The Wizard of Bras…I Mean Oz…No, I Really Mean Bras
Prior to Disneyland opening, Walt Disney was on a mission to garner sponsors to help fund his new theme park idea. Sponsors ranged from film companies to food distributors, some of them long lasting relationships, and some of them fizzling out before the end of the first year. Some of those short run sponsors were odd choices (but understandable considering Disney needed the money regardless) including one that had a shop right on Main Street U.S.A. The Hollywood-Maxwell Brassiere Co., located in Los Angeles, not too far from Disneyland, opened up an intimate apparel shop on the right hand side of Main Street after helping sponsor Disneyland.
Let me clarify, this wasn’t just an underwear store, but a journey into another time. Entering the shop, you got an overwhelming Victorian theme. A time period when underwear was very uncomfortable for women and the proper gal would always wear a corset. The shop didn’t just sell these products, but was a history lesson. Small boxes around the store would display the intimate clothing of time periods long gone and the Singer sewing machine from the 1860s was the crown jewel of this outlandish shop.
Of course, half the store did sell modern apparel to make the money they normally would at other stores in Los Angeles, but I can hardly see the average family trip consisting of a purchase at the underwear store, unless your child wanted to meet the charming, but sort of creepy, Wizard of Bras. No, you did read that correctly. It isn’t Oz, it’s Bras. The Victorian Wizard of Bras was a large figure, with fishnet stockings, a corset, and a very large head. (Think of Arnold from the Nickelodeon show Hey Arnold!) Assuming wizards are male, while witches are female, this androgynous figure is supposedly male, but with the fishnet, corset, and overall feminine look, I would assume this figure to be a drag queen at some London bar in the late 1800s, or it’s a Victorian Caucasian version of Mulan.
However, as most things turn out at Disney Parks, the best ideas last and the worst ideas fade quickly. Despite the sponsorship at Disneyland, the Hollywood-Maxwell Intimate Apparel shop was gone by the beginning of 1956, not even lasting a full year on Main Street U.S.A. The former Hollywood-Maxwell shop currently sits empty on Main Street. A Blue building with white trim and a wonderful porch is a great spot for a photo with the whole family, however the history of this store front is undeniably strange.
So what happened to the Hollywood-Maxwell company? It continued on for a few years before merging with several other companies and the name brand became null and void. It is now part of the Munsingerwear brand which is most famous for polo style shirts with a penguin sewn in as the emblem.
Give your thoughts on this strange historical site at Disneyland. Would you have visited the Hollywood-Maxwell shop? Would you have made a purchase? Would you get your picture taken with the awkward Wizard of Bras mascot?