Lighthearted Prayers For Life's Little Perils Putting An Irreverent Spin On The Inspirational.

Posted: December 03, 1996

In the beginning there were holidays, which begat family gatherings.

And they were good.

But lo, disharmony entered the peaceful kingdom when someone uttered the evil words: ``What's that supposed to mean?'' And it came to pass that dysfunction reigned.

Behold! Another holiday season is upon us.

Let us pray.

Light the Protection From Dysfunctional Family Christmas candle and recite the following devotion:

``Protect me from the annual invasion of my peculiar relatives and their gaggle of sticky-faced, candy-cane-eating, sugar-infused children . . . grant me the ability to feign gratitude upon receiving yet another crocheted poodle tissue cover. Amen.''

What? Hast thou not heard of the 37 satirical prayer candles made by a company called Three Tacky Texans?

Shame unto thee.

They run the inspirational gamut.

There's the Protection From Bad Hairdressers votive (``I place my feeble hair before thee . . .'' ), as well as the Supreme Dieting Icon (``Open up the heavenly gates that I may again walk in the path of thinness'').

For the overtaxed there is the Powerful IRS Protection prayer (Directions: ``When W-2 forms arrive, immediately light candle with a rolled-up dollar bill . . .'') and cyber spiritualists can boot up with Our Lady@www.com (``Banish system crashes and power surges from my consciousness . . .'').

It's all in fun.

Seek enlightenment through caffeine with Our Lady of Latte/Espresso Drinkers (``I implore you to banish instant coffee crystals . . .'') and hum a few bars of the Powerful Elvis Prayer (Directions: . . . Repeat prayer three times while adding one rhinestone to a jumpsuit).

The pithy prayers are the creation of Laura Lampe, the founder of Three Tacky Texans, which actually employs seven people and is really located a good distance away from Texas - in Seattle.

``I'm tacky enough for three Texans,'' said Lampe. ``But mostly I just liked the name.''

Even though she has been living in trendy javaland for eight years, Lampe was born and reared in Dallas. And the Lone Star State still has a firm grip on her speech.

Before breaking into candles, Lampe, a painter and jewelry maker, worked craft shows and sold her creations in art galleries.

But everything changed the day she got religion through roast beef.

``I was in Texas, at a craft show, and I was in a giant Mexican American grocery store buying a roast beef sandwich and a Coca-Cola, and I turned around and there was a giant display of religious candles. I said, `I can do this,' '' Lampe recalled.

``Now I have that sandwich receipt framed.''

Lampe uses actual religious devotional candles to make her spoof votives. Each label is patterned after an original painting that she creates, and the prayers and directions printed on the back of the candles are the result of brainstorming among her employees.

``I went with subjects that I think people are way too serious about,'' she said.

She gores obsession with youth, housework, 12-step programs and even (yikes!) parenthood.

The candles are hot.

``I've been selling them for a few years now, and I can't keep them in stock,'' said Joan Castronuovo, owner of Latitudes in Manayunk.

Carolyn Andrews, a buyer for Urban Outfitters, said the Powerful Protection From Alien Abduction is a big seller in her stores.

Both shops sell the candles for $12. They can also be found at Passiflora in Lambertville, N.J., where they go for $11.

Castronuovo said customers of all religions appreciate the humor in the mock devotionals.

However, early in the company's history, Lampe faced some opposition.

She originally bought her supply of blank religious candles from Reed Candle Co. in San Antonio, Texas. But when the owners saw examples of the tongue-in-cheek labels that Lampe pastes onto the votives, they refused to sell any more candles to the artist.

A San Antonio newspaper quoted Sister Reed, one of the candle company owners, as saying the candles were ``sacrilegious.''

``I mean, Our Lady of Junk Food? That's mocking the Blessed Virgin!'' she said, according to the newspaper.

When contacted by telephone last week, Reed confirmed that she had been quoted correctly.

``We found another supplier,'' Lampe said.

Currently, Lampe is churning out 3,600 candles a week.

``The number of accounts grew 10 times from the original size in one year,'' she said.

And not being the sort to tempt fate, Lampe admits that she religiously burns one of her own candles in the studio.

Which one? Well the Prayer for Positive Cash Flow, of course.

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