Tag Archives: Music Valley Wax Museum

Wax Country Music Stars Face Homelessness

Wax Country Music Stars Face Homelessness

Someone in Nashville is moving a ton of wax, and they’re not selling records.

 

“Nobody’s ever tried that in their life, to sell a whole wax museum!” laughs John A. Hobbs, his booming Southern drawl reminiscent of Looney Tunes rooster Foghorn Leghorn. Hobbs currently has his entire 55-figure Music Valley country music star wax museum in Nashville up for auction on eBay. He’s asking $750,000, but will settle for $450,000. The current leading bid is $200,000 as of press time. The auction ends May 7, after which Hobbs will consider options to sell the stars individually. “We were trying to sell the whole family at one time, to keep the family together. But if we have to, we’ll deal them one at a time. Some of the stars wanted to buy their own, some of the managers of the stars wanted one . . . [television comedy host] Jimmy Kimmel wanted to buy Minnie Pearl.” Hobbs says that the individual figures should fetch $3,000 to $15,000 each.Music Valley Wax Museum, the last wax museum in Nashville, will shut its doors for good on July 31. The city’s original wax museum, The Country Music Wax Museum, closed in 1997 after 26 years. “We had a big tourist attraction back then, but now we’re changing our whole look in Nashville,” grumbles Hobbs. “It’s not that much toward country music, it’s more toward conventions and football. And they put country music on the backburner. The other museum closed up ’bout several years ago. This ‘un done pretty good [Music Valley] but the land’s too valuable to leave a museum on it.”

/editorial/2004-05-06/Wax_Museum.jpg
shadow
Wax likenesses of country music artists Minnie Pearl and Alan Jackson. (click for larger version)

 

Hobbs also owns the Nashville Palace, a swanky nightclub where real live country music legends, as opposed to wax figures, can be spotted almost nightly. Many of the young stars got their start there, according to Hobbs. “Randy Travis washed dishes for four years; Lorrie Morgan worked there at age 16. Alan Jackson sang there for free. Vic Damone and the Smothers Brothers worked there. George Jones used to be there nightly, where he’d often hop on stage,” laughs Hobbs. “I’ve seen George at his worst and at his best. I’ve seen George when we wouldn’t let him go on stage!”

Most of the museum’s figures were made in California by wax artist Rio Rita, who created the replicas of film stars in the Hollywood Wax Museum. Hobbs sent Rio Rita four photos of each country star’s face, including a facial front shot, two profiles, and an angular shot combining face and profile. Each figure is garishly displayed in shiny, waxy living color on the eBay web site, with “Dueling Banjos,” the theme song to Deliverance, casting a surreal pall over the macabre auction. The stage outfit worn by the Ernest Tubb mannequin is the same one he wore throughout his career, as is the flowing gown adorning Loretta Lynn. Lynn’s figure also includes a plate used in her famous Crisco commercials. The Chet Atkins figure includes one of his original guitars, while Buck Owens is wearing the actual hillbilly overalls and straw hat that he sported on the “Hee Haw” set. The cornfield where the buxom “Hee Haw” babes popped up to shake their breasts and deliver ridiculous one-liners is also included. While a few figures resemble their breathing—or once-breathing—counterparts, most require an observer to use some imagination. Willie Nelson looks more like hobo singer Box Car Willie, who in turn looks like NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Roy Acuff favors crooner Andy Williams, while Minnie Pearl is a dead ringer for the puppet Madame from the “Waylon and Madame” ventriloquist act.

 

“Marty Robbins liked his wax figure so well he used to come down there ’bout once a month, and he’d bring a beautician and get her to comb his hair.”

Hobbs’ personal favorite is one of the newer figures, country singer Alan Jackson. “Alan looks like he could just walk right up and talk to you. Marty Robbins liked his so well he used to come down there ’bout once a month, and he’d bring a beautician and get her to comb his hair and everthang . . . Ernest Tubb wouldn’t even look at his figure,” remembers Hobbs. “He’d say, ‘My God, I’d think I was dead. I don’t want to go and look at that damn thang.’” &

The web site address for the Music Valley Country Music Star wax museum auction is: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=15825&item=2393694283&rd=1