From the print edition of BW...
We've heard of passion fruit, but never passion for fruit—to this degree, at least: "The long, edible fruit from the herbaceous plant . . . is a meal in a peel," swears Ken "Banana Man" Bannister, whose yellow jumpsuit zips down the front to create the illusion he's being peeled. "Everyone should eat a finger in the morning and in the evening."
The Banana Museum in Hesperia, Calif., houses a 17,000 tchotchke tribute to the fruit. Everything from the Velvet Underground & Nico LP cover designed by Andy Warhol to a gold sequined "Michael Jackson banana" crafted by "some little old lady in Pasadena." There are banana-books, banana golf clubs, banana clip guns and a 78-rpm record of "Yes, We Have No Bananas." TV icons the Banana Splits and Bananas in Pajamas? Check. A one-of-a-kind banana lamp is valued at $12,000. Then there's the "petrified banana" donated by a woman at one of Bannister's banana-related events.
"Hey Banana Man, I got a banana for you!" she yelled. "I found it in my closet and it's hard as a rock." The specimen is on display, and while it hasn't been carbon-dated, it was estimated at 2-3 years old at the time of donation. Bannister runs the museum with "Top Banana" Glen Speer.
The rec & parks dept. sponsors, but the Banana Museum has no fruity partners. Bannister appealed to Chiquita, but was turned down since the museum showcases all banana brands equally. After he met with Dole, "They copied my idea and brought out their own Bobby Banana."
Has he ever seen anyone slip on a banana peel? "No," and he does not regret it. "I don't like to see people get hurt," he said. [Ed: We have, and are aware that we'll go to hell for laughing at the spectacle.] While listing the benefits of bananas, such as potassium, Bannister doesn't mention mental telepathy, but he eerily anticipates our next question.
"There's nothing lewd or lascivious displayed at my museum," he said.