In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introducing Mail Art: A Karen Elliot Interview with Crackerjack Kid and Honoria
  • Honoria

Karen Elliot is the founder of Plagiarism and the 1990–1993 Art Strike. Crackerjack Kid has been active in mail art since 1978 and is the editor of Eternal Network, an illustrated mail art anthology scheduled for publication in 1993 by University of Calgary Press. Honoria, a.k.a. Mail Art Kisses for Peace, Touriste, and Fake Picabia Sister, hails from Austin, Texas where she is the MailArt editor of ND Magazine. All three artists are active networkers who use both the international postal system and electronic mail links to distribute information, concepts, and sometimes a surprise wrapped in an enigma.

Karen Elliot (hereafter KE):

Well, Crackerjack Kid, they say you compare mail art to Crackerjack candy—that you like putting a surprise in everybody’s mailbox. Who have you surprised lately, and who in turn surprises you most often?

Crackerjack Kid (hereafter CJK):

I could say that nothing in mail art surprises me anymore, but it does. D. Peepol of Akron, Ohio once mailed a lunch bag of black, sooty, perfumed dust and while I was opening it, the contents spilled over my lap onto the furniture and floor. A small tag remained in the sack with the startling announcement: “These are the last mortal remains of my dear aunty Sarah.” Shmuel in Brattleboro, Vermont is only an hour down the road from me and yet s/he regularly sends add-on objects like driftwood, pistachios, walnuts, cryptic coded postcards, and most recently, a 3-D paper monoplane which arrived in an official plastic USPS “body bag.” Among the most unusal items I’ve mailed are navel stamps and a sourdough bread baguette I carved into a phallus. I stuffed it into an oversized Crackerjack box for the John Bennett and Cathy Mehrl mail art marriage show.


One of the weirdest pieces of mail I received was a pop-up hand made splatter-painted paper sea skate from Kevin in Atlanta. Somehow our correspondance evolved into sending each other fish. It became pretty challenging after the first dozen or so fish images. He even sent me some cut out ads for efficiency apartments. I sent him a photo of dried out, ugly as sin, cat-fish heads hanging on a Texas barbed wire fence. I found a souvenir of Florid, a wooden paddle in the shape of a fish, the toy kind with a rubber band and ball attached. I haven’t sent it to him yet because our corresponding fishing hole gradually dried up. I still send him a bait fish every now and then and when he’s in the mood (maybe now, after artstrike) he’ll get a reel and flop some more fish on the postal scales. Another long term correspondent in Indiana sends naive brightly colored drawings on envelopes with each letter. One of them was called mother bar-b-ques the cat. These don’t have the verbal shock value of Cracker’s examples but if you saw them you’d agree on their dramatic weirdness levels. But let me tell you about the most relaxing piece of mail I ever received. It was from a correspondent in Oregon, a liscenced massage therapist. He suggested flirtatiously that he and I engage in a mail fantasy. I told him I was a prude but would have a fantasy as long as it wasn’t a sex fantasy. I told him I could use a licensed massage fantasy. He wrote back asking what scent of oil I wanted and what music. I answered rose with a hint of citrus and that Mozart clarinet thing and he sent me a full body massage description in anatomical detail ending with a secret for turning on the parasympathetic nervous system and a $5 off coupon.


Both Honoria and I could go on forever about wacky mail because the sacred and profane are so commonplace in the mail art mailstream. There aren’t any rules guiding what can and can’t be sent. Short of mail fraud, mailing bombs, drugs, or dirt from Canada, most everything gets posted. There was a mail...

Additional Information

Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.