We close out WYWS week with the first interview ever published in the magazine in 1997, featuring an all-time favorite, ESPO. If you haven’t bought the book yet, do it. There’s almost 500 pages of entertainment in it.
Interview by Roger Gastman
Is Elvis still alive today?
Elvis is dead. But the cool thing about Elvis is I think he is reincarnated into people. I think his soul is still around, and I think he is just taking people over, moving from host form to host form. That’s why all the Elvis appearances. He could take over your body and you could turn into Elvis. You might look the same when you look in the mirror, but when you’re walking down the street people see you as the King.
What do you think Elvis would think of On The Go?
He would probably like On The Go, but he would probably be wondering why I wasn’t writing about his music.
Would you give him an interview?
I would definitely give him an interview. He’d probably call me up and be on some shit like, “Yo, kid, why didn’t you print my flicks in the last issue? You’re fucking foul.”
Would you please give me the history of On The Go?
We started it—me, MEEZ and SUROCK in 1988. It was a crummy little Xerox fanzine kind-of-thing. During the first five or six issues we experimented with a lot of different things and still managed to diss cops and diss the anti-graffiti network and get our point across. Sometime in 1992, MEEZ and SUROCK got into other things. A guy named DES came in and started designing the magazine and moving it toward a more professional appearance. I toned down a lot of the radical stuff that we were doing in the earlier issues and went on to try and create a mass-market publication. Fourand- a-half years later, here we are now.
Where do you see all of this going?
Right now we are set up to be distributed on a wide scale. It would be great and a lot of people could be open to it or it could just sit on the stand. There’s been a lot of questions about how far a publication like this could go. Spray Can Art has sold about 160-thousand copies. That’s a considerable amount, but this is also after 13 or 14 years. At first glance you might not say that the market is big, but we feel that the hip-hop market is huge. If we can get people open on that, the sky is the limit. So we’ll have to see. What we are really about is putting as much graffiti as possible in front of people who would never see it or care to see it, hopefully converting them a little bit towards how cool our cause is.
Was 90210 better before or after Brenda?
Definitely with Brenda. She had it going on.
You down with Vanilla Ice?
You know who I’m down with, this group called the White Boys. The White Boys were ill, man. They were three guys from New York, and they had songs like “This is Hardcore, is it Not?” They did this shit with the Mission Impossible theme called “On a Mission.” Yeah, they were crazy hype. As a matter of fact, I gave UPSKI a copy of their record that I found in Chicago. I think he’s learning from it even as we speak.
I heard that you prefer to use stock caps.
Yeah, stock caps are the shit. I mean, that was just some shit like when I started. That’s what all the old heads used and the guys that taught me. SUROCK, who taught me a lot of shit, that’s what he used. We would use fat caps for filling in and stock caps for everything else. It’s a fucking hard way to paint. It’s tough to fill in if all you have is stock caps. The trade off of it is that you get completely constant spray. Over time, you really learn to work with the pressure that’s in the can. You never have to say, “Damn, I don’t have caps. I can’t go painting.” You learn to take advantage of the fact that you have a guaranteed consistent line every time. I do a lot of tricks and techniques to pull a lot of very thin lines out of it. Nothing really fancy, nothing that couldn’t be shown, nothing that I would have to hide from somebody if they came around and looked at what I was doing. They could probably just see it emerge and just do it themselves. If somebody were to hit me off with a couple caps when I was at a wall I would try and use them. I always tried to use testers caps. I just sucked at it. I didn’t have the patience for it. Now you call them phantom caps…
We call them soft caps down here, but everybody calls them something different.
Well when the World Aerosol Art Congress gets together, we will figure out what to call these caps and pass it down. But in the meantime, stock caps are great. Those new Rusto red caps are incredible. They are comfortable; they fit my finger.
Do you have a favorite professional wrestler?
