Remembering HEAVEN at the Century City Mall

"Heaven, I'm in Heaven..."

Art by Nick Taggart

If you grew up in Los Angeles during the 1980s, then you'll understand this shirt I wore back in the day.



Alison Martino, 1981

"Heaven" was a cutting edge, heavily branded, new wave, pop-culture novelty store located in the old Century City mall. It sold t-shirts, wacky sweatshirts, postcards, buttons, candy (my favorite were the candy dots on paper rolls), stickers, keychains, Lava lamps, toys, (Gumby was quite popular) and odd artifacts in the late '70s through early '80s. I specifically remember Elvis Presley shampoo on displayed in the window. They had the coolest 3-D glasses and pens. I had a bed filled with their red satin heart pillows and a shirt that said Bates Motel. Loved my baby blue pink "Heaven" sweatpants. But it was those t-shirts and two toned jerseys with the "Heaven" logo emblazoned in bright colors that became the big sensation, and soon stores spread all over Los Angeles and various locations across the US. These graphics were sooooo quintessential “80’s LA” and wearing a HEAVEN T-Shirt was essential at that time. Pair it up with a satin baseball jacket from Contempo Casuals and you were all set to hit Flipper's Roller Disco. 




I thought I was hot shiz whenever I frequented the store - especially when I saw the Bangles shopping for shirts. I once walked in when Elvira was signing autographs and another time I literally bumped into Jaclyn Smith in the card section. I'm surprised I never ran into the B-52's. 

I can visualize the entire store in my minds eye. Especially the south side wall of epic T’s that reached the ceiling and their clear plastic bags were just as collectible as their kooky merchandise. One time I saw someone trying on a pair of aluminum-foil space pants! The place looked like something straight out of a Devo music video.



In the late 1980s, they expanded and opened a 50s style diner in the back. The burgers were really good with cherry fountain soda pop. All of it surrounded by wall to wall novelty items. I remember Heaven being one of the first places to introduce a Karaoke machine. 


Must give props to Brad Benedict who was the creative force behind "Heaven", "The Bijou" (which sold cinema paraphernalia), and "Nickelodeon" record store. All three were located in the old Century City Mall. Illustrators, Jim Heimann, Brian Zink (who also did the art for Paper Moon Graphics), and Nick Taggart were the innovative artists for "Heaven". I collected all the "Heaven" and "Paper Moon" greeting cards growing up and used to stock pile them to send to friends or decorate my bedrooms walls with. The artwork totally sums up the new wave era. I was obsessed with the airbrush look of them. 

Heaven cards


 Paper Moon Graphics collection


I’ve kept and collected a lot of "Heaven" relics over time - but they’re hard to come by. Jim and Rick have graciously gifted me some Heaven artifacts over the years. I keep it all in a pile with my other keepsakes from "Camp Beverly Hills" and "Fiorucci" -- the trifecta of novelty stores at the time. 

Their signature shirts worn by everyone from Freddy Mercury to Divine to Sharon Stone.


Freddy Mercury


Divine


Sharon Stone
Photos by Peter Duke



Screen grab from "Roller Boogie" released in 1979

Heaven even released their own compilation LPs 
Heaven Business card

Steve Perry


Found this original "Bijou" business card when my mother was moving. 

Advertisement for Heaven in Century City


The exterior of Heaven in Century City
Photo: Judy Muenzberg

The Luncheonette was added around 1983. It was locate in the back of the store. 
You can see it in this scene from FRIGHT NIGHT. 




This is the only photo I've been able to find of the inside of "Heaven" in Century City circa 1987. I just wish it were me in the photo. 



Century City during the 1980's. 
You can see the Nickelodeon record store above. 
"Heaven" was around the corner to the right 


My friend Paula Schwartz 

A sweatshirt saved by my pal Lisa Ellis

One of my Heaven shirts with the tag still attached! Courtesy of Jim Heimann

Me in my favorite shirt of all. Purple was everything to me in 1982

Heaven was heavenly



Alison Martino
 
is a writer for Los Angeles Magazine, on-air contributor for Spectrum News, and pop culture historian. She founded the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles in 2010 and muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram.





Comments

  1. Great story, I'm glad you gave Brad Benedict some love, he was brilliant!

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  2. There was also a store at the Sherman Oaks Gallaria, Beverly Connection, and Westwood. Did Bijou do a synth-pop album? I have one from the early 80s which was ultra-rare when I bought it in maybe 1991.

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  3. I was a friend of Brad's so I went in sometimes just to say hi. I had the quintessential baseball t-shirt with Heaven written on it. Also, Kimberly Beck co-starred in Roller Boogie. ~ Just saying.

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  4. Brad makes magic happen.
    I worked for Jim and him on a project they were working on. I loved it!

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  5. Could almost see my old salon Carlton Hair in one of the pics. Loved Heaven. Who remembers Industrial Revolution at the Bev Cent?

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    Replies
    1. Did you work at Carlton or were you a customer? I worked in the head office in 1989 through 1991.

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  6. Great memories! My sister and I shopped at Heaven in Georgetown (Washington DC) in the early to mid-80s. We both wish we still had our crazy-cool sweatshirts (mine had vintage televisions, hers had vintage appliances) — but I still have some Paper Moon Graphics note cards!

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  7. Just came across a small plastic bag with the Heaven logo and graphics, I knew it had some significant memory, from the store in Century III mall, West Mifflin, PA. We would hang out and check out all the cool stuff, I was attracted to all the artsy, bright colors etc... I guess because I became an Art teacher and recently retired after 35 years of public education. Such a fun store, glad it was a part of my creative history.

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  8. Just ran into these photos from the San Diego Heaven. So precious :)

    I loved the burgers at the Century City location. I'm pretty sure I'm remembering the sesame seed buns pretty accurately, and I think they had curly fries in red baskets.

    https://friendsofsdarch.photoshelter.com/image/I0000FqAp37ro6e4

    https://m.psecn.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000I0vwOx5bRak/s/860/860/HortonPlaza17.jpg

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  9. What great memories! I missed Art Clokey by 5 minutes! Wahhhh! I have some post cards in my stash. A pig pen and preppy alligator stuff. Ah haaa in Westwood was fun too.

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  10. I had a white PAPER Heaven jumpsuit in 1981. Honestly, "paper" clothes were the next big thing. It was like the material of a FedEx envelop today (maybe a little heavier) but it was form fitting and very fun to wear.

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  11. It was a thrill to see the names of local graphic designers and illustrators on the menu. Yes, they had their art on the t-shirts and cards in the store and were all friends of Brad. So fun to read!

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