Chicken Boy is a landmark statue on the historic U.S. Route 66 (North Figueroa Street) in the Highland Park, California area of Los Angeles. The colorful 22-foot tall fiberglass statue was recognized by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with the Governor's Historic Preservation Award in 2010.
Chicken Boy was first perched atop a fried chicken restaurant in downtown Los Angeles on Broadway (also Historic Route 66) between 4th and 5th streets, near L.A.'s Grand Central Market in the 1960s. At that time, International Fiberglass Company, in Venice, California, was manufacturing the more familiar roadside Paul Bunyan and Muffler Man statues for use as outdoor advertising. The Los Angeles chicken restaurant bought one and hired an artist to customize it. A chicken head was fabricated to replace the man's head. The arms were re-worked to face forward and hold a bucket, rather than as the axe-wielding original. The iconic downtown statue remained in place until 1984 when the restaurant owner died. The statue was given to Amy Inouye, after many queries and requests, and it went into storage until a suitable location could be found, as it turned out some 20 years later.
Amy Inouye, a Los Angeles art director, saved, then stored Chicken Boy and in 2007 moved the statue to its current location at 5558 North Figueroa. Inouye's design firm, Future Studio, had relocated to a commercial space that had a reinforced roof strong enough to support the statue. The Chicken Boy statue was recovered as a result of community effort and donated funds.
Initially saved by designer Amy Inouye when its downtown fast-food home was leveled, Chicken Boy languished in storage for two decades -- its head in one unit, its torso in another. Finally, the city allowed her to install it atop her Highland Park studio as an "art installation," writes L.A. Times columnist Steve Harvey.
Other customized statues
There are other notable customized statues still standing: The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois, holds a rocket ship and wears a helmet; Tall Paul in Atlanta, Illinois, holds a giant hot dog; and El Salsero in Malibu, California, wears a sombrero and holds a serving tray. Road-trip and pop culture fanatics seek them out and catalogue them on websites.
In popular culture
Chicken Boy's ceremonial birthday is September 1, 1969 as listed in Chase Annual Events book, a volume for US morning DJs listing important and whacky birthdays for each day.
He has been profiled by the BBC.
- Governor's Historic Preservation Award, Sacramento, California, 2010.
- Community Beautification Grant, City of Los Angeles, 2005-2006.
- California Preservation Foundation, Three Minute Success Story, 2009.
- Highland Park Heritage Trust Preservation Award, 2009-2010.
- Commendation, City of Los Angeles, 2009.
- Commendation, California State Assembly, Sacramento, California, 2010.
- Erin Richards. "Chicken-Boy Saviors Receive Award". www.nbclosangeles.com.
- Inouye, Amy: The True Story of Chicken Boy, Future Studio, Los Angeles, 2010.
- Rodriguez, Gregory: "Op-Ed", Los Angeles Times, "Chicken Boy Lives," March 14, 2011
- Harvey, Steve: "Look closely for L.A.'s whimsical architecture of yesteryear," Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2008.
- "Roadside America - Guide to Uniquely Odd Tourist Attractions". www.roadsideamerica.com.
- Ankrom, Richard (April 2007). "Art. Stuff. Chicken". Coagula Art Journal. #85
- Kim Kabar (Jan/Feb 2012). "Men at Work". Westways Magazine.
- Lovett, Anthony and Matt Maranian, L.A. Bizarro: The All-New Insider's Guide to the Obscure, the Absurd, and the Perverse in Los Angeles, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, September 2009.
- McFadden, Cyra: "Catalog-weary flock to Chicken Boy," San Francisco Examiner (National edition), Sunday, Nov. 19, 1989.
- Parks-Ramage, Jonathan (August 7, 2016). "One Woman's Fight to Save a 22-Foot-Tall Fiberglass Chicken". Vice.
- Official website - www.chickenboy.com
- "Muffler Men". www.roadsideamerica.com.
- "Waymarking - A scavenger hunt for unique and interesting locations in the world". www.waymarking.com.