Friday, August 3, 2018

The most dumfounding and awesome piece of kitsch in the entire world!!!

Behold! The ceramic "denim jeans crotch" napkin holder!

This past week while browsing at a thrift store, as I often do, I stumbled upon a most bizarre item. When I first saw it I thought, "What the hell is that?" and was dumbfounded to be seeing what I was seeing. I had just found a ceramic "denim jeans crotch" napkin holder. My next astute thought was... "Goodness it can't be true, that's so campy, what a complete piece of kitsch.... it's AWESOME!" Then I promptly snatched it up from the shelf to examine it more closely. Indeed, my eyes were seeing correctly. For I was holding in my hands a ceramic sculpture of a guy's crotch in denim. Turning it around to get a look at the back of the piece, this is what I saw...

...a guy's nicely shaped butt in denim. Cue the heavenly angel choir! "It's glorious!" I exclaimed in awe. Then I stood there momentarily transfixed on the hot ceramic ass. So round and shapely. I wanted to touch it... and so I did! For this was not the butt of a mortal being. This was a ceramic napkin holder!
 
Suddenly my mind was filled with questions. Why on earth would such a thing have been made? I mean, who aside from myself would want a guy's denim crotch and ass on their dinner table to use as a napkin dispenser? Such a gaudy item as this would surely never sell at retail! It must be from the 1970's, that's the only logical era that would have produced this thing! (Indeed, I would later learn that the piece was made circa 1977 by Duncan!) But is the fact that this piece is a functional napkin holder actually enough justification for displaying it? Is it a normal thing to display the male nether regions in the home as décor? Have I been mistaken my whole life? Have I been missing out all this time? More importantly, how does one display such a napkin holder for their guests? Do you give them crotch or ass? Or to avoid making such a decision, perhaps it is placed on a rotatable platter as a centerpiece for viewing from all angles, thus permitting the guest to choose the view they like best. I must purchase some napkins at once! But why a napkin holder? What is the connection between a male denim crotch and napkins? Is the sculpture itself indicative of the meal one would be having that requires a napkin, eluding to an oral activity involving a man's crotch that is sexual in nature? Or is it simply that such an item is meant to be gifted to someone who's cooking tastes like ass?
 
As I was pondering these important and valid questions, a most astute thought popped into my mind which made me gasp aloud in the store. What if it were true! Could it be? Would it work?
 
I was thinking about another extremely kitschy item, one that I was mysteriously compelled to purchase on e-bay many years earlier. I'm talking about the ceramic James Dean Cookie Jar made in 1996 by Clay Art....

I do not generally collect ceramic items, not even of characters that I adore even more so than James Dean (and I do find James Dean to be quite adorable), but something about this cookie jar drew me to it. When I saw it online for sale, even though I had no idea it had even existed up until then, I knew that I just had to own this extremely gaudy piece of kitsch! What a masterpiece! Much nicer than an Elvis bust by far, and you can put cookies in it too! The thought of doing without it was unbearable, and besides, there was a matching salt & pepper shaker! How cute they were, and look! There's one wearing a cowboy hat! A few spontaneous clicks later the set was mine. The three items have been proudly displayed on a shelf since the day that they arrived in the mail all those years ago.
 
And now, standing there in the thrift store with the ceramic denim crotch in my hands, it seemed that serendipity would lead me to a most rare discovery indeed! One that could send the nick-knack hording community into a frenzy! So I paid the two dollars and fifty cents for the napkin holder and when I got home, I tested my shrewd yet ridiculous theory to see if it would work.
 
Filled with anxiety while holding my breath, I bravely and carefully combined the kitsch! The two made one! Admittedly, I did so fully aware of the risk to human kind which was quite selfish of me, but I had to know if they would match!
 

 
Kitsch Utopia! I found it at last!!!!!

The perfect kitsch combo!

The truth was revealed! I had found James Dean's ceramic denim jean crotch! The ceramic ass that I had admired and touched had also belonged to ceramic James Dean! A napkin holder and a cookie jar, such an ideal and logical combination! It's as though it was meant to be!

