On one of the social media sites I have rented a room in someone posed the question, ‘What does it take for a social media experience to feel genuine?”

I have various frustrations with all the social networks – Myspace feels like a haven for overamped graphic school dropouts with an obsession for self promotion, Facebook has too many rules about how you can communicate and limits the number of friends you can have, Twitter limits you to 140 characters which is exactly what works about it but encourages outrageous numbers of numbifying tweets. YouTube, Ning, Triibes, Flickr, Tumblr, StumbleUpon and the trillion other online communities springing up faster than rabbits all have incredible strengths and brain numbing weaknesses. Which means you have to find the one/s that resonate with you and then paddle as fast as you can. 

I’m a person with many friends, on both physical and virtual planes. Having thought about the design of social networks for close to 20 years here’s what I commented back:

Two key words in your question: social and genuine. A great host/ess has great social skills. Whether it’s in physical or virtual space it’s about creating a unique environment that people feel totally comfortable in because they’re entertained and stimulated enough in to interact with each other and get something they can’t get anywhere else.

Great parties, pages, lenses, websites, restaurants, stores, meetings, etc. happen because the leader/owner/party thrower has created a unique space and experience that brings out the creativity, heart and brain power of the participants. 

A great host/ess also knows how to put together a fantastic guest list, matching people because of their passions, not because they owe them an invitation or it’s a way to get everyone you know in one room. And those initial handpicked guests bring more people of similar mind who then spread the word. This works exactly the same in your living room as it does in cyberspace. 

Re the word ‘genuine’, it’s just that: a genuine expression of the leader’s passion or knowledge expressed with enough flair to make it a happening. Fakes are easy to spot.

Check out my Smock It To Me (Art Can Taste Bad In Any Medium) party I threw in 1992. It commemorated my giving up being a linear songwriter and artist in order to pursue my new passion, building a social network. This was 1992, mind you. I was a pretty prolific party thrower because it was the only platform I had where I could do everything I did in one space – music, art, collecting, building sets, throwing parties, etc. I created themed environments and planned humorous activities that would encourage interaction and creativity. I realized I could do the same thing in fledgling cyberspace but with an added bonus, encouraging people to collaborate and communicate with each other on an ongoing basis and not just during the few hours they spent in my backyard. 

I spent the next 5 years developing willisville, my vision for a visual, collaborative social network. Seeing as most folks didn’t even understand what the Internet was in ’92 let alone trying to explain what a social network was, it was a pretty hard sell. I was, in fact, funded by Intel in ’95 to build a prototype but, in reality, rather than getting to build anything even remotely resembling willisville I was just there to paste pretty pictures and nice music on a demo of some dorky technology they had already invested in. 

From 1991-’97 I consulted on the socialness of cyberspace for companies like Intel, AOL, Silicon Graphics, Microsoft, Disney, Warner Bros., blah blah blah. I even testified in Washington on artist’s rights in cyberspace. But most of the time it was like throwing mud at a wall and watching it slowly slither to the ground. 

I finally gave up pursuing my dream of building a social network in 1997 until a couple of years ago when I saw true signs of life in Facebook. Although there’s much I hate about Facebook like limiting the number of friends you can have or the number of messages you can send within a certain time period, feeds only going to a slice of your friends – don’t get me started here – it was the first place I saw that encouraged genuine communication between like minded folks without being a shill for one more way to promote yourself or your crappy band.

The trick in creating great social media, of course, is not to jump on the bandwagon but to figure out how to have a seat by creating something totally your own that speaks to people in a way none of the other places are doing it yet. It’s got to be a) social and b) genuine so c) people will come and d) return with their friends.


