July 12, 2005
Scribble: Leanne Biank
By Rob Brink
SG Magazine February 2005
Leanne Biank is a dear friend of mine and the best damn artist I know. I pitched her to SG magazine and they liked her work so much that they decided to let me write a feature on her. Here's the story as it ran in SG:
“When I first learned to talk, I told my mom that I hated coloring books and that I wanted a blank piece of paper to make my own lines,” says Biank.
She's been an artist ever since. Biank may be only 20, but her art is wise. Her pieces manage to convey a maturity beyond her years while maintaining a modern and youthful energy.
Snowboarding for seven years, skateboarding for eight, and having just picked up a surfboard for the first time last summer, Biank will tell you that hitting a rail perfectly on her snowboard or skating at FDR with her friends are her favorite feelings. She finds her inspiration in the passionate people around her and in her childhood memories, her favorite stage of the process being the initial sketching because “It's the fun part where the ideas are made." The New Jersey native currently attends the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Once finished with school, she aspires to work with a skateboard or snowboard company, designing graphics or as an art director.
July 10, 2005
Free Pinball, Security, and Missing Balls:
The 7th annual Classic Pinball show
By Rob Brink
GameRoom March 2003
Saturday, September 14 was beautiful. Birds were singing, the sun was shining, children were frolicking and giggling, and all was right with the world. One couldn't ask for a more pleasant day to host or attend a pinball show in the lovely town of Wayne, NJ. This was Kevin McHugh and Classic Pinball's 7th annual show. Aside from being the roving reporter, I was an attendee, and fairly excited to go play free pinball and video games all day. Of course, walking around and taking notes of the ridiculousness at an event like this is also something I enjoy. On a side note, Kevin had been holding my Williams Fire machine hostage for a few months trying to sell it for me—and dammit it was time for me to collect my hot, stinky, dirty cash.
Upon approaching the entry area, I was asked to pay a cover charge to be allowed in. Being far too important to pay a cover, I quickly stated that I was here to cover the event for the prestigious Game Room magazine. With that, a warm welcome was extended to me and I was told to have a good time as I walked through the parking lot.
The event was held at the Elks Lodge. I think that's the type of place where old war veterans go and hang out. I would bet the town hosts pancake breakfasts there, or families rent it occasionally to have sweet 16 parties for their daughters. The first thing I saw, even before entering the building, was a man holding a beer. Forget the truckloads of video games, rarities, collectibles, and pinball machines to play that were set up in and outside the building—at that point, it became my mission to obtain a refreshing, frosty, alcoholic beverage.
I entered the lodge with caution, knowing that I needed to prepare myself for a day full of screaming hyper children whose Ritalin had worn off since they took it with their Saturday morning french toast breakfast, and the mass gathering of Trekkie-type pinball geeks and weirdos with shirts custom made shirts that say”I buy jukeboxes and pinball machines.”
The place was packed to say the least. Every game was taken by a wide-eyed pinball maniac, and most had people waiting on deck. As I perused the aisles of games in a desperate search to find a game to play (thank God I didn't pay at the door because the amount of free play I got could have never matched the cover charge) I finally saw an empty machine—Hook. With a swift glance to the left and right to make sure the coast was clear, and a brief moment of disbelief that I now had a machine to myself to hog all day, I leapt towards the machine. With already-sweaty palms, assuming the pinball stance, I pressed the start button. No ball. I pressed it again—still no new credit. With a quick scan of the display, I realized that there was a ball missing, rendering the game impotent as it clicked and clanked searching for its lost balls. An utter disappointment—I was defeated, crushed, and felt like a sucker. A true pinball geek would have never even pushed the start button, he/she would have had “missing ball radar” and simply never given the game the time of day. I felt dumb. Of course, this same scenario happened to me about 58 more times the same day. Evidently, a good way to try to sell machines is to have them just not working properly with a $1,000-$2,000 price tag on them. I know for me personally, when I go car shopping, I look for the cars that don't come with tires or a steering wheel. Or when I go to the supermarket, I like to pick up the dented cans of soup or the rotten tomatoes.
Then I remembered I still had no beer. So I found Kevin. As usual he was sweating profusely and doing that stressed out “running his hands through his thinning hair “ thing that so many people do when filled with anxiety. He told me to go upstairs and get a brew. I thanked him and went on my merry way.
Nature was calling so I took a bathroom detour, accidentally entering the ladies room. Upon realization of this, I turned around to exit and locked eyes with a woman who was entering. She looked scared and disgusted to say the least. Next to the men's room, sitting on the floor against the wall, were a few scrawny teens. What struck me about these young lads were their black t-shirts with the word “SECURITY” across the back. This made me ponder a few things. First, is a pinball convention so wild of an event that it warrants security to be present? Secondly, if there was a problem of some sort, say a battle between two rabid pinball fans over who's turn it was to play the new Roller Coaster Tycoon game, or lude acts being performed by the many pervs waiting on line to play the new Playboy machine, for example, would all these young bucks, fresh from the chess club be able to control the situation? Thirdly, why was security sitting on the floor in the corner of the lodge by the men's room, and why did they not stop me from entering the ladies room?
Then I went to find the free beer. But it didn't exist. I wandered the abandoned second floor of the lodge in search for the liquid happiness—but no luck. So I headed back down for more pinball and journalism action. By now, Kevin was raffling off a pinball game, some backglasses, and other miscellaneous crap. People crowded around him and his megaphone (as if he doesn't talk loud enough) like hungry wolves around a steak. He was God. Some people won and were happy, others walked away disappointed, angrily discarding their raffle tickets on the ground, as if littering is somehow justified due to the loss of a raffle. Sure man, get back at this horrible cruel world by dropping your orange raffle tickets on the ground—you rebels!
By now, it was getting late. I still couldn't get a go at Playboy or Roller Coaster Tycoon. Many of the games had sold and were being wheeled out to their new homes so I settled for Donkey Kong Jr. and played it repeatedly—sucking hard the whole while. I used to be good at it when I was a tyke, I swear. But now I couldn't even conquer level too. Indeed I am getting old. Maybe I would have done better if I had gotten some free beer in me.
Feeling a tad drained, and knowing the bulk of the fun was over, I headed out to say goodbye to Kevin, who had the surprising news that my Fire machine had finally been sold to a fireman who wanted it for the firehouse in his town. I was excited knowing that the machine went to a group of people (who the media now considers “heroes”) could really appreciate it—but not nearly as excited as when Kevin handed me my $700 wad of smelly, sweaty, filthy cash. I put it in my pocket and savored the bulge it made in my pants as I merrily drove home. Yes, it was a lovely day.
