Allee Willis’ Kitsch ‘O The Day – Pufnstuffin’ With Sid Krofft

New Year’s Eve, 2011. I’m coming down Sunset Plaza, a really windy road with million dollar homes right above Sunset Blvd. in LA. I’m in my Green Beetle, which is a lean and fast machine.

Sunset Plaza’s a pain in the ass to drive under any circumstance but nightmarish should you end up behind a slowwww driver, which is what fate dealt me this New Years when I was in a big hurry to get to my destination, my friends Nancye Ferguson and Jim Burn’s pad, an ultra modern built-for-Brian-DePalma-in-the-70′s house that teeters on stilts overlooking the city. Here’s the view from the balcony:

There are very few parking spaces to accommodate a small fraction of the 50 people on their way up there. If you don’t get one of those spaces you have to turn around in a teeny tiny cul-de-sac and drive a quarter mile out the little windy road with hardly any shoulder and a drop-down of hundreds of feet. And then you’re back out on the main winding road where there are about two parking spaces for every fifty people. No way am I limping back up that hill on foot! So I start leaning on the horn behind this little black car driving at funeral speed. To my credit, I only honked when there was enough room for the stupid driver to pull over so I could pass. Finally, after five minutes the car hugs the curb and I whiz past, gunning it extra hard to show my annoyance even further.

I get to the house and thank God there’s a space left. I pull in, put some lipstick on and send a few emails on my iPad before I go in. A couple of cars pass me and I don’t see them coming back down the hill, which means they must’ve found parking spots too. I finally get out of the car and trudge the last 20 feet up to the house. Standing there is my good friend, Beverly D’Angelo, with a guy I don’t know. Beverly and I go way back and I love her. She’s also an excellent party guest, a criteria I have incredibly high standards for, and has been coming to mine for years.

Just as I’m getting in hugging range I hear Snappy P yell, “Green Beetle, that must have been Allee!”. “You fucking asshole, you almost drove us off the road!!,” screams Beverly as I approach. Oh shit, I rarely misbehave behind the wheel anymore and now I’ve gone and terrorized a friend. But then it gets worse, “Meet Sid Krofft,” she says, referring to the mystery man next her, adding that she brought him to the party specifically to meet me. Now I’ve been waiting to meet this guy since the late 60′s when his puppets, marionettes and insane live action shows started ruling TV and now I’ve almost killed him. “I wanted to get out of the car and tell you what an asshole you were” he says. Thank God the Beetle was turbo-charged and he didn’t have a chance. I ate a lot of crow for the next few minutes, but it was immediately apparent that Beverly was completely right. This guy was a kindred spirit and we hit it off like we had known each other for decades.


Though Beverly had told Sid he HAD to come to Willis Wonderland, I went to his place first, now a couple weeks ago. I took hundreds of photos but I can’t show any of them because Sid’s a really private guy. But it’s as handcrafted as my place is times 6 trillion-on-steroids.

In actuality, I didn’t really get full tilt into the Kroffts back in the day when their shows were on the air because by then I was way way way deep into records and the radio. As a fan and later as a songwriter, when my radio habit lurched into twelfth gear and I lived and breathed music every millisecond of every day, I was still aware of that Sid and Marty Krofft name and that it stood for something crazy. But it really wasn’t until so many friends of mine insisted I go to an auction of their props at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1998 that I realized the extent of that craziness as well as the magnitude of its reach. As a kitsch lover, how could I have not been familiar with every single detail of the Kroffts’ career, the guys on the throne at the top of the kitsch mountain??

YouTube, of course, makes for an excellent crash course. So I’ve seen more of the Krofft brothers’ magic in the last month than I have in my lifetime. And my respect and discovery of the depth of influence their work had on me subliminally has been a revelation. H.R. Pufnstuf is probably their most classic:

I don’t like to wake up early for social visits but at 82, Sid Krofft is in REMARKABLE shape, jogging 9 miles a day + a couple hours in the gym, so he’s raring to go when the sun comes up. 10:30 bright and early a couple of Tuesdays ago he and Beverly were at my doorstep.

I even got it together to cut up healthy food for him.

