Honest John's, Starship and Oz
By Wilhelm Murg, 9/22/2005
|Webmaster: The old Starship location at 11th & Delaware was bulldozed
in late 2005 to make way for further expansion of TU. Starship has reopened
at 1241 S. Lewis (583-0638). See the original and new Starship in this
from Lost Tulsa.
Oz Outlet (home decor, lighting, candles) is still at 2627 E 15th St
Note: for the purpose of illustration, this page has special links to
items available on Amazon.com via the TTM Gift Shop. If you feel like buying,
I recommend a trip to Starship, or to Rob's Records for used records (see
related article by Wilhelm). If your astral body
is out of range of these stores, feel free to order via this page.
As Wilhelm says below: "Life has changed, but only slightly; now I
look for releases on the web, then I call Starship to see if they have a
copy in stock..."
I read G.W. Schulz's excellent article on the closing of Starship
Out" in Urban Tulsa Weekly) and I was reminded of the motto in the
old Honest John's logo:
"Expose Your Self" (to Honest John's, ad circa 1972)
It all started in the glory days of the swinging seventies in Tulsa; KMOD
started broadcasting progressive rock out to the oil fields, you could get
a dirty magazine at any convenience store in town, the strippers were totally
nude, cowboys were doing lines of cocaine off the bar at The Cain's (which
was a BAD part of town at the time,) cops were sitting around clubs, on and
off duty, enjoying "liquor by the wink," and race
cars roared around the Tulsa Speedway in the
center of the city like a heart that was about to blow. All that was needed
was a center for the counterculture, where you could buy a bong... (and please
note that I am neither endorsing nor condemning such bizarre and unusual
Bill's T Records #45; photo by Freddy Gaither,
courtesy of Racing
From The Past
I came in a little after the beginning; Honest John's and Starship were already
at their (soon to be late) current location at 11th & Delaware (as I
remember Mazeppa saying at the end of their KMOD commercials) with Starship,
the head...sorry, I mean "Gift Shop," already open for business (the tag
lines I remember are "Tulsa's Inter Urban Mall" and the "Gift Shop," was
referred to as "Tulsa's Head Keeper.")
Two caring gentlemen, Matt Bunyan and Honest John Foutz, from "The
Tulsa Settler", Dec. 1973
The first time I heard about "Honest John's" was in the latter-daze (KTUL
incarnation) of THE UNCANNY FILM FESTIVAL AND CAMP MEETING, when
Mazeppa (the legendary Gailard Sartain) did strange
pitches for records... all available at Greer's and Honest John's. The one
I remember best is when he used the cover of the Faces'
LA LA, which was a rather complex die-cut job that allowed you to move
the eyes and the lower jaw of a man pictured on the front by pressing down
on the top of the cover. Mazeppa did the whole commercial with a close up
of the cover that moved in synch with his pitch (it seems like he dropped
the cover at one point and did some odd eye dances of his own). There were
also record commercials that ran on the UNCANNY FILM FESTIVAL, like an animated
version of the cover of Beach Boys'
SUMMER collection to advertise its release...available at Greer's and
Honest John's, of course.
Now that was psychedelic television! (So was
My family was hardcore Bill's
T patrons, because they had a classical section. But one day I was riding
across town with my Grandmother and saw the multi-colored inter urban eyesore.
She certainly didn't want to go in, so she dropped me off for a half-hour
while she went to another store. The main thing I remember was the vast amount
of hair everyone had, the dim lighting and the smell of all of the incense
(they never burned any back then, Starship was permeated with all the smells
-- back before the all the brands were hermetically sealed.)
At the time, Matt had one of the
most amazing selections of underground comix you could imagine; all the
Harold Head, Cheech Wizard,
Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, YOUNG LUST...
I knew there was such a thing as underground comix, which offered adult
entertainment, and that the mainstream was heading in that direction (like
Marvel's HOWARD THE DUCK, or THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN trilogy that dealt with
drugs, which did not get a comic seal of approval stamp,) but I had never
seen one for sale, so I bought a Freak Brothers #3 (this is back when no
one cared if you were an adult or not; watch
& CONFUSED- I would have been the same age as "Mitch," Wiley Wiggins'
character - the guy who keeps touching his nose). I also read
TIMES (which I have written for on a few occasions since then) and attempted
EARTH NEWS, just because they were sold at the store.
In Honest John's, I found a cutout of a Charisma jam album (a lot of different
artists got together, including Dr. John, Keith Emerson, Todd Rundgren, and
others) I had always been interested in, MUSIC FROM FREE CREEK. While I never
had a chance to buy the album, here it was, a double-LP gatefold cover for
$2.99! Over the next few months every penny went to expanding my underground
collection at Starship, and my progressive music collection at Honest John's.