With the show behind us, I tracked some vendors down to see how their day was and hear their take on the event. Most were excited to see people from their industry that they don't get to meet with very often. All praised Kevin for his efforts. Steve Engel of Mayfair Amusements in Ridgewood, NY said the show was productive for him, despite the two days of loading and unloading the trucks. “I'd like to see the show go two days,” he said. Little did Steve know this was to be Kevin's Last show.
Jack Guarnieri, CEO of Pinballsales.com was attending this show for the first time and found it to be very productive—selling 10 of the 13 games he brought with him, he would have liked some barbecued food outside, but there's always time for that if he throws his own show.
And what about some words from the man himself? It took Kevin a few weeks and much prompting to answer my interview via email. I think he was busy recovering, so I'll excuse his tardiness. The show, after all, is a big production, starting in February with booking the venue and marketing the event. About two months before the actual date is when the game buying and real planning takes place. Lists are made, people are called, advertising secured, volunteers and favors called in, truck rental arrangements made and the list goes on.
“This show was our biggest turnout ever,” said Kevin. “We had over 800 paid admissions. We also sold 14 videos and seven pinball machines. This year unlike years past, we set up fencing and made the show a sort of pay one price all access in and out and it worked well. All the dealers outside were thrilled and it made for a nice spacious atmosphere. The weather also was great.”
Kevin regrets not having enough time to talk to everyone. And always wished for a bigger hall, more room, more games. But that's not going to happen. The decision that this is the last show for him has already been made. Why? “It's simple—too much work. In the early years when the game supply was plentiful, it was easy to entice other dealers and distributors to come and offer their machines for sale making it easy to fill the room with a good supply of games to play and offer for sale. The Internet has changed all that, along with the demise of Bally/Williams/Gottlieb. Now demand is high, supply is low, all it takes to sell a game is a few keystrokes, there is no incentive to lug our games out for public viewing, playing, and unfortunately abusing at a show. Let alone go through the rigorous haggling process of selling a game in person, few people are comfortable doing that, when low and behold you hear ‘I can get $500 more on eBay!' That will be the epitaph on the tombstone of the shows once they are all gone. We had a great run—seven years and seven great shows.
McHugh doesn't feel the cancellation of the annual show will negatively affect other amusement businesses. He also offers a big thanks to everyone who attended and worked the show—making it the success it was. “I'm taking the Seinfeld route and going out on top. Next summer come see me in my store on Saturday morning, bring coffee and I'll show you some pictures of my past shows, and be prepared to talk pinball, cause that is what I do!”
July 10, 2005
Lesbians, Celebrities, Beer, Radio, and, Oh Yeah—Pinball
By Rob Brink
GameRoom July 2002
So one day, I hear about Classic Pinball (Clifton, NJ) from a commercial on the radio and decide to head down to the showroom to have a look. I was delighted to see so many vintage (and modern) arcade games and pinball machines for my viewing and purchasing pleasure—and so close to my home.
I was introduced to Kevin McHugh after expressing interest in trading in my Williams Fire machine and obtaining a Tron stand-up arcade game. Kevin was friendly, funny, and accommodating. He was more than happy to offer me a beer, hang out and chew the fat, find me a Tron, and take Fire off my hands. After talking for a few hours, seems my career as a skateboard journalist tapped into the deep recesses of his subconscious and brought up memories of a time when he too, was a youthful, and much thinner skater. Likewise, like I reminisced of my childhood days in the arcades at the Jersey shore through his store full of video games. To put it simply, and way less Freudian, we hit it off. And we discovered that we could help each other out a bit.
See, Kevin does lots of business in the NY/NJ area, he has lots of clients and a little bit of luck. But luck is what someone like Kevin deserves because of his genuine dedication, interest, and love for pinball and his business—if you give all you can to something, it will eventually treat you well in return (at least that what I have learned). Kevin luckily stumbled across the opportunity to have one of his pinball machines showcased on 102.7 FM's The Opie and Anthony Show in New York. For those of you who never heard of it, surely you have heard of Howard Stern. Well, Opie and Anthony are the first ever show to pose a serious threat to Stern's reign as king of the airwaves, and that's major. For lack of a long-winded explanation, let's just say they are the “next generation” Howard Stern Show, which, to most, is a good thing, since Stern can't go on forever. (It's a compliment guys, don't freak out on me.)
So Opie and Anthony begin to regularly play, and discuss, Kevin's pinball machine on the air, and then they decide to smash it with a sledgehammer on the air as well—destruction equals ratings. All the while, Kevin is getting tons of plugs and promotion for his donation, not to mention getting aquatinted with Opie, Anthony, and others at the station. Once the machine is annihilated, Kevin is asked to donate another, which he gladly does (a Terminator 2 machine). Time passes and another 102.7 show that follows Opie and Anthony, Ron and Fez, decides they want to have a pinball tournament, sponsored by Kevin, live on the air with the T2.
After sealing the deal on my Tron machine, Kevin thought it would be cool to invite me, the “journalist,” to the upcoming pinball tournament. Since any such event is bound to be full of debauchery and story potential, I gladly accepted...
The Big Night
March 28, 2002: Kevin was already at the station with an extra “emergency” T2 in his van downstairs in case the one in the studio crapped out. I had to meet one of Kevin's pinball soldiers, John, at the showroom and wait for a ride from Matt Devoti, a 102.7 employee. He picked us up and we sat in rush hour tunnel traffic, while Kevin stressed in the green room fixing the machine up and calling John (riding shotgun) on his cell every five minutes—I could hear Kevin's voice as it projected into John's skull from the back seat where I was sitting. He speaks loudly, to say the least.
Ron and Fez go on the air at 7 p.m. We got to the station at 7:02. Walking through the lobby, John and I were introduced as the “pinball guys” to a herd of anxious, ready-to-win-the-contest pinball geeks. They all cheered for us as we walked away. Luckily, Opie and Anthony were running late with a live performance from millennium glam rockers, Sevendust. While walking through the post-performance mayhem, I stepped on one of their feet. Normally I would be apologetic to such celebrities, but didn't really care because their record is a mediocre turd to me.
At first glance, Kevin was leaning into the open, blinking machine, sweating profusely, and beet red. He and John discussed some pinball nerd mumbo jumbo. It's all foreign to me— something about wires, and soddering irons, and flippers. I was just there for free beer and a story to tell my kids (when I have them). I was able to snap one photo of Kevin in “stress mode” before Al Dukes, the lame-ass, balding “producer” told me I couldn't take pictures. Evidently, no one at Ron and Fez wants the public to see how fat and old they are or something. I was introduced to Opie who was a super cool guy. As it turns out, a magazine I work with, Stance, is doing a story on he and Anthony, so we had plenty to talk about. On top of this, there was free Samuel Adams (which John, Kevin, and I took full advantage of), and a host of white trash, (but cute) barely legal-looking girls running around in their underwear, feeling each other up and making out. It was Fez's birthday, so they were celebrating with tons of chicks that wanted to come in, expose themselves, and tongue tango with each other on the air.
