Archive Dive: The Lavaguy Origin Story

Creation and Destruction

I love origin stories. Genesis. Adam and Eve. The Big Bang. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Frankenstein. This is the Lavaguy origin story.

I’ve had the nickname of “the Lavaguy” for over 25 years now. I used to get asked questions about the origin of the nickname so frequently, that I had some cards printed up (circa 1993):

Lavaguy card (circa 1993)

One day, I was in my room painting. I had been inspired by the comforting glow of the blue lava lite I was basking in. The phone rang. The second I left my room and shut the door, the lava lite exploded, sending shards of glass and hot lava everywhere. Madame Zeldalene had saved my life by phoning me! Later that day, when I arrived at her home, her maternal domestic greeted me, saying “Oh, you’re the Lava Guy!” And it’s been my moniker ever since. tweet

For readers too young to remember, a Lava-Lite was a funky decorative accessory with a cone-shaped glass bottle filled with two different liquids (actually water and some colored wax) that sat in a base with a small incandescent light bulb in it. When turned on, the base would light up, and the heat from the bulb would eventually melt the wax. The melted wax ebbed and flowed inside the globe in a mesmerizing way. The explosion was entirely my fault—I either didn’t read or ignored the cautions never to uncap the bottle. Thinking the level was too low in the bottle, I uncapped it and topped it off with some water. Doing so removed the necessary airspace at the top that allowed for expansion of the liquid due to the heat. The pressure built up inside until the glass exploded.

And telephones used to have cords, and were attached to the wall. If this happened today, I’d surely be blinded or maimed as I wouldn’t have needed to leave the room to answer the call.

The Aftermath

A cease-and-desist letter?

Years later, I was given another Lava-Lite, and I sent in the little registration card that came with it. I’m sure I decorated it with rubber stamps and drawings. Shortly I received this letter from Haggerty Enterprises, Inc., of which Lava-Simplex Internationale (makers of the Lava-Lite) are a subsidiary:

Lava-Lite letter

If you continue to use the “Lava Guy” name, our attorneys will be forced to take you to court. Lava-Simplex has lots of big nasty attorneys that foreclose on orphanages and senior citizen homes daily. tweet

It’s nice to know that a company that made such fun products really did have a sense of humor. Of course, I never received any cease-and-desist letter, and never heard from them again.

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