This is a BIG step for me as this is what’s more likely to be on that table on a regular basis:

Sid was as fascinated by Willis Wonderland as I was of his hand-built abode. As my yard is part of my living room, we hit that first.

Although it was raining when I took the following shot, you need to see those GORGEOUS 1950′s fiberglas fish lounges sans people:

As we strolled around outside we were joined by Donny Molls, a great artist and Sid’s next door neighbor:

We stopped and chatted in every room:

My downstairs, where that shot was taken, is particularly packed with memorabilia, some of which is Krofft Brothers stuff I’m happy to say I had the good sense to collect even if I wasn’t sure exactly what it was when I bought it.

If you’ve never seen Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, double up your sedation and watch now! EASILY one of the greatest title sequences in the annals of kitschdom:

Thank god I had a few View Master disks of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl in my collection too:

Sid and Michael Jackson were great friends so I pointed out some of my primo MJ cheese:

You really need to see what I’m pointing at. Yeah, I got the doll and the puzzle like a zillion other people…

…but who else do you know who has the drink cooler?! This is easily my favorite piece of MJ memorabilia I own:

When we got to my dining room…

… Sid posed in front of Mr. Wah Wah, a stunning portrait painted by my alter-ego, Bubbles the artist.:

We spent a lot of time in my recording studio too.

Although Sid has a computer he’s not obsessed with them as I am of my 11 networked Macs. So what we really wanted to do was show him how much of his stuff is online.

And there’s gaggles of it – H.R. Pufnstuf, Land Of The Lost, The Bugaloos, Lidsville, The Donny and Marie Show, not to mention Electra Woman and Dyna Girl for starters. And no exploration of Sid and Marty Kroffts would be complete without the Brady Bunch Variety Hour:

The Brady Bunch is certainly coming up A LOT lately!

One of THE most classic and cheesiest shows EVER on TV was called Pink Lady and Jeff. 1981. I remember being so intrigued by that nutty title that I tried to catch the show whenever I could. Imagine the complete and total ecstasy-breakdown I had when I saw the Pink ladies immortalizing my song,”Boogie Wonderland”:

Watching this again with the creator of that show who was totally in on the cheese joke of it all was even more thrilling. As we were poking around doing searches on YouTube I discovered that not only did Pink Lady do that quintessential performance of the song, they also recorded it. I’m still gasping for breath:

What a day I spent with the gang. Here’s one last parting shot for the photo LP before everyone left:

I sho love me some Sid Krofft!!


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Categories: Accessories, Animation, Art, Boogie Wonderland, Celebrity, Crafts, Creativity, Dance, Disco, Film, Food, Furniture and Housewares, Games, Hollywood, House, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Memorabilia, Music, People, Place, Self expression, Songwriting, Toy, TV/Radio, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Dinner And Neutron Dancing With CHARO!

I’m sure any kitsch lover has a similar dream – having dinner with the kitschy-kitschy-cuchi Charo and bonding like you have been best friends for 30 years. Such was my evening at composer Pietor Angell’s pad with the aforementioned singer, actress, Flamenco guitar virtuoso, CHARO!

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Categories: Celebrity, Dance, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Neutron Dance, Songwriting, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 91 On An Oxygen Tank and Racing Past 1,000,000!

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“Hey Jerrie”, the video I made with 91 year old female drummer on an oxygen tank, Jerrie Thill, is the little engine that could! Every week since we made it in 2009 the video has steadily grown. With absolutely no promotion since then it steadily gained viewers. Nothing dramatic but inching along a few hundred or thousand every week. Then all of a sudden a couple of weeks ago the numbers started going crazy. Tens of thousands of new views a day to the 1,079,439 it is today!
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I’ve had some videos that have gotten close to the million mark but they’ve mainly loaded on the views in one big chunk around the time of release. But Jerrie, who departed this plane last year, just kept on ticking and crossed over the magic number a couple of nights ago.
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There’s something wonderful about this happening to Jerrie. She had a wonderful career, working steadily since being discovered by Al Capone’s brother while her parents ran gin for the boys during Prohibition. But she never had recognition in the millions or even tens of thousands and the million mark would make her VERY happy indeed.
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More about Jerrie here.