As the show progressed, the T2 was miraculously rigged to playable status. It was funny to see all the pinball kooks trying to study the machine, only to have the high strung dweeb of a producer yell at them. Even other players would accuse those who were just checking the machine out, of some sort of “cheating.” I bet cooler people attend Star Trek conventions, if you know what I mean.
The pinball contest got underway. The audience was given live contest updates and comedic interludes from the green room via Al Douche and a now, way less tense McHugh. Each player was given three balls and was paired against with another contestant. One game at a time, the duos played, and when the last ball dropped, the player with the lower score was eliminated. Girls made out all around us and flashed their little trailer park “we aren't 21 yet” boobies at the pinball contestants. Others lurked about the studio, smoked in the corner behind Dukes' back, drank beer, and ate off the big-budget radio station “dessert buffet,” which was a stool with Funny Bones, Tasty Kakes, and Chocodiles on it.
Hours passed and the pinball contest rejects began leaving. Things quieted down even further during the final round as the soon-to-be-winner, Eric Cardinale from Bradley Beach NJ, who seemed to be inseparable from his backpack, wearing it for the entire 5 hours—even during play, was just killing it (way into the multi-millions) on his first ball. He kicked ass and won a Fireball pinball machine from Kevin and ClassicPinball.com. The runner up, Kevin Somebody from Newark, NJ lost badly, but he was just genuinely psyched to have been a part of it all—as all of us were. Thanks Kevin, thanks Classic Pinball, thanks 102.7 WNEW, thanks Samuel Adams, and thanks young lesbians. No thanks Mr. Dukes—uptight producer who only let me snap one picture for this article and yelled at the smokers all night—grow a personality and a sense of humor, and learn about what might makes things interesting for your audience.
July 5, 2005
Heather Christensen was voted Playboy's Lingerie Model of the Year for 2001. She was also my first feature interview for Stance (and ever for that matter). If you search hard enough online, you'll find some lovely photos of her "modeling" lingerie.
Much like with my Rachel Perry feature, I had the idea to have Heather advise the Stance audience on how to score with hot chicks like herself and a few pointers for the ladies in the audience who might want to start skateboarding. However, the advice column got the axe, but I have included it here.
By Rob Brink
Stance January 2002
The cover was black, with a big silver bunny on it…
I was around seven or eight years old when I reached the minimum height to make a grab at the magazines sitting on the hallway closet shelf in my old New Jersey home. I plucked one from the piles, but before I had a chance to open it I heard my mom: “Bobby! What are you doing up there?” I quickly placed the magazine back and acted like I wasn't up to high jinks. I yearned to get my little mitts on those inaccessible periodicals. Days later, Mom told me she was going to the store. I watched her drive away and bolted up to the closet only to find the shelf an empty void—the magazines were gone. Mom had foiled my plan.
Seventeen years later, Mom wasn't thrilled when I told her I was lucky enough to have interviewed Heather Christensen, Playboy's 2001 Lingerie Model of the Year. When I showed my dad Heather's layout, he acted disinterested—like he doesn't have a penis, and never had a few years' worth of Playboy stacked in our old hallway closet.
Despite my parents' lack of enthusiasm, Heather Christensen is a dream combination—a Playboy model who rides a skateboard. Actually, I should say, a skateboarder who models for Playboy. She was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where she began skating four years ago. Out of pure boredom, she packed up and moved to Tampa, Florida when she was twenty. Although sick with a stomach virus on a Friday afternoon, Heather was kind enough to answer my questions.
What got you started in skateboarding?
Actually, my ex-boyfriend. His friends all skated, and I used to go with them to the skatepark in Cleveland every now and then. I thought, “Ya know, I'm pretty athletic and I am not really scared of things. I should try this—it would give me something to do in the wintertime because it's so cold.” So I went to the skatepark every day by myself. Then one day I learned to drop in on this little mini ramp at Changa World Skatepark, and I got so excited I just kept going and learning other little things.
What kind of board do you ride and what terrain do you like to skate?
An old-school board that's bigger and heavier, with risers and big wheels. I skate vert a lot—I like ramps. I don't skate street very well at all. I like skating pools. If we find a pool, we'll go and clean it out and skate it.
What was your worst slam?
Oh god, at Skatopia in Ohio I fell on this metal ramp and broke my arm in half. My watch basically held my arm together. My friends had to drive me an hour and a half to the hospital--I was screaming the whole way. I had to have surgery. I was like the Hellraiser guy--they took these giant pins and drilled them into my bone and they were all sticking out through the skin. It was like that for six weeks. Then my boyfriend dumped me. It was the worst thing ever.
Does Playboy airbrush out your scars?
Yeah, they do. They airbrushed all the scars off my arm from when I broke it. Then they do my knees, my freckles—they airbrush quite a bit. Anyone who sees me in real life knows I don't look like that.
Learn any new tricks lately?
The last trick I learned was axle stalls on mini. But I need someone to push me to step up my skating. Anthony [Furlong] doesn't skate with me--we go off and do our own separate things. He gets frustrated because I don't listen to him. I'm too stubborn.
Anthony took you to Woodward right?
Yeah, all these little kids would come up to me and freak out and be like, “You're Anthony Furlong's girlfriend? Can you steal us his underwear? We'll do anything if you can get us some stuff.”
Is there anything specific about skateboarders that's more attractive than the average guy on the street?
I think so. I hate to say it, but I tried dating other guys who weren't skaters, and they're just not the same. At least you know guys who skate can fix things because they know how to use a wrench. And they have some brains, because you have to be smart and creative to learn how to skate and think of lines and stuff. So usually they're smart and they are handy around the house [laughs].
So what were you doing before Playboy?
When I turned eighteen my family didn't have any money for college. I was determined to go to school. My friend and I were in study hall one day and we saw an article in the newspaper “Dancers—Five-Hundred Dollars Nightly.” We were like “Five hundred dollars!” So I started working in a topless strip club--it was a lot of fun. Then one day a scout from Playboy came in and found me. I didn't even want to be in there [Playboy]. I was just thinking “Money for school.” I can have a career out of it if I want to, but its like, “Do I finish school like I want to, or take advantage of these other opportunities while they last?” It's a tough decision.
You're studying to be a Veterinarian?
I feel it's what I'm supposed to do—I love animals, and I care about the planet. I want to go into reptiles—Anthony and I have a reptile house with turtles, snakes, lizards, and frogs.
Any other hobbies?
I have a ‘68 Mustang that I'm restoring. I've been working on that and putting money into it.
