I first learned of Chicken Boy on Food52’s recent podcast and immediately became smitten. Part man, part chicken, this 22-foot-tall fiberglass figure stands atop the Future Studio Design & Gallery – how did I not know about this quirky Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles?
Chicken Boy was first installed atop a fried chicken restaurant in downtown Los Angeles on Broadway (also Historic Route 66) between 4th and 5th streets, near the Grand Central Market in the 1960s. At that time, International Fiberglass Company, in Venice, California, was manufacturing the more familiar roadside Paul Bunyan and Muffler Man statues for use as outdoor advertising. The Los Angeles chicken restaurant bought one and hired an artist to customize it. A chicken head was fabricated to replace the man's head. The arms were re-worked to face forward and hold a bucket, rather than as the axe-wielding original.
Once the restaurant closed in 1983, the avian hybrid’s future was uncertain, but thanks to the efforts of local artist Amy Inouye, who had long admired the whimsical chimera, the iconic figure was saved from the scrapheap. After much lobbying and an attempt to have the figure entered into a museum, Inouye was finally granted custody, and the homeless Chicken Boy was placed in storage, awaiting a new home. Unfortunately a suitable place was not found for two decades.
In 2007, Chicken Boy’s days in storage ended when he was placed in his current location with the vigilance of Inouye, help of volunteers and donations. He is still a celebrated piece of LA strangeness that is beloved by many and today is his birthday, which we couldn’t let go unnoticed – Happy birthday Chicken Boy!
I plan on paying him a visit one day soon and you can too. Chicken Boy is securely perched on the rooftop of Amy’s gallery located at 5558 North Figueroa Street.