Taking Wax to the Max

by Tiffany Santiago Photos by Johnny Holmes

On December 7, 1996, Angel Colon, Johnny Holmes and I visited the first and only African American Wax Museum of Harlem. The founder and owner is Mr. Raven Chanticleer. Mr. Chanticleer lives next door to the museum with his wife. 

Raven Chanticleer was born to a prominent family. His mother was born in Barbados, and his father in Haiti. He has one sister and one brother, his brother was born in Haiti. His father was a principal. 

Some of the wax figures he has made includes David Dinkins and Martin Luther King. It takes Mr. Chanticleer about one month to finish a figure. He uses paper mache and plaster from the feet up. 

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and Honorable David Dinkins, former NYC mayor

Raven Chanticleer made a lamp out of popsicle sticks and it took him about a month to make it. Besides running the museum, he writes for a newspaper. He used to teach at a college but found it more interesting to teach younger kids. He is now writing a book called “Taking Wax To The Max”. 

Raven Chanticleer

Mr. Chanticleer’s dream is to make his museum bigger and to install a computer room. Right now he is working on a figure of Bob Marley. He says that making wax figures and art objects is what he always wanted to do, that this was his calling.

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