New Roost For Chicken Boy?
1984 passed without the rise of Big Brother, but it did mark the fall of Chicken Boy.
Chicken Boy was a fried chicken restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Its mascot was a 22-foot-tall Muffler Man, modified into a unique half-human, half-rooster mutant. It stood on the roof with a yellow bucket in its hands.
Amy Inouye had just arrived in LA in 1984, and was fascinated by Chicken Boy, which is what she called the statue. When she learned that the restaurant was closing, and that no one wanted Chicken Boy, she took it under her maternal wing. It became "Mr Boy," and for over two decades it has lain disassembled in a succession of Amy's back yards and storage units. She has fruitlessly tried to find someone who will put him back in the public eye. Now it turns out that someone may be Amy.
By chance, Amy had moved into an old office building on Figueroa Street in Highland Park, which she later learned had LA's only commercial "preservation overlay zone." She also discovered that her block was once part of Route 66. The combination of serendipity and a flat roof inspired Amy to offer Chicken Boy another chance. She would put him up herself, on her own roof. But first she has to convince the bureaucracy to approve it.
"They're very confused," Amy told us. "They say, 'Well, if we let you do this, what's to stop everybody on the street from putting one up?'" Amy laughs at the thought. "I say, 'Who else is gonna go to all this trouble? And expense? I've been paying storage on him for 23 years!'"
Amy said that she's "had to go to a ton of meetings and make a ton of presentations," and estimates that she's "about halfway through." She had originally hoped to have Chicken Boy up in 2006, then in the summer of 2007, and now by the end of this year. Nothing is certain, as she knows. Chicken Boy still seems strange to some people, and his return may be postponed yet again.
But Amy is optimistic. She thinks that Chicken Boy can qualify for monument status ("He's been around almost long enough, in Los Angeles terms.") and believes that some day he may even be declared an honorary mayor. Her efforts have led to Chicken Boy being christened -- at least among her arts community pals -- as "The Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles," a symbol of Southern California's stature as the birthplace of roadside razzle-dazzle.
But for now, Amy will be happy just to get him back up. "I guess I kind of look at him as an adopted kid," she says. "I'm responsible for him. This was something I needed to take care of."[05/13/2007]
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