Category Archives: tacky tourist photos

Tourist Dress-Up Debate: Is it “racist” to try on a Japanese kimono?

HANDS OFF THE SILK - In a recently canceled Boston Museum of Fine Arts promotion, visitors were encouraged to try on a Japanese kimono and pose with the famous painting, (Source: MFA)

HANDS OFF THE SILK – In a recently canceled Boston Museum of Fine Arts promotion, visitors were encouraged to try on a Japanese kimono and pose with the famous Claude Monet painting, “La Japonaise.” (Source: Museum of Fine Arts)

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts just stopped letting visitors be photographed in kimonos on “Kimono Wednesdays” because of a few protestors charging that the dress-up event is culturally insensitive.

As a lover of kitschy photo-ops at museums and tourist attractions, I’m horrified.

My street cred? I’m the curator and co-founder of “Tacky Tourist Photos,” a travel website celebrating this practice around the world.

I thought the MFA’s promotion was clever and respectful of Japanese culture and would have exposed many outsiders to history and art they might not have bothered paying attention to otherwise. In Kyoto, Japan, there are lots of studios that invite tourists to go through the lengthy process of dressing in traditional Geisha and Samurai garb.

I’ve also met tourists who have had fun channeling Pharaohs in Egypt, Vikings in Sweden and Sumo wrestlers in Japan. I’ve personally had the honor of dressing like a Canadian! While on Prince Edward Island, I met Japanese and Chinese women who posed in red braids and straw hats and said they dreamed of visiting the land of Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables costume booth at the Confederate Bridge on Prince Edward Island.

Anne of Green Gables costume booth at the Confederate Bridge on Prince Edward Island.

I share my disappointment in the MFA for not standing up to a few protestors – as well as challenge the idea of “cultural appropriation” in general – in this opinion column for The Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper).

A snippet:

“Only a few generations after the Second World War, when Japan and the West viewed each other through the lens of brutal racial stereotypes, our first impressions are no longer Pearl Harbor and P.O.W. camps. My immediate associations with Japan are anime, baseball, comic books and video games. Go to any comic book convention and you’ll find that Japanese culture is worshipped.

I’d like to think that part of that cultural transformation is due to trying on each other’s clothes.”

I know it’s the journalistic equivalent of smacking a hornet’s nest with a baseball bat, but I also humbly propose 5 objective criteria to determine whether a costumed photo-op is offensive or not offensive.

If you appreciate fun travel photo-ops, whether they celebrate cultural or historical themes or not, please consider immortalizing your snapshots in my “museum.”

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Filed under Excuses to Dress in a Kimono, Journalism Assignments, tacky tourist photos

The Leaning Tower of Tupperware… and Other Tourist Attractions Coming Soon?

The Leaning Tower of Tupperware — Click on the cartoon to see what those wacky tourists are trying to do. (New Hampshire Magazine illustration by Marc Sutherland).

The New Hampshire tourism bureau just spent $130,000 on a slogan (“Live Free And…”) that I would have sold them for half that price.

But we don’t need any more coffee mug mottos to lure more visitors. We need more tourist attractions!

Luckily for state officials, I’ve laid out the perfect economic development plan in the June issue of New Hampshire Magazine (“Tourist Attractions We’d Like To See“).

Cash Cow Idea # 1: The Leaning Tower of Tupperware (Berlin, NH)

Plastic bowl tycoon Earl Tupper doesn’t generate the same reverence as NH native Franklin Pierce, but what did our 14th President ever do to preserve sandwiches? An unstable tower of Tupperware containers, simulating how they never stack right in the cupboard, would become a must-take tourist photo at the inventor’s birthplace. (Inspiration: JELL-O Museum in Le Roy, NY)

Take a look inside NH Magazine’s crystal ball for some other roadside attractions hopefully coming to a highway exit near me!

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A modeling career is born…

This goofy Anne of Green Gables costume has certainly been a PR bonanza for my pet travel humor project, earning prime real estate in The Boston Globe, on NPR and the CBC (we’ll have to impress the Canadian media with a Dudley Do-Right tribute next).

