JJ Adams was back with a bang this year with his first collection of 2019 released this month (April 2019) - and that only means one thing... it's time for another installment of one of our favourite segments - 'JJ's Hidden Gem's'! We have our trusty magnifying glass on hand again to delve deeper into his newest Spring Collection and discover all the hidden details and messages that JJ has included in each and every work.
First up is the sensational new 'Photobooth', which illustrates a cosy meeting between the iconic Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe (and of course they had to get a selfie of the event because... if you didn't take a photo of it, did it really happen?!) This is another classic mix of the old and the new that JJ uses to keep his works fresh and relatable and plays on much of the speculation around whether or not Elvis and Marilyn ever really did cross paths all those years ago. In the work you will see the usual additions of piercings and tattoo's on Marilyn, including the quote 'Kiss Me Quick' peeking out from just below her neck. This is a reference to Elvis' classic song which was released as a single in the UK in 1962 - which interestingly is the same year of Marilyn's tragic passing. JJ has also recorded a date of the 'polaroid' on the bottom right hand corner of the image, but what exactly is the relevance in this period I hear you ask? Well, in actual fact - March 1956 was a pivotal month for both Marilyn and Elvis Presley, as this was the month that saw Elvis' career really take off when he released his first album 'Elvis Presley'. As for Marilyn - March was the month she legally changed her name from the former 'Norma Jeane Mortenson' to Monroe - and this was to become one of the most recognised names in the world. Of course, there is also much speculation to whether or not Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe ever actually met in person, although some have said that they did cross paths in the year of 1956, but nothing has ever been confirmed - at least now we can have some sort of visualisation of just what might have taken place with JJ's newest work!
The specific date the 15th of March in actual fact does not relate to either Elvis or Marilyn at all, but instead to JJ himself - as if you follow him on any forms of social media you will know... this is his birthday! (So you'll never forget to send him your well wishes from now on)
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So anyone who is a fan of the films or the cartoon will know that this piece is absolutely bursting with references to its story-lines and all of it's greatest characters! On first glance you will of course spot, the classic Ecto-1 Cadillac, proudly sitting center of all the chaos that is transpiring around! On closer inspection we can begin to notice all of the little gems disguised in this one. The obvious being 'Slimer' hovering in the distance and a poster featuring the iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man plastered to the wall. There is also a poster promoting 'The Real Ghosbusters' - the animated tv show that JJ stated was a firm favourite of his as a child. Another treasured character of JJ's growing up was Casper the Friendly ghost as he often read the comic books in his younger years, and he also makes a flying visit in the top right corner of the scene. Quotes from the show are entwined into the background including the unforgettable phrase from Peter Venkman 'We came, we saw, we kicked it's ass!' engraved into the entrance-way of the Ghostbusters Headquarters. There are also references to the film in the text section of the work - with the exact Ghostbusters hotline number appearing in the bottom corner of the image and the Columbia University emblem placed next to it, the University that Dr Stantz, Dr Venkman and Dr Spengler all worked for before going into the ghost-busting business. Probably the most poignant aspect to the work is the small tribute to actor Harold Ramis who played Egon Spengler in the movie - who died passed away in 2014. JJ makes light of his unforgettable character with the stencil stating 'Egon But Not Forgotten'
Now for some of the not- so- obvious additions to this image that may just make you double take! If you look closely under the back wheel of the Ecto-1 you may just spot some familiar faces making their way up from the sewers below - it's none other than the Mutant Ninja Turtles! As you peer into the car window of the vehicle you can also just about make out the silhouette of what appears to be one of the Terror Dogs behind the wheel, who has clearly gone on a killing rampage - and who is that he has crashed into... wait, is that.. Big Bird? Yes, that is the ghost of Big Bird from Sesame Street! So, what do the Ninja Turtles, The Ghostbusters and The Muppets all have in common apart from being some of JJ's favourite tv shows as a young boy.. well, they are also all set in New York and so in the world of animation they would definitely all hang out, wouldn't they?! (Well JJ sure likes to hope so)
