Hansen: Honk if you love art

February 16, 2012|By David Hansen
  • Scott Alan’s UFO- and alien-themed Volkswagen Beetle with a Pandora Avatar on the hood glows while parked in front of the Peter Blake Gallery in December. Columnist David Hansen says Alan “long, punkish blond hair, decorative goatee, red toenails and ... complements his art car.”
Scott Alan’s UFO- and alien-themed Volkswagen… (Don Leach, COASTLINE…)

If your car has a hood spray painted with the Virgin of Guadalupe as an extraterrestrial, chances are you are a little different.

Scott Alan is a lot different — and proud of it.

With long, punkish blond hair, decorative goatee, red toenails and an ever-present dachshund, the 57-year-old Alan complements his art car, which sits around Laguna emblazoned with a "q-eer bug" license plate.

That plate got him into trouble in Texas, but we will come to that in a minute.

It all started in San Francisco in 1998, when Alan had a graffiti artist friend volunteer to improve the looks of his 1961 VW bug.

Alan told him to "wow me."

That's when the virgin first appeared.

"I got hell from all the Latinos and Latinas because I'm white," Alan said. "I'm like, hey, I'm supporting Latino art."

Before long, Alan turned his car's hood into a variety of outrageous eye candy, including a Y2K bug, a Darth Maul, a Silver Surfer, Marvin the Martian, a Pandora Avatar (his most popular) and right now, a space dragonfly with lights. He has a total of five hoods that he changes periodically.


As an art car enthusiast, Alan drives to a handful of shows around the Western United States, including those in San Francisco, Seattle and Houston. Locally, there was a recent show in Santa Ana, sponsored by the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, whose tagline is "pranks, street satire and degeneracy."

"The people who drive cars like mine are of a like mind," he said, smiling. "We're a very interesting tribe of people. They're my second family."

And like spirited families, Alan has gotten into some arguments with those who don't quite understand.

"I got a little crap in Austin because I had a queer bug plate on the front of the car because it's a queer bug," he said.

It was his first trip to the big Houston car show in 1998. A caravan of art cars had stopped in Austin, and a local elementary school invited the cars to a show-and-tell — up until they saw Alan and his plate.

"This woman came up to me and she said, 'Would you mind covering up your queer bug plate?' And I was like, 'Well, yeah, I kind of would. What's your problem with that?'

"And she was like, 'Well, how would we explain that to the children?'

"And I said, 'Well, tell them to look it up in the dictionary!'"

The school official apparently did not like Alan's answer.

"I said, 'Fine, I just won't go.'"

Then another car owner chimed in, "If he doesn't go, none of us go."

So none of them went to the school, and they drove on to Houston.

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