Skateboarding has a long and sordid history ever since Marty McFly ripped the handlebars off a kid’s scooter in 1959 and invented the sport. Skateboarding is an insane thing to do because it involves speeding wrecklessly around cities on a flat wooden board, with all your brittle body parts exposed and ready to be shattered. Basically, anyone who skates is a luntatic. Thankfully, lunatics do things like spit blood on their bathroom walls and 50-50 grind off the Grand Canyon, so they make for interesting film subjects.
Today, VICE Films is bringing you All This Mayhem, the story of two legendary skaters and wild men, brothers Tas and Ben Pappas, from the pinnacle of the sport to their ultimate undoing. Crammed with archival footage taken through the brothers’ lives and paired with interviews with other skateboarding stars, All This Mayhem follows the brothers’ meteoric rise to number one and two in the world through their feuds with Tony Hawk, urestrained drug use, and eventual fall from stardom. It’s a tragic story of Shakespearean proportions.
FilmBuff (in parternship with VICE) is releasing the film theatrically and across whatever On Demand platform tickles your fancy—Apple App Store, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, XBox Video, you name it.
Check it out iTunes and hop over to the official website for more information, download links, and select theaters where the film is playing. Don’t miss it.
Maybe We Should’t Be So Quick to Idolize a Gay-Bashing Skateboarder
Jay Adams, a guy who had really good balance on his skateboard and, as a member of the Z-Boys, helped to define skating as we know it, died from a heart attack on Thursday while vacationing in Mexico. Although he lived most of his life outside the spotlight, he was brought into mainstream consciousness in 2001 thanks to the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, and then again in 2005, when he was portrayed by Emile Hirsch in Lords of Dogtown. Adams’s death was picked up by most major news outlets, almost all of which used the words “legend” or “legendary” in their headlines and went on to describe him as a bad boy who pushed the sport away from dance-y, ballerina-style contests and into the more aggressive street and pool skating that birthed modern-day skateboarding. Less discussed was the gay-bashing Adams initiated in Los Angeles that left a man dead.
While I appreciate Adams’s contribution to skateboarding as much as the next guy, it seems odd that virtually every obituary published over the last four days has glossed over or completely failed to mention that one time in 1982 when he helped kill a guy. Adams, describing the incident toJuice magazine in 2000, said, “After a show at the Starwood we went to a place called the Okiedogs and two homosexual guys walked by and I started a fight.” One of those homosexuals was named Dan Bradbury, and, as mentioned above, was killed in the brawl. Although Adams was charged with murder, he claimed that he had left the fight by the time the man died, and was convicted of felony assault. He served just six months in prison.
Scanning through the barrage of celebratory obituaries, one could be forgiven for missing that rather large blemish on Adams’s resume.
The initial New York Times obituary on his death failed to mention that Adams, who, as their headline says, “changed skateboarding into something radical,” participated in what looks an awful lot like a hate crime a few decades ago. A more in-depth follow-up story published Sunday with the title “In Empty Pools, Sport’s Pioneer Found a Way to Make a Splash” devotes one sentence to it: “In 1982 he was convicted of felony assault for involvement in the stomping death of a gay man at a concert in Hollywood.” The Associated Press acknowledged the incident in which the “colorful rebel” started a fight and then helped beat a gay man to death by writing, “At the height of his fame in the early 1980s, Adams was convicted of felony assault, launching a string of prison stints over the next 24 years”—with no mention of the fact that the victim was a gay man, or that he died as a result. The Los Angeles Times, who called Adams “legendary” and “one of the edgy Z-boys of the sport,” devoted one sentence to the incident, also with no mention of the fact that Bradbury was gay, summing it up neatly: “He served six months for his involvement in a fight in Hollywood that resulted a man’s death.” [sic]
No Class is a DIY tattoo parlor run by skater Jesse Brocato from his living room in Fairplay, Colorado. Every tattoo from No Class is free, provided you’re at least halfway tanked when you start laying the ink on yourself. Which I think explains why the place is starting to pick up some steam among the skating community.
On a recent skate trip to Colorado, I visited No Class and had a chat with Brocato.
VICE: How did you guys get started? Jesse Brocato: It all started one night when we found out that our friend Shane had a tattoo gun. We told him to bring it over, and he thought he was going to tattoo us, but we were like, “Fuck, give us that,” and we started tattooing ourselves.
That night I fell in love. I was like, “I’m never paying for a tattoo again.” Everyone pays thousands of bucks to get these fancy tattoos. The idea behind No Class is, why would you want a fancy tattoo when you could have a shitty ghetto tattoo?
