If you are a Twin Peaks fan and collector of a certain age, the name Bruce Phillips may ring a bell or two. For others it will elicit memories of excitedly clutching the latest 'Twin Peaks Collectables' catalog in their hands and furiously scanning for the latest and greatest Twin Peaks goodie from Japan, or, perhaps even an actual prop from the show! Michael Anderson's Red Room Suit and Laura Palmer's Diary to name a few. The show has come back. Bruce hasn't gone anywhere and yet, he's back too...
Twin Peaks Archive: Talk about how you first got into TP, and were you familiar with Lynch before that?
Bruce Phillips: When we saw the first episode, my wife and I were hooked on the music, suspense, and the total “quirkiness” of the show. It was just different from anything at the time. I wanted to know everything about the show, so set my recorder to record virtually all day.
As a result I compiled 48 videos/DVDs (96 hours worth) which consist of TP clips: A) from around the world – Denmark, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Australia, UK; B) of highlights from Saturday Night Live; the Japanese Marathon; Georgia coffee commercials; Log Lady’s intros for Bravo; Into the Night; Donahue; GMA; Arsenio Hall; Jay Leno; Late Night Letterman; Entertainment; promos for upcoming episodes; award shows (Emmy, Golden Globe); Cannes Film Festival; specials and documentaries; cast interviews; and C) of videos from the TP festivals as well as footage from a resident fan who was able to capture actual TP shootings.
I Knew David Lynch only from Dune and Elephant Man; the latter in particular we thoroughly enjoyed.
TPA: How soon after the show premiered were you collecting TP items? How long before you were amassing a large collection? How were you able to get large quantities of the books, etc.?
BP: I started collecting when things first became available. We owned a video store, and when the series was released on video, merchandise and promo items were made available. I first wanted a TP mug myself, so it was the first item I purchased; then I thought others would also. I purchased more to sell at the store to pay for mine. That is what started me collecting TP items—to pay for whatever TP items I wanted myself.
Promo items became available with quantity purchases of videos, so I bought more than what my store needed and sold them. I also opened accounts with suppliers of posters, entertainment magazines, etc. and purchased quantities of them as well.
When I went to sci-fi conventions, I met dealers who sold things like posters and press kits, and I always bought all they had.
Because of the growing quantity of items that I couldn’t sell just from my store (there was no internet back then), I ran ads in various sci-fi and entertainment magazines that were also distributed internationally. I compiled a catalog of my items I had and sent it out to those who responded to my ads indicating I’d rather trade for items I didn’t have. Because of the international interest in TP collectibles, I was getting contacts from around the world which is how I obtained most of the items from outside the US. As my preference was to trade, many started hunting for items in their country in order to trade with me. Whenever I received something, I would contact the suppliers and purchase wholesale; however, I had to buy large quantities.
When I visited the filming locations, I met the owner of the Mar T Café, or as we TP fans know it, the Double R R Diner. We hit it off, so I started buying items from her that she was producing herself, e.g. mugs. There was also a general store in town called the Alpine Blossom that was across the street from the diner. They were selling and producing various items as well, and we traded for things either of us didn’t have.
I also went to England where I met up with an international comic/sci fi shop owner with whom I had been in contact to get quantities of various TP items, while I did likewise here in the US; and we traded.
My first major quantity purchase was that of the Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, the TP Access Guide, and the Diane tapes from Bargain Books which would locate in vacant stores for a short time to sell various over stock, then relocate to another area around the country. I was able to find some TP items at one locally, contacted their corporate office, and purchased a large quantity.
A year later I was out of stock, so I contacted Bargain Books again. They offered me a deal to purchase all their remaining stock. As these were case lots in their original shipping boxes, they were in mint condition. I took a huge financial gamble in doing this, and because there were so many , I had them for years.
Bravo UK aired the TP series and made their own collectible items—T shirts, pins, etc. for promotional purposes. Once they finished airing, I purchased all of their remaining promo stock. When the series was aired in Germany, they also produced their own promo items which I was able to purchase.
TPA: Talk about your relationship with Star Pics. How did you manage to buy out their collection of autographed cards?
BP: Star Pics, Bravo, Pat Shook, and I did a joint promotion because of Pat’s and my mass mailing lists. Bravo sent us their postcards advertising the coming airing of TP reruns on their cable channel featuring Log Lady’s introduction to each episode. I personally picked up Star Pics’ fliers for selling their cards as they were just down the street from me which is how I made contact with them. Pat Shook had her information for the coming TP festival, and I had my catalog. Once all these pieces were gathered, Pat Shook’s and my family sat around my dining room table stuffing envelopes.
When I heard Star Pics was going out of business, I immediately contacted them and ended up purchasing some of their autographed cards and factory box sets but not all. Eventually, Star Pics ended up selling their remaining stock—sports cards and everything else—to a sports card vendor. I contacted them and ended up purchasing all the autographed cards and cases of the factory sets because they were only interested in the sports cards. Once again, all this was another huge financial gamble on my part.
Because of all this buying, I was amassing what became known as the world’s largest personal TP collection.
