Delivery Attempted -- Mail Art 7: The TERROR of Mail Art

Unpacking boxes from my move is a bit like archaeology. While I remember coming across (and trashing) a lot of Mail Art stuff from decades ago while packing, I keep turning up artifacts I'm surprised to find I still have.

Case in point is this documentation for a Day of the Dead-themed Mail Art show held in Homer, Alaska from 1993. Documentation was (still is?) basically a little booklet with the names and addresses of all of the participants, with photos of some or (sometimes-but rarely) all of the pieces submitted. Mail Art shows are still a thing, apparently. They're not as prevalent as they once were--and I have yet to enter one since I returned to the hobby (not that I have any plans to ever bother to do one, but...).

I also came across something else while unpacking... Oh my! I've run afoul of the Mail Art Police in the past with something. For another Mail Art show (circa 1993 in Fresno, California). I had made something the post office had found objectionable. An official letter was sent to the show stating that I had violated the postal laws. There was a photocopy of the law (with Hi-Liter circling the exact statute) I was breaking. I guess that Mail Art piece has since ceased to exist. The really off thing is--while they may have burned/trashed/ripped up the original, they enclosed a Xerox copy for reference. Ha!

Back in the day, when I was a kid, I was obsessed with movies and I scoured the movie page of the newspaper every day, first thing in the morning. My favorite ads were, of course, for the horror movies. But the best ones were for the drive-ins showing crazy triple (or more) bills. The ads were like little movie posters…so I think that’s how my obsession with movie posters started. But I also believe that is how I came to mail art as well. The triple-feature movie ads were a type of mail art. They’d have all of this gloriously lurid ad copy (much of it not part of the original release ad campaign) and many times they would use images acquired elsewhere. They crammed as much info into the little ads as they could to hook people into going to see the show at $5 a carload or whatever it was back then. In my earliest mail art, I tried to emulate what the drive-in movie ad makers did (using my own fake titles, of course). Literally, I used to use old movie ads—Xeroxed—for my mail art pieces back then.

With a nod to those wondrous, old drive in ads and to my own early mail art days, I tried to make a (fake) triple feature ad. The third feature (“CARNIVEROUS CO-EDS”), I had made for the zine I created (that turned out rather lame). As small and insignificant as it was, I didn’t want it to be lost with the zine. So, when the idea for a school-themed triple bill mock horror movie ad came to me, like the movie distributors used to do, I “recycled” an old movie (or in this case, my zine fake movie ad) as the third feature.

I hope BonnieDiva likes it/gets it. I'm also including the ill-fated zine inside. O' the joy. Not. (?)

This next one didn't come out well. The classic shocker WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? is 60 years old this year.  This is such a great film and I was lucky to get to see it shown on the big screen recently. No one else was in the theater---which is such a shame. I stumbled on this film on TV as a kid and was fascinated. Bette Davis, in this frightening, Kabuki-like makeup and poor, trapped Joan Crawford upstairs. What the hell was I seeing? It was an old movie--but it is brilliant. This flick has stuck with me. I've been to the location that was used as the house a couple of times, walked outside of the studio it was made at (which appears in the film as well), I have the movie on disc, and was thrilled to finally see it in an actual movie theater.

My salute to the movie turned out rather poor--but whatever. It does feature the house, the rat scene, Jane and Blanche, and even the cracked Baby Jane doll. The person receiving it boldly asked "How do i get some Mail Art?" She never once said anything complementary about the Mail Art or even indicated she'd read about it. All I had was that comment. Okay then. She got added to the list. Now I can scratch her off of it. The sad part is, she propbably has never seen the film and will have zero appreciation for the envelope. (Not that it came out all that fab anyway...) (D)

More evidence that I need to take a break from doing this for a while. (If I could just get caught up...) Blah. Another disappointment. This one I blame on having no layout in mind at all. I just started gluing the elements on as I came across them. Oh well. (D)

Two people I really wanted to send some Mail Art to before I back out of the hobby again were Sue Nan Douglass, who was initially very encouraging of my "envelope art" as I was calling it back in the day. The other was Mallory Moad, who really introduced me to the world of Mail Art. However BOTH things I made for them were big failures...

For Sue Nan, I found the image of this girl and she was rather creepy looking. It was a photo from Russia's first horror film, VIY. The original image is dark--to add to the creepiness. However, you really couldn't see it well. I lightened it up before I printed it. Hmm. With the big smile on the girl, she looks friendly instead of menacing. So much for the horror that was intended. Instead I just sort of compromised, added some fairies, and made it a magic fantasy thing. Whoopie...(D)

