‘SkyMaul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane’

Travel Books: Giant Bibles, Bird Zappers, Hot Dog Shooters and so much more. Frank Bures says Kasper Hauser's parody of the in-flight catalog SkyMall is better than the real thing.

03.09.07 | 5:10 AM ET

Sky Maul cover“Drive away your guilty conscience with our $12.00 Hybrid magnet!”

“Beat the other monks up the stairs with our patented Dharma-sole racing thongs!”

“Festoon your dung head with some first-class crap!”

Such are the promises in Kasper Hauser’s SkyMaul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane, a brilliant parody of SkyMall, the in-flight shopping catalog that seems to address every little inconvenience and organizational challenge you could ever face. Or so you thought. Because the ones that the SkyMall people haven’t thought of, the SkyMaul people have. For example: “Quick: How much do your nuts weigh?!”

If you can’t answer that question, SkyMaul suggests, “you need this incredible scale.”

The Antique Ball Scale is one of many theoretical gadgets that bear an eerie resemblance to the actual gadgets found in the dream world of convenience, comfort and organization that is the SkyMall.

This isn’t the first bit of humor pulled from the seatback pocket. In Susan Orlean‘s hilarious essay, “Skymalling” (recently reprinted in Travelers’ Tales What Color is Your Jockstrap?), she picked the catalog apart, and pieced together a great sleuth-like profile of the ideal would-be SkyMall customer (pet lover, terrified of fire, wishes he/she never had to move a muscle to operate anything). She even ordered the Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster.

But Kasper Hauser—not a person, but a comedy troupe out of San Francisco consisting of Robert Baedeker, Dan Klein, John Reichmuth and James Reichmuth—has really outdone everyone in its commentary on what Orlean called a “document of the misbegotten inventiveness of humankind.” Kasper Hauser has captured the subtle ridiculousness and the undeniable allure of the giant piles of crap offered up in SkyMall.

SkyMaul’s alleged products range from the ridiculous (“Hot Dog Shooter: This nifty meat gun combines two of America’s favorite hobbies—hot dogs and guns—into one fun shooter”) to the pointed (“‘I Took a Year Off’ South American Mouth Organ: Fair trade policies have really helped indigenous women, blah, blah, blah…We know you lived in Bolivia for eight months”) to the just plain funny (“Crack Pipe Chess Set: ‘I would play chess, but I’m smoking crack right now.’ Sound familiar? Not any more”).

VIDEO: SkyMaul products in action

In all this, they’ve taken SkyMall’s lingo, its texture and its appeal, and they’ve twisted them. The members of Kasper Hauser have clearly spent too much time on airplanes, and had too good of a time rifling through SkyMall’s pages. Fortunately, now you can go along for the ride, too.

And who knows? You might even find out how much your nuts weigh.

Frank Bures is a contributing editor at World Hum, where his stories have won several awards. More of his work can be found at frankbures.com.

2 Comments for ‘SkyMaul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane’

Bob Berwyn 03.24.07 | 5:22 PM ET

Hmmm, I’ve long wanted one of the upside-down hanging tomato gardens from the catalog. And I’ve always wondered how they get the bigger items, like the trampolines and such, on board the plane ...

David Murphey 02.16.08 | 10:41 PM ET

I cant belive SkyMall is real. How do they stay in business with their weird and funny gadgets?

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.