Chicken Boy, the giant man-chicken statue holding a bucket of what is presumably fried chicken atop a Highland Park building, has been through quite a lot since his initial erection. That was back in 1969, when he first came to rest above — what else? — Chicken Boy Fried Chicken on Broadway between Fourth and Fifth streets. He became wildly popular with both locals and out-of-town visitors as a kind of folk-art piece, transcending his initial commercial purpose and even surviving the gradual disappearance of the giant derbys, top hats, donuts, hot dogs and all the other crazy landmarks that made mid-20th-century dining in Los Angeles so entertaining. In 1984, when Chicken Boy was evicted from his first home, a kind lady adopted him, kicking off the young man’s wanderlust period. He did time in a mall, had a cameo in the Gregg Araki movie Cameo and — in true Angeleno fashion — starred in Chicken Boy: The Movie! (1987), a 25-minute absurdist tale put together by three Ohio film students. His adoptive mother, Amy Inouye, finally found a good home for him, on the roof of Future Studio Design & Gallery. The key to his survival might have been the affection — albeit confused affection (“What is he?”) — engendered by his status as half man, half chicken. Now he’s as much a symbol of Highland Park as a good taco, or a beautiful bungalow on a hill. 5558 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park.
—Nikki Darling

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