OR Kitsch Me Baby
It’s a known fact that I love a bit of tackorama (definition: the gaudy and often inappropriate introduction of tackiness) and so it seems appropriate that I am living in Kitsch Central here in Europe.
At the wedding last weekend so many people asked me what I liked about living in Austria (they couldn’t get their heads around why I would leave Oz for a small town in the Alps.) I had to answer them “I love the kitsch” and on cue they cringed.
This is a mystery to me – why are Europeans so embarrassed by their cultural clichés??
You know what I’m talking about (though, as an Aussie, you really have to see it to believe the madness) it’s the gingerbread cottages they live in with perfectly manicured lawns, the waaaay OTT religious icons hanging about everywhere (and I mean everywhere, Our Lady swooping from the heavens over the hand-dryer in roadside petrol stations, a gruesome Sacred Heart bleeding all over corner shop counters...) the cuckoo clocks, curly moustaches, Heidi, yodelling, paper flowers in lace-curtained windows... raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens!!!
Let the sophisticates groan at the mention of these cutesy villages as though it was the supreme aesthetic evil, but I can’t get enough of it.
So I am happy to present you with my top tips to Kitsch Your Life:
- Cocktail Umbrellas; I’m serious. If ever I see a packet of these in a supermarket I grab the lot. They are colourful splashes of whimsy that can brighten up any drink and go divinely with novelty ice cube shapes. A must have for any serious hostess.
- Leopard Print; Faux of course, darlings! You know you want it so just do it. Grab thee a pair of stretch tights in some tragic animal print, pair with a black jersey dress and heels – tell anyone who asks you’re going through a Hollywood phase (don’t forget the red lippy.) But for the bolder of you, go nuts! Leopard print BBQ aprons, coin purses, slippers, bedspreads – the vast possibilities are in a $2 Shop near you.
- Toilet Roll Dolls; Can one still find these? I long for one! You know what I’m talking about – the cupie dolly whose feet go into the centre of the spare toilet roll and her crocheted skirt covers it. My grandmother used to churn them out a frightening rate and they adorned every spare loo roll in the house. With five sons, loo paper was a high demand commodity.
Anyway, every toilet should have one.
- Putting the Kitsch in Kitchen; Tacky cooking, friends! I’m talking retro recipes, swinging fondue parties and Toast Hawaii. Toast Hawaii is my newest colourful cuisine discovery, apparently popularised in Eastern Germany during the 1950’s by a television celebrity chef. German food critic, Gudrun Rothaug said of the frivolous (but now loathed) dish that it is the "collected the longings of an entire era in a few square centimetres of white bread."
Anyway, I say make it and plonk it next to the red baby franks and spinach cob dip at the next barbie.
- Australiana; Spend five minutes in outback Australia and you will realise we don’t need to travel to get a hearty dose of homespun kitsch. Stuffed cane toads are first on the list, particularly if they are complete with an Elvis jumpsuit (love them,) I’m still working on my feelings for Ken Done or Jenny Kee jumpers but it’s really a matter of national pride that they be brought back to fashion glory.
Let Mr. Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna enlighten you further.
- Bejewelled Thongs; if you don’t already own a pair you haven’t discovered the absolute pleasure in adorning your feet in the height of tackorama glamour. Don’t worry if you can’t find a pair, just buy some plain ones get out the hot glue gun and start bejewelling... or really stick anything on them that gets a laugh. Perfect gifts – friends don’t let friends live without flip flops.
- Postcards; I must admit I’m such a slacker when it comes to sending postcards even though I know the fun of receiving one. Make sure if you’re away these holidays to send out a few. Let the wrongness guide you in your selection – g-strings, busty blondes on Queensland beaches is a classic fave but don’t look past the koala with a speech bubble or rude roadside signs either.
Good friends, I could go on and on (garden flamingos, Hello Kitty, bobbing-headed dashboard dogs...) But needless to say, as the weather turns crisp for you all Down Under, there is nothing like a touch of glitter and vinyl to brighten up your life.
Recipe for Toast Hawaii
Take a slice of white bread, top with a slice of packet ham. Add a circle of tinned pineapple and top with a slice of processed cheese. Grill for 90 seconds. Top with a cocktail cherry and voila.
Note; According to Wikipedia the ingredients in Toast Hawaii has the potential to form carcinogenic nitrosamines from the heated combination of ham and the amino acids of the cheese and pineapple. Department of Food Technology at the Technical University of Berlin have inconclusive findings on this matter... hmm... ho hum!