You can’t really fuck with Hulk Hogan. My man is kind of the king. Of course, everybody understands the universal appeal of Andre the Giant. Not too much light is given to Sgt. Slaughter. I think Sgt. Slaughter had a lot of shit going on. I know there’s a whole new generation of wrestlers, but I’m just not up on them. The Iron Sheik, man. There was a time when wrestling took on our greatest fears and our biggest hopes. So you would have the Iron Sheik on one side and Sgt. Slaughter on the other. They need to have some shit now like the Infectious Disease on one side and the Doctor on the other side. Maybe Condom
Man, just totally dressed in latex, dropping on people, just rubbing his ribs against people, just totally fucking them up.
Is there any certain surface that you have painted that has really pissed people off?
It’s generally not the surface that I paint that pisses them off, but what I put on it. You know that you have really painted a wall right and done some fucked up shit on it when they paint over it the next day. I’ve painted Klansmen on tattoo shops. They were on some shit like, “You can paint anything you want.” I was painting the tattoo shop and I would hear these guys inside talking about how when black people come into get tattooed they would be on some shit like, “I’m sorry, we can’t tattoo you today. We don’t have all our equipment ready. Perhaps you can come back next week.” Then when the people left they would get on some shit like, “Fuck that, I’ll never tattoo no nigger.” I was in the middle of doing some dumb wizard so I just changed it to a Grand Imperial Wizard. These guys that owned the shop were on their way home. When they came back the next day the wall was totally on some Klu Klux Klan shit. It got painted over in like two hours.
You ever watched any midget porn?
I have not watched any midget porn. I’d be open if anybody would send me some tapes. There could be lots of free goodies in it for you. I’m a tall motherfucker, so I’ve got to say I’ve got a fascination for vertically challenged people.
If you could trade places with anyone who would it be?
Although at first glance Russell Simmons looks pretty appealing, I’d have to go with John Popper from Blues Traveler. That’s the shit, man. You could be 400 pounds and you could still get laid. You get crazy cash, and you wear cool vests with harmonicas all over it. You couldn’t ask for anything more.
Do you play the harmonica a lot?
No, but I do play the skin flute.
Who would take who out: Freddy or Jason?
I’d have to go with Freddy. He just had the one-liners. He had good wit. If it were just brute strength it would be an even match. Maybe if Jason had a few good mom jokes, but Freddy just came through.
I heard that you were abducted by space aliens that looked like ALF a few weeks ago and they took you to their planet and they made you teach the alien youth how to paint. Do you have any comment on that?
Ah, yes, as a matter of fact I do. I would like to thank my alien captors for not giving me an anal probe. I thought that was very respectful of them. The only message that I brought to them was not to do Vaughn Bodé characters.
What do you think about the freight movement?
Freights are dope. If anyone has pictures of the freights we painted in 1988, I’d love to see pictures of them. We got some freights going back in 1983. I got flicks of them. I don’t think they are still around. Freights are definitely rolling; they are really getting buffed too. I think people who are just doing strictly freights could benefit to expand their vocabulary and paint other things because the dopest thing about painting freights is that if you have mastered the art of painting them you can paint anything. If you can paint on hot steel in the summertime, there is basically nothing you can’t do. I would love to see those dudes take their expertise on the metal and flex it on the concrete.
Any last comments?
Yeah, this magazine shit is cool, man. But I’m still waiting for the On The Go rope link chain that I ordered so I can totally go out on the street and flex. Rope chains, that’s where it’s at in nine-seven. And Rustoluem. Don’t waste your time with Krylon.
Originally printed in WYWS Issue #1
This was the first interview I ever did – it was spring or summer of 1997. I was 19 years old and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or what to ask. I just knew I didn’t want it to be a traditional interview. I had advertised in On the Go and had been a fan of the mag for years. It was one of the first graffiti mags that I knew about. My friend Gabe, a future WYWS contributor, worked at On the Go as an intern, and hooked up the interview with ESPO, who was one of the founding members of the magazine. ESPO never sent me any photos to run with the story, so I ran the only photo I had in my archives. Since then, my archives have gotten a little bit bigger.
– Roger Gastman