Monday, June 27, 2011

Garish Rooms of the 70s

A look at the bold and tacky decorating tastes of the 70s is certainly nothing new on any retro blog; I think Retrospace has the best collection around (check out That 70s Home.) However, I scanned the following images from a couple of old Family Circle magazines that I picked up at a vintage flea market last year and it would be a shame if I never shared them with my readers. Where the 50s and 60s gave us flattering earth tones and the right amount of color on walls, furniture and even kitchen appliances, the 70s took hues and patterns to the extreme. There was no such thing as too much color as these examples demonstrate...

I actually like the room on top...which I'm guessing served as the home office/music room (and note the requisite fern plant that was seen everywhere in the 70s)...there's something about the green and orange that doesn't bother me at all. But the yellow, red, and orange color scheme of the dining room is a little too saturated for me (I do like the chairs...but was it necessary to make the doors yellow as well?)
This room was part of a "Two Rooms in One" series in one of the magazines...the glass/acrylic table and shelving is reminiscent of the furniture that came with my Barbie town house when I was young...the fur throw on the fold-out futon adds a nice Austin Powers-esque touch. But that wallpaper and matching curtain (!) is enough to burn out anyone's pupils.

Lime green, orange, yellow, pink...I lost count after four colors. Perhaps a child's bedroom was the only room in the home where such a color palette worked best. I honestly don't know what the difference is between the "day and night" shots in this example other than the bed on the floor...but I do like the groovy Siamese cat. 

Granted, this last example is an advertisement, but it shows that not even the bathroom was safe from the extreme color/pattern fad. The arrows really put it over the top. I believe the floor is also wall-to-wall carpeted...a really common but gross 70s trend when you consider the kind of thing that can miss the toilet if one isn't careful with their aim...sorry, had to mention it!   

Still, if I had to choose between a bland beige interior and a 70s style, I know I'd go with the latter.

Friday, June 24, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Well, I have to admit I'm a little surprised that more people didn't submit entries for the Famous Face contest...maybe because they saw a few readers had the correct answers early on? We did have two people who got all six photos correct: Tom and Barbara. Just to recap, the names of the celebs in the photos were: 1. Jon Hamm, 2. Bill Murray, 3. Stephen Colbert, 4. Sandra Bullock, 5. Kirstie Alley and 6. Sheryl Crow. Great job, guys!

I wrote both names down on paper, put them into a hat (a very small one - ha) and the winner is....Barbara from If I Didn't Have a Sense of Humor!

So, congratulations, Barbara! Send me your email address to my email,, and I'll order that $25 gift certificate to Plasticland for you today. Enjoy!

BTW, I may have another cool giveaway prize in a few weeks, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Announcing the Who's That Famous Face Contest!

Well guys, I'm pretty excited to announce Go Retro's first ever contest! After a few years of running this blog and attracting a nice little devoted following, I figured it was time to reward my readers in anticipation of its 4th anniversary. The prize? It's a $25 gift certificate to Plasticland, the "purveyors of kitsch curiosities and retro clothing since 2002." Admittedly, this site will probably appeal more to women than men; however, I invite the guys out there to check out the home decor because there are some items that men will like..including a Star Wars wall clock! Also, other online retro stores that I contacted about securing a gift certificate or promo code never got back to me. This was one of the only ones that offered it.

Here's how to win it: this is graduation season, so I've collected some high school and college shots of famous people (3 girls, 3 guys) when they were in school. I've tried to include some that you can't find simply by Googling "celebrity yearbook photos"; that would make it way too easy! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post listing, in order, who each famous face is. The contest will run for 48 hours, until 10:45 PM E.S.T. At the end of the contest period, I'll collect the names of everyone who has the correct answers and will randomly choose a winner, who will be announced on Friday.

RULES: 1. No anonymous comments, please - I have to be able to email you the gift certificate! 2. If you subscribe to the blog's feed, you MUST leave your answers in the comments section on the actual not email me your answers or I cannot include you in the running!

Hints? Well, I really don't want to give any because that would make it too easy and because I know you have the smarts already. However, I will give you one clue: all of these people are still alive. Ready??? OK - here you go, and good luck! Have fun! Remember, you have to leave your answers in the comment box - no exceptions!  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

To all the dads out there who read Go Retro, here's wishing you and yours a Happy Father's Day!