I can't even change my own oil. My dad does it for me.
Heather's Advice Column
What specific things do you look for in a man? What turns you off about guys?
They have to be really down to earth, really calm, and not getting all riled up about everyday life. I like someone who can handle their stress, chill out, and realize that there is more to life than getting stressed over traffic or money. Turn offs? The meatheads. I hate that. I can't stand a guy spending so much time in front of the mirror. I don't like guys that primp a lot. No primping!
Say a guy wants to talk to you. How does he get your attention?
I hate to say it but if a guy does something really stupid in public. Like funny stupid. If he makes everyone laugh or makes an ass of himself—like a clown. I think it is funny—just because they don't care what everyone thinks. That gets my attention.
Now that skating is getting bigger and more girls are getting involved (finally) do you have any advice for girl skaters?
Don't get discouraged if you don't find other girls to skate with. Eventually you will find someone and they will probably end up being one of your best friends. I finally found two girls that skated and they are my closest friends now. Just keep skating if it makes you happy. Don't get scared if the guys are whizzing by you at 100mph. Chances are they will let you skate, so just charge it.
It is good now, there are more girl companies like pads and shoes. There is more stuff that fits us. So it is better. We have more opportunities now than ever.
Lots of girls complain about how they had a rough time dating a skater. Any advice for girls who are trying to cope with a skate-addicted boyfriend?
Yeah that is because they can't handle the fact that their boyfriend skates and pays attention to their skateboard and not them. You have to at least find someone who understands. Girls should skate a little bit, at least try it. If you don't want to skate, enjoy it for what else it has to offer. Even if you don't skate, the people are good people and you make a lot of friends. Don't get frustrated over it.
July 5, 2005
Jonathan Davis' Serial Killer Museum
Stance December 2002
Jonathan Davis is the front man for one of the most influential metal bands in recent times. He is adored by millions, he is dating the adorable porn star Devon, he has his own record label, he is rich, and just when you though he couldn't get any cooler—he goes and announces the opening of his serial killer museum in Los Angeles.
As if the time he spent working in a morgue when he was younger wasn't enough exposure to the grotesque, Davis has been accumulating art and other items by serial killers for years. He is now collaborating with artist Joe Coleman and true crime artifacts collector and archivist Arthur Rosenblatt to build a home for his extensive collection of murderer memorabilia.
A few things his museum include:
- The "Pogo" and "Patches" clown suits worn by John Wayne Gacy when he entertained kids at his local children's hospital, (before he decided to murder 33 people).
- Original drawings by Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker." Ramirez felt that he was a disciple of Satan and killed 13 people because of it.
- Ted Bundy's old Volkswagen. (The one he picked up his murder victims in.)
- A confession letter from cannibal Albert Fish, written in 1928. Fish killed over 100 children and detailed the murders in letters that he sent to the victim's families. Fish was also known for inserting needles into his groin as some sort of sado-masochitic thing he had going on. Later, when he was put in the electric chair and the lever was pulled, the chair shorted out from all the metal in his body, and the execution had to be rescheduled.
July 1, 2005
Deadsy is another interview I pushed for with Stance really hard. They graciously agreed (probably just to shut me up) and I was pretty psyched. The band ended up putting this piece on their site after it ran in the mag. I have included the actual print article followed by the full unedited, and lengthy (but Deadsy fans will be stoked I'm sure) interview with Elijah Blue Allman (Deadsy's founder and frontman).
By Rob Brink
Stance Magazine August 2002
Ordinary people must wonder how it is growing up the child of celebrities, and how it could propel one into stardom instantly. Elijah Blue Allman (son of Cher and Greg Allman) doesn't deny the perks, but explains, "Privilege definitely doesn't lend any credibility to your existence, so you better have something special to attract people into your life."
That special something was forming Deadsy with a few of his buddies from private school back in the mid 90s. The roster has evolved into the pseudonymed: P. Exeter Blue I (vocals, synthesizer, guitar), Dr. Nner (synthesizers), Alec Püre (drums), Creature (bass), and Carlton Megalodon (Z-tar). And Deadsy is attracting people. Korn, Coal Chamber, Orgy, and Sugar Ray (to name a few) are all in the band's corner, but Blue started Deadsy two years prior to meeting all those bands. "That's in the pudding—they saw what we were doing warranted respect. However, our association with them in no way, shape, or form endorses that [nü metal] scene. It's nothing really of substance, just an embarrassment, and will change in two seconds to be something else horrific."
Deadsy's first "official" release is due this summer, however, the record has been in label limbo since its original release date in 1997. Most of the songs on Commencement are four to seven years old, so their presence is a testament to the music being ahead of its time. "We have that gift of foresight, and that's the pixie dust of this band, so hopefully that will let us have a lengthy career." After being canceled two times and adding and scrapping a few tracks, Commencement finally found shelter with Korn's Jonathan Davis and Dreamworks Records. Deadsy embraced the delays to learn about the dark side of the music industry, and used the time to grow and prove its resilience.
"Those labels signed someone they didn't believe in and wouldn't release [Commencement] because they were too busy trying to figure out what the next band about to last for two seconds was. It's so funny how I've watched these idiots at record labels believe in shit more than our project. Look at our staying power, even with no record out. Say a kid is going to be the next Jane's Addiction. The labels are going to browbeat him, and whatever magic he had is lost. We could be hearing all these bands with genuine talent, but labels make the kids conform. So when you hear us, it's like, 'F—k!' Maybe it isn't because we are that good, but at least it's different than what's going on. I want Deadsy to show this new kind of sonic severity—the sonic hurricane." Well put, because Deadsy has been loosely described as electro and goth meets death metal, and as specifically as Gary Numan meets Type O Negative.
It seems Deadsy is frequently associated with the recent resurgence of 80s new-wave styled bands that seem to be cropping up all over the place. Mainstays like Orgy, Marilyn Manson, and The Deftones have covered tracks from synth legends like New Order, Soft Cell, and Depeche Mode, and even on the indie circuit, several groups are making waves of their own. The Vue crept onto the Sopranos soundtrack with "Girls." Songs from The Faint's Danse Macrabe have become dance-floor necessities, Pleasure Forever has been getting kudos from critics for its 2001 self-titled album, and VNV Nation's FuturePerfect was one of the most anticipated releases of 2002. But none so far have had the crossover potential as Commencement.
While Deadsy's appeal might seem geared for the masses, its message is high in concept—from prep school thematics and lengthy manifestos on the deadsy.com site to lyrics that follow the ancient book of Urantia. Although he doesn't intentionally set out to "teach," Deadsy will intensify its role as an instrument of learning.
