My pal Shawn Robare, over at Branded in the 80s, has a series of features where he identifies pop culture in movie bedrooms. His last feature pointed out a few of the pop culture items in Pee-wee’s bedroom in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. In the article, he mentions that Tim Burton is friends with Allee Willis, the Queen of Kitsch. After reading Shawn’s article about her, I fell down the rabbit hole of linkage and found a wonderland. A Boogie Wonderland, to be exact.
See, Allee Willis is not only the Queen of Kitsch, but she’s also a songwriter. Here’s a sampling of what she’s written:
*This is one of my favorite songs of all time, since September is my favorite month.
I’m just burnin’, doin’ the Neutron Dance. I LOVE THIS SONG, YOU GUYS.
This song makes me think of my college step aerobics class. My instructor insisted on disco for our warmups.
Oh, she wrote the Friends theme, too? NBD.
No, Allee, you’re the best. (She wrote this one with Bill Conti, he of the Rocky soundtrack.)
This is a song she did with ol’ PW himself.
She and Pee-wee created an MTV video version of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. I can’t find an exact video of that, but here’s PW with Bryan Adams.
Everything I’ve read on her blog and about her (like this People profile from 1986) makes me want to meet her. She and Pee-wee went to the Grammy Awards together, and he and people like Tracey Ullman hung out at Allee’s house to watch bad old monster movies. She’s an artist of all media, even making a never-screened movie, They Must Be Told, starring people like Linda Ronstadt, Teri Garr, and Lesley Ann Warren. (It was never screened outside of Willis’ home, because according to her, it would be “artistic suicide”.) Apparently she had an army of 6′ plastic Godzillas in her yard. “I want to go there,” as Liz Lemon would say.
More importantly, though, Allee Willis has a passion for life and living it her way. She is in love with her hometown, Detroit. She has a funky fashion sense, and seems to find joy in everything she does. And really, that’s all anyone can ask for, right?
Want to learn more about Allee Willis? Here are some links:
- Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch
- Allee Willis’ website
- This interview from RetroJunk
- Also, you can buy me this picture disc of “Big Adventure”.
What do you think? Do you want to be a Kitsch prince or princess in Allee Willis’ kingdom?