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Toilet King.
The late John A. Kostopoulos.

King of Toilet Seat Arts (Gone)

Field review by the editors.

Boron, California

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).

Toilet seats.

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.

A big wave from the King.

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.

Also see: Video: First Toilet Seat | Video: Saddam Called Me | Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum

King of Toilet Seat Arts

Roadside Videos
Kostopoulos: Saddam Called Me

King of Toilet Seat Arts and Saddam Hussein.

From the Roadside America Road Trip Archives: John A. Kostopoulos told us about a really grateful toilet portrait subject -- Saddam Hussein (1994).Go to video

Kostopoulos: First Toilet Seat

The late artist's first toilet seat was performance art and a political statement.

Roadside America Road Trip Archives: Outsider artist John A. Kostopoulos told us about his first toilet seat painting, before 1942's Battle of Casablanca.Go to video

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