"The education is the by-product." says Blue. "Things are always more interesting when you place them inside a context, because there is more of a purpose. If people would just get with the program, that's the next wave of music. There aren't going to be any more Whos, Zepplins, or Beatles, so why don't we just exist in this strange limbo of high-concept, weird art project bands? After all, music is another branch of art.
July 1, 2005
Rachel Perry was, by far, the most real and charismatic "celebrity" I have ever worked with. After we met for lunch and this interview, she took me up to VH1's wardrobe area to be fitted for an appearance and tried numerous outfits on (and removed them) in front of me.
By Rob Brink
Stance Magazine March 2003
Rachel Perry will eat food off your plate and has a mouth like a truck driver. She cuts the necks on her shirts down to show extra skin and isn't afraid to use toilet humor, talk about her boobs, or strip down in broad daylight in Manhattan to take photos. She'd probably do it even if the camera wasn't there, and that's what makes her fun. Rachel grew up in Canada, eh, and used to make skateboarding videos with her buddies and go to punk shows for fun. She has since left the motherland and relocated to New York City to work for VH-1 as host of All Access (in addition to whatever other random stuff they have her do), where we hear her voice more than we see her face, which sucks. But Rachel is a busy girl (she recently did commentary for the Gravity Games), and at only 26 years old, there's definitely more of her to come.
Your manager sent me a tape of you broadcasting from the Warped Tour a few years ago and getting pelted with bottles.
I was working for Much Music. It was the year that Blink 182 and Ice-T were on it. We wanted to go film from up on the ramp so that you could see the stage in the background. Every time we would go up there to do my read, bottles would come flying, and I had my back turned to the crowd. My cameraman could at least see them coming and dodge them. So we gave up for a minute and the bottles stopped. Then we went back out and it started again. So we gave up again, and then went out a third time and a bottle goes whizzing right by my head. At that point, I'd had enough.
I kind of like the irreverence of the crowd at an event like that. You would never see anyone throwing bottles at Carson Daly at the MTV beach house or something.
Yeah, they didn't do it because it was me or because I was the media. It was just because I was there and they had bottles—I was a victim.
How did you get the Gravity Games gig?
Well, I guess they saw my [Warped Tour] tape and liked my light, fun style. They asked me if I knew about skateboarding, and I told them, "I like that shit."
You looked so different on that tape than you do in person and in the Stuff magazine photos, I mean. Obviously there was some airbrushing...
Not really! What do you mean? That video was like four years ago. But they airbrush out any armpit stubble, and they airbrush under the boobs to make them took bigger. It's not that airbrushed, it really isn't.
Is it weird seeing yourself like that?
Not really, but it's weird that my grandmother saw it. She called me and told me how lovely my tattoos were because she never saw them before.
Now the same guys who pleasure themselves to Carmen Electra are pleasuring themselves to you.
I don't think of myself as this sexy chick like a Carmen Electra. I hope I attract a different kind of guy than that. I don't have those big old fake boobs-not that there's anything wrong with them. I like my boobs, and I think I have nice boobs. B-cups are good. And because I don't have big boobs it saves me a lot of the weeding-out process with the guys who go for big tits, but I still meet my share of jerks.
Its a bit strange with all these men's magazines out now. A girl can become famous just by being a hot chick. And not even be an actress or have talent or anything. Like Sharon Stone-does she even work anymore? All she does is show up at premieres and look good.
Oh, you mean like Paris and Nicky Hilton? Oops! Did I just say that? Those girls will show up to the opening of a phone book. Everyone knows who they are. They are everywhere. It's like a big joke.
So are you working your way into movies?
I hope so. That's how I got into all these other things in the first place. I've always been high energy, I like to have fun and play dress up. When I'm in the wardrobe room at VH-1, I'll run around in my underwear. I just like fucking with people, making them laugh, and entertaining people.
What kind of music are you into?
I go through phases. My staple music is punk and hardcore—Minor Threat, Black Flag. This summer I listened to a lot of hip-hop. I also like Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash.
You have different taste than most people your age.
When grew up, there was the first wave of boy bands. I was sort of a weird kid, and I didn't listen to New Kids On The Block—I was busy listening to Led Zeppelin, Elvis, The Doors, different stuff. Depeche Mode was the first concert I ever went to—I was thirteen. The second was Fugazi.
Are there any bands that you were a fan of, but once you met them you thought they were lame?
Weezer. They are a really difficult interview. They just gave one-word answers and were very purposefully difficult. It took me a long time to even listen to their music after that.
Who were you most excited to interview?
David Bowie. And he was awesome—the easiest, coolest interview I have ever done. I interviewed Johnny Knoxville once. I was kind of scared to interview him because I thought he might be a real jerk, but he was really nice, and I ripped his chest hair out.
Do you have a boyfriend?
I'm dating, seeing a couple guys, but it's nothing serious.
Ever date any famous people?
Oh. Okay then. Which guys were you into at the Gravity Games?
T.J. Lavin is pretty hot. All those sports, that's the kind of guy I'm attracted to. I like guys who are a little dirtier, not the pretty boy type. In my opinion, those sports have the best-looking guys. But maybe that's because they like the music that I like, and they have the build that I like, and they're dirty and gnarly and have scars. You know, now that I think about it, Cory Nastazio is pretty hot, too.
Owen Wilson. I loved him in Royal Tenenbaums when his shirt was off and his gut was showing. Johnny Knoxville is hot, too
but they're like dirty guys, you know? I don't care if a guy is out of shape or any of that stuff. I can't deal with pretty boys. Brandon Boyd of Incubus is hot, but he's too pretty.
What about skateboarders?
I don't know. I can't think of any.
June 29, 2005
After pitching a Kylie Bax story to Stance for months in hopes to spend a few minutes in her presence, I ended up having to interview her via telephone. Not quite what I had planned, but even over the phone, she's hot as hell. The first interview is how it appeared in the mag, followed by the full interview with some stuff that never made it to the Stance article.
By Rob Brink
Stance Magazine May 2003
You may not have heard of Kylie Bax yet, but she's everywhere. You know all those fashion magazines that your mom or sister or girlfriend reads that reek of perfume and weigh a ton? Kylie's most likely in them somewhere. As a supermodel, she's posed for the biggest names in fashion (not to mention Playboy, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and regularly appears in various men's magazines, usually wearing little clothing. The time she kissed Carmen Electra on the Howard Stern Show might go down in history as one of the sexiest moments on the program. Imagine hearing her New Zealand accent whispering in your ear as you read this interview and drool over these photos.
What was it like being hooked up to a lie detector on the Howard Stern Show?
I didn't know anything about a lie detector machine before I went on the show. I have no problem telling the truth, and I knew in a way the Stern show would make up their own truth anyway, even if I passed the lie detector. I knew they would switch some of the questions around with the answers they gave out. I love Howard, I think he's a great guy. I think he's cool, and he's really funny. It didn't bother me.
