Touched Inappropriately by Uncle Fun
October 7, 2004
Many tourists, particularly those who will happily eat canned green beans and corn, only need to see
a gigantic Crate & Barrel, ride the subway and/or encounter homeless people to feel like
they've had an "urban experience." I always find it amusing to watch a gaggle of
middle-aged women from some dreary Plains State, dressed in matching San Francisco fleece
sweatshirts, whisper behind their hands as a six-foot-five tranny saunters toward them.
"Helen, I think that's a man! In fact, I'm quite sure of it! And he's wearing a dress!"
Since I live in a City that hosts a daily parade of freaks, geeks and fabulous chics, I always
look to have unique experiences when I'm in other metropolitan areas. My trip to Chicago last
weekend offered a few "firsts." I've already discussed my visit to the American Girl Place,
replete with thousands of sightless eyes boring into your soul,
always calculating, always judging. I was doubtful that anything could top the American Girl
experience. Then Uncle Fun molested me.
Uncle Fun. For me, this conjures up an image of a grizzled vagrant, stinking of sour sweat and
beer, clad in a yellow-stained undershirt and over-sized Sans-a-belts.
"C'mere little girl. Don't be scared -- your Uncle won't hurtcha. We'll just have a nice
little visit right here on my lap. I'll give you dollar, how 'bout it? Doesn't
a little 'bouncy bouncy' sound like fun? They don't call me Uncle Fun for nuthin'...now stop that cryin' and get yer
ass over here!"
Too bad this isn't the real Uncle Fun; everyone loves a good pedophile story.
Just like Centerfolds or Old Country Buffet, Uncle Fun is in the business of selling you a good time.
In case you're unsure whether you're fit for fun, their website conveniently provides a "Twelve Step
Workout to FUN." If this doesn't help you get on the right track, there's not much more you can do
than tie a noose to a secure pipe in your basement, get the latest copy of Oui and hang yourself while
masturbating. If you can't find fun in life, at least you can in death. Did I mention that I'm also
a troubled teen and suicide prevention counselor? If you're thinking of ending your life, you can
reach me day or night at 1-777-HAVE-FUN.
Before arriving in Chicago, I asked my friend, Angela, if she knew of any junky toy stores or collectables shops.
Being relatively new to the area, she didn't. Even if she did, it's doubtful she would ever enter such
a place on her own accord. We don't share many common interests as far as entertainment and hobbies go.
However, because she's a bad mamma jamma, she did a
little research and found Uncle Fun. It was described as a store that sold "toys and fun for adults."
This could mean two things: either we were going to a store stocked with battery-powered
dildos and anal beads or we'd find something like Mr. T and Ponch memorabilia. I
want new experiences...a sex shop in San Francisco is a dime a dozen. I hoped fervently
that Uncle Fun would turn out to be the latter.
I wasn't disappointed; Uncle Fun turned out to be a kitsch dork's sticky wet dream. I hate boring metaphors
like "kid in a candy store," however that is exactly how I felt upon throwing open the door and taking in the
greatness of Uncle Fun and his dirty bag of tricks. Was that a hand on my thigh...nope, must have been the wind.
As soon as I was inside, everyone else disappeared; a sweet silence was
broken only by the blood pumping through my head. My only contact with the outside occurred when a clerk
provided me with a basket to hold my newfound treasures.
Too many novelty shops limit themselves to fake turds and farting machines. Yawn. Uncle Fun wants nothing to
do with such riff-raff. He goes straight for the nostalgia jugular. Over time, I'm sure all the Uncle Fun
treasures will turn up on this site; for now I'd like to put the spotlight on two: *NSYNC Lip Balm and
Vanilla Ice Gum. Both are delicious in more ways than one and no one can argue that they're not lots of fun!
*NSYNC Lip Balm
At the height of their brief fame, each member of *NSYNC was blessed with his own thimble of flavored lip balm.
You know you've made it when you are male (?) and are pictured on a cheap cosmetic targeting nine-year-old girls. Shaped
like R2D2, each balm operates like the orange push-up pops you could buy from the ice cream truck. Did the
New Kids on the Block have a lip and/or skin care line? If so, Donny Walhberg's flavor would have been "black licorice"...
'cause he's badass to the muthafuckin' core, boy-eeee. *NSYNC, as would be expected, chose a fruitier route:
Justin -- Vanilla (I'm it wearing right now while I touch myself.)
