In the late 1980's and early 1990's my parter Franco Palazzolo and I edited and published HYPE Magazine in New Yorks East Village
. A money losing labour of love, we are now putting all of the articles from issues one to twelve nto the public domain. This interview was originally published in HYPE NYC
, issue number one, April 1990.
Thom Corn Interviews Whiteboy
TC: Generationally, in terms of the different eras of graffiti writers, where do you see yourself?
WB: I'd have to say 2nd or next generation. My main thing is if you want to surface, you have to have your own style, whether its style in the classic context, like wildstyle, the stuff that's been accepted as the pinnacle, or style like, that's what you are representing yourself as...
TC: The bubble letters, they were out before, I've seen people using them again. I'm most familiar with "wildstyle" as the classic format of the recent past, bubble letters seem to me almost archaic. Comment...
WB: Well to me the funny thing is that bubble letters are like the Helvetica of the graffiti set...Its proven, its classical, and it pretty much represents something that's easy to read, and is standard. There's not a heck of a lot original about it except what you do with the bubble letters. I think of Wildstyle as really hard to read...its classical and it is the top of the line, but as far as something that is quick to throw up and easy to put out on the street, that's bubble letters.
TC: Where do you see your work fitting in, or is there a marketplace at all for your art, or is it free or what?
WB: Well the graffiti is free because the whole point is getting it out there... you know, steal a wall from the people and you put it back by giving them something they can appreciate, so its all public domain.
TC: So you believe in what you do as murals for the people, I like to think that way too...Is there anything you want to add?
WB: I want to say though, you're asking about bubble letters and where I'm at, but this thing is in a way, one reason I didn't do graffiti my first year in New York, like everyone said "Hit the Trains!" and a lot of people say I should have been doing it, well to me its out of respect for the writers at that time, you know these guys had been busting their asses since they were twelve years old, risking arrest and all. I wasn't about to be some White Boy from Connecticut coming down here and hitting up the trains, even though its like, no one reigns, and the trains are anyone's. I was respecting them by sitting back and appreciating instead of doing the shit, because at that point in time I didn't have a place on the trains no matter what you say, part of the thing about calling myself "Whiteboy" is you are who you are and everything is cool, but a lot of whiteboys used to try to be Black and it was, you know..."Hey high five Brother!" and this other stupid shit, they'd come to NY and "Bang!" they'd want to be a graffiti artist and I found when I went to Pratt Institute that they all like just came here from fucking Ohio and adopted that style of writing, you know, there was no original graffiti, they'd all like try to be a homeboy, but its like chill out..take your time and see what happens. But those people, too many had this "White Guilt" thing or wanted to be Black. And you know, you're a honky from Virginia, just chill out and see what comes...
TC: Right now in the realm of Aerosol Artists, Graffiti Artists, there is something afoot. Word on the street has it that some of the South Bronx crew, CRASH, DAZE, AONE and others like Lee Quinnones are going to be showing at the "Big House", the MOMA in the fall or whatever, what do you think of that as a development?
WB: In a way I'd say its long overdue, and in another way its great because it gives a new breath of life to the whole graffiti thing. Maybe it's best it didn't come back when it was in the galleries because now you've got people who might have become sedentary...you know, thought it was a past art form...now they're getting a second breath. Now they're being recognized as the kings they are. And other people who might have thought graffiti was gone may be inspired, they're gonna say, "Hey wow!" This is still happening...so it might start a whole street level thing from the bottom up.
TC: Lets talk about your tag "WHITEBOY". There is a lot of social, psychological implications there. Whats up with that?
WB: Well I originally pulled it...I used to play in a band in CT about 10 years ago, and I originally pulled it from "White Punks on Dope" by the Tubes. You know, we were all Punks, it was mostly a white boys movement at that time, you know, it didn't have anything to do with National Front or any of that shit. It was like...I'm a white boy and you're not and its all about, really, NO RACISM...people say it's racist but I think they say that because that's something they fear. The truth is that it just says, you know race is important... to understand one another, but don't get too carried away with it...laugh about it, chill out...you know things aren't that serious. There was a time when a woman sat down with me and said to me "You know you should change that tag, people are gonna think this and people are gonna think that..." When she was all done, I said "Well, maybe, but if I wrote ZIPPY-ONE you probably wouldn't even be talking to me...you just spent 20 minutes talking with me so I obviously got you thinking!" Yes it does make people think. It's like you can write any tag you want, but to me it's not so much how it looks, its all about the message.
And the message WHITEBOY pisses some people off, but if they really analyze why it pissed them off, it's really something inside themselves...its a racist tendency inside themselves, cause you should realize you're downtown, you're in Harlem, you're wherever...they don't call you Whiteboy at the Country Club. That's where the racists hang out man, no one calls you Whiteboy up there...So the whole point is making people just think about that shit and then...chill on it.
TC: Ok. HYPE.