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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Elvis Jungle Room = Witco???
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Elvis Jungle Room = Witco???
TikiTrevor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 15, 2004
Posts: 205
From: Portland, OR (originally
Posted: 2006-08-20 12:16 am   Permalink

I was at Graceland today and saw the famous "Jungle Room". Is the majority of that stuff in there Witco??? Also, his yellow and blue basemant bar/room rules! If you get a chance go to Graceland you have to go, even if you're not an Elvis fan. It's filled with awesome 60's-70's furniture.

The lighting is really bad so its hard to get good pics (sorry)



 
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woofmutt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 2605
From: Seattilite Telstar
Posted: 2006-08-20 01:25 am   Permalink

Yes, it's Witco, and thank God it is cuz when I'm telling folks about Witco all I ever have to do is say "Yuh know Elvis' Jungle Room at Graceland?" and everyone always seems to know exactly what kinda furniture I'm talkin' about.

Some Jungle Room legends and observations...

In an August 14, 2005 piece on
www.indystar.com Michael Schuman wrote:

Graceland guides say Elvis furnished (the Jungle Room) on a whim when, while driving past a Memphis furniture store, he stopped his car and within a half-hour purchased every piece of furniture that reminded him of Hawaii.

That included a sofa and chairs covered in faux fur, solid green carpeting for the floor, walls and ceiling, an easy chair with carved wooden snakes as arms and an artificial waterfall that often went awry, flooding nearby rooms. The room has become known as the jungle room, but Elvis never called it that.


But on www.morbid-curiosity.com Elaine McCarthy wrote:

The "Jungle Room's" birth is pretty interesting. Apparently Elvis' father (who appears to have more taste) went into town, while he was there he saw , what he called "the world's most ugliest furniture." When he returned to Graceland he told Elvis about it and Elvis ran to town to check out the hideous furniture. I guess it was love at first site, because he bought the whole mess and brought it back to Graceland along with lime green shag carpeting that he had installed on both the ceiling and floor. This room is where Elvis kept his friends waiting for him...

Steve Pond wrote a standard opinion of the Jungle Room on www.rollingstone.com:

They say the Jungle Room was Elvis Presley's favorite room at Graceland. It's decorated with huge, fur-upholstered furniture, thick, dark curtains, a sickly-green carpet, pseudo-Polynesian idols and a waterfall that regularly flooded the room. If you've been drawn to Graceland because of your respect for the artistry of its owner, coming face to face with the Jungle Room (or any of several other rooms that are just as garish) is unsettling: the initial reaction is to laugh it off and to put as much distance as possible between the man who decorated that room and the man who sang "That's All Right" and "Don't Be Cruel" and "Suspicious Minds."

From www.hup.harvard.edu a more sophisticated take by author Karal Ann Marling in her book Graceland: Going Home With Elvis

[The room displays] an ensemble of cypress-crotch coffee tables, green shag carpeting (on floor and ceiling), mirrors framed in the breast feathers of pheasants, flocked Austrian shades, Wookie-fur lampshades, and massive pine chairs and couches carved with chain saws in a style other stunned observers have labeled Polynesian Primitive, Early Goona-Goona, or Tahitian Provincial. Angry South Sea gods fume silently in every corner. Ceramic tigers prowl the artificial greenery...

A recent article celebrating Graceland's listing on the National Register of Historic Places maintains that the Jungle Room only looks strange to the 1990s because times and tastes have changed: in another hundred years, we are told, the Tiki sofas will seem no more or less tasteful than a roomful of Belter Victoriana in the American Wing at the Metropolitan. But leaving the Jungle Room to the drowsy embrace of history suppresses the barefaced ha-ha-ha vitality of the place and the evanescent glee of a really good joke...

The Jungle Room is an act of faith in serial novelty. Out with the old, in with the new, over and over again...When Elvis ensconced himself in his den to watch TV, he shot the set if his interest flagged...

