Mike Martin was a man of simple tastes. He liked his mannequins, and he liked ‘em busty. It’s easy to imagine him spending many a happy afternoon in his Beloit, Wisconsin home, smearing resin around their breasts until they’d puffed to the size of blimps. Now, Martin is gone, but his army of buxom mannequins—and their flashy party dresses—are up for auction.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel comes to us today with this touching tale of a man and his hobby, which in this instance means the roughly 60 life-sized dolls Martin began refurbishing in the late ‘90s, stopping only recently once his Alzheimer’s made him too sick to continue. He died in July, leaving behind his wife, Maxine, two children and a shit ton of zaftig mannequins:
“Some people are making fun of it online. But everybody collects something,” said Rich Ranft of Beloit Auction & Realty and a longtime neighbor of the Martins.
“Whenever he heard there was a mannequin for sale, he’d go get it. They had a small Ford or whatever it was, and he would strap them to the top or put them in the backseat, wherever he could put them,” Rich said.
Martin, a retired electrician, first got into mannequins after throwing a USO-themed party in the late ‘90s, for which he clothed a few dummies in period dress to enliven the festive atmosphere.
But his interest persisted long after the final party guest left, and over time he accrued a collection so massive it took up much of the Martin’s plantation-style home. As his daughter, Lisa, told the Sentinel:
“My mom tolerated it. By no stretch of the imagination did she like it,” Lisa told me. “He got up to 10 and told my mom he wasn’t going to get any more. Then time went by and he found a couple more, and he found a couple more, and he found a few more.”
When Martin acquired a new mannequin, he’d spend four or five days “restoring” them, a process which included using a resin called Bondo to enlarge their breasts until they were the size of beach balls. He’d comb estate sales for gowns and accessories, and painted details onto their otherwise lifeless faces.
Martin’s death means the mannequins all need to find new homes. (His wife, Maxine, doesn’t want them for some reason.) I’m thinking of buying a bunch and finding ways to sneak them into the apartments of unsuspecting friends. Can you imagine coming home after work one day and finding this waiting for you in a darkened bathroom?
The auction began on August 30 and will continue until September 8, with prices ranging from around $12 to $70. The outfits are also for sale, but good luck filling ‘em out like these ladies.
All images via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/screengrab.