The Stimulator, which sold for $79, promised to cure headaches, allergies, swollen joints, backaches, and more. It did this by delivering low-voltage electrical shocks to whatever body part was hurting.
However, the FDA shut down its manufacturer in 1997 noting that the device was actually a modified gas-grill igniter which cost about $2 to make.
In 1995 Roger Powell was 46 years old and living homeless on the streets of London after the failure of his taxi business. And then, by a strange twist of fate, his life changed and he became a work of art.
Film director Tony Kaye had decided to display a homeless person as a work of art at the Saatchi Gallery. So he sent his assistant out to find a homeless person willing to go along with this scheme, and Powell was the one found.
Powell on display at the Saatchi Gallery. Source: alamy.com
Powell sat in the gallery beside a sign explaining that he was for sale as a "human work of art." The price: £1000.
As far as I know, no one offered to buy Powell. Nevertheless, Kaye continued to display Powell at various museums for the next two-and-a-half years, but most of the time not as an official exhibit. Powell would simply walk around the museums while wearing a t-shirt that said "For Sale, Roger, By Tony Kaye, Four Million Pounds." (The sale price had inflated quite a bit.) In return for doing this, Kaye paid Powell a small weekly allowance and gave him some money towards rent.
San Francisco Examiner - Nov 19, 1995
Eventually Kaye lost touch with Powell. Then, in 2002 Powell died. Kaye paid for Powell's cremation and received his ashes. He said he planned to use them to create a painting that would say "Dead Homeless Man." I don't know if he ever completed this work.
We recently posted about the American Airlines Wine Club, which allows people to enjoy wines served inflight at home. Turns out that in 1994 the company did something similar with its airline food, publishing a recipe book so that people could "prepare their inflight favorites at home". It was titled A Taste of Something Special.
"Uke-TEL NAKI-U1" is the 1993 creation of the 'art collective' Maywa Denki (brothers Masamichi and Nobumichi Tosa), who specialize in creating "useless machines". They offer the following description of 'Uke-TEL' on their website:
A thrilling "fish cage" with a special device. The hanging needles fall off from the roof in time to the telephone time signal and may hit the unlucky fish swimming at the bottom
1995: In an effort to attract new customers, "including singles, sports-minded men and female shopping-mall patrons," the Oakland Ballet put up billboards that displayed the message, "Go ahead, take another date to miniature golf, and die a virgin. Oakland Ballet. You just might like it."
I can understand that the ads were meant to be controversial, but what was with the weird dig at miniature golf?
Potentially mad scheme: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian navy was casting about for ways to raise revenue and came up with the idea of using Typhoon-class submarines as oil tankers. The Soviets had built six Typhoon-class nuclear subs which were, and still are, the largest submarines ever made. The main selling point of this idea was that the subs could travel under Arctic ice, eliminating the need for expensive ice-breakers. From wikipedia:
In the early 1990s, there were also proposals to rebuild some of the Typhoon-class submarines to submarine cargo vessels for shipping oil, gas and cargo under polar ice to Russia's far flung northern territories. The submarines could take up to 10,000 tonnes of cargo on-board and ship it under the polar ice to tankers waiting in the Barents Sea. These ships – after the considerable engineering required to develop technologies to transfer oil from drilling platforms to the submarines, and later, to the waiting tankers – would then deliver their cargo world-wide.
The idea was abandoned when someone over there decided that a nuclear sub filled with 10,000 tons of oil might pose some safety concerns.
The opening few minutes are a press release for the company that created the exhibit. "Robo Show" begins at the 5:40 mark, and "Flower Planet" at minute 13:00. State-of-the-art stuff for thirty years ago.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.