Art

This Artist Created John Waters Action Figures—And We Want Every Single One

Can't you just imagine opening up a Dawn Davenport doll on Christmas?

You could fill an entire museum with all the Star Wars collectibles rolled out over the past 40 years. But why has there never been an action figure for Female Troubles’ Dawn Davenport? Or a Pink Flamingos sheet set?

From May 25 to June 24, La Mama Galleria in New York is exhibiting “Lost Merchandise Of The Dreamlanders,” an collection of figures, play sets, homewares, and other collectibles based on John Waters’ outrageous oeuvre from the 1970s and ’80s. (Waters’ production company was Dreamland Productions, and his core cast of players were called “Dreamlanders.)

Tyson Tabbert John Waters
Tyson Tabbert

Designed to look like vintage tchotchkes, the exhibition was conceived by sculptor Tyson Tabbert, who looked into licensing John Waters merch after seeing Female Trouble for the first time in 2013.

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“I was initially able to contact someone at Warner Brothers to discuss the possibility of making the figures legit,” he says. “But the possibility of licensing them was, as I interpreted it, slim at best.”

Not ready to give up the dream, Tabbert gathered a group of artists and craftspeople together to discuss creating products for a show. He self-financed the majority of the pieces, which range from plastic masks of Connie and Raymond Marble from Pink Flamingos to a Desperate Living tea set and a metal ashtray shaped like the lobster that sexually assaults Divine in Multiple Maniacs. (Incidentally, there is a Divine online store where you can buy officially sanctioned T-shirts, pins and other swag.)

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Although Tabbert initially planned to include some legit Dreamland Studios merchandise, like Van Smith’s rare 1983 Divine paper doll book, he ultimately opted for new creations inspired by his own imagination. He’s hoping the Pope of Trash visits the exhibition—and, who knows, maybe even buys an item or two.

“I certainly hope John Waters shows up,” Tabbert says. “If anyone could truly appreciate the irony of this show it would be him.”

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Tyson Tabbert
Lawrence is a New York-based travel and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Time Out New York and The New York Post.
@LawrenceFerber