Discover more from Blackbird Spyplane
Seth Rogen has Gucci ashtrays on DECK
Talkin' stoner home-goods, vibey vintage cinder-vessels & Japanese jawns
Blackbird Spyplane is a 100% reader-supported miracle. Every “Blackbird Spyplane Interview”—with luminaries of the arts & sciences like Jerry Seinfeld, André 3000, Emily Bode, Lorde, Online Ceramics, Phoebe Bridgers, Nathan Fielder, Rashida Jones, John Wilson, Romeo Okwara, Ezra Koenig and more—is here.
Seth Rogen — you might have seen him on the cover of the New York Times Magazine the other day, profiled in (what will probably be) an award-winning story that readers are already calling “a classic,” “richly… compelling” and “not long enough.”
I was stoked to visit Seth for that story, not only because I wanted to check out the garage he & his wife Lauren converted into a pottery workshop (above)… and not only because I’ve appreciated his comedy for years — Pineapple Express is a Top 10 All-Time Blackbird SpyFilm — but also because I couldn’t help but notice that Seth’s taste in jawns & design is … quietly Mach 3+??
Not every NYT reader has eagle-eyed jawn-perceptual faculties, but those who do noticed that Seth was rocking an understatedly popping fit in the opening paragraphs, built around a lovely Needles cardigan. When I asked him how his interest in Japanese clothes first sparked, he told me about how “I went to Japan when we promoted ‘Green Hornet,’ and I went to the Comme des Garçons store, I went and saw North Face Purple Label stuff and learned that Nanamica designed it, so I started collecting them…”
A kindred spirit, falling deep down Tokyo-jawn-vortex rabbit holes!!
But it goes way deeper than that… After some investigative reporting I unearthed a bombshell: It turns out that Seth Rogen’s dad, Mark, is a WILD KING when it comes to getting off monster fits. Rocking a Vancouver Grizzlies jersey with gym shorts to a black-tie gala? Rocking an Action-Bronson-on-Funk-Flex-caliber hoodie + duster ensemble to, like, the movies? This man has uncontainable sauce!
With that genetic heritage, is it any surprise that Seth knows his way around a tasteful mohair cardi, or that he hand-crafts fantastic trippy Ken Price-indebted ceramics, or that he puts out cool idiosyncratic stoner objets — like the midcentury-lounge-vibed oil-lamp-ashtray and ‘70s kitchenware-vibed interlocking weed canisters above — through his cannabis company, Houseplant??
Houseplant’s drops have all sold out so far, but Seth told me he wasn’t sure at first whether ppl would f**k with the wares: “I wasn’t worried about the weed, but the home goods, I didn’t know,” he said. “They’re clearly conceived of by someone who’s consumed a lot of weed in his life, which I think people appreciate. And they’re just new — as we were making it, there were times we’d turn to each other, like, ‘I don’t think anyone has tried to manufacture a lighter since 1973? There’s not a lot of people in rooms talking about this.’ So that’s been exciting, but it’s a scary thing, too.”
While I was at Seth’s cribbo I asked him to show me some rare and cherished possessions — specifically, the vintage ashtrays he’s been collecting since he was a teenager… “I have hundreds of ashtrays,” he told me. “Hundreds.” And O baby, he showed us some gems …
Blackbird Spyplane: What’s the first vintage ashtray you bought — the one that sent you down this path?
Seth Rogen: “Probably this glass one. I bought it for like $5 when I was 18, at Out of the Closet on Fairfax, just thinking to myself, ‘It’ll be better than nothing!’ It’s from the 1970s and I’ve had it since I had my first apartment. I just wanted a nice ashtray because I was tired of ashing into mugs, but they don’t make them anymore, so I’d go to antique stores, or if I was in a secondhand shop I’d look at their ashtrays.
“And as I got older I was like, Oh, I can actually seek out nice ones. Like, this Louis Vuitton one’s pretty. I think I got this on eBay…”
Blackbird Spyplane: Is that where you do most of yr ashtray digging?
