The 50-some-year career of rock showman Alice Cooper has been all about smoke and mirrors, not to mention guillotines, electric chairs and lots of fake blood, but when Cooper the private citizen goes looking for the “weird” near Phoenix, he swings by a Brass Armadillo Antique Mall, he told the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago.

As master of shock rock, avid golfer and Arizona resident, Cooper was asked by the Journal to supply some local color for an article, “The Essential Insider’s Guide to Scottsdale, Ariz.”

He named a golf course, a hotel, and said his favorite place to “get weird” was the Brass Armadillo, an operation founded in 1992 in Des Moines by Larry Gottula and Dave Briddle.

These days the purveyors of all things collectible have six  locations: Des Moines, Omaha, Kansas City, Mo., Denver and two in the Phoenix area.

Cooper has not visited the Des Moines location, but he has shopped at all of the others, Gottula’s daughter, Greater Des Moines public relations pro Jamie Buelt, said.

His introduction to the Brass Armadillo was through his mother-in-law, who leased space at one of the Phoenix locations. Cooper had his own booth for a while, closing it when he went on tour in 2008, Buelt said.

“He drove his Maserati to the mall. He sold music memorabilia, collectibles, signed T-shirts,” she said.

Cooper told the Wall Street Journal “you could spend three or four hours just looking for weird things” at Brass Armadillo. 

“I always wanted to find a store called the Worst Lamps in the World. You would find 10 of them there,” he said in the Journal article.

His shopping habits might be a tad more mundane. Cooper collected pocket watches, fobs for pocket watches, some leather and chain, some wristwatches, Buelt said.

On one visit, he found that, at the time, anyway, his name wasn’t on the tip of everyone’s tongue, at least not in Phoenix.

“He was shopping in the Brass Armadillo and found a pocket watch he wanted in a locked case. The sales associate was going to take it to the front while he continued to look and asked for his name,” Buelt said. “He said, ‘Alice.’ She said, ‘No, really what’s your name?’ 

“ ‘My name is Alice … Alice Cooper.’

“ ‘OK, I’ll put it under Cooper.’

“Alice turned to Dave Briddle and Jess Munoz, the GM, and said, ‘I guess not everyone knows who I am.’ ”