TPA: How many TP festivals did you attend? Any fun stories? Can you talk about Don and Pat Shook?
BP: I went to the first four festivals. The first was sponsored by Lynch and New Line Cinema promoting the release of FWWM and was held in Spokane, WA where it was filmed. I then went to three more put on by Pat Shook where I took merchandise to sell.
It was easy to gain a good relationship with Don and Pat because we lived close to each other, so I was able to meet their family and do social activities with them.
Obviously, it was great fun meeting the cast who were surprised there was still a large TP fan following and so many interested in TP collectibles. Many asked if I could sell some of their items, so I purchased everything they had.
There was also a teen collector, Josh, who I always enjoyed meeting—always very excited and full of enthusiasm. It was fun to see a young fan so interested. It was also great to meet people who had purchased collectibles from me and hear their remarks on how much they enjoyed their items.
TPA: Among collectors, your printed catalog is the stuff of legend. Talk about how that started. Were you shipping to many countries? How did you manage to collect so many original props from the series. Did you sell them all? If so, why were you not tempted to keep any? Where were you able to find the rare outtake videos?
BP: I started the catalog after I accumulated so many extra TP items (as indicated in #2 and #3). From there it just escalated into a large catalog at the end. As I mentioned, it started from me buying and selling quantities of items to pay for my personal collection. When I realized there were so many fans looking for TP items, and as I already had the contacts to obtain items, I purchased more and offered through my catalog. I often see a copy of one of my catalogs even today on Ebay by others selling items—it’s very flattering.
Yes, I shipped and received items from around the world with many countries having different items than we had in the US. I shipped to Japan, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Australia, Russia, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands just for starters.
Through my advertising in sci-fi magazines and later in “Wrapped Plastic”, I was contacted by many people, including crew members, where I purchased props, art work, and production paperwork. I searched many “prop houses” to see if they had purchased back any of the props from the series and bought everything they had that could ship at a reasonable price. They did have large items that I didn’t purchase due to shipping costs, e.g. Leland’s Victrola; Dr. Jacoby’s door; and tables, chairs, and ceiling lamps from The Great Northern and One Eye Jacks. I regretted not buying some of those items later. I did contact fans from the California area and let them know where these props were so that they could go and purchase if interested.
I kept the props for many years and wasn’t interested in selling any as they were part of my personal collection. However, I had two daughters now to put through college which is why I decided to sell much of my collection. I regret selling Laura Palmer’s actual diary prop.
I was able to obtain some of the outtake videos from crew members who rescued them from the trash. I have been told my compiled outtakes and deleted scenes have more material than the box set because mine include “Invitation to Love; dailies; alternate takes; clips where you hear the director’s comments; uncut, unedited scenes; bloopers/gags; outtakes; and behind-the-scenes footage.
TPA: Were you ever covered by the press at all?
BP: There was a local magazine here in Michigan who did an interview article. My name and collection have also been mentioned in magazines, books, TV shows, and the internet. Bravo, the cable channel in the UK, also mentioned me a couple times in their interviews pertaining to TP. This was how I became known as the “Super Collector” of TP items. I have since turned this into simply “The Twin Peaks Guy”.
TPA:What was your contact (if any) with the Lynch/Frost office? Did you attend the LA TP Prop Sale in late ‘91.
BP: I did have some communication with the Lynch/Frost administrative assistant.
Unfortunately, I didn’t learn about the prop sale until after it happened. I was able to contact a few people who did attend and purchased items from them.
TPA: Did you think the show would come back? What was your reaction when you first heard?
BP: I was very surprised and excited that Show Time was going to do a mini series and can’t wait to see it particularly since many of the original cast members will be in it. I have noticed there seems to be a strong resurgence in fan interest, and I have already begun collecting on this as well.
TPA: Do you think you will put out a catalog again, or has Ebay replaced that.
BP: Once Ebay became popular, I stopped putting out the catalog and simply offer the items through it. However, when people contact me, purchase an item, or ask a question, I let them know I have other items available.
At the same time I discontinued the catalog, I also stopped my website. I really wasn’t selling anything on the website—I was just showing photos of various collectible items. I am amazed there is still such a strong TP following, and I continue to sell items on Ebay.
TPA: Are you on or plan to be on social media?
BP: I’ve never had any interest in being on social media. People can just contact me through Ebay.
TPA: What are some other TV shows you count as favorites? Are you watching Westworld?
BP: My favorites include, the 1960’s Avengers with Emma Peel and John Steed, Dallas, X-Files, and currently Penny Dreadful and Outlander for which I have collectibles, crew items, and props on all of these. I am still collecting because I enjoy “the chase”—like a treasure hunt—and learning about various collectible items.
No, I’m not watching Westworld.
For your information, I still have some of my original collection items that I have not offered for sale yet. In addition, I am still purchasing total collections which most people aren’t interested buying as they only want a particular item, so they are free to contact me.
Make sure and check out Bruce on eBay. You can email him at email@example.com
Special thanks to Bruce Phillips!