1965 Arizona wax museum not much creepier than Arizona today


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Wax Museum Souvenir Guides from Miami, Dallas, and Scottsdale, Arizona

Date: 1960s & 70s

The Cover Promises:
No family roadtrip is complete without dioramas of torture and assassination.

Way back before torture scenes outpaced shopping montages as our most favoritest national TV pastime, bloodthirsty Americans had to hit the road in search of the hot man-on-man brutality they craved. Thankfully, the good folks at the American Heritage Wax Museum out in Scottsdale, Arizona, had us covered.

I believe this one was titled “The Death of Michael Stipe.” Next, Matrix bullet-time meets the bayonet.

On the left, Scottsdale’s wax artists offer their own trenchant explanation for Europeans’ ability to conquer native peoples in the Americas. While white man and Indian both learned to substitute guns for penises, the Indian sometimes got it backwards.

Speaking of white people, in this educational scene Scottsdale’s wax artists show us how they came up with the can-opener.

Scottsdale offered more than just nightmarish scalpings. Here, Killbot Kennedy vows to smash John Connor.

And here, a great American and his miserable wife find a way out of another goddamn night at the theater.

Creepiest of all is this photo of Arizona senator Barry Goldwater presenting a wax figure of Arizona senator Barry Goldwater with a framed photo of a wax figure of Arizona senator Barry Goldwater.

Perhaps worn out after the Goldwater event, when assembling this tribute to the American cowboy, the Scottsdale crew just gave up and dressed Charlie Sheen in Fred Flintstone‘s vest.

Of course, Arizona holds no monopoly on the for-profit display of not-quite-human abominations. From an early 70’s pamphlet, we see that the Miami Wax Museum was more concerned with astronauts than the abuse of goodhearted whitefolks by nefarious Indians. In fact, Miami’s craftspeople saw the conquest of the Americas as something of a grand production number.

Here, Ponce de Leon celebrates the discovery of Florida by bursting into song.

More libertine than Arizona, Miami even dared some female nudity.

This is educational rather than exploitative. White people — a race so advanced they invented wax carvings of themselves being tortured by the populations they victimized– have only ever had an anthropological interest in sweet native breasts.

There is also nothing sexual about this display.

That’s from the Southwestern Historical Wax Museum in Dallas, Texas, smack-dab in the heart of the uncanny valley. The Dallas guide boasts of using real human hair and glass eyes from Germany. It even claims that its displays are the result of “3 years of painstaking research.”

Since the pamphlet is dated ’65, though, their masterpiece must have been finished quicker than that.

Simple math tells us they only had a year and a half to complete this — unless, of course, they somehow had advance notice.

Still, even a grand achievement can be improved by Chips Colorforms!

(Flames added because word is the joint burned down in ’87.)

[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.]