Are you considered a supermodel?
I guess I've been considered a supermodel since four months after I arrived in New York, about six years ago.
Is it weird having your career and fame based on your looks? Do you ever get worried about zits or maybe getting some sort of flesh-eating disease?
Well, I do get pimples-I'm human. It bugs me out when people don't realize that I'm human. I have bad hair days, and I break a lot of bones working and whatnot. I don't like pimples as much as the next girl.
Any modeling horror stories?
The worst thing was about eight weeks ago, when I broke my arm shooting in London. I fell
doing karate kicks and jumping around the studio.
What do you do when your arm's broken?
Panic, freak out, and wait for it to heal.
Have you ever fallen on the runway or anything like that?
I've noticed you choose wear a lot of see-through tops in runway shows.
Everybody does that. You're given what you wear by the designer and you have no say. That's fashion. You just wear it and do your job. I guess I'm uninhibited. I like my job, and I just do it and don't complain.
What do you do on a normal day when you aren't working?
Hang out with my friends. I like going to the gym, so I try to go every day. I'm friends with Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra, so we kind of have a meet and greet at the gym.
That seems normal. Who do you think is the hottest girl out there right now?
You have a boyfriend?
I do, but I never go into my personal life.
Do you need to date a guy taller than you?
No, I don't care.
On the average night on the town, how much do you get hit on?
All the time. Sometimes it's flattering and sometimes it's annoying, depending on the mood I'm in.
Say a normal guy like me sees you in a club or bar and wants to come up to you. What's the approach? Buy you a drink? Or go for stimulating conversation?
As long as you aren't a jerk. I really don't know—you have to just be normal. Any guy should compliment what a girl is wearing before he compliments her looks, because generally a girl takes time to think about what she wears when she goes out.
When is the world going to see more Kylie Bax?
My website, kyliebax.com, will be up soon. I have some acting and modeling stuff there. I had to fight for my name for the site. Some guy owned it, but it's my name so I had to go to court and I just got it back. I'm also selling a video at the moment. I took a crew over to Ibiza, Spain and we shot a Girls Gone Wild-type video called Wild Wild Wild in Ibiza with Kylie.
Are you the one flashing the camera and stuff?
No I'm the host. I'm fully clothed.
The Full Interview:
Kylie: Hi Robert how are you?
Good, just anticipating some snow, which kind of sucks.
I'm afraid I can't commiserate, I'm in Los Angeles and it's sunny.
LA or NY? Which do you like better?
Didn't you just answer that question? Definitely LA.
What about back in New Zealand? Do you have family there?
Everybody lives there; I go back there once a year. I have a brother in Florida too.
I found your stats in the Internet and just wanted to confirm:
Birthplace, Thames, New Zealand; height, 5 foot 10 inches, bust, 34 inches; waist, 24 inches; hips 34 inches; hair, blonde?
I have no idea I haven't measured it in years. I'm a woman, waist and hips and bust, they go up and down all the time I guess?
Eyes are blue?
My eyes are green.
See, you can't trust the Internet all that much. Are you considered a supermodel?
I've been considered a supermodel since four months after I arrived in New York about six years ago.
Is it weird having your career and fame based on your looks?
Do I think its weird?
Yeah. Do you ever get worried about zits or maybe getting some sort of flesh eating disease?
Well I do get pimples. I'm human. It bugs me out when some people don't realize that I'm human. I have bad hair days, and I break a lot of bones working and whatnot. I'm just, you know, human. I think it bugs me out more than anyone else. I don't like pimples as much as the next girl.
Who is the ultimate model in your opinion?
Other than blowing and tooting my own horn, everyone is the industry has their own specialty and is recognized for their own uniqueness. But when I was in New Zealand and I was a kid, my idol was Linda Evangelista, and I based my career in the beginning on wanting to be like her.
What's your ultimate career goal?
I think I have achieved all of those about three times over maybe. I mean I guess I can keep going and do it four or five times over.
What was the worst modeling gig you ever did? Any horror stories?
Not really. The worst thing was about eight weeks ago. I broke my arm modeling. Shooting in London I fell doing karate kicks and jumping around the studio.
What do you do when your arms broken then?
Panic, freak out, and wait for it to heal.
Did you ever fall on the runway or anything like that?
You wear a lot of see-through tops that show your boobs off in runway shows. Do you volunteer to wear that?
Everybody does that. But you get given what you wear by the designer and you have no say. That's fashion. You just wear it and do your job.
Why do you think you are so uninhibited? Or is it just that you are dedicated to your work?
I guess I'm uninhibited, I just like my job and I just do it and don't complain
Who do you like better surfers or skateboarders?
Either or I guess. I kind of like surfing better than skating although I do like Tony Hawk a lot. I don't mind anything really though.
Are you still doing any acting?
I prefer modeling, but I still go on auditions. I'm doing a lot of modeling at the moment
sort of full on doing that. I really love to model so its good that I can get back to work after breaking my arm.
I read that you were in a movie with Dolph Lundgren, the infamous Ivan Drago from Rocky 4. Is he cool?
That was a real long time ago. I did two movies with him actually. Dolph is a friend of mine. It was one of the first movies I ever did and it freaked me out a little bit. He's a really nice sweet man, and he has a great wife.
What was it like being hooked up to the lie detector on the Stern show?
I didn't know anything about a lie detector machine before I went on the show. I have no problem telling the truth, and I knew in a way the Stern show would make up their own truth anyway, even if I passed the lie detector or not, I knew they would switch some of the questions around with the answers they gave out. But it was fun. I love Howard, I think he's a great guy, I think he's cool and he's really funny. It didn't bother me, I thought it was really good fun.
What do you do for fun when you aren't working? Like, what's a normal day for you?
Hang out with my friends, I like going to the gym so I try to go to the gym everyday. I'm friends with Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra, so we kind of have a meet and greet at the gym.
You have a boyfriend?
I do but I never go into my personal life.
Do you need to date a guy taller than you?
No, I don't care.
Are you opposed to dating non-celebrities?
I have dated non-celebrities before.
Who's hotter, The Croc Hunter or Crocodile Dundee?
Do you think you could kick Xena's ass?
I wouldn't want to, she's cool. I don't know her but she's from New Zealand and you don't kick your own people's asses.
Who do you think is the hottest guy out right now?
What celebrities did you have crushes on before you were famous?
On the average night on the town, how much do you get hit on?
All the time. Sometimes it's flattering and sometimes it's annoying, depending on the mood I'm in.
Say a normal guy like me sees you in a club or bar and wants to come up to you. What's the move? Buy you a drink, ask you to dance, go for stimulating conversation?
As long as you aren't a jerk. I really don't know—you have to just be normal and not “hit” on me.
