Where there's smoke, there's fire, and where there are smokers, there are usually lighters. To qualify that even further: where there are trendy smokers, there are novelty lighters.
These little portable fire boxes have ignited cigarettes, cigars and pipes for almost as long as man has found it necessary to inhale smoke into his lungs. With the quirky new trappings of novelty lighters, man can inhale smoke into his lungs and be the hit of the party, as well.
An actor from Studio City wears a lighter whose flame bursts forth from his digital wristwatch. "It makes me feel like James Bond," he says.
"It's a strictly social-function kind of lighter," he adds. "I don't wear it at home. Also, you can burn the hair on your arm if you're not careful."
At the Buccaneer Smoke Shop in the Sherman Oaks Galleria, owner Jerry Sperling sells lighters shaped like microphones, tanks, cassette tapes and fake cigarette packs. He says they all sell like wildfire.
"People are always looking for something different," he muses. "Plus, they are not too expensive, they range from $8.95 to $14.95."
A production manager from Burbank is the proud owner of two novelty lighters: a gun and a Godzilla. "I like the feel, the macho-ness of the gun," he says. "It's a gun, but it's not real, it can't hurt anyone. I can fantasize I'm a secret agent man."
Of the Godzilla, he says: "The flame comes out of his mouth, and you can adjust it so that it's really big, like a 6-inch tongue of flame. It's great. You can pretend you're burning up Tokyo."