Free Barbie! A Bay Area artist is...


Free Barbie! A Bay Area artist is appealing to people to send him old Barbie dolls so that he can use them as “building blocks . . . to sculpt a 12-foot-high figure--the Statue of Liberty Barbie.”

The artist, whose name is Nicolino, says: “Barbie lies there in dark shoe-box entombments on dusty back shelves all across America. Free her, for she has a message.”

Nicolino’s Statue of Liberty figure won’t exactly have a patriotic message. Nor a positive one, at least from the point of view of Barbie’s mother, El Segundo-based Mattel. Nicolino contends that Barbie, with her legendary equivalent measurements of 36-18-33, symbolizes the “cultural connection between self-esteem and breast size.”


But Mattel maintains that its perky blonde offers a “wholesome, positive, family-oriented image.”

Hmmm. We can’t decide whether to send Nicolino our old Barbie.


Past Barbie barbs: Nicolino’s project would not represent the first negative publicity aimed Mattel’s way. Here are some dates you won’t find in Barbie’s official diary:

* December, 1993: A group that calls itself the Barbie Liberation Organization switches the voice boxes of some Barbie and G.I. Joe dolls in San Diego and other cities. The new Barbie growls, “Dead men tell no lies,” while G.I. Joe chirps, “Want to go shopping?”

* July, 1993: A Bay Area woman, who claims she is the “inner twin” of Barbie, is ordered by Mattel lawyers to shut down a Barbie Channeling Newsletter that dispenses saucy advice. Sample reader question: “Is there a bad Barbie?” Newsletter answer: “The only bad Barbie is a bored Barbie.”

* April, 1993: The book “Mondo Barbie” offers an anthology of stories, which includes such characters as Hell’s Angel Barbie, Twelve-Step Barbie, and, most shocking of all, Van Nuys Barbie. Twelve-Step Barbie’s girlfriend, by the way, is Kendra (who was Ken before undergoing a sex-change operation).

* October, 1992: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics gives Mattel a failing grade for a Teen Talk Barbie doll that says: “Math class is tough.”

* May, 1990: A couple billed as Barbie and Malibu Ken are sued by Mattel after they perform a striptease on television’s “Donahue” show. Maybe the sex-change operation was Ken’s way of evading the Mattel lawyers.


Mystery of the Week: It’s the sudden appearance of billboards around town that say one word--just one word. Our spies have spotted the messages posted in Silver Lake (see photo) as well as in West L.A.


Remarkable coincidence: Spectators began a one-word chant when Simpson lawyer Robert Shapiro arrived at the Oscar De La Hoya-Rafael Ruelas championship fight in Las Vegas last weekend. It’s the same word that’s on the billboard in the photo.


DNA testimony can be difficult to follow. But it could be even more confusing if lawyer Shapiro was asked to cross-examine the author of “The Human Blueprint--The Race to Unlock the Secrets of Our Genetic Script.” That book, points out Thomas Pleasure of Venice, was written by a New York chemistry professor named Robert Shapiro.