Diehard fans are sometimes disappointed by the formal rooms along the highway side of Graceland. They're beautiful, in a chilly blue-and-white way, but remote and overarranged...The Jungle Room feels different. Personal...'It's funny,' says the fan, 'but you can feel him there, like it fit his personality.' Nonbelievers prefer the Jungle Room, too, because the overt bad taste lets them recoil in horror and imagine themselves a notch or two higher than Elvis on the class scale. Or the maturity scale, for the Jungle Room affords a glimpse of a rich man spending his money like a ten-year-old with a huge allowance and an overactive imagination...

Elvis's friend Liberace, whose many gilt-on-white estates overflowed with functional objects tortured into piano shapes, embraced an overemphatic fauxness that formed the basis for his stage act...His movie-star houses...were teasing advertisements for a public persona masquerading as a private one, or vice versa. There is no similar irony in Elvis's Krakatoa-style den. Only a rush of pleasure enhanced by the awareness that there were more jokes to come, more wacky stuff from Donald's to buy someday, more Saturday matinee fantasies to be lived out in the privacy of Graceland.


Check out lotsa Jungle Room images at images.google.com
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11249
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2006-08-20 02:48 am   Permalink

Thank you woofmut, that is some fun writing you unearthed.

I am going to mention a slightly different (more reliable source) version of the above anecdote in my Witco book, where Elvis had already bought the furniture that day (unbeknownst to his dad), and Vernon was in town and noticed it (still in the store), and then came home and told Elvis what horrible stuff he had seen. Imagine that smirk on Elvis' face.

It is a fine tale to illustrate what I see as one of the features of Witco: An emancipation from your forefathers' purist taste.

Since I introduced Witco (and its relationship to Elvis) to the general public in the BOT, the Elvis Jungle Room connection has become THE buzzword for Witco e-bay sellers (outdoing the Hugh Hefner pool one). It has made Witco into a search word, and driven up Witco prices in general, like for (beaten up) items such as this lamp

http://cgi.ebay.com/LARGE-50S-FUNKY-WITCO-HANGING-LAMP-TIKI-LOUNGE-EAMES_W0QQitemZ160019299627QQihZ006QQcategoryZ4056QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

to where it almost takes the fun out of hunting and gathering.

I am happy to report that for once, I got lucky and snagged a whole ("Elvis-style") "Marco Polo" living room set (2 sofas, 3 chairs, 3 tables, 1 foot stool, with those Chinese dragon head armrests [not snakes]) for a good price (almost the same amont than that ONE lamp), while at the same time a similar one was on e-bay for a ridiculous $15.000.- (and NOT with the original faux fur upholstery). The storage and transport must have been a turn off (was for me too, and I would not have bid more, but nobody else did either ), so:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=ADME:B:EOIBSAA:US:31&Item=280013276471

The hook here is the shipping. It will cost me 3 times the purchase price to have it shipped to LA. But it's still a good investment. And what a trip that furniture will have made by then: As an added irony, it is now awaiting pick up in a little town in Maine called Mount Vernon, while it originally CAME from a little town North of Seattle called....Mount Vernon.



[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2006-08-20 03:23 ]


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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3531
From: HELL
Posted: 2006-08-20 5:52 pm   Permalink

..and a few weeks back, i actually got lost in...you guessed it, mount vernon, washington on my way to a wedding on orcas island...got screwy directions from the groom which left me circling the damn town a few times till i figured it out....

 
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arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1299
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2006-08-31 4:57 pm   Permalink

I've read that Elvis was planning to completely redecorate the Jungle Room with a completely different style, but died before he could do it. Don't know what he had in mind though.

