The Batman Nightclub ‘Wayne Manor’ Revealed in 1966 ‘Life’ Magazine Article
Every now and then, I'm reminded of just how amazing the Internet as a massive resource of instantly accessible information. Sure, 90% of that "information" is guys running their mouth ad nauseum about the KGBeast or stories where Edward Cullen and Mr. Spock express their forbidden but irresistable love for each other, but there's also an incredible wealth of actual knowledge out there too.
Take, for instance, Google Books, which contains Life Magazine's entire weekly run -- stretching from 1936 to 1972 -- as a free searchable archive. It's an incredible look at American society in the 20th century that covers everything from World War II to the Moon landing, but more importantly, they occasionally got around to the real issues of the day. And by that, of course, I mean Batman.
I've seen the cover featuring Adam West in what I can only describe as a full-on frolic before, but it wasn't until today that Andrew Weiss sent me the actual content of the article, which focuses on the Batmania that was sweeping the nation after the TV show became a hit. The article also features the musicals inspired by both Superman and MAD Magazine, but far more interesting is its focus on how the public reacted to the show.
Especially when they started talking about the Batman nightclub called Wayne Manor, and the Batman-themed haircut.
The article itself was printed in the typically tilted Batman '66 style, and while they somehow managed to refrain from a headline involving the words Biff and Pow, they inexplicably keep the tilt around for the following pages, where a play about the Marquis de Sade was lumped in with Superman, Batman and MAD as another example of how the entire country's gone crazy for over-the-top characters.
The opening of the article gives a quick rundown on Batman, referring to him as "a Dracula with a halo who pops out of his Bat lair to foil his enemies with mysterious weapons," which might end up being my favorite description of the character, ever.
The good stuff, though, comes when they start discussing the impact on pop culture:
"The hottest place in the San Francisco suburb of Sunnyvale is Wayne Manor, named after Batman's straight self, Bruce Wayne. At the Manor (above), the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin are painted in throbbing colors on the walls, and villains cackle in flouresence. Behind a plate glass screen, girls dressed like Robin lead the crowd in the Batusi. Batman sells tickets at the front door, the maitre d' is the Joker, and drinks are served by Wonder Woman."
My original plan was to bold the most awesome things about that description, but everything is the most awesome thing. I want to go to there. [Ed. note: It also featured headlining bands that included Sly and the Family Stone!]
There's also a brief discussion of a Cleveland police officer with the unfortunate/awesome real name of Gilbert Batman, who dressed in costume for a blood drive who got calls meant for the Caped Crusader, but the craziest bit of all is Batman's impact on fashion:
"In Detroit, a hairdresser has invented the Bat Cut, in which the girls' eyebrows are shaved off and the hairline imitates Batman's cowl."
I sincerely wish that they had a shot of the finished product rather than just the process, because I can't imagine how that would look anything but astonishingly awful. Especially with the completely unnecessary shaving of the eyebrows. I mean, in 1966, Batman even had eyebrows on his mask. That dude is all about the brow.
The entire article can be read on Google Books, and in case there are any aspiring Doc Browns or Marty McFlys out there who needed more motivation to discover a way to travel back to the '60s, go back and read that paragraph about Club Wayne Manor again. I'll be waiting for your phone box and/or DeLorean as soon as I finish typing.