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Mannequin Madness

Judi Henderson-Townsend deals in dummies. Her business, which she runs from her Oakland home, sells and rents almost-new and used mannequins. There's Birdie, a full-figured gal with a unique bob hairstyle; Ron, a seated male model who has "experienced a couple of lumps and bumps during his career" (damage to his neck); and Studmuffin, described as an athletic looker despite his headless state. Buying from department stores and through liquidation sales, Henderson-Townsend keeps a full stock of human figures -- male, female, and child forms, as well as body parts, which she shows by appointment only. Their uses are countless. They are reworked into sculptures and light fixtures. They display clothing on eBay. Some of her clients even want them for trade shows, like a store that recently created a spa scene by placing a female mannequin in a bathtub. "Mannequins are like silent salespeople," she says. "They add a sense of realism by showing how a product is used." Their more unusual applications: One man, who couldn't afford a security guard for his warehouse, hired a dummy to pose by a window. They also make cheap -- albeit stiff -- actors: "Theater groups use them as extras. Because of budget cuts, they're using mannequins in place of real people."

Readers' Pick:
Metro Board Shop
236 Golf Club Rd., Pleasant Hill, 925-363-7440


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