Thursday, July 26, 2012
Forever Marilyn in Palm Springs
A 26-foot sculpture depicting Marilyn Monroe in her iconic pose over a New York subway grate from The Seven Year Itch has recently been installed in downtown Palm Springs.
The sculpture by Seward Johnson, a wealthy 82-year-old Johnson & Johnson heir, debuted for a year in Chicago's Pioneer Square, where it served as a powerful tourist magnet while being derided by many residents as the height of kitsch. (Click here for an amusing Chicago Tribune article detailing the controversy.)
The biggest objection seemed to be the statue's sheer vulgarity in having the skirt fly all the way into the air in the back, allowing everyone to look up at the figure's underwear. As somebody put it on Twitter in Chicago, ""Looking up Marilyn Monroe's skirt isn't any less creepy because she's a statue."
Palm Springs has mostly embraced the towering Marilyn, with merchants ecstatic at the throngs of tourists arriving for their close-up with the statue (click here for a Desert Sun article about the Marketing of Marilyn). There have been a few local critics, though, who would rather just look at the beautiful San Jacinto mountains that are newly visible from downtown after an abandoned bank building was recently torn down.
"Marilyn shouldn't be wearing granny panties," one young gay man was telling me at Wang's in the Desert's Friday Happy Hour. "It's just not right."