Meet your maker in style with these fantasy funerals.

"In Austin, Texas, a new company called Caskets By Design recently introduced a line of 15


Perchance to dream

Meet your maker in style with these fantasy funerals.

"In Austin, Texas, a new company called Caskets By Design recently introduced a line of 15 'theme' caskets, including the 'Fairway to Heaven' coffin golf course design, the 'Cowboy' western style, and a 'Groovy Casket' that features a psychedelic pattern." —Reuters, November 4, 1999

Dear Funeral Director and Valued Customer,

The times they are a-changin'! And we at (formerly Henfield & Strauss Eternal Supplies Ltd.) are working to help you jump on upcoming trends and keep from being left (dare we say it?) in the dust.

The strong sales of our line of Designer Art Caskets demonstrate that the public is hungry for alternatives to the "basic black" traditional funeral. As we look forward to the upcoming Baby Boom Bonanza, flush with 401(K) inheritances and insurance payouts, this is the time to find exciting, profit-centered alternatives in what we all expect to become a highly competitive business. In that regard, the Theme Funeral is the most exciting innovation since embalming.

At, we think we have only begun to tap the hidden demand. Sure, many people want a theme for their beloved's funeral that accurately reflects the life lived. But, let's face it, the facts of a person's life usually pale when compared with their unrealized dreams. Why not memorialize those instead?

For example, if a departed husband dutifully stayed in his small town to raise his family, perhaps our "New York, NY" model can be a last chance to honor his loyalty. Or, for the urban cowboy that never strayed out of Manhattan, suggest "Great Outdoors" or "Lone Star." Even a regretful draft dodger can have final peace in "Semper Fi."

We believe that the Theme Funeral is only the first step to a much larger trend: the Fantasy Funeral. This will bring many lucrative opportunities for value-added funeral home services, including costume and prop rental, lighting design, makeup services, custom catering, and souvenir sales.

Always the leader, is developing a number of new programs for our line next year that we hope you will consider:

Great Gatesby: For the would-have-been dot-com tycoon, lavishly decorated and loaded with the latest technology. The mourners enter their last goodbye messages from Palm Pilots, which are stored in the memory of the "CyberCasket" and scroll across the coffin for all to read. Available through our Web site for a nominal fee are downloads of theme-compatible eulogies, video feeds, and CD-ROM pressing.

Movie Magic: It's Hollywood's loss that the dearly departed never got that screen test. But, using digital photo editing, we can create a complete album of the loved one's "filmography" in a souvenir retrospective book. There he is in Easy Rider! And who will ever forget her role in Flashdance? For a casket, choose the "Sam Goldwyn," which is engraved with this mischievous quote, "Give the people what they want. . . ."

J.D. Salinger: So he or she never got around to writing that Great American Novel. Now is the chance to honor that dream! Our "Gutenberg" model is designed to look like a hardcover book, with the loved one nestled peacefully between the pages. Dress her in Judith Krantz elegance, or him in a fisherman's sweater with leather patches on the elbows. For extra fun, invite the bereaved to "press" the beloved at the end of the service.

Valentino: Imagine a chapel filled with roses and beautiful women weeping. Both of these can be had for a simple rental fee. We suggest our "Sex Machine" casket, adorned with the "mirror babes" made popular by America's truckers. For that extra image enhancement, you may elect the optional "virility" bearer handles, hand-crafted in Mexico from a traditional New Guinea fertility design.

Evita: For the homemaker remembered as she might have been, all the pomp of a state funeral and the glamour of Broadway. By special arrangement with Creative Artists Agency, we can arrange an appearance of "Che" that will fit most pocketbooks—from Antonio Banderas to Paul Rubens. Or the grieving can sing the role themselves, as one budget-minded husband in the Northwest did. His rendition of "Don't Cry for Me, Dear Tacoma" was very moving.

Evil Knievel: Perfect for the client who expired in front of the television. Our star-spangled "Died in the USA" model can be combined with our "Elvis/late" wardrobe to create the illusion of a man who took chances. Makeup kit #67 (Raging Bull) can transform his doughy face into a scarred ruffian's. Or, for the more adventurous, our bullet-shaped "Saturday Night Special" casket can be launched over a line of cars directly into the grave. A mausoleum internment? Add the teflon coating!

Donna Reed: Her kids didn't deserve her, so rent better ones! Ideal for the estranged or dysfunctional family, even better for the woman who never had children at all. Our network of experienced mourners can lend the occasion some genuine family devotion. Even the surviving spouse can rent a stand-in, to keep that important golf or poker appointment. See our catalog for makeup kits to cover nicotine stains, scars, or track marks.

Klingon: For the warrior born in the wrong century on the wrong planet, we recommend our "Photon Tube" casket, flame urns, and makeup kit #35 (Kaelis). Options include costume rental, attendant makeup, and copies of Klingon-Federation language dictionaries with the loved one's "battle statistics" embossed in gold. Don't be a petaQ!

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