Beetlejuice might have been very popular back in the 80s and 90s, but the character is hardly remembered these days. Of course, things are different for New Yorker Bruce Christensen, a loyal Beetlejuice fan. The owner of the only Beetlejuice museum in the world, run out of his rent-stabilized studio apartment on West 34th Street, 48-year old Christensen has over eighty artifacts related to the 1989 movie character.
Christensen’s obsession with all things Beetlejuice began in 1991, when he was just looking around at a KB Toys outlet on Long Island and found a Beetlejuice figurine with a removable head for just 99 cents. He bought one, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it all night. So the next day, he ran back to the store and bought as many varieties of the action figures as he could, like the Showtime Beetlejuice, Spinhead Beetlejuice, Shish Kabab Beetlejuice and Phantom Flyer. His collection started off very small and expanded as he travelled. When he went to Amsterdam he found bottles of Beetlejuice; in Hollywood he found the typewritten script and the original press kit of the movie. Over the years, friends also started gifting him Beetlejuice merchandise and memorabilia. When the 400 sq. ft. museum opened, he had only 57 artifacts, but now the collection has grown to over 80. Some of the other gems in Christensen’s collection include a VHS tape of the movie, Michael Keaton’s autograph, and a Beetlejuice comic that he purchased off EBay. And in case you’re wondering about those bottles of Beetlejuice, well, they do contain a liquid of some sort, which according to the label is five-and-a-half percent alcohol.
Photo: Craig Warga/New York Daily News
Christensen’s collection also consists of a business card that reads “Betelgeuse: Licensed Bio Exorcist”. There’s some Play Doh too, and a completed Beetlejuice puzzle that’s framed against the wall. A framed beach towel completes the museum, draped over the corner of a shelf like a tablecloth. He does admit that he could do better, though. “I could do better with this. I mean, if I had a whole gallery or a museum, I know I could go to town. This is a studio. I try to live here.” But Christensen does the best he can with what he has. He’s plugged in a set of sirens and lights to create a strobelike effect in the apartment. “It’s really neat at night time,” he says. “But we’ll turn that off, because after 5 minutes of it? Ow. It’s a little much.” His entire collection cost him about $500 to put together, apart from what he’s spent on storage.
Arriving in New York 25 years ago, Christensen worked for the music producer John Scer as a roadie. He has done stints as a bartender and a bellhop. He’s even found work as a stand-up comic, only occasionally though (three times on SNL, twice as an extra). Christensen’s dream now is to find a recurring gig in Las Vegas. “If I get a chance, I’m not coming back,” he says. “So this is it,” this is your last chance to see the world’s only museum of Beetlejuice memorabilia before he puts it all back into storage. The only time it’s closed now is on Halloween, because that’s when Christensen dons his own handmade Beetlejuice costume and crashes several parties. Although, he wouldn’t mind if the likes of Tim Burton crashed at his place. “Yeah, I wouldn’t mind Tim Burton or Alec Baldwin. I mean, if they come, they come. If not, no big deal. It’s for my friends.” But he’s quite sure about one thing – “No Drunks. There’s irreplaceable stuff in here.”
While most of the memorabilia owned by Christensen is centered around the main character of Beetlejuice played by Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin hasn’t been forgotten. He has just one action figure of Baldwin that he believes to be the only one in the world. “It’s Adam Mitland, remember? He was Geena Davis’s husband.” Well, I don’t really remember but perhaps a few other fans like Christensen do. After all, he has watched the movie about a dozen times, which in his own words is “not that many times.”