Some of the cutouts to be had for $1.99 included The Beatles'
IT BE (recent research had led me to believe this was a bad pressing
that was supposedly destroyed,) Pavlov's Dog's
WORST OF JEFFERSON AIRPLANE,
MONTY PYTHON ALBUM, MONTY PYTHON'S
RECORD, Firesign Theatre's
CRUSH THAT DWARF HAND ME THE PLIERS and
CAN YOU BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE WHEN YOURE NOT ANYWHERE AT ALL,
CLAPTON & THE YARDBIRDS, and many, many more... and that was just
the cheap stuff. There were also import albums you couldn't get anywhere
else, like Frank Zappa's
GRAVY, the U.K. versions of The Beatle's early albums,
WORLD OF DAVID BOWIE, Fripp and Eno's discreet music albums, and Elton
There were a lot of heavy concepts I learned by going to Honest John's/Starship.
The most profound was that the record store did not deal in singles, only
albums (remember, this is back when rock was really really really IMPORTANT!)
There was a whole style to the album art; the minimalism of
Trower records, the acid drenched
Studio covers that grace the works of
Alan Parsons Project, and
the elegance of Fleetwood Mac and Yes's run in the seventies, and the endless
parade of trippy one-shots, like Captain Beyond's
eponymous unicorn magic images
(Starcastle's hand prints can still
be seen in Tulsa...webmaster). If KMOD played it, it was cool (this is
a quarter a century ago); if KMOD didn't play it, and Starship had it, it
was cooler. The underground comix only fueled the fire that first started
in me with George Carlin, Cheech & Chong, and Richard Pryor records,
television shows live SNL and Monty Python, and magazines like CREEM, MAD,
and NATIONAL LAMPOON.
But with all of the personalities at the store, the only person I got to
know to any degree was Matt, the stoned hippy sitting on the front porch
of his head shop, hanging out with his dog (we bonded on our common interests
for comix and canines). I'm sure I seemed absurd to him at the time, a teenage
kid in snakeskin platform shoes who was interested in Crumb and Zappa, but
what can I say, the underground thing seems to have worked out for me.
I remember when Matt appeared on the "Chug-Hole
of the Week" segment on KOTV. He had worked all day to fill in the chug-hole
in the (then unpaved) back parking lot to show he was doing his part for
One very distinct memory I had was when Jimmie
Spheeris was coming to town; they had a circus-like banner hung between the
two stores to advertise the show.
Jimmie was Penelope
Spheeris' brother; she directed "Wayne's World" and "The Decline of Western
Civilization, Parts I, II & III", among many other movies.
From a message board, here is a memory of an early
Spheeris concert in OKC.
I remember hearing his great song "I Am The Mercury" (from
of View") on underground FM stations KTBA and KWGS in the early 70s.
Didn't it close each broadcast day at KTBA? 4/17/2006: former KTBA
DJ Don Cook said via email:
"I believe that Bob Edwards (Strider) made it a point to close his KTBA shows
with "Mercury" by Spheeris."
A good account of his life is in the Editorial Review section of
Evening with Jimmie Spheeris...webmaster
|(from Guestbook 170) Mitch Kelly said:
I can remember listening to KTBA when I was
a kid of about 12-14. I went and bought King Crimson's "Larks' Tongues In
Aspic" after hearing it late at night. The guy at Honest John's couldn't
believe someone that young would want it. Happy to report that King Crimson
and myself are still going strong!
(from Guestbook 170) David Bagsby said:
I think it was Honest John's and Starship...touted as the Inner City Mall
that used the King Crimson "Easy Money" tune for their commercial. I remember
it was a slide show and one of the pics was of guys wearing paper sacks over
their heads holding a 5 or 6 foot bong. You only saw this ad late at night.
||"Easy Money" from King Crimson's album,
Tongues in Aspic", 1973. This memorable excerpt was heard behind the
(from Guestbook 170) Mike Bruchas said:
Many moons ago - the late Honest John Foutz, his first wife Marilyn and I
piled into his li'l green BMW 2002 and drove to OKC to see King Crimson play
at the Fairgrounds. Good music - bad venue for a concert - I think it was
not sold out. Can't remember much else - was not a King Crimson fan but any
chance to see a major band on tour for free - I took! Can't remember if Blue
Oyster Cult was on first or not that night...we got there about an hour late.
(from Guestbook 170) Edwin said:
The "Easy Money" cut was & still is used by so many that I can't recall
who hasn't used it. Also, MB-- I too went to that KC concert at the OKC
fairgrounds. While I don't think there were very many there...I'm not sure
due to all those dang things in the air blocking my view! I recall sitting
on the stage & how good Gentle Giant was, but as I said, having to brush
away those dang patterns & blobs in my way...t'was hard to tell if the
fans were humans or those imposters that still hound me to this very day!
