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Hey, 'Forever Marilyn,' L.A. can make you a star

May 16, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • Workers in Palm Springs prepare 'Forever Marilyn' statue for its debut May 24.
Workers in Palm Springs prepare 'Forever Marilyn' statue for… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

You know what California -- or, specifically, Los Angeles -- needs? More Marilyns.

Right now, workers in Palm Springs are busy “touching up” artist Seward Johnson’s “Forever Marilyn” statue, which will be re-unveiled May 24. (How do you touch up a 26-foot-tall statue of a blond bombshell with her skirt blowing up?  You just yell "makeup!" of course.)

Now, to say that this Marilyn is hot is an understatement. After all, she got run out of Chicago; well, OK, maybe that’s too strong, but there were nasty things said about her, and there was vandalism.

And those Palm Springs workers can attest to how hot she is: "She’s still being assembled -- it’s taking a while because it’s been so hot, making the surface hot to touch," said Nona Watson, CEO of the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. (Imagine that: It’s hot in Palm Springs. Must be global warming.)

As my colleague Rosanna Xia writes, “Forever Marilyn” re-creates the scene from the 1955 film "The Seven Year Itch" in which a drafty New York subway grate blows the sex symbol's skirt well above her knees.

It’s a scene that kept more than a few red-blooded American men up at night. The statue certainly does the scene, and the late movie icon, justice.

Marilyn wasn't a hit with everyone in Chicago ( dubbed "Forever Marilyn" the No. 1 piece of bad public art -- ahead of a “Bewitched” statue in Salem, Mass., while others found its sexy pose sexist). But Palm Springs, land of the perpetual tan, has no such misgivings. It will happily host the artwork through June 2013.

I’m guessing it’s going to be a big tourist draw.

And with L.A. being in an economic slump, we need those tourist dollars here. 

So someone needs to sit down and do lunch with her people, and then ink “Marilyn Forever” to a long-term deal.

After all, in a town where a big tourist draw is a corrugated metal sign on a Hollywood hillside, she’d be a perfect fit.

Plus, let’s not stop with Marilyn. Heck, lowly South Dakota has Mt. Rushmore. Why can’t L.A. go all 21st century and have its own Sculptures of the Stars?

Sure, those plaques on the Hollywood Walk of Fame are nice. And people like the hand prints and all at Grauman’s. But get real: Would you rather see Marilyn’s star, or gaze up her two-story-tall skirt?

Thought so.

So first, Marilyn.  Maybe put her down by L.A. Live.  Or maybe near Dodger Stadium -- those guys have lots of land, and with all the money they paid, they need revenue streams.

Then do an Internet voting contest for the next four statues. Charge folks a buck to vote.  (Hey, this is L.A., not Washington; nothing is free here.)   

In Paris, people go to see Rodin’s “The Thinker.” 

In L.A., we’re not so big on thinking. But we know what to do with sex symbols.


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