DARKER SIDE OF THE MOON
This is the first image that JJ released as a teaser for the run up to the launch of his first collection entitled 'Darker Side Of The Moon' and really ramped up the excitement for the new series - this 'Time Magazine' cover is a a dramatic cross between the Apollo 11 moon landing - and the very popular Alien film franchise... or in the world of JJ Adams you could say this was 'What really happened during the first moon landing'. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the famous image of Buzz Aldrin taking his first steps on the moon and whether or not it was even genuine, so JJ has decided to have a little fun with it and has done so with the addition of a few new characters to set the scene. Firstly, we look at Buzz Aldrins space suit that has now been accessorised with the classic symbol of the 60's/70's - the smiley face, and a 'Weyland Yutani Corporation' logo on his upper arm - the large conglomerate corporation, playing pivotal roles in the Alien movies. Appearing out from behind Buzz is a very curious looking E.T and the classic creatures from the Alien films, who are set to unexpectedly pounce on the man of the moment! Alien fans will also recognise the Prometheus Juggernaut Ship hovering in the corner and the Close Encounters Devils Tower ship appearing too. There might just be some hope out there though for good old Buzz and his partner Neil Armstrong in the form of a Predator Laser Sight - aimed directly at the Alien's head....
For music fans, the phrase 'Darker Side of the Moon' will forever conjure up Pink Floyd's 1973 concept album - and of course JJ also makes reference to this in the headline down in the bottom corner of the cover. If anyone remembers the live broadcast of the first moon landing on the BBC, they may just recall their unreleased song 'Moonhead' that played in between broadcast coverage of the first Apollo moon landing on 20 July 1969.
Madonna fans will have been sure to have gone wild to see JJ's first ever tribute to the original 'Material Girl' and pop sensation - and in our opinion this image completely embodies all of Madonna's charm, personality and success over her long standing career in the business. Most of this image speaks for itself, a young Madonna as the 80's icon that she was - but with that classic JJ Adams twist. JJ has combined a number of looks together to create the final portrait, the hairstyle from her music video for 'Holiday', the straps from her dress in 'Like a Virgin' - the layered bracelets she is wearing on the vinyl cover of 'Lucky Star' and in her right hand she is holding the sunglasses from her role in 'Desperately Seeking Susan'. The one item that actually does not belong to Madonna is the skull ring located on her middle finger, as this in fact belongs to JJ himself (but we are sure she would appreciate none the less) Of course, in classic JJ style - he has embellished her with some very distinctive tattoo's which include the renowned song title 'Material Girl' - a phrase that was later adopted as a nickname for Madonna by her fans. Beside this is the 'Om' sign - known as the most sacred symbol in the Hindu religion. Having converted from Christianity to Kabbalah while learning up on Hinduism and Yoga, there is a clear influence in Madonna's religion throughout her music and often influences the change in her look. The OM symbol also features in Madonna's 1998 music video for her song 'Frozen'
We also have the word 'Sex' tattooed on the back of her opposite hand - this could be because in the height of her career in the 80's Madonna was well known for being somewhat of a 'sex symbol', and also released a controversial coffee table book entitled 'Sex' in 1992. There was also the release of the song S.E.X which featured on her 13th album 'Rebel Heart'
The background of the image you will spot the classic 'News Headlines' that often make an appearance in JJ's icon portraits and also the addition of a rainbow in the bottom right hand corner - according to the LGBT magazine, The Advocate, Madonna is the greatest gay icon in pop culture!
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LOST IN THE SHADOWS
Next up we have the brilliant yet very mysterious 'Lost in The Shadows' - focusing around the teen vampire cult classic ' The Lost Boys' and JJ creates his well known 'poster' style to set the tone of the work. As to be expected, it features all the instantly recognisable characters, and the classic red Honda XL 250 takes center stage here. On the Motorcycle are a pair of sunglasses, that belong to the one of the main characters Michael Emerson and it is also Michael's shadow that appears in the foreground of the image. To the side of his silhouette lies an empty takeaway noodle box - referencing one of Michael's most memorable moments in the film at his initiation, where David makes him think he's eating boxes of maggots and earthworms whilst exclaiming 'They're only noodles Michael!' It soon becomes obvious to Michael that the gang are more than just reckless, they’re lifeless.
