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Soap Plant on Sunset Blvd. (1978)

Soap Plant was the store's first incarnation, which opened back in 1971. It began as a small family-run shop in Los Feliz Village. 

Barbara Shire sold her hand-crafted soaps, Hank Shire designed the graphics for the shop and they ran the store with the help of their two sons, Peter and Billy. Peter Shire worked-out original ceramics and Billy Shire created authentic leatherware.

Billy's outrageous leather outfits garnered him clients like The New York Dolls and Elton John. 

In 1974, Billy gained even greater notoriety when his studded denim jacket won a design competition sponsored by Levi Strauss. 

Billy's custom jacket was later displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of their "Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900 – 2000" exhibition and epitomizes the hand-made fashions of 1970s American counter-cultre era.

During the early 1980s, Bi
lly became the sole owner of Soap Plant.

He decided it was time to move the shop to Melrose Avenue.

With this larger building he added books, other ceramics and unique jewelry to the shop's ever-increasing inventory.

Soap Plant's eclectic array of curios and wares helped turn Melrose Avenue into an internationally recognized iconic shopping destination.

By 1984, Billy began to see potential to expand his small shop by aquiring 
a couple of vacant storefronts next to Soap Plant, which lead directly to Billy opening the famed WACKO.

It served as the only pop culture toy shop with punk rock attitude. 

Housing the largest collection of postcards in Los Angeles, WACKO offered a veritable nirvana of Japanese robots, tin wind-ups, ephemera, games and novelties.

It was 1986 when Billy opened La Luz De Jesus Gallery, upstairs from his flagship store.

Showcasing mainly figurative, narrative paintings and unusual sculpture, the exhibitions are post-pop with content ranging from folk to outsider to religious to sexually deviant. 

The gallery’s objective was to bring underground art and counter-culture to the masses. Past shows have been groundbreaking, launching unknown artists who have since become famous, such as Manuel Ocampo, Joe Coleman, and Robert Williams.

The La Luz De Jesus Gallery gave birth to the art movement in California that would come to be known as "Lowbrow".  

Celebrity clientele and legendary parties, coupled with Billy’s keen eye for talent, earned him the nickname “The Peggy Guggenheim of Lowbrow” by JUXTAPOZ magazine.

Billy Shire moved his counter-culture empire back to the neighborhood in 1995, back where it all began in Los Feliz Village. 

Our new location boasts over 6,000 square feet of pop-culture ephemera with a private back-lot that hosts what Details (GQ Magazine) calls “the best party in town.” 

La Luz de Jesus Gallery's art openings on the first Friday of each month but to Los Angeles locals, it's simply known as "doing First Friday at La Luz."

Soap Plant, WACKO
 and La Luz de Jesus Gallery can be found at 4633 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.

We're a megastore for the pop connoisseur with an inventory of over 10,000 items and art that's a veritable who's who (and "who will become.")

It’s a fair guarantee that this is the one place you can find something for yourself or that unique person in your life.

As our friends, fans & followers may know, the annual calendars of Soap Plant Wacko: Purveyor of Post-Pop CultureLa Luz De Jesus Gallery & Zulu have always been a highlight of the holiday season in Los Angeles.

We've collected a selection of them here and will add more as we find them in our archives.

Noted for their colorful images & bold wit, we suspect several of you have your own collection.

Barbara Shire - Founder of Soap Plant

May 25th, 1914 - July 5th, 2014

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