Warning: Here be trolls
July 24, 2014 8:29 AM   Subscribe

In a sixth floor walk-up on New York City's Lower East Side, you'll find The Troll Museum. Run by a woman in elf ears named Reverend Jen Miller, along with her pet chihuahua, Reverend Jen Jr., it's dedicated to her admitted obsession with vintage Troll Dolls and memorabilia. Admission is free, however there is a suggested donation of $3000.

Here's an interview and here's a taste of the Rev Jen's guided tour.

Unfortunately due to operating costs (the museum is in her living room and she's having trouble making rent), the Troll Museum may be closing soon.
posted by Mchelly (24 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Admission is free, however there is a suggested donation of $3000.

Payable in billygoats.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:37 AM on July 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

This explains why Norwegian actor Otto Jespersen has been seen with a sun lamp wandering around the Lower East Side.
posted by maxsparber at 8:43 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Take, for instance, these “sexy” trolls, complete with sexy feminine curves and Barbie breasts. Rev Jen makes a face and remarks, “Gross, aren’t they?” I can’t disagree.

Then, there are the pastel-hued Treasure trolls from the 90’s, all of which sport a belly gem one was supposed to rub for good luck. Rev Jen grimaces again. She has a low tolerance for cutesy trolls."
But aren't all of them supposed to be cutesy? I kinda thought that was the point.

Wonderful post, by the way. Had no clue a Troll Museum existed in NYC.
posted by zarq at 8:46 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've never actually gone, but I would absolutely be on board for a MeFi meetup here.
posted by Mchelly at 8:48 AM on July 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

They took all the trolls, put em in a troll museum...

I was trying to find a troll a little while ago, and I was surprised to learn that they are impossible to find at a retail store these days. They used to be everywhere... but I guess 1992 is a long time ago now (I needed it for a prank at work, to hide inside the server while it was opened up for maintenance; had to make do with a little rubber unicorn from Winners).
posted by Flashman at 8:53 AM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Huh. She's one of the former authors of the I Did It For Science column.

I've never actually gone, but I would absolutely be on board for a MeFi meetup here.

It's funny... this is the sort of place my kids would probably LOVE to go to. But I'd never bring them. My daughter in particular would want to touch and hold every doll she saw.
posted by zarq at 8:55 AM on July 24, 2014

Definitely go! Reverend Jen's Anti-Slam was a weekly staple of my NYC experience for years. She's one of the top people that keep the LES wonderfully bizarre. She also helps run Mr Lower East Side [VERY NSFW], which is simultaneously the most hilarious and and the most oh-god-I-need-eyeball-bleach men's pageant ever.

She's weird and a treasure. If she isn't in the LES, the subculture of the Bowery Poetry Club will lose another key figure.

Seriously, a mefi meetup there will help her and give you basically endless "...did you notice that..?" conversations.
posted by BigJen at 9:03 AM on July 24, 2014

Plus the AntiSlam, where everyone, no matter what they do for their 6-minute timeslot, gets a perfect 10!
posted by BigJen at 9:06 AM on July 24, 2014

As a child born in 1985, I owned approximately this many trolls. In 1st grade my friends and I would bring all of our trolls when we played together, and just have huge heaps of troll families. I even had the books.

I had trolls with jewels in their bellies.
I had a troll in a bikini.
I had themed trolls for all of my hobbies.
I had pencil topper trolls for all of my pencils.
I had troll pencils.
I had a troll in a kilt with bagpipes and a little sporran that doesn't show up in any searches for Scottish troll.
I had big stuffed trolls that were baby powder scented.
I had friends who dressed up like trolls for Halloween.
I had trolls from back when my mom was a kid in the 60s that she swore were just the same but that I refused to play with because their bodies were leaching plasticizer and were always vaguely sticky.

God, what a wonderful time to be alive. If you ask me, what's wrong with today's youth is that there aren't enough trolls.
posted by phunniemee at 9:13 AM on July 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

I've been on one of Rev. Jen's walking tours of the lower east side a year or two ago. We went to places that have somehow survived unchanged for decades- a weird candy store, a really cheap old liquor store on Delancey (she likes her drink) and then back to the museum. The museum is in the entrance area to her small apartment so it is really tiny, maybe 20 square feet. It reminds me of all the strange things you used to see in the east village back in the 80's when I first got here.
posted by bhnyc at 9:14 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was confused about the comments about Troll dolls from the 80s and 90s, because as a child born in 1961 I thought they were from that decade. Turns out I was right!
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:23 AM on July 24, 2014

Nice Try, NYC, but Mt. Horeb, WI is Troll Capitol of the world!
posted by symbioid at 9:25 AM on July 24, 2014

I had a troll doll with orange hair who lived in my first car along with other creatures in the mid 60s.
posted by mermayd at 9:26 AM on July 24, 2014

If anyone is looking for the chihuahua (like I was), the little pooch is pictured in the first link.
posted by marxchivist at 9:30 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

And I love running across sentences like this:

Many of the dolls still bear scars dating from a 2010 steam pipe explosion, a momentous event in the troll museum’s history.

posted by marxchivist at 9:31 AM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Elf Panties: The Movie (2001)

You have my attention, Rev. Miller.
posted by echocollate at 9:49 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Some episodes of her public access show The Adventures of Electra-Elf, are on YouTube.
By day Electra-Elf is Jennifer Swallows, a mild-mannered reported for Art Star Scene Magazine (A.S.S.) and Fluffer is Boobie, a Chihuahua-clothes model, but when danger calls, the two put on stylish leotards and kick butt, taking down corrupt senators, sleazy frat-boys, satanic cults, landlords, zombie-tourists and other miserable malcontents in each heart-stopping episode.

posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yes, I remember seeing trolls as a snotnose in the sixties. I would associate them far more with that decade and the early seventies than any other.

I would just like to commend the Mefi community fro reaching this many comments without anyone having made the crass error of confusing this sort of troll with that other sort of troll.
posted by Decani at 11:06 AM on July 24, 2014

Reminds me of the delightful (and now defunct) 24-Hour Church of Elvis in Portland, Oregon, right down to the kitsch and the quirky curator.
posted by ikahime at 11:43 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

From the wikipedia link that Curious Artificer provided, Dreamworks is making a feature film based on the dolls (release date 2016) and has purchased the Troll brand from the Dam Company; no doubt to cash in on the inevitable Troll mania.

My wife who played with these dolls as a kid in the 60's (so much so, that she invented a language for them), will flip when she hears the news.
posted by jabo at 11:44 AM on July 24, 2014

Electra Elf and Fluffer were one of the joys of public access when I lived in Astoria in the nineties and aughts (alongside Mustafio!). Nice to see she's still going strong!
posted by kingv at 11:49 AM on July 24, 2014

This reminds me of a friend who has his Brooklyn loft decorated with 10000 various action figures in action poses. Its nice to see people dedicate their lives to something worthwhile.
posted by sfts2 at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2014

Oh! I've known Rev for probably 20 years - and we score our dogs from the same dog dealer...

She's in pretty desperate straits these days, so strongly consider contributing a few dollars to her fund raiser. I just this moment threw in $100 for old times' sake, consider throwing in $5 just for laughs...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:31 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Facebook says it's her birthday today!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:31 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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