Uncle Sam Dummy Hawks Anti-Saddam Curios
Feb. 07, 1991
NEW YORK (AP) _ A talking Uncle Sam mannequin hawks Saddam Hussein voodoo dolls and dartboards at a New York novelty store. Customers can even throw the switch on ''Saddam's electric chair.''
''Uncle Sam wants you to shop at Abracadabra,'' the eye-rolling, jaw- clacking, dummy clad in red, white and blue urges passersby from a display window. ''We even have Saddam Hussein in an electric chair. If you'd like to have your picture taken pulling the lever, it's just $5.''
Abracadabra's owner, Paul Blum, admits that a New York tradition - anything for a buck - inspired him to stock anti-Saddam trinkets.
The Greenwich Village store's usual fare runs to parlor tricks, theatrical supplies, costumes and gag gifts. But when distributors started pitching the Saddam stuff and customers started asking for it, he couldn't resist.
''We said: Let's roast the guy,' '' Blum recalled.
To accomplish that goal, he's selling:
- Cardboard dartboards bearing Saddam's mug, priced at $3.
-''Beast of Baghdad'' voodoo dolls, $8.
- A computer game, $30, that allows players to launch missiles at pictures of a cursing Saddam.
- A caricature Saddam mask with a black beret, moustache and bushy eyebrows. It's coincidentally displayed next to a George Bush mask. Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher and the Big Bad Wolf are one row away.
''We did have Saddam Hussein toilet paper, but we sold out,'' Blum said apologetically. A sample Saddam condom vanished from the store.
There also are patriotic license plates, bumper stickers and flag pins.
But the ghoulish piece de resistance is the Saddam electric chair.
Before the war, Abracadabra sold stockades and fake guillotines and electric chairs. So the next step came naturally.
Blum dressed a blow-up doll in a German surplus military uniform, added a Saddam mask and bulging, glass eyes, and placed it on the ''electric chair,'' complete with blinking lights, smoke and a metal contraption for the dummy's head.
In the past week, dozens of people have forked over $5 each to play executioner, Blum said.
''We had kids the other day,'' said Mark Torreso, the actor-salesperson who recorded Uncle Sam's voice. ''They were having a great time. They just hated the guy (Saddam) and thought he was ruining the environment and was an insane man.''