Give some advice to our young male audience on how to get the girl they are after. They need to hear it firsthand, from the mouth of a hot chick like you.
Any guy should compliment what a girl is wearing before he compliments her looks, because generally a girl takes time to think about what she wears when she goes out. And even if she didn't she likes you to know that she looks good.
What kind of music are you into?
Rock. At the moment I like Puddle of Mudd, Aerosmith, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, just to name three.
What was the first concert you went to?
Where was that?
Are you still a fan of him?
Yeah, he's cool.
Was this interview boring?
No. Not at all.
When is the world going to see more Kylie Bax? Anything in the works?
In a couple weeks my website, Kyliebax.com, will be up. I have some acting and modeling stuff there. I had to fight for my name for the site. Some guy owned it, but its my celebrity name. I had to go to court and I just got it back.
I'm also selling a video at the moment. I took a crew over to Ibiza in Spain and we shot a Girls Gone Wild-type video called Wild Wild Wild in Ibiza with Kylie.
Is it all you like, flashing the camera and stuff?
No I'm the host. I'm fully clothed.
June 29, 2005
This is the Beetlejuice interview as published in Stance Magazine May 2003. Some lovely soul actually scanned it an put it online. However, I've posted the full, never-before-seen, highly-explicit and unedited version right here, as well as some photos from the night of the interview. Enjoy.
By Rob Brink
Stance Magazine, May 2003
The world isn't ready for Beetlejuice, but he's already arrived. A rare species, Beetle may not even be human. He's small but don't call him a midget. The circumference of his head is a mere 15 inches. His teeth and eyes protrude from his little skull as if you were squeezing it in a vise.
Beetle was introduced to the world via the Howard Stern Show, and has since entertained millions with his antics through his dwarf tossing parties, role in the movie Bubbleboy, and appearances on the Smut Peddlers CDs and in adult films. With the recent release of his new reality DVD, Beetle Uncensored, there is no telling how much of a phenomenon Beetle will become.
Beetle has done a lot in his short span as a superstar. Part of his brilliance is that he's not acting. Beet has made it to the top simply by being himself—and there's a lot to be said for that. He doesn't need to create a façade like so many of today's celebrities do. So be warned: what you are about to read may sound outrageous—it may even shock or offend you. But it is all real.
Rob Brink: Where are you from Beetle?
Beetlejuice: Where do you think I'm from?
No, I'm not from Jersey City. I'm fucking from fuckin' Honolulu with fuckin' pussies all over the fuckin' place. How does that sound motherfucker?
Damn! In Honolulu you get pussy?
God damn right. I'm the fuckin' king. King of the pussy. King of all dwarfs and pussies.
How old are you now?
Me? What you think I got this beard for? I'm an old motherfucker.
I'm not 25. How old do you think I got right now? I'm about hundred years older than you dude.
No, 137 years old. I'm 50 years old man. I'm older than hell. I'm about a hundred years old. I was born in 1962. I'm about a hundred years old right now. I'm not kidding.
How are the Beetle Uncensored sales going?
Sales? 700 bucks.
I have it.
Well, that ain't got nothing to do with it.
Ok. How come you're always naked in the DVD?
Cuz I like eating pussy that's why I like getting naked. I walk around the store naked. I like going to the gas station naked. That's what I do for a living.
You pump gas naked?
That's right. I do it for a living.
When you guys went to sleep on the Beetle Uncensored billboard why did you fall on Sean trying to climb up the ladder?
Billboard? I knocked his [Sean: Beetle's Manager] ass down cuz I felt like it.
Sean: We were going to cuddle up there to keep warm.
Fuck you and your cuddling bullshit.
Why don't you cuddle?
What the fuck you mean cuddle? Fuck him. I don't cuddle. What the fuck I want to cuddle him for? I don't cuddle him. I eat pussy while I cuddle his wife. I fuck his wife instead of him—doesn't make a difference.
How come you didn't win when you ran for senator in New York?
Why'd I win? Cuz I'm a fuckin' taxpayer that's why the fuck I didn't win.
Sean: Hillary [Clinton] cheated.
Hillary cheated on me; she's a bitch. It was in 1962. It was a long day in '62.
What did Hillary Clinton do to you?
Know what Hillary Clinton did to me, know what he called me?
She's a bitch. Know what? She fucked me over—that's what she did.
We was married in '68. A long time ago. '61. We've been married for years. Cuz I've been the fucking king for years. What the fuck?
What about your wife Katiejuice?
Oh you don't want to know about my wife. You don't want to know about that shit. Don't want to talk about that. She came home. She sucked my dog's balls. I came home one day, right? I said Katie, what are you doing licking my dog's balls?
How long did you date Pamela Anderson for?
Pamela Anderson? Well, I was dating her for two years. I've been married to her for 5 years.
Didn't you dump her for J-Lo?
Well, I dumped her cuz she's been fuckin him, so I say ‘yeah, you want to marry the motherfucker go ahead.
Did you have to kick Ben Affleck's ass to get to J-Lo?
When I get to him I'm gonna break his fuckin' neck.
What was it like serving in World War II?
World War II? I've been in the army for fuckin' three years.
You still play basketball for the Lakers?
I used to play for the Lakers. I have a friend who play for the Lakers. Shaq—a ball player.
You were in the movie Bubbleboy?
Yeah, I own that. I'm the one that own that.
You own Bubbleboy? Is that why you and Sean are working on getting you a star on the Walk of Fame?
No, he ain't do it, I own it. I did this whole thing myself.
Just me. I did it on my own.
What do you think of skateboarders?
I don't dig skateboarders. I don't deal with skateboarders. Only thing I think about is pussy. Pussy and girls.
Can you spell pussy?
Wait, can you spell it again?
Sean: What's you favorite thing on a girl? Nice firm…
Nice firm pussy.
Sean: No nice firm…
Nice firm cock.
On a girl?
No I'm serious. I eat firm cock for a living. I take it like a man.
How's Howard Stern doing? He's a good friend of yours right?
Howard Stern is my friend, but I don't want nothing to do with him. It's my money, I do what the fuck I want. He got his money and I got mine.
Could you kick his ass?
Who? Do I want to kick Howard Stern ass? No I'd never do it; he's my best friend. I went to school with him. I do what I had to do. I changed his diapers since I was eight years old.
You changed Stern's diapers?
That's right. Howard Stern has been my friend since I was two years old.
And you guys went to college together?
We went to college together since we was two years old.
Do you know what school?
Yeah, I went to [undecipherable name of school] school for a living. It had pussy.
I went to a pussy school. I was a teacher there for a long time.
Sean: What's your favorite sexual position?
