy of 
Paper Moon Vintage)

John & Katherine
(photo courtesy of 
Paper Moon Vintage)

What's more perfect than a little moonlight on Halloween?
(photos courtesy of Paper Moon Vintage)

Kazumi & Katherine - Lunar Showgirls
(photo courtesy of 
Paper Moon Vintage)

Even celebrities get in on the act.
That's Mad Men's John Hamm and Sarah Silverman
(photo courtesy of Paper Moon Vintage)

WT: I recently saw Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," If you could live anywhere in the world during any era, where/when would you choose?
PMV: That's tough. I actually lived and worked on a living history 1900's apple farm for almost two years (with plenty of breaks in between, mind you), and I used to be in  love with Renaissance times. I feel I have a fair idea of the harsh realities amidst the romantic aspects. But, Los Angeles (to be true to my city) and Hollywood in the 20's seemed to be pretty amazing- the opulent buildings and the glamorous nightclubs. The artistic hubs of Berlin and/or Paris, of course, in the 20's would be a close second.  
WT: There is a theory in that movie called "Golden Age Thinking,"  - basically, people have always overly romanticized the past.  Do you think it is healthy/strange/beautiful?  What are your thoughts?
PMV: I think that's certainly a defeatist attitude, to think that things would be so much better if only you lived in some other time. I love that the movie explores this Romantic notion and comes to the conclusion that it is not so much where and when you are living, but that you just need to change your life if you are not happy. It's a good thing and healthy to not be satisfied with how things are, but we need to take steps to change that then, not just daydream and complain.  
WT: You live in LA, do you find that the city offers ample opportunity to showcase your business?
PMV: Oh, yes. I am so happy to have just moved much closer to it. There are vintage-themed events almost every night of the week - so much to do, and so many great historic venues. My favorite of course is Maxwell DeMille's Cicada Club, most Sunday nights. This is my regular gig, where my Paper Moon is set up in the front lobby to this amazing Art Deco building. There are a lot of fabulous annual events by the Los Angeles Art Deco Society and the Los Angeles Conservancy, as well.  I sold last year at the Queen Mary Art Deco Festival weekend, and will this year again- hopefully with a photo booth this time.  
WT: It might seem anachronistic including modern technology as part of your vintage business.  Are you ever conflicted about fully employing technology, media, social networking, etc. in promoting PMV?
PMV: No, never felt bad about that. We do live, after all, in this modern world. As much as I love the style and attention to detail that was the norm in the past, I am thankful for modern technology and medicines, and other advancements. The wealth of information at our fingertips is incredible. We have the luxury, the artistic freedom, to choose to dress however we want.
WT: Have you found your dream job?
PMV: It has the potential to become that. To make a living that can be a creative outlet, combining my passion for vintage clothing and photography, and provide a product and service to people that brings fun and a bit of the classy past back- that sounds ideal.  
- Fin 

Well, not quite "fin."  To further capture the moonglow, I share with you a series of scenes and songs of and about the moon.

"It's only a Paper Moon" - Ella Fitzgerald

It's a Wonderful Life

Les Paul & Mary Ford - "How High the Moon"

"Moonglow" - Artie Shaw

"Makin' Faces at the Man in the Moon" - The Boswell Sisters

If you haven't already, be sure to visit Nicole at the Paper Moon Vintage website and "like" the PMV Facebook page!

Paper Moon Vintage Photography is a regular fixture at Maxwell DeMille's Cicada Club in downtown Los Angeles and Nicole can be found there happily snapping photos of lovers spoonin' on the moon.  She is also available for private parties, special events and receptions; her paper moon set-up comes complete with hats, furs, feathers and whimsical props to add a bit of fun to every photo.  

Thanks Nicole for being an awesome purveyor of vintage clothing, custodian of 20th-Century Americana and a patron of what could have very well become a lost art!  Since we can't swing on a star, it's awfully nice to lounge on the moon!


Mr. Tiny

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sew What?! Jessica Stopnik Photography and a dumb ol' dress...

Whenever I shirk my blogging responsibilities, I always wonder why I have become so lazy.  I think the reason is the season.  This summer season I feel like I have been pulled in so many directions; the consequence -  a marked drop in energy.  What  little energy I have left has been directed more towards the sewing machine than the computer and - as the sensible young gentleman that I am - I can only mind one mistress at a time.  

Initially, this blog was simply going to show you a recent project on which I've been working, but when the kid sis and her boy showed me the amazing pictures they had taken by the very gifted, Jessie Stopnik of Jessica Stopnik Photography*, I decided that the emphasis should really be placed on her skill and artistry over my measly joining together of some crummy scraps of fabric!

Mary wears a 40's-style dirndl with puff sleeves, eyelet and ribbon detailing
 with a patch pocket and self belt of a reproduction, floral-print feedsack.
Her topper is made of layers of looped ribbon affixed to a buckram frame.
(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik)

Mary and Chris sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
I just have to pretend she is not my sister so I can appreciate the charm of this photo.
(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik Photography)

This is a beautiful photo - Jessie amazes me every time!
(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik Photography)

You might remember Jessica's photos from our post, wacky tacky Goes to the Prom.  She does far more than just sweet photos though.  Unlike myself, she is a master of capturing light.  Unlike me, she understands the importance of place and composition.  I cannot explain how much I love her photos.  I think, like most people, I am in awe of a talent that I will never possess.  You can see the variety of subject matter on her blog, but I thought I would treat you to a few of my favorite Jessica Stopnik photos.

(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik)

(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik)

(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik)

(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik)

(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik)

(photo courtesy of Jessica Stopnik)

Be sure to visit Jessie's blog, and like her on Facebook - you won't be sorry.  Jessica is a budding artist and is a great resource for fashion shoots, family photos, weddings and more!

*All of the photos included in this post are the property of Jessica Stopnik Photography.  Please do not reuse these images without her consent.



Mr. Tiny