Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 3D, Miami Beach & Charles Phoenix

Submitted by Allee Willis May 10th, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

With 3D all the rage today many people forget that the first ubiquitous mass consumer experience with the technology was with View-Masters. Introduced in 1962, one could view seven 3D images as they spun around on a paper disc creating lifelike reality inside the mouse hole of two eyepieces. The earliest View-Masters featured popular tourist attractions like this one of Miami Beach, where I first started buying these.


When I was young my parents drove to Miami Beach from Detroit twice a year.


We stayed at the Carlyle Hotel.


I bought every Viewmaster reel of Miami Beach I could find because the Deco architecture drove me so batty. When I had my first hit record I immediately bought a house that reminded me of Miami Beach.


A frequent visitor to my house is Charles Phoenix, one of my best friends and Kitschmaster General of vintage slide shows and books featuring insanely on-the-nose location and human examples of living wheels of brie. The last time he came over, Charles gave me a lesson in how to bake one of his signature Cherpumples, a cake with three pies stuffed inside of it. As soon as I get done editing the footage we shot I will post our instructional film.


Something like the Cherpumple with M&Ms bubbling out of the pepto -bismolian-pink frosting and utensils at rest would make an excellent 3D photo if only we had the right camera.


Yesterday, I went downtown with Prudence Fenton, Nancye Ferguson and Jim Burns and saw Charles’ first ever all 3D retro slide show.


We learned a lot about how 3-D photography and View-Masters came into being.


We saw a lot of families in the 50’s learning how to not only use their View-Masters but make their own 3D reels.


Of course, you won’t be able to see anything clearly because you don’t have your 3-D glasses on. As opposed to this slide from Charles’ show featuring an attractive threesome with a very clear view of the LA freeway when it was built in 1960 standing less than 10 feet away next to oncoming traffic.


I hope to have a clear view of the week ahead of me although it could go either way. I could feel like an outsider…


… or I could choose to see the world in super enhanced, bigger than life 3D.


Thank you, Charles for an excellent afternoon and thank you View-Master for putting 3-D in the palm of our hands.


6 Responses to “Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 3D, Miami Beach & Charles Phoenix”

  1. denny

    This was fantastic on so many levels! *
    I’ve always LOVED my viewmaster but no longer own one. I would get my reels at Woolworths.
    *The picture of Allee at the Carlysle just has me in a spin. We all have these shots and I love the face she is making.
    *I also love how there is a pocket for trash on the apron Allee is wearing.
    *The 3-d group pic is fabulous.
    *What I also love is the guy in the space suit near the pool, now that’s fun!

    • Allee Willis

      I knew the photo of me and my mom ‘n dad was taken on the beach but today is the first day I realized it was taken directly in front of the Carlyle. I just compared the edge of the building showing in back of us with the newer photo of the Carlyle and it’s an exact match! I loved that hotel back in the day but haven’t been back since it was restored.

  2. Michael Ely

    OMG, I want a piece of that cake! It looks so yummy! I want to know how to make one!

    I love my collection of view master 3-D reels. Some of my favorites are 3 reel packets of early Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, The Painted Desert, 1960’s Las Vegas and The Apollo Moon Landing.

  3. funkiernyou

    Viewmaster viewers and reels are so much fun! I had one as a kid and really enjoyed it, but, who knows where it went? Then, some time in 2007, while visiting an antique shop, I saw a Viewmaster viewer just like the one Allee is using. I got bit by the Viewmaster bug so bad that I went on a complete collecting binge, thanks to a popular auction site, and now own a decent collection of various models of viewers and reel sets.
    What Allee is holding is a Model C.
    To offer a slight correction, according to wikipedia ( “In 1939, Gruber and Graves formed a partnership which led to the retail sales of View-Master viewers and disks. The patent on the viewing device was issued in 1940, on what came to be called the Model A viewer. Within a very short time, the View-Master quickly took over the postcard business at Sawyer’s.”
    I plan to post pics of some of the different viewers and reel sets that I have. Reel sets from popular tourist spots are cool because it shows what different places looked like in the `50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. The funnest though, are the TV shows like Laugh-In, The Partridge Family and Lancelot Link Secret Chimp.