Mallory's is a bigger disappointment...  I had actually been working on this for a while. Since I have such a hard time incorporating the addresses onto the envelopes (as well as the damned stamps), I was trying to think of something with a built-in place for an address. A light bulb went off in my head. A toe tag! I found a picture and...yep. I could make it work. But now that I had the toe-tag photo, who could I send it to? On my dwindling list of people I want to send to (which has actually grown again...), the only person I could think of who would not be freaked out by a picture of a corpse's feet was Mallory Moad. Great---I had toe-tagged corpse feet and a recipient. Now what? Uh... clearly I drew a blank. It became slapped together crap. Ugh. (I also hope the timing isn't awful and she's had no recent deaths in her life. That would be most unfortunate. Eek!) (?)
Despite my flop-a-rama WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE tribute envelope above (and the PINK FLAMINGOS one I did a few weeks back), I tried again with another classic I'd love to see again, SUNSET BOULEVARD. This one is far simplar (and more aesthetically pleasing)--with the damned stamps ruinning things AGAIN. This one is going to my oldest (as in how long I've known her--not her age!) friend Nedra, who is living the dream (or trying to) and constantly amazes me. (D)
IUOMA (International Union of Mail Artists) member Mike Parsons again sent me some Mail Art, despite my repeated requests for him not to.
Of the three (four?) things he has sent my way, I do like this one the best. It was very nice of him to send it. However, I'd rather he hadn't sent it. I was going to ignore it. But, last time he sent something, I decided to make my zine to send out if he (or someone else) sent me something. So, I thought I'd send the damned zine off to him if nothing else.
Of course, to send the zine I needed an envelope. And how could I send a plain, naked envelope? Ugh! What I made for him (a quickie again...but it had already been planned to be a quickie even before he wrote me) is below.
There is an album cover by the '70s group Supertramp (Crime of the Century) that features a similar image (a prison cell window floating in space with a pair of hands grasping the bars), but that was not my inspiration. When I stumbled on the door photo, I was thinking more of the mysterious doors in Stephen King's DARK TOWER II: THE DRAWING OF THE THREE. They were doors that went...elsewhere. I thought my mysterious door should be floating in space---but that it should be alone, nothing else around. Okay. While it does maintain its mysteriousness---it’s also dull. Another FAIL by me. Sorry. (D)
I received Mail Art from Tim Collapse.Tim Collapse is another non-IUOMA guy who peruses the site without being a member. That's where he found my address originally. I remember sending Mr. Collapse a piece of Mail Art back in April. I remember being in some rinky dinky town in the middle of Nowhere, WA. It was one of the pieces I feared would never be delivered. I was amazed to find that it had been.
While I had told him originally that I was retiring, I told him again in the note I sent him in this piece o' Mail Art I whipped together for him. Truth be told, I was already planning this piece o' Mail Art. It just came together finally because of his mail. It is, of course, ruined by the stamps.(?)
This attempt at a faux horror movie poster envelope was actually going to go to someone else on my list. But, even though Maxima Strange recently received some Mail Art from me, I decided she needed this one, too.  Not only was it kind of spooky (which is her thing), but I wanted to send her one of the copies of the awful zine I made recently as well. She's a big zine enthusast...and I wanted to show her that bad zines do exist, too... Incidentally, I'm very proud of the lady on the right with the giant, bloody shears. She's actually made up from three different figures. The head and chest were one image, There was a man in coveralls holding the shears. I cut his big arms down and tried to make the figure more lady-like. Then, instead of his coverall-ed legs and shoes, I added the evening gown. It worked out surprisingly well, I think.(Although the over all envelope is kind of meh...) (D)

P. Landon continues to send me things. I don't "owe" her any responses (currently), but I wanted to send her one of the (awful) zines I created. NOT as any sort of punishment--although that would be funny. Instead, it was a pathetic "thank you" of sorts for the mail. I just wish she'd stop so I can get caught up and retired from Mail Art. Then perhaps an occasional one here or there would be okay... This envelope didn't come out that great. She and I had been exchanging space-y (or, specifically, Venus-y) mail for a while. I drew a blank. I found these pictures of women dressed as cats (!?!) and decided this mess was "Pussycat Gals From Venus." (I was going to include the tagline "They came to Earth seeking kitty litter...", but...). Stamp placement... UGH! Stamps are NOT my friend.(D)
As of this writing, there remain 15 pieces of Mail Art that I have no idea what happened to. I thought about preparing another batch of postcards with photos of the missing mail and asking if they've been received. But of the 15 missing pieces, 4 of them already had postcards sent a few months ago. No reply. I've sent messages out on IUOMA inquiring about the missing mail. I go ignored. Was it something I said...or maybe they just didn't like their envelopes?
Whatever... I'll try these people. 
Hopefully they will respond... and they will have gotten their mail.


Grover said…
Love this!!!
Monster A Go-Go said…
Ah, thanks for looking, David. You are now on the list. Ha! I'm glad you liked it. I hope you are well.

Sue Nan Douglass said…
Thanks Shawn! So much fun to read. Postal violations are sooooo worth the effort! Those people need to laugh every now and then. I know all of us lucky recipients of your postal tributes to terror are beyond grateful! Thanks for sharing...
Monster A Go-Go said…
Sue Nan! Thanks for leaving a message here. I am glad you liked the Mail Art I sent you. (And glad that it actually arrived!) Whoo hoo! Postal violations, be damned! CHEERS!
Another fun post! OMG, I remember that movie, What ever happened to Baby Jane? It was my introduction to Betty Davis. I think I saw it on the big screen. Cheers!
Monster A Go-Go said…
Christa!!Thanks for taking a look at the post. Yes, BABY JANE is a great flick. It's always nice to see you here. CHEERS!