This is a picture of my own (late) father, I'm guessing from the late 50s or early 60s. He really wasn't a "partier" per say, at least not by today's standards, but it does look like he was a having a good day or night here. I got a kick out of the pictures of the chickens on the wall...this may be from my parents' original house that they lived in, not the one I grew up in. 

I miss you, Daddy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Death of the 'Stache

Maybe it's just me or the corner of the country that I live in, but I cannot remember the last time I saw a guy sporting a mustache. Of all men's facial hair trends, this one seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years. I still see plenty of goatees, beards, and the occasional soul patch but nary a 'stache. I can't think of too many famous men today who regularly sport one (with the exception of Dr. Phil) and flipping through any magazine, you'd be hard pressed to find a male model with a mustache. Even John Oates shaved his off years ago!

I'm actually not complaining about this fashion trend; truth be told, I prefer the clean shaven look on men or the Don Johnson shadow if they can pull it off without looking too sloppy. Many of my long-time readers also know by now that I adore sideburns. But I've never been a fan of mustaches and I'm guessing that today's Gen Y and Gen X men echo that sentiment. So what happened?

I think the mustache - which lost its popularity during the 40s and 50s but gained it back in the 60s along with long hair - is too closely associated today with 1970s tackiness and porn film stars, such as Ron Jeremy and fictional anchorman Ron Burgandy. Although it was considered macho back in the day, the 'stache has a somewhat cheesy and sleazy reputation now. Back to Hall and Oates, I can't tell you how many times I watched one of their videos on YouTube only to see someone in the comments ask who "the guy with the pornstache" was!

I also think there may be some gay connotations with having a mustache (think Freddy Mercury and members of The Village People) or that it's the facial hair pattern of choice by child molesters and Adolph Hitler. 

Despite the stache's decline in pop culture and the general public, there is a group dedicated to men who still proudly wear one: The American Mustache Institute. They even have an annual charity event called the Stache Bash. And new this year is a book just published in called The Moustache Grower's Guide. Since fashion trends are cyclical, it's quite possible the Tom Selleck look could make a comeback. 

So, readers, what do you think? Do any of you guys out there wear one, and do you ladies like a guy with a stache or not?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Tanning Craze

It's unofficially summer, which means the reminders to use sunscreen have begun - but as you probably already know, this wasn't the case during the mid-to-late part of the 20th century. It was ALL about getting a sexy tan! 

But let's backtrack a bit. Believe it or not, at one time pale skin was in fashion. Way back at the turn of the 20th century, tanned skin was looked down upon because it was associated with farmers and anyone else doing outdoor labor work--in other words, the lower class. Impressionist paintings often show people carrying umbrellas and wearing long sleeves to shield themselves from the sun. It wasn't until the fashion designer and icon Coco Chanel returned from a cruise in the 1920s sporting darker toned skin that the public suddenly considered the look to be chic. We've been paying the price for that ever since, as melanoma cases continue to rise. 

From the 50s through roughly the 80s, having a tan was associated with being healthy and sexy. There are literally tons of advertisements from these decades that attest to that belief. Many products touted healthy skin and promised a fast tan. There really wasn't any public awareness of the increase of wrinkles, discoloration and skin cancer that sun exposure would later be associated with. The introduction of the bikini, which exposed more of the female body, no doubt contributed to the popularity of tanning as well.

Indeed, I'm a bit ashamed to admit that as an 80s teenager I was taken in by the St. Tropez ads for Bain du Soleil that featured a sexy model with beautifully glowing, shimmery skin. I shudder to think that as a result I baked my pale Polish skin in my backyard a few times while listening to Sade on my Sony Walkman (it's not Sade that makes me shudder, but of course the thought of purposely lying in the sun's rays.) 

What do you know...I found the commercial on YouTube. Interesting how minimal the SPF levels were back then...SPF 2 for the face???

Indeed, sunscreens from a few eras ago didn't have as high a SPF rating as what's available today. The first sunscreen to have a SPF rating of 15 hit the market in 1978. I don't really remember paying attention to SPF ratings until the 80s, however...and I knew a few people who used baby oil and/or UV reflectors while out in the sun!