And it took off from there? Well, I used to make moonshine, so we’d get drunk on moonshine and then just start tattooing ourselves. Then we started buying more equipment online. Now we have three set-ups. People see our work, and they want a shitty tattoo too. I tell them they have to do it themselves. That’s what No Class is all about.
Is it hard to get the hang of it? It took us a little while. In the beginning, we’d have the needle set way too far out, like a quarter inch, and I was going so deep it stopped the machine like a lawnmower in thick grass. It just destroyed the bone and took forever to heal. You start digging and it ends up looking like hamburger meat. You lay in all that ink, and then it heals up scarred and white.
Anything else you had to learn? Pick the cat hair off the needle.
Does that “sterilize” it? I mean, maybe I would have to read a little on bacteria and all that, but whatever, what we do is just hook it up and do it. We don’t share needles or anything like that. I mean, it’s happened, but you really shouldn’t do that. You think you’re clean, but you never know what you have. Somebody that actually tattoos would probably freak out if they came up here, but that’s part of it, part of the “fuck it” attitude of No Class. None of us has swelled up yet.
Photographer Zak Arcander on Butterflies, Raves, and Being Alive
What defines an American perspective today? What does an American look like and more importantly how does an American look? Our society privileges the self, it is a culture that valorizes consumption and idealizes “self actualization”. In short, we live in a society that dictates humans as agents of desire. It is from within this infrastructure that we struggle to create and foster communities. In a self-centered social order, where do we come together and what do we gather around? Although there may not be one succinct answer, all of us are looking for it. If there is a common subject within Zak Arctander’s images, it is that of the pursuant gaze, a subject in a relentless search for the often intangible object of its desire. I sat down with Zak to talk about butterflies and being alive.
VICE: Tell me a little about your background.
Zak Arctander: I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, a place called Arlington Heights. I made skateboard videos throughout high school. My parents and my sister are all artists.
How did skateboarding videos lead you to the work you make now?
When I was filming/photographing skateboarding it was pretty similar to how I work now. The street was the stage for the drama; I was freezing and framing action. What is different now is I’m not so closely collaborating with the people I am photographing. They are mostly strangers that I encounter briefly.
It is clear from the images that your subjects are being captured in moments of telling inbetween-ness: not a decisive moment, but the fugue state between. There is a darkness that pervades the images, a darkness that seems to be located in relation to human desires. Are you ever disturbed by the images you create?
Disturbed isn’t a word that ever really crosses my mind. I have felt shaken. I definitely think about desire and how everyone is reaching for something outside of themselves. It sounds sort of ridiculous but when I consider what I’m after I still turn to Delillo’s phrase “magic and dread.”
A couple of weeks ago, our friends at Noisey wrote about a guy who was photographed pissing into his own mouth at a Trash Talk show in Melbourne. It might have seemed pretty gross and weird to you at the time, but it turns out it wasn’t an isolated incident. In fact, it’s just one example of a worldwide phenomenon among skaters—a phenomenon that even has its own name: “bubbling.”
At least that’s what this friendly skater called Troy West—a.k.a. Skategypsy—told us recently. According to Skategypsy, “bubbling” originated in his native Australia but was popularized in Europe through his own skating tours.
Here’s the rest of that conversation about gargling piss.
VICE: How did bubbling first start? Just how big is it in Australia? Troy West: It’s huge in Australia. It’s part of our everyday life. My dad actually taught me how to do it when I was a kid.
And so you brought it to Europe? I was on tour in Austria, and this other skater, Frido, asked me if I would drink my own piss for $136. So I explained that it’s common practice in Oz, and I did it right there and then, and then again later by some lake in Italy. It took Frido a few days to master the art, though—he had a weak flow.
Is there a deeper meaning behind it? It’s a pretty big statement. Try it and find the meaning yourself.
In the finale of Keith Hufnagel’s Epicly Later’d episode, Keith juggles the responsibilities of pro skating and starting HUF—the brand that began as a backup plan, but took on a life of its own. He also looks back on some of the people who helped him most over the course of his career, and begins to do the same for the next generation of skaters.
Of the colorful cast of new faces in Supreme’s first full-length video, 16-year-old Sean Pablo Murphy was the most polarizing. I decided to call the young Sean Pablo and ask him what’s up with his new Converse commercial, what it’s like having Jason Dill as a boss, and how he lost his virginity.
Part one of the series is a look back at Keith’s formative days in early 90s New York City. Before HUF, and before everyone and their grandma had a pair of weed socks, he was just a kid, busting his ass to get sponsored.
To make this episode we sifted through a treasure trove of Hi8 and VHS tapes, including raw Keenan Milton and Gino Iannucci footage and an (almost) never-before-seen Fun Skateboards video. We hope you like it.