King of Toilet Seat Arts (Gone)
In this dusty desert crossroads, John A. Kostopoulos, 77-year old "King Of Toilet Seat Arts," paints celebrity portraits and political slogans on lids 'n' rims; over 400 hang from the hurricane fence that rings his modest home.
Likenesses of everyone from Tony the Tiger to Joey Buttofuoco -- bold primitives in paint and ceramic -- glisten in the glaring sun. He appears at the door, clutching a sheaf of news clippings.
Kostopoulos is a Zelig-Gump lightning rod for history, and wants the world to know. "I knew Adolf Hitler," he says, as if to a crowd, "before the war. I was engaged to the daughter of Rudolph Hess...Rosa Hess." Yes? "I was the first man to high jump six feet. Jim Thorpe awarded me the medal." Go on.
Kostopoulos says that his toilet muse first struck entertaining the troops before the Battle of Casablanca in 1942. He painted Hitler on a toilet seat as a morale-boosting prop. Since then, no evil dictator has been spared this artistic indignity.
"Saddam Hussein called me 11 o'clock one night and said Kostopoulos, THANKS FOR THE TOILET SEAT YA PAINTED ME ON!" Then Kostopoulos turns and throws seven frenzied punches in a single second (The secret weapon he used to win the Fleet Boxing Championships).
While Kostopoulos is inside looking for more proof of his claims, a middle-aged couple pulls up in a pickup truck. The driver warns: "He tried to kill a fireman with a shotgun." His wife nods, adding: "He's threatened to kill me many times." They quickly speed away.
Kostopoulos returns and rails about various conspiracies. According to locals, the true dispute is with his sister, and though she lives across the street from him, they haven't spoken in thirty years. They also hint that this is the true origin of the toilet seat arts -- sister's living room picture window looks out upon the wall of toilets.
While townspeople put up with him with varying degrees of good nature, Kostopoulos has become the world's most famous artist ("It took 300 years for them to name an airport after Leonardo Da Vinci...There's already a town in Pennsylvania named after me, Kus...TOP...Lus...Ville!") His outdoor "environment" belongs to all art lovers, for, barring a reconciliation with Sis, the King of Toilet Seat Arts has no heir to his thrones.
1996: The King of Toilet Seat Arts passed away in 1995. After his death, his collection was quickly dismantled and destroyed (a few seats may have been salvaged). The Roadside America Team visited and interviewed him in 1994.