11/19/1984 at 01:00 AM EST
Lizzie Borden had an axe, but all you need is a T-shirt fondly named after the infamous Massachusetts whacker. Not any T-shirt, mind you, but a ghoulish garment that features a rubbery protusion stuck on with hot glue. If you don't fancy wearing a T-shirt with a bloody hatchet wedged into your chest, you might try one with a snake slithering from your abdominal cavity or a mouth closing around a raccoon's tail with the message: "I eat roadkill."
The best of chests are now displaying "3-D T-shirts," as they are called. Since January the shirts, which come in eight different motifs, including "sick" (chunks of vomit) and "peek-a-boo" (a blue monster poking out of exposed ribs), have been hot-selling items in more than 300 stores across the country. "At $30 a pop, these things aren't priced for kids," says Lee Carney, general manager of the Jazz'd T-shirt shop in Los Angeles. "Most people buying them are over-30 professionals, well-heeled and often well-dressed." Actor Chris Atkins bought two "roadkill" T-shirts, Carney reports, "and we had a family of six from Kuwait in the store. Everybody bought one."
Shrieks of fear and delight are music to the ears of Ed Edmunds, 29, the Colorado artist who created the new bloodcurdling get-ups. He started out six years ago molding gory masks in his kitchen for buyers such as horror writer Stephen King. Edmunds soon moved on to a three-story factory in Kersey, Colo. His first 3-D T-shirt was born when he used his mask-making techniques to re-create the shocking moment in the movie Alien, in which a snake bursts out of a man's chest. The shirt is now one of Edmunds' biggest sellers.
With sales already reaching an estimated $620,000, Edmunds and his seven person staff naturally don't intend to limit their production. They are planning more T-shirt designs, including a children's line and a maternity model. Of his somewhat peculiar—but lucrative—predilections, Edmunds says, "I'm following my taste for the unusual without worrying what other people think."