Straight up in the middle. Dwarfy style right in the middle. Either way you wanna go: sideways, backways, any ways. I could flip 'em over backwards, sideways, any way you want. I even did it to his [Sean's] wife.
Why would you fuck your friend's wife?
I did it cuz I wanted to please his wife. That's what I wanted to do. That's what I wanted to do!
What's the future hold for Beetle?
Beetlejuice? Well, the future is the same thing. It don't matter it don't make a difference. Future don't matter but as long as they have pussy to please their wives. I could please their wives.
Ted Newsome (Stance Editor at the time) vs. Beetlejuice
Hey Beetle do you know who Wee Man is from Jackass?
Fuck Jackass. Jackass could blow me. Fuck Jackass, all right pal? Jackass ain't got shit on me alright pal.
Why do you hate Wee Man so much?
Wee Man? Cuz he's a fuckin' midget, I hate his fuckin' ass.
He told me he could kick your ass.
What? Wee man thinks he's so tough, I'm going to knock his ass out in the second grade, what the fuck is he gonna do about it? Huh? I'm a real man. I laugh at midgets that fuck with me. How's that sound pal?
He said he gets way more pussy than you too.
Pussy? I eat more pussy than he ever had in his life. I get more pussy. I eat more pussy. I have sex every day. I eat pussy every day. What the fuck does he got? He ain't got nothing. What do he got? He ain't got shit.
Hey Beetle have you ever met Wee Man before?
Fuck Wee Man. I'll trash his ass. He ain't even got the balls, cuz I'll trash his ass.
Beetle, real quick, say "Check me out in the new Stance magazine."
Tough magazine, I'm the fucking toughest, all right? I'm the toughest guy in the fucking world.
Beetlejuice Vital Stats:
Birth Name: Lester Green.
Birthdate: June 2, 1968.
Birthplace: Jersey City, New Jersey.
Kids: None that he knows of, except for his two twin daughters.
Father: Deceased, "I gave him my liver before he died."
Sister: “I don't' remember how many I have, but its between two and twelve.”
Brothers: “I don't have any brothers, I just have a brother.”
Ran for New York State Senator in 2000 as an Independent. Had a campaign platform that included the following:
"Abortion makes me horny."
"Everyone should go to school for 44 years."
"Everyone gets $1,000,000 from the government and pays $22 a year in taxes."
College: graduated in 1968 (yes, the same year he was born) from "Pearl Harvard."
One talking parrot, that says the following phrases:
"I want to fuck you in the ass."
June 28, 2005
By Rob Brink
Stance Magazine, March 2002
When I learned I would be interviewing Todd McFarlane for the Freaks issue, I went to see a friend at the local music store that sells Todd's toys, and asked if he knew anything about Todd. His eyes lit up, “Yo, my brother would freak if he knew you were interviewing Todd!”
I soon realized that everyone I told either freaks out over Todd, or knows someone who does. From looking at all of his creations, I thought that Todd would be a freak himself, but he was a pretty normal guy. Sorry if that disappoints the McFarlane legions.
R: I am assuming you have a collection of action figures other than what you make?
T: No not really. It's weird because I didn't get into making toys because I collected a lot of toys. I got into making them because I felt that a lot of the stuff on the market was sub-par. One of the reasons I wasn't collecting any of it was because I thought it was a little stinky. Just because they said that's Spiderman doesn't make it so. It doesn't look, smell, or walk like him. I wasn't going to get sucked into it.
We started because of Spawn, the comic book. A bunch of toy companies saw it and approached me about doing a toy. I could tell from their attitude that they weren't going to get what Spawn was about, manufacture him really dopey, and put him next to the Sesame Street toys. Then complain that it didn't sell and hand it back to me two years later as a damaged good.
R: Do you base your choices on subjects that have commercial success, or that you personally dig them?
T: Both. If something is current you have to be concerned about commercial success of the lead item—let's say it's a movie. You want it to do well enough so that it has some bearing. The more eyeballs that see or hear about it, then the better chance you have of moving your other products. If it is an old license, let's say Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You are just doing it because you have an affinity for it, you don't necessarily think you are going to sell a lot of them.
R: What were the most difficult figures to design?
T: A line for Spawn called “Interlink 6.” It is 6 robots the can be put together to make one big robot. That one was an engineering nightmare.
R: What is your favorite figure that you designed?
T: I have a handful of them. Mandarin Spawn was cool for the feel and detail that it brought to the company. Dr. Evil was good because it was one of our early celebrity look-a-likes that I felt we actually captured really well. I have the very first Spawn next to my sink in the bathroom. Sometimes I think “This little guy started it all,” but then I think, “I would never make a toy look like this now. I would be belly aching if somebody showed me this toy.” At the time we got a lot of awards and accolades, like “Oh my god look at the detail and the cutting edge!”
R: Are there any other action figures other than your own that impress you?
T: Oh yeah. Less so when we first broke in, but over the years, I think we have forced other companies to get their act together. So I am seeing more examples of product that I think is pretty good. The big companies are still more erratic. They hit and miss a lot.
R: How about figures that you wanted to do but couldn't get the rights for?
T: I am a big Planet of the Apes fan, but that is an example of how you can't outspend the big companies for the rights. When big celebrities control their likeness, and their agents and managers think that toys cheapen their reputation, you can't do a lot of cool guys that you would love to do. If you look at at Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, or Sean Connery, they have played some pretty interesting characters, but we are sort of locked out.
R: A few people I spoke with are psyched on the Jaws stuff that's coming out.
T: Jaws is an interesting one because it's a pretty big departure from what you would consider an action figure. I knew when we went after the rights that we would have to get very inventive with it. It's more of a statue than a true toy.
R: Your action figures are very detailed but lack the articulation of some of today's figures. Is it possible to increase the articulation without forsaking the detail?
T: We do it on an individual basis. The Spawn Interlink toys are tremendously articulated. You have to look at your subject matter too. To have a guy like Jim Morrison, who wears pants and no shirt, have a bunch of joints on him would look dumb. I think it is more important to capture the essence of who Jim Morrison is, than to be able to put him in 15 different positions. The people who buy Jim Morrison are necessarily interested in “playing” with their toys. There are plenty of toys with playability, but there aren't a lot of toys that look good. I prefer to make it look good first, then figure out how to make them move afterwards.
R: My first action figure was Luke Skywalker. Do you remember your first or favorite one?
T: Action Man. You could buy costumes and dress him—like a boy's Barbie
and his bad guy, Dr. Evil—he was my favorite, with the blue skin and the brain showing. Another one called Major Matt Mason was an astronaut and he was bendy. Another guy from Major Matt Mason who had different buttons to press and his chest, eyes, and gun lit up. He had cool moon boots. I still have them all in a pillow sack. Can't say they are mint condition, but I have them.