ED ‘BIG DADDY’ ROTH’S KUSTOM-KULTURE-ART

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RATFINKIt’s impossible to talk about Kustom-Kulture without talking about Californian Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth, a Hot-Rod artist, customiser and enthusiast who around the end-’50s created such a strong character – Rat Fink – to still represent an out-and-out scene’s icon. 
That’s because his Rat Fink – a depraved green rat in red overalls, often riding cars and bikes, the declared grotesque caricature of Mickey Mouse (which Big Daddy disliked) – is the lucky mascot Ed was looking for at the career start to promote his car-custom kits and art-brand. Here’s why Rat Fink is that linked to Hot-Rod & Kustom-Kulture; the anti-Mickey Mouse (just like his gang formed as well by Drag Nut, Mother’s Worry & Mr. Gasser) started to appear as much on his airbrushed tees – called Weirdo Shirts – which Ed used to sell at motors-shows as on a historic American mag like Car Craft (since the end-’50s, becoming a star in the ’60s with the earliest adv and plastic models of ’63). During the time then also other artists such as RK Sloane and Steve Fiorilla portrayed the raids of RF and his filthy friends, spreading the mania. 
Ergo – ‘weirdo’ at full-throttle, from then up to this day Rat Fink did never stop drawing attention on the rumbling gear and accessory of the Hot-Rod & Kustom-Kulture lovers, conquering ’em with his signature unique iconography and attitude. Actually it lived another golden age after the ’60s with the grunge/punk movement in the ’80s-’90s. Especially in US West Coast and Australia, given that Rat Fink-art was flaunted by the Junk Yard album’s cover by the Australians of The Birthday Party, while a hit by White Zombie was titled Ratfinks, Suicide Tanks, And Cannibal Girls, and another by Misfits was Ratt Fink. 
Yet also today RF doesn’t lose his ‘politically incorrect’ edge (take a look at 2006 documentary Tales Of The Rat Fink for instance), because – besides being the main-character of graphics, gadgets and 360° customisations in the whole world – the 2000 reunion dedicated to him (and Ed, gone in 2001) was a huge success. And similarly with the Kustom Kulture show at Santa Monica’s Julie Rico Gallery maybe also RF contributed to low-brow’s rise in turn – proving his indelible mark on the HR & KK scene, but not only…
Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth & Rat Fink, smoking Hot (Rod)!RATFINK RATFINK RATFINK RATFINK