You may also spot the name 'Santa Clara' etched into the body of the motorcycle - this the fictional coastal town where The Lost Boys is set in America. (The Lost Boys was in fact shot in Santa Cruz in California)
The headline for the poster 'Say Hello To The Night' is a verse in Lou Gramm's 'Lost In The Shadows' - the name of the soundtrack to the film which also makes up the title of the piece. The text beside it refers to a notable phrase made by David in the film when he says "You don’t have to beat me, Michael. Just try and keep up".
Some little gems that may be more difficult to spot here is firstly the Windex spray bottle peeking out from the front wheel of the chopper - which makes light of the scene in the film when Sam and Michael's Grandpa hilariously swaps aftershave for the cleaning product. The second one is the familiar face emerging from the gloomy background on the left hand side.. it's the face of Jim Morrison that appears as a poster in the Lost Boys cave, but what connection does Jim Morrison have to this film I hear you say? Well a little known fact is Jim Morrison originally recorded the song 'People Are Strange' with the Doors, prior to the Echo and the Bunnymen version which ended up in the final edit up of the film.
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HUNDRED ACRE WEED
And last but definitely not least, we have the brilliant 'Hundred Acre Weed' - the next installment in JJ's popular series of 'Disney Gone Bad'... and this particular piece features all the cast of Winnie The Pooh - but not how we usually know them. So, the first clue is probably in the name as JJ plays on the word 'Wood' in name of the forest where Pooh and his pals all reside, by changing this to 'Weed' - so we know that they have gone rogue for sure! The main character Winnie is rocking a Fedora and a first full of cash as he deals out the Class B drug to his friends who are all sporting some pretty hilarious tattoo's. Starting with the main Bear himself, we see Winnie the Pooh has a tattoo on his arm that reads 'Oh Bother' - which of course, is his classic catchphrase in the animated series. His t-shirt has the slogan 'Not Mr Sanders' printed onto it, Mr Sanders being the previous resident of the house Pooh now lives in and who's name features above his front door in gold lettering. Some people believed that this referred to Pooh's last name, making him 'Mr Winnie The Pooh Sanders' but this is in fact not true although we never actually learn who this mysterious Mr Sanders ever is!
About to swipe a bag from Pooh's hand is Owl - who looks pretty shady in his sunglasses and concealing some suspicious looking pills under his wing. He is also displaying a tattoo across his breast that says 'Dyslexic', and if you look to the left you will also see an excited looking Tigger who has 'ADHD' emblazoned on his arm as well. Here, JJ seems to be referring to the theory that each character at Hundred Acre Weed represents a form mental or learning disorder. In the December 2000 edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the joint teams of Dalhousie University's Pediatrics Department published a study that diagnosed the likes of Tigger with ADHD based on his history of risk-taking behaviour (so maybe the drugs are for medicinal purposes then....?)
Owl has a pager attached to his hip which seems to be ringing and if you look closely you will see it's 'Mickey' calling him. This is a subtle reference to an earlier work 'Mouse Fight' and was one of the first images JJ had created in this style starring Danger Mouse and Mickey mouse in a punch up - proving immensely popular at it's time of release.
In the distance we can see a silhouette of a little boy we can only assume is PeterRobin and beside him someone appears to have scratched the words 'Equal Pay For All' into the tree trunk- a subtle hint that seems to point towards the very recent claims of discrimination within the Disney Corporation, and JJ Adams is showing his clear stance on this. This is an all round amazing take on the classic A.A Milnes story and gives us plenty of laughs, especially the good old tub of 'Vegan Honey'- one for all the millennial's of the world!
To purchase any of the works please go to JJ's full collection section on our website by clicking here!