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How Tumblr brought back ‘The Love Boat’

Come aboard. We're expecting you.


April Siese

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 23, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 1:29 am CDT

Tumblr has resurrected The Love Boat. Or at least its opening credits. 

One user has turned the wreckage of the TV show set on a ship into the meme-friendly Love Boat Insanity, a veritable all-inclusive buffet of “guest-stars for the ultimate adventure on The Love Boat.”

Love Boat Insanity started almost like the TV show did—as a derivative of another work taken to new, outlandish heights. Graphic designer Gordon Frank came across an image of Joan Crawford billed as a Love Boat guest, laughed about it, then got inspired.

“I think it was an ad for a gay circuit party,” Frank tells the Daily Dot. “I started designing birthday cards, using my friends as Love Boat guest-stars. I recreated the Joan Crawford image as a T-shirt transfer and that was a huge hit when I showed it to friends. Suddenly we were shouting out names for the most outrageous and obscure celebrities we would like to see on the Love Boat.”

Oddly, Frank isn’t even a fan of the show. When the show was in syndication, he endured the travails of Capt. Merrill Stubing and crew so he wouldn’t miss Fantasy Island on Saturday nights. “Love Boat Angels” stands out as a favorite episode, though the crossover romp featuring Charlie’s Angels was likely only enjoyable because of its guest stars. The Alexandria, Virginia-based artist certainly isn’t alone in his quest for the ultimate Love Boat guest.

“People really seemed to like Toonces the Cat. Sci-fi and horror icons, such as the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Alien, usually get a good response. … I get some really interesting emails. My favorites are the oddball requests that have surprised me; despite my extensive pop culture knowledge,” Frank says. “Inanimate Carbon Rod from The Simpsons was a good one.”

Frank never would’ve predicted gaining thousands of followers, all clamoring for obscure Love Boat guests with a similar fervor. His other Tumblr—a “dysfunctional Family Circus” account known as Trouser Chili, which has been running for two years—hasn’t generated nearly as many likes. Both endeavors are certainly in Frank’s wheelhouse of “parody and pop culture-inspired” artwork. Love Boat Insanity has even transferred to the real world.

“I recently sold a Love Boat Insanity-inspired art piece and currently have a framed print of Love Boat Insanity guest-stars Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Aileen Wuornos hanging in a local gallery,” Frank explains. 

So, of the hundreds of images lining pages and pages of the Love Boat Insanity Tumblr, who would make the best guest? “Without a doubt, Divine,” Frank says. “[Divine] would be the perfect guest star.”

Photo via Love Boat Insanity/Tumblr

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*First Published: Mar 23, 2016, 10:00 am CDT