Categories: Creativity, Jerrie Thill, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Songwriting, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1960′s Fringe Vest Pattern

I wore my fringe vest for years. It was gold suede, just like the cheesy-haired couples’ on the bottom of this McCall’s pattern, though mine didn’t have the little turquoise beads. I think the sound of them knocking together would have driven me insane. I wore that that vest religiously from about 1970 to 73 but it got so pit stained I finally had to retire it. Suede does not take kindly to pit stains. I know I still have it sitting in a box somewhere. It was too much a part of my formative years to part with forever.

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Categories: Clothes, Film, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – ‘Can Ya Dig It’ Patch

Other then “Right on!”, there was no more popular phrase in the late 60′s and early 70′s than “Can Ya Dig It?”. Though this patch is missing the ‘?’, which makes it as kitsch as it was hip back in the day. Of course, sewing patches all over your clothes was never excessively hip but here are a couple other ones you may have sewn over holes in your bellbottoms were you of the mind:

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Categories: Afro, Detroit, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 14, THE VIDEO

As I’ve been blabbing about for weeks now, I had the extreme pleasure of conducting my high school marching band playing a medley of some of my greatest hits in the lobby of the theater I grew up in in Detroit with the cast of the musical I co-wrote, The Color Purple, singing along. I meant to post video of our performance as soon as I got home but to my horror, one of the three cameramen only shot the students from the back and the other both forgot to turn his camera on for parts of songs and babbled over the footage like he was the subject of a documentary. So it took quite a lot of editing to get something where you could even begin to see the  warm, wonderful and uplifting-higher-than-the-sky feeling that permeated the theater that day.

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Categories: Boogie Wonderland, Detroit, Discography, Earth Wind & Fire, Friends theme, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, Musical Instruments, Neutron Dance, Party, School, Self expression, September, Songwriting, The Color Purple, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Watch my new song: “Scared About Life Without Oprah”

My friend and hysterical TV comedy writer, Maxine Lapiduss, has done a brill job on the just-released-and-going-exceptionally-strong video for a song I co-wrote with her, Mark Waldrop, with whom Maxx started the lyric, and Michael Orland, musical director and accompanist for American Idol, good friend, and neighbor of mine who came over with Maxx and with whom we banged out the music in a few hours.

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Categories: Afro, Creativity, Discography, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Sports, The Color Purple, video

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From Allee on the road…

As much as I look forward to rolling out of bed every morning and choosing a fresh, new and wonderful artifact of kitsch to present, today is an absolutely torturous day in terms of what I have to accomplish. First of all, I’m driving back to LA from Monterey. It’s supposed to rain like cats and very large dogs most of the way back so I have to get an early start. Also, I have to write tons of the kind of stuff I hate to write because I’ve got to unleash a whole Facebook campaign on a death-defying event I’m attempting to pull off in 2 1/2 weeks in Detroit when I conduct my high school band in the theater I grew up in playing a medley of my greatest hits before a performance of my musical, The Color Purple, with the cast singing along. This should sound like a manageable event, but just imagine the sound of a marching band playing in the four-story high/almost block long lobby of a theater built in 1930 of solid concrete and marble, the acoustical nightmare of which has just dawned on me: What’s the point of having a sing-along if all you can hear is a bevy of brass drilling through your your eardrums?

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Categories: Art, bad art, Clothes, Creative process, Creativity, Detroit, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, Musical Instruments, Party, School, Self expression, Songwriting, The Color Purple, Travel, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Detroit Zoo Hat and My Homegirl, Lily Tomlin

When I grew up in Detroit I went to the zoo on 10 Mile and Woodward at least a couple times a year. Although I got this particular chapeau on Ebay, I’m certain I had one exactly like it as I never went there without something separating me from the sun. I was quite fond of theme hats as a kid.

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Categories: Animals, Celebrity, Detroit, Drink, Food, Hats, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, Musical Instruments, Place, Songwriting, Street, Travel, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Paging Dr. Casey!! I’m having knee surgery today…

Today I’m having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in my left knee. The operation, a relatively quick outpatient job, was supposed to occur on my right knee but after putting the surgery off for over a year and a half I favored the good leg so much that literally the day I finally scheduled the invasion the good knee went eeewwwrrripppp!!! and snapped just like the other one.  Calling Dr. Casey!!!

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