 
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hanford_lemoore
Proprietor

Joined: Mar 23, 2002
Posts: 1870
From: Tiki Central
Posted: 2006-08-31 9:11 pm   Permalink

I got an email from a guy who is selling duplicates(?) of Elvis's jungle room:

Quote:
We would like to sell it. We really do not have the room. My dad was a big Elvis fan. He manufactured garden statuary since 1948. He made the original lions at Graceland...I believe they have since been replaced. He built a showroom in Rockingham,NC to show his work. It was pagoda style. He had a bridge when you crossed it all the fountains would come on. He loved the tiki room in Disney World. He had a lot of retan?? furniture in his office and the upstairs living room was the complete jungle room. When we were little the dragons on the couch always bit you on the legs.



The photos are towards the bottom of this page:

http://uniquestone.com/unique_stones_treasure_trove.htm

Contact the website if you'd like to buy it.


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11249
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2006-08-31 9:19 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-08-31 16:57, arriano wrote:
I've read that Elvis was planning to completely redecorate the Jungle Room with a completely different style, but died before he could do it. Don't know what he had in mind though.



Wow! If we could substantiate this rumor by having a medium contact him in the after life, and if then we would spread the word that Elvis actually dissed his Witco and instead was going to get...let's say IKEA furniture (imported from Europe, back then), it would de-value Witco on e-bay, and then...

Hmmm...maybe I would have a better chance with trying a re-call of the BOT because of overheating of the Un-Tiki discussion.

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2006-08-31 21:52 ]


 
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Kenike
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2006-09-01 6:07 pm   Permalink

A friend of mine was at Graceland a few days ago and saw the Jungle Room. Unfortunately, he doesn't know Witco from Citgo. He did take a pic while he was there which didn't come out too good...but I did spot a couple of tikis on the left.




 
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Humuhumu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3623
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-09-02 1:36 pm   Permalink

I blogged about Elvis' Jungle Room today on Humu Kon Tiki; my article includes links to a couple of virtual tours of the Jungle Room:

http://blog.humuhumu.com/2006/09/02/virtual-tour-of-elvis-jungle-room

The tours give 360 views of the room, and let you zoom in and zoom out. You can practically smell the funky shag carpet!

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Tyee
Member

Joined: Oct 31, 2009
Posts: 1
Posted: 2009-11-02 08:54 am   Permalink

I just stumbled onto your site when doing a google search for "Witco". I was a chainsaw carver at Witco in Mount Vernon, Washington in 1971-72. I was looking for some online photos of the Witco products and found tikiroom.com. I used to carve many of the pieces you will find on eBay - the bars, bar stools, wall plaques, conquistador fountains, etc. It is fascinating to see the interest in the pieces these many years later. Great website - good job!

Tyee


 
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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2009-11-02 09:33 am   Permalink

Do you still carve?

 
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uncle trav
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 27, 2005
Posts: 1818
From: Kalamazoo
Posted: 2009-11-02 09:42 am   Permalink

Welcome to TC Tyee. Great to have someone who actually carved the great pieces of art at Witco. Who knows?.. I may even have a piece you worked on hanging on my wall.
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11249
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-11-02 10:14 am   Permalink

Tyee, you might wanna take a look at my book, now that it is out:

http://www.amazon.com/Tiki-Modern-Sven-Kirsten/dp/3822847178/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257185169&sr=8-1

Its full title is "Tiki Modern and the Wild World of Witco" and almost half of it is full of Witco works (about 300 illustrations, +/-), with a few pictures of the factory, and Bill Westenhaver. It will take you down memory lane, and you will certainly recognize pieces you might have sunk your chain saw teeth into.

It's a whopper of a book for a good price, get it while it's available, I don't think they will reprint this one.

Do you have any photos of your work from then, or of being on the job?


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lucas vigor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 12, 2004
Posts: 3985
From: SOCAL
Posted: 2009-11-02 11:01 am   Permalink

Sven, I just pulled the trigger on this. Great book and i HAD to have it!

 
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The Granite Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 02, 2005
Posts: 812
From: Nashua, NH
Posted: 2009-11-02 11:23 am   Permalink

Tyee, please come back and talk for a while!

You'll be surprised by the little things and stories you know that will completely THRILL us to hear!

Also, be sure to check out THIS thread:

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=20416&forum=5&788

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