But you, Manchester Union-Leader, have won my heart.

It’s my first ever magazine cover!

Thank you, NH Weekend magazine for previewing my “Exploring America’s Tackiest Tourist Photos” exhibit and presentation at the Amherst Public Library. We’re expecting a SRO crowd. 🙂

Here’s what I love about the cover:

1. The Academy Awards are briefly teased, but hey, they aren’t really that special compared to the guy in the green dress.

2. The graphic artist took the time to layer the photograph with the magazine logo. This might seem like a no-brainer with print design, but newspapers are SO understaffed and overworked these days that I’m impressed that someone still cares about the nuances.

3. The photo editor chose not to crop out my favorite KEEN sandals, the most comfortable footwear ever. Though I am wondering if fashionwise, I may have been better off wearing a pair of Vibram FiveFingers?

4. I appreciate that FINALLY the mainstream media is realizing that Tacky Tourist Photos is not just about the chuckles and guffaws. There is a significant educational component, too.

BTW, if you, too, want to look like Anne of Green Gables (there’s no shame in admitting it), the best place to fulfill your dream is the Cavendish Figurines costume booth at the Confederation Bridge connecting New Brunswick with Prince Edward Island.

Be sure to tell Jeannette that Darren sent you!

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Summer Genius

Nothing impresses the ladies more than a monogrammed tote bag! (Click the pic for more details)

Our friends over at Tacky Tourist Photos have come up with a novel way to celebrate the waning days of summer.

Unfortunately, because of my connections to the Executive Board, I am not eligible to win this handsome customized tote bag.

But you are.

Curious what all the fuss is about?  Get the scoop at the Budget Travel magazine blog.

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NPR explores Tacky Tourist Photos

Click here to hear Tacky Tourist secrets revealed only to WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov.

Thanks to NPR’s Here and Now program for lending some intellectual street cred to Tacky Tourist Photos, my pet project that documents the goofiest vacation photos in the universe — and the fun people behind them!

Among the FASCINATING tidbits you’ll learn from listening to the interview are:

* Strategies for invading South American countries with pretty college co-eds.

* How French pedestrians reacted to our offbeat Eiffel Tower photo shoot.

* The real motivation behind tourists (like me) dressing as Anne of Green Gables.

* How to take the most creative vacation photos regardless of whether you are visiting an exotic tourist trap or your friendly neighborhood tourist trap.

* Why Turkish toilet seats are especially funny; and

* Why Tacky Tourist Photos refuses to make fun of our “guests” like many other picture-of-the-day humor Websites.

Click on the screenshot above to listen to the NPR segment. You’ll be thrilled that you did!

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Nostalgic Torture

pilgrim village plymouth tourists

PURITAN JUSTICE: Old-fashioned parenting skills shared at Plimoth Plantation.

Our friends over at Tacky Tourist Photos were kind enough to publish this childhood snapshot from our 1978 family visit to Plimouth Plantation.

I’m the troublemaker in the leather jacket trying to burst free. Brother Kevin deserves the Oscar for his realistic facial anguish. Or is that delight?

There’s something extremely disturbing about Mom’s clenched fist. Doesn’t she know that the stockades were 100 percent about public humiliation and not about violence or increasing chiropractor bills?

Apparently, these nostalgic torture sessions are still popular at Colonial Williamsburg and DisneyWorld, but not in Plymouth any more. The Pilgrim buffs explained why on their Facebook fan page:

Plimoth Plantation: Love the photo! We realized that they wouldn’t have been there in 1627, so that is why they are not in the Village anymore However, you may have inspired us to add them again outside the Village, as a fun photo opp. Who doesn’t love putting the family in stocks?!”

Perhaps one of the most bizarre homages to this sadistic Medieval practice comes in the form of a t-shirt.

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What would the Mona Lisa look like with glasses and bangs?