The moral of the story, my friends, is that while the world often seems to be a cruel and unwelcome place, filled with hatred and unlimited selfishness, hardship upon hardship, remember that there are still small pockets of good out there! And in those pockets of good magical things happen such as two completely kitschy items, made by two completely different companies in two completely different eras, coming together to form the perfect ceramic kitchen housewares set in all the universe!

Yes, the stars have aligned my friends! And now, the power is mine! For I have become the keeper of the ceramic denim jeans crotch napkin holder. Thus, I felt compelled to share it with you online, so as not to be deemed a selfish man by keeping this awful masterpiece of kitsch to myself.

Now if only I could find some ceramic legs and feet!


 
The End


 
 
Additional information
Below are the details about the ceramic items in question, for those who are astute enough to know pure, genuine, high quality camp when they see it, and wish to find copies of these items for themselves:
 
Denim Jeans Crotch: After searching online for this item or similar items, I learned that there is an entire set of denim jeans themed kitchen items. Apparently, these were all made by the Duncan ceramic goods company around 1977 as a hobby kit sold through schools and craft shops. This makes sense as no respectable department store would sell a ceramic crotch shaped napkin holder. Yet, it is most bizarre to think of a child painting one of these as a school project. I can imagine how that went: "Kids, make sure to paint your crotch with care, else you will get a failing grade". Goodness the 70's were odd, which is why I love them so.

Indeed, the bottom of the piece is inscribed "To mom and dad with love", because the perfect way to show that you love your parents is to give them a ceramic denim crotch. The unfortunate parents must then display the ceramic crotch in the home in order to make their child feel loved. As the child grows, the piece then becomes a testament of how far the parent's are willing to go to show their love for the child. This despite that the item has become the thing that no one speaks of despite it being in plain site. As an adult, the now fully aware child is weighed down with guilt for having brought the crotch into his or her parents lives, enough so to periodically reassure the parents that it's okay to get rid of it... please, please get rid of it! Yet the parents, believing themselves to be cunning, know that they must insist on keeping the crotch. Years later, the parents have become so familiar with the ceramic crotch that they have lost all sense of perspective. In one last final attempt to save his or her parents, and the family unit as a whole, the child insists that the parents send "the damn thing" to good will, which is the compromise that all involved agree upon. In this way, the dear crotch which now holds sentimental power over all for it's major role in the family, is set free to live a new life. It will now burden a new owner with it's kitschy, gaudy appearance, and that person is me. Yes, I am bragging a little. Apparently, in this particular instance, the parents felt obliged keep the ceramic denim crotch in the home for the last 40 years and have only recently been able to discard it from their lives. They must be so relieved. At last it is over... the crotch is gone.

Other items in the set include a denim themed creamer, a sugar bowl with lid, salt & pepper shakers, a mug, a coffee cup, a tall vase/drinking glass, a cookie jar, a large bowl, and a tea cup with lid. Of these items only the large bowl is shaped similar in style to the napkin holder, being shaped to mimic an actual male crotch and ass. In my view the napkin holder is sculpted much nicer than the bowl. The rest of the items are round column like shapes with a denim pattern. The tea cup with lid is oval shaped.
 
James Dean Ceramic Items: The cookie jar and the salt & pepper set from 1996 were made by Clay Art in China. They were sold separately in boxes. Two more items were made in this series. There is a ceramic coffee mug in the shape of James Dean's head, and a "mask" wall hanging showing a quarter angle of his face from his left side. The latter piece is actually quite a nice looking sculpture of James Dean. Clay Art also produced similar items based on Marilyn Monroe. They were marketed along with the James Dean pieces as part of a Hollywood themed series.

Additional ceramic masks based on Hollywood icons will turn up in a Google search for "Clay Art Hollywood", however some of them, if not all of them, may have been made by a studio in San Francisco called "Clay Arts" rather than the "Clay Art" company in China. The masks include Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Clark Gable (2 designs), Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Charlie Chaplin, Elvis Presley (2 designs), John Wayne, The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion), and Marlon Brando.
 
 
 

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