(from Guestbook 149) Mike Bruchas said:
Honest John (the late John Foutz) - often hosted Cain's talent on unofficial
visits to the Rock Shop. Met Eddie Money about 3 times after Cain's appearances.
Had lots of the guys from King Crimson come by - but can't remember whom
There was a brief period in the late-seventies or early-eighties when the
ownership changed hands and Honest John's was changed to Starship. It was
also the same time that my age group came of legal age and mystical art rock
had given away to punk, new wave, and industrial music. Starship was there
at the cutting edge, offering music you didn't even know existed; they were
also the first store I knew of that started selling Beta an VHS tapes of
music (I remember a Lou Reed concert and compilations of Kate Bush and The
Residents going from $25 to $100 per tape,) back when only a few people could
afford a player.
The main things I remember from that period was when there was a change in
the law and pot leaves were no longer allowed on smoking devices, and I walked
in saw Matt with an exacto-knife, scrapping a pot leaf off of a tobacco pipe.
One time I looked at a key chain, then noticed a clip on it, but no price.
I asked the man at the counter "How much is this roach clip?" Matt came running
out of the back screaming "IT'S NOT A ROACH CLIP, IT'S A CIGARETTE HOLDER!"
then changed his tone to "Oh, it's you. The roach clip is $3." Then the local
law enforcement officers started cracking down on underground comix, so they
disappeared, along with HIGH TIMES and MOTHER EARTH NEWS. To me, that period
ended with the invention of CDs and the opening of Mohawk Records by a renegade
group of former employees (which, sadly, closed with a whimper in the early
part of this century).
Matt Bunyan on sound for the KTUL Talent Show at the
Tulsa State Fair. (courtesy Mike
When I finally moved to Tulsa fulltime in 2000 Starship was still there,
and I am still a customer to this day. Life has changed, but only slightly;
now I look for releases on the web, then I call Starship to see if they have
a copy in stock, but my front room is a temple of black light, donning 12
posters from Starship. Now I am more apt to buy a DVD of a favorite group
rather than a record (though many are still in stock.) As I write this I
am burning Gonesh Incense #6, which I bought there last week (Matt threw
in three incense sticks in my bag in 1975 - I liked them and came back to
buy some, but he didn't remember what he gave me, however I remembered that
the sticks were pink, which meant they were Gonesh, and I have probably bought
over $1000 worth of the stuff in the years since; now that's what I call
salesmanship!) I'm also listening to my 2-CD Styx Collection as I write this,
bought... you know where.
One day (now) Chief Jim Gray of the Osages came over to my place. He looked
around, laughed, and exclaimed, "I doubt that the owner of Oz even lives
like this!" I don't know the owner of Oz, but if he's not living like this,
he's missing out.
Oz ad from from free newspaper "Osmosis", Nov. 1972
|Leon Paul Newton graduated
from Edison High in Tulsa. He received a Marketing degree from OSU in 1969.
In June of that year, he opened the first Oz store on 15th (Cherry) St. By
1978, he had established Oz in Tahlequah and Fayetteville, Arkansas.
He also owned Emerald City Waterbeds, and produced his "Uncle Leo" commercials
from 1982-84. He was a member of the Air Force Reserve for six years.
He passed away March 1, 2004.
From the 1978 June Marquee Magazine
I have shopped in every other "gift shop" in town, and I am a big fan of
Oz, Sassy's (who actually keep "vases" with flowers in them that look
suspiciously like those things we used to call bongs,) and Broken Arrow Gifts
and Novelties (when I'm in Sapulpa I even by my gas at the East Indian owned
convenience store that had a mini-head shop at their counter and a porn rack
in the back.) I like to support the rebels, but my heart will always be with
Starship. A new location might be a slight jolt, but the tradition will go
on. I'm around a lot of people who are 15 to 20 years my junior, and I have
taken each one to Starship, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
I was in Rob's Records the other day (which just moved next-door to Laserquest
in the old Boman Theatre) and picked up an old Rolling Stones record. There
on the plastic sleeve was the sticker we all know so well: "Starship Import."
Just last week a young friend I took to Starship for the first time a few
months ago called me to see if I was home. I told him to come on over. He
said he would arrive in about an hour, he had to stop by Starship to look
for a poster.
A lot of my peers have "grown up" ("given up" might be a better term for
it,) but I know a good thing when I see it. Every time I notice a windfall
profit in my finances I turn into a fifteen year old again and go down to
Starship. All I can say to Matt is "Rock on, Brother, rock on."
(Printed by permission, © 2005, Wilhelm Murg. All rights reserved.)
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