Joey -- Green Apple
JC -- Watermelon
Lance -- Blue Raspberry (safe for space travel)
Chris -- Strawberry
A website, www.famousfixins.com, is printed on the side of each balm. This company, once so flush with
*NSYNC merchandising contracts, no longer owns the rights to the site. Today, instead of mooning over
the *NSYNC dreamboats leering from tubes of toothpaste and vaginal ointments, you can visit the site
to brush up on your web conferencing skills and get a leg up in the business world.
*NSYNC was one of those boy "bands" that I never cared enough about even to follow the gossip. (By
the way, "band" usually implies that you play an instrument. Just because you've perfected the "Pop
n' Lock," does not qualify you as a "band.") My interest in *NSYNC changed the night I enjoyed a
really great dinner at my friend's house. She lives in an inlaw apartment which means, to get in or
out, you have to go through her upstairs neighbor's garage. The garage was bursting with junk: old
toys, tools, a washer and dryer, mysterious bags of I don't know what, pretty much everything except
a car. Upon leaving, something on one of the shelves caught my eye. There, peering out from the
original packaging, was Joey "fat one" Fatone, the ugliest and (duh) fattest member of *NSYNC.
Strung up crucifixion style, his arms and leg were suspended by an intricate system of black string.
I heard him plead from behind the plastic, "Please let me out of this cardboard prison! I promise to
never say 'bye, bye, bye' again." Is this what I thought it was...? Yes! A Joey Fat One marionette!
From their 2000 release No Strings Attached (ha ha, irony), the video for Bye Bye Bye features the five
members of *NSYNC as marionettes controlled by an "evil" woman who holds the key to their choreographed
pop 'n lock moves. It proved too difficult to show them being controlled by "corporate greed" and
"spineless submission to the whims of Jive Records." Most eleven-year-olds would not have picked up
on such esoteric concepts; the producers opted instead to use a hot chick.
In the meantime, life has not been kind to our Joey Fat One puppet. For the past few years, he has
perched on a shelf next to my "The Last Supper" Paint by Number kit...some day Jesus will look totally awesome
with lasers shooting from his
eyes. Joey Fat One's head was replaced with that of a defunct Mr. T doll. Joey don't give me no jibba jabba,
so I have to assume that he's ok with his new head. Mr. T refuses to speak to me.
Vanilla Ice Cassette Tape Gum
Yo VIP let's kick it!
All right stop collaborate and listen
Ice is back with a brand new invention...
Uncle Fun doesn't care that Vanilla Ice owes the success of Ice Ice Baby to the Bowie/Queen riff
from Under Pressure. Uncle Fun doesn't care how much of an ass Ice made of himself on The
Surreal Life 2 with Ron Jeremy and Tammy Fay. Uncle Fun can even excuse the fact that Vanilla Ice,
nee Robert Van Winkle, has recently "found a relationship with God." Uncle Fun just wants to sell
you some dope gum pimped by V-Ice himself. Word to your mother.
Produced in 1991, each mini cassette case of Vanilla Ice Bubble Gum bears its own kickin' image of the Ice
Man (not to be confused with Val Kilmer's character in Top Gun.) Available in six different collectible
cases, I chose to purchase only two of the six. I now regret this grave lack in judgment. It's always
best to go with your gut feeling...especially when it comes to white rapper gum.
The cases are constructed as shitty as their full size counterparts; the plastic hinges immediately break
off. This shoddy workmanship, courtesy of the great people of Thailand, is forgotten when it opens it to reveal
an unexpected bonus: Vanilla Ice stickers! Who doesn't love stickers? Somewhere in my parents' attic,
I still have a whole album dedicated only to unicorns. Why just unicorns? That's simple, as well as
painfully obvious; UNICORNS KICK ASS.
Now that the party is bumpin', I can't wait to get a peek at the gum itself. There's quite a bit of
rattling when I shake the cassettes. With great anticipation, I peel back the final barrier between
me and a sweet Vanilla Ice-brand confection. Pink, yellow, orange and white pellets pour out in a last
confettied hurrah for V-Ice. I try one lone orange piece and nearly break one of my molars in half.
Ice still has some bite to him yet.
Vanilla Ice claims that his scene-stealing moves and master mixes made it possible for Eminem to be where
he is today. What, no props for House of Pain? The "funky" white boy needs to take a closer look at the
facts: he spent his career dressed like a gay American flag. This fails to convince me that he influenced
anyone except perhaps a float in the Pride Parade. If the look didn't work for MC Hammer, it certainly wasn't
going to work for Vanilla Ice.
* * * * *
Trapped by my own cynicism, it takes quite a bit to bring a spring to my step and sparkle to my eye.
Although Uncle Fun didn't touch my dirty parts with his dirty reaching fingers, he fondled something that sees
a lot less action than my shameful places: Uncle Fun touched my heart.