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.
Photos by Peter Duke
Screen grab from "Roller Boogie" released in 1979
Heaven even released their own compilation LPs
Heaven Business card
Photo: Judy Muenzberg
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.
You can see the Nickelodeon record store above.
"Heaven" was around the corner to the right
A sweatshirt saved by my pal Lisa Ellis
Me in my favorite shirt of all. Purple was everything to me in 1982
Heaven was heavenly