To benefit the Nashua (NH) Soup Kitchen, the curators of Tacky Tourist Photos will be offering Mona Lisa photo-ops at the Floating Art Gallery.

To benefit the Nashua (NH) Soup Kitchen & Shelter, the curators of Tacky Tourist Photos will be offering Mona Lisa photo-ops at the Floating Art Gallery.

NASHUA, NH — If you can’t afford to SEE the Mona Lisa, then just BE the Mona Lisa instead.

To raise money for the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, the curators of will stage a daring and ambitious piece of performance art called “Be the Mona Lisa” at the Floating Art Gallery on Sunday, Dec. 6.

Visitors will substitute their heads for the famous smiling lady immortalized by Leonardo da Vinci. Yes, this is the same Mona Lisa who survived a brutal coffee mug attack at the Louvre. Why wait in those long lines in Paris, when you can zip up Route 3 North and scoot over to the Courtyard Marriott?

The excitement lasts from 6-9 p.m. and includes live music and a cash bar.

Tacky Tourist Photos will join more than a dozen artists, painters, photographers and sculptors at the charity benefit, at which a portion of sales will help one of the following causes: The Healthy NH Foundation; Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Manchester; the Nashua Humane Society; St. Jude Children’s Hospital; Children’s International; Nashua Area Artist’s Association; Nashua Soup Kitchen; New England Aquarium; Animal Rescue League of NH; and the ASPCA.

Equally significant will be the culinary experience of enjoying complimentary Tacky Appetizers, which are rumored to involve delicately sliced Hostess and Little Debbie treats.

For more information, visit the Floating Gallery.

And doesn’t fellow TTP curator Pete also look FAN-tastic as Mona Lisa?

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Tanks for the Memories: Mike Dukakis and the Perils of Playing Dress-Up

The personalized sticky label on Mike's helmet was a nice touch

The personalized sticky label on Mike's helmet was a nice touch

Can posing for just one Tacky Tourist Photo forever alter the course of American history?

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Filed under Mike Dukakis Eyebrows, politics, tacky tourist photos

Who’s Cooler: “Anne from Green Gables” or Laura Ingalls from “Little House on the Prairie?”

Tourists of all ages, genders, races, creeds and political affiliations are clamoring to dress as "Anne of Green Gables" in the utopian land of Prince Edward Island

Tourists of all ages, genders, races, creeds and political affiliations are clamoring to dress as "Anne of Green Gables" in the utopian land of Prince Edward Island

Well, now you know my vote. Leave your vote below!

In case you are wondering what I am doing wearing braids and a green dress, explanations can be found below. Not that any explanations are necessary — both Canada and the USA, for the moment, still protect free expression.


Boston Herald: For $2, you can be “Anne of Green Gables”

Herald “Working Stiff” Blog: “Dress for Success: Why can’t Lexington and Concord be this photo-op friendly?

Tacky Tourist Photos: Third runner-up in the “Anne of Green Gables” lookalike contest


Back to Laura Ingalls… Her dad, Charles Ingalls, a.k.a. Michael Landon, could be one of the coolest TV characters of all time. He was gentlemanly and could kick your ass. He always did the right thing, that Charles.

If you click on the picture, you can see what the real Charles looked like (the beard styles of the time made everyone look like the Unabomber).

My fourth grade teacher gave us extra credit for watching that show because it allegedly taught us about the nuances of being a pioneer.


My goofy Anne photo is now being formally shared with the Japanese fan base. Here’s what makes it official:

Japan-Anne-of-Green-Gables copy

Click the picture for Yuka Kajihara’s view of who is the most “charming Anne” of all time.

UPDATE: Bonnet Heads Fight Back: Anne vs. Laura debate heats up the Prairie!

PLUS… Exclusive commentary from “Little House” actress Alison Arngrim, a.k.a. Nellie Oleson: “Actress urges peace between Bonnetheads and Gableheads.


Filed under Family, Fashion, tacky tourist photos