Sure, it's an old and pretty familiar Los Angeles story by now. But there are always new arrivals who discover Highland Park and wonder, logically enough, why a giant fiberglass man in a chicken head lurks over Figueroa Street. So for them, Vice revisits the story of how designer Amy Inouye saved Chicken Boy from the landfill and, after 23 years of perseverance, had the Boy mounted over the studio she shares with artist husband Stuart Rapeport.
Amy Inouye first met the fiberglass statue she calls Chicken Boy in the early 1970s. She had just moved to Los Angeles to attend the ArtCenter College of Design; Chicken Boy loomed above her school commute, the towering, 22-foot-tall mascot of an eponymous fried chicken restaurant in Downtown LA.
With the body of a strapping, Bunyan-esque man, the head of a cartoon chicken, and his goofy, cross-eyed gaze, Inouye came to find comfort in his hulking presence. "If he's OK, I'll be OK," she tells VICE she often thought to herself as she drove by her first true LA friend. He was an antidote to the sprawling metropolis, a fellow outsider watching over her from above....
But one day, Inouye came to discover that her friend was in grave danger, and the only one who could save him was her.
[skip to the present day]
"But why?" I ask Inouye, when I visit her at Chicken Boy's home. "Why devote so much time to a chicken that can't thank you?"
"Because it's fun," Inouye said. "This is America, and America is about weird stuff on the road. These things exist, and people love them. That's what it comes down to: It's fun."