That Sanitarium is Very Expensive!

A couple of years ago, Debbie Millman and I were staying at the Parker in Palm Springs. No, we weren't there together for a romantic getaway. There were 13 other designers there also. Debbie began reading a copy of Jacqueline Susann's  Valley of the Dolls that was in her room. When we left, she mentioned that she'd like to own a first edition. I immediately began looking for one, but before I could track one down, Debbie had bought her own. If you don't have time to read, or prefer to look at books with pictures only, I suggest watching the movie. Forget reading Machiavelli for tips on politics and business. Valley of the Dolls will give you all the information you need when you want to get your way. Throwing tantrums, overdosing, blackmail, seduction, and back-stabbing are all covered thoroughly.

Here are some examples of some of the dialogue that can be used for almost any situation:

When you don't feel like getting up from the sofa and want some soda: "I can't feel my legs!"

This can be said at any design conference if someone looks at you funny: "I don't need ANYBODY. I got talent, BIG talent."

I like to say this when I tell everyone that they need to work over the weekend while I plan on reading by the pool: "Having FUN kiddies?"

If someone suggests an independent film that sounds dull: "Art films? Nudies! That's all they are. Nudies."

This is good to say loudly on your cell phone in any public setting: "You told me Gramp's been sick, Mother, and I know about the oil burner. Okay, I'll pawn the mink. He'll give me a couple hundred for it. Mother, I know I don't have any talent, and I know I all I have is a body, and I am doing my bust exercises. Goodbye, Mother. I'll wire you the money first thing in the morning. Goodbye."

Building your own prison

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, Noreen as the innocent farm girl

We make our own prisons. For years, it bothered me when someone would meet me and say, “I love your work, you guys do that funny bright stuff.” The “I love your work” part was good, but the rest felt so small. In our minds, we play with ideas of pastiche, appropriation, irony, and media manipulation. The end product may incorporate complex theory, but it often appears bright and funny. So I’ve had to accept that we built this house. It’s like Marilyn Monroe wanting to be considered a serious actress, or The Beach Boys wanting serious consideration. Marilyn might have been a serious actress, but people wanted her to be what she appeared to be. Brian Wilson is an amazing and revolutionary musician, but the Beach Boys will always be fun and bubble-gum.

Years ago, Appleton Paper asked us to design a piece for their line, Utopia. The assignment was this: ask a hairstylist what his or her idea of a perfect life is. Then design a piece that reflects this. The answer we received was fairly expected, “I’d hang out by the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel and have drinks,” or something along those lines. This seemed dull and expected to us. But if you dig a little deeper, the entire Hollywood myth is buried in that statement.

The Hollywood myth that we all know is this: a young innocent leaves the farm in Kansas and heads to Hollywood to become a star. She is soon discovered at the soda fountain at Schwabs and becomes a huge star. Awards follow, and then the diva-esque behavior sets in. Of course it all ends badly with substance abuse and rehab. This is a far more fun story to tell. In fact, it is the plot of Valley of the Dolls. We decided to tell the narrative visually. Budget constraints and a nod to Cindy Sherman, not excessive ego, thrust Noreen into the starring role. Of course, in the end, it's the bright and funny stuff.

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, stardom, swimming pools, and Cadillacs

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, diva behavior, rehab

Patty Duke, Valley of the Dolls, 1967

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, Sean Adams on the road to ruin

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka