BEST JESSE VENTURA MERCHANDISING SCHEME (1999)
Never mind the T-shirts, the bumper stickers, the books, or those dadburned action figures. The best Jesse cash-in product so far appeared online in late January: our gube, sensitively immortalized on black velvet. The genius behind it all is L.A.-based film-school dropout Bill Robison, who commissioned an initial "limited edition" of ten paintings from Tijuana artist Jorge Terrones (also known for his facility with the less challenging and more commonplace visages of Elvis and Jesus). Robison's medium for selling the pieces reflects the commerce-consciousness of his subject: He offered them through the eBay Internet auction site for the mad dogs of cyber-capitalism to feverishly devour. Though Robison reports that he has sold more than half a dozen Venturas so far, the idea clearly hasn't risen to the top of the nation's consciousness, where it belongs. Perhaps the National Enquirer item about his Monica Lewinsky portraits will change all that. In any event, if your home isn't complete without a velvet Jesse, by all means log on to www.ebay.com, where you can more than likely enter the minimum $50 bid on one of Terrones's Ventura masterpieces. It's a small price to pay to schlock the world.