Seth Rogen: “I buy a lot of them online, yeah. I’d buy books of, like, ‘tobacciana,’ just looking up who made this stuff, and then search for it on eBay and 1st Dibs…
Blackbird Spyplane: Did you ever get super nutty, like tracking down antiquities dealers you heard had rare s**t, or…
Seth Rogen: “I never went that full-on crazy, because honestly, it’s not something a lot of people were going for, so there was no nerdy market for it. There were times I genuinely felt like I was the only person trying to buy them.
“I think I have one of the largest ashtray collections in the world. Probably not the largest, but one of the largest. These days I don’t collect them as much as I used to, though. I kind of got them all, and now I’ve been trading ceramics with ceramicists, and that’s fun — trading art for art.
Blackbird Spyplane: Ha ha, these are over the top!
“These are both Gucci ashtrays — I like how they use the horse bit. I got a few of these, and then I started getting Gucci matches, which are hilarious.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I love that old luxury-fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Gucci used to cater to the dart rippers, in a way you can’t quite see happening today. I remember you posting a different Gucci ashtray on IG, with a roach on the horizontal part of the ‘G’…
Seth Rogen: “Yeah, that one’s probably the most functional vintage ashtray I have. I still keep that one and some others around the house, but none of them function in the exact way I want — that’s why I make my own now, and use those primarily.”
Blackbird Spyplane: What do vintage ashtrays cost ?
Seth Rogen: “They’re all different prices. They’ll range between maybe $25 and hundreds of dollars — the Louis Vuitton one would have been a few hundred bucks.”
Blackbird Spyplane: What’s up with the brass nested-hedgehog ashtray?
Seth Rogen: “The Walter Bosse Hedgehog, I have a few of these.”
Blackbird Spyplane: What I like about it — besides the fact that it depicts an adorable beast — is that it’s a communitarian design, meant to be taken apart & passed around while you and the homies PUFF CLOUDS in unison…
Seth Rogen: “Yeah, people love these — it’s all about sharing, like, everyone’s at the dinner table together, everyone gets an ashtray. It’s a lovely little thing.”
Blackbird Spyplane: You’ve also got some more kitschy-, novelty-type ashtrays…
Seth Rogen: “At a certain point I started to get fascinated by who made them. Like, I have Disneyland ashtrays, a Post Cereals ashtray, I have one from the FBI for some reason…”
Blackbird Spyplane: What are some other unlikely pieces you’ve come across?
Seth Rogen: “I think it’s cool that architects used to design ashtrays. Like, if you’ve ever been to 30 Rock, it’s such a beautiful building, and I remember talking to Lorne Michaels about it once and he said, Whenever an industry’s new it draws creative attention, because artists just want to get paid to do s**t, so when TV was new they said, ‘We’ll build a fucking cathedral to TV,’ and all this money’s flooding into it, so architects were clamoring to design 30 Rock.
“It was the same thing with ashtrays. Smoking used to be really popular and cool, so if you were a designer who was creative, you’d design ashtrays and it wasn’t viewed as, like, a low lot in life.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Right — Arne Jacobsen designed such a cool one, with that swiveling dish up top so you can dump the ash down into a hidden chamber...
Seth Rogen: “Jacobsen killed it with those. They still manufacture them. They’re one of the best-designed ashtrays — the fact that they’re deep, and stay clean. They work really well.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I think Jacobsen’s best known for the Egg chair, but designing a chair and designing an ashtray seem like similar challenges, in the sense that both boil down to the question of, ‘How can you improve and make yr mark on something that’s so familiar, and so seemingly simple?’
Seth Rogen: “By using it a lot!”
-We found a bunch of vibey vintage ashtrays & put them in the Blackbird SpyMall for you.
-Blackbird Spyplane is the No. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon”
— and we’re 100% subscriber supported. Have fun and treat yrself to a Classified-tier subscription & enjoy an instant 47.7% quality-of-life improvement.