I’m not sure how golf balls became the standard for Kitsch building materials but from poodle sculptures to lamps they adorn some of the greatest Kitsch gems of all time. This lamp is the Velveeta of my collection. Turquoise and natural white balls mounted on a stem that forever tips. The lamp weighs a ton and falls over with regularity as little thought was given to equal distribution of ball weight. I suppose this is why, upping the Kitsch factor, a lacey cast iron shade is mounted over a more fragile pleated fabric shade that would have long ago been crushed by the number of falls the lamp has sustained. Or, in a kitsch lover’s dream, perhaps it’s there to throw a pattern on what I hope was a wood slat sunburst or tin foil covered wall in the original owner/ crafter’s home.


Taking meat and kitsch to a new high, Burger King’s Flame cologne promises to make you smell like a romantic burger. With one spritz and the slogan “Behold the scent of seduction, with a hint of flame broiled meat”, BK Flame roars ahead of Avon at even its Mid Century cheese peak to take the top tier in the Parthenon Of Kitsch. This audacious expression of marketing kitsch makes me forgive BK for having the scariest and most unappetizing mascot of all time, that king with the big head. Remember, the next time you smell something cooking it could be the guy next to you. 



JOYCE!  As a result of this 1983 Kitsch classic LP, Joyce may not have had the opportunities now presented to Ms. Boyle but she certainly had the look to permeate our hearts and remain there as long. I was lucky enough to find this cover (LP long gone) in 1983 at my favorite junkyard, The Champagne Of The Salvage Industry (real name), in Long Beach, CA. As that was the year of the LP’s release, perhaps the songstress and her songs, featuring “I Get All Excited”, weren’t quite as compelling as the cover. But like Susan Boyle, word of Joyce has spread virally over the years, especially after her inclusion in the 2004 book, The Worst Album Covers in the World. I pride myself among the lucky ones to own a piece of Joyce Drake of Sealy, Texas who, if she’s still around, I hope is sharpening her pipes for next year’s Idol auditions.


I’m a big fan of state souvenirs, especially since most states have the identical souvenir snow globes, ashtrays and pen holders, all of which have nothing to do with the state itself other than the name decal slapped on front. But hats off to New Mexico for going a step further on the disconnect scale and having these teeth salt and pepper shakers. If anyone is aware of the connection between these choppers and “The Land Of Enchantment” I’m all ears or, should I say, teeth.


As an avid multi-tasker, I put my feet to work whenever possible. As opposed to when I first started wearing them a couple of years ago, these comfy yet practical foot coverings are at the brink of over-exposure after being featured on Leno the night before last. Also evidence of their proliferation, you can find them a zillion places online and, as opposed to the original plaid, they now come in a zillion colors, fabrics and brands. 

Just as kitschy as the footwear itself, I love this description of them from www.asseenontvguys.com (not to be confused with www.asseenontv.com). Could the company with the Kitsch klassic name have said the same thing over and over again (and with sloppier grammar and punctuation) just one more time?!

“Dust mop slippers and mitt pick up dirt, and dust quickly and easily. Slippers grab pet hair as you slide across the floor, save time walking dirt away. No more bending or kneeling. Dust While You walk. No more kneeling and stooping to clean those out of the way places. Simply slip on these convenient slippers for a clean and sparkling floor. Frees you hands for other chores. Slip these convenient mop slippers onto your feet to easily dust mop your floors! Easily clean those out of the way places without kneeling or stooping. A great time saver!”

To clean floors and sylish feet!


I’m a monster fan of integration be it a business strategy, department store or coffee cup design. The integration of the ‘o’ from ‘Disco’ into the cup handle is genius to the point that the monster mistake made is excusable. That drippy moss green ceramic glaze is vintage Hippie, as far away from a Disco color scheme or technique as imaginable. Which kicks this cup even higher on the Kitsch scale than cup design alone.



…with all the eggs, chicks, peeps, bunnies, roosters, shredded cellophane and bagels upon it. I made this out of foamcore and the aforementioned materials Easter,1998. There were recipes for “Eggs In Exciting Ways” from a vintage cookbook under the brim. I’m wearing the hat now and having a very Happy Easter and I hope you are too.

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