Yes, these folks were getting their share of vitamin D along with a dose of wrinkles. Today, of course, we're more aware of how the sun can damage the dermis. But in many ways, I don't think the tan has ever truly fallen out of fashion. It amazes me how many people play Russian Routlette with our shrinking ozone layer. They also visit tanning salons, and products that claim to give you a realistic looking "fake" tan are everywhere. I think Western society in general is way too hung up on looking tan instead of just embracing their natural, healthy skin tone. Today, I'm pretty proud of my ivory skin and prefer to keep it that way, with the help of hats, sunglasses, and sunblock. Will we ever learn?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Retro Product Fail #7: Orbitz Soft Drink

Usually Go Retro only focuses on people, places and things from the 1940s through the 1980s, but I think the drink that was known as Orbitz, which was introduced in 1997, deserves a special mention. That's because its status has now been elevated to vintage novelty item, with a bottle currently going for $39 on eBay (which may have gone up by the time you read this post.)

The Orbitz soft drink could be the ultimate poster boy for the "What the HELL were they thinking?" consumer product category. If you've ever wondered how to make a soft drink go from yummy to yucky, Orbitz's creators had the answer: add disgusting little gelatinous balls to it. Introduced by the Clearly Canadian Beverage Company, Orbitz promised to deliver a "texturally enhanced alternative beverage" while looking like an edible lava lamp.

Yes, with Orbitz you could have your sip your drink and chew it, too. Or you could spit the balls at your unsuspecting friends. And the suspended balls weren't the only part about Orbitz that was disgusting; reviewers liken the taste of the liquid itself to Pine Sol or cough syrup. The flavors sound positively gut-wretching, with names such as Pineapple Banana Cherry Coconut (too many flavors - make up your mind!) and Charlie Brown Chocolate. Here's some excerpts from reviews still floating around online on the drink:

"We all tried the different flavors, and one was more disgusting than the next.  How could something like this possibly have made it to market?  My only explanation is that this was the height of the dot com bubble, a romaticized time when every unconventional and asinine idea could take flight." - Retro Thing

"When I finally had the balls (er, sorry) to try it, it tasted like the sort of thing thirteen year old boys dare each other to drink in a school cafeteria. And those balls only made it worse. I mean, here's this disgusting drink. One can almost handle that, but oh those balls. I caught one with my teeth and bit into it. It was like biting into radioactive mucous Tang. I don't want to think about it anymore." - Joe Lavin, Orbitz: The Drink With Balls

"It tastes like water that came out of a vase used for flowers. . . . the balls make it even worse." - James Craven, Superfox

What was even more embarrassing for Clearly Canadian was the marketing concept that the beverage came from the Planet seems only aliens could dream up something this bad!

Not surprisingly, Orbitz only lasted a year or two on store shelves before being discontinued, another fatality of the dot-com era. The Orbitz website has now been taken over by the travel agency with the same name. Strangely enough, there are some folks out there who liked the drink enough to start petitions to bring it back. I'll stick to Canada Dry, thanks very much!

Does anyone else remember this disgusting drink, or did you try it?

Friday, June 03, 2011

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: Terence Trent D'Arby

When I heard Sheryl Crow's cover of "Sign Your Name" I knew I had to eventually choose Terence Trent D'Arby for Two Forgotten Friday Favorites. And in case hearing his name makes you wonder, "Yeah, I remember him...whatever happened to Terence Trent D'Arby?"...well, in the singer's own words, he's dead. In 2001 after legally changing back to his birth name, Sananda Maitreya, he told an interviewer that "Terence Trent D'Arby (is) dead...he watched his suffering as he died a noble death." Unfortunately, Maitreya's attempt to reinvent himself in the shifting music business hasn't created the same level of fame he experienced in the 80s as his original stage name. I'm not sure why he wasn't a much bigger sensation than he was, because his debut album (Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby) contained several chart toppers written by him, he has a smooth voice, and he can play many instruments. 

Maitreya trained as a boxer early on and also joined the army before developing a musical career. He now lives in Milan, Italy with his family.

Without a doubt my favorite D'Arby song is "Sign Your Name" which hit #4 on the U.S. Billboard charts. Without a doubt I think it's one of the sexiest songs ever written. I'm also choosing D'Arby's only number-one hit, "Wishing Well." Enjoy!

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