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Danny Trejo

Interview by Richard Massie

Age:   Oh you’re gonna go there fucker!?

(Laughs) Okay never mind.

Ethnicity:   Mexicano. Chicano. Paisa.

Where were you born?   I was born in Maywood but we lived on Temple & Figueroa, that was in 1944.

You just gave away your age! (Laughs)

Where’s home?   Mission Hills – Pacoima

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?   Say my prayers and just lay in bed.

What did you eat for breakfast today?   Oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins, breakfast of champions.

So how did you get into acting?   By accident. I walked on the set of Runaway Train and ran into Eddie Bunker, my friend from prison. We were busted together when I was the San Quentin lightweight and welterweight champion. I was hired to train Eric Roberts for a boxing scene in the movie.

So you weren’t actually in the movie, you just trained the actor?   No no no… I trained Eric Roberts and the director, Andrei Konchalovsky, saw that I could handle Eric. He was a Russian director, really famous in Russia, but Eric didn’t like him. He wouldn’t listen to Andrei or anyone basically, but he was so scared of me that he would do whatever I said. So when the director saw that Eric listened to me, he hired me. I’ll never forget because they were supposed to give me $320 a day, then Andrei says, “You work with Eric, you fight Eric in movie.” I said, “Okay” then he kissed me on both cheeks and walked away. I looked at Eddie Bunker and said, “Okay Eddie look, I’m gonna train this kid for $320 but if I’m gonna be kissing this guy, I want some more money!” (Laughs) Eddie was like, “He’s not gay Danny, he’s Russian.”

Eddie actually said, “Thanks to you we finished this movie because we couldn’t get Eric to do a motherfucking thing.” He was all spun on coke and wouldn’t listen to anyone. So what I did was I got my cousin “Sidewalk Sal” to be Eric’s connection so he would do whatever we told him. (Laughs) Sal had the San Fernando valley sewed up with coke so I would have him come to the movie set and him and Eric became buddies.

So that’s the guy who ruined his career?   (Laughs) Nah his career was already ruined.

Talk about Eddie Bunker, how did you originally meet him?   The first time I met Eddie was on the streets in 1962 when my uncle Gilbert bought a robbery from him. Then the next time I saw him was in 1966 in Quentin when he saw me win the title. After that was when I ran into him on Runaway Train.

You said your uncle bought a robbery, what do you mean?   Eddie Bunker was a genius. He would plan out robberies and sell them. That actual robbery my uncle bought ended up being a scene in the movie Straight Time. Let me tell you something about Eddie, that guy actually bailed out of jail before and the cops put a bug on his car to follow him, and he pulled straight into the bank on Fairfax & 3rd and robbed it. Right out of jail, with cops following him, and got away.

Wow. I actually got to meet Eddie with you before he passed away! Gilbert (Danny’s son) and I went to meet you in Century City and I just remember taking a picture of him because he was this old ass white dude driving a corvette with a hat that said Compton on it. Fuck, I wish I still had that photo! 

Oh yeah I remember that.

I didn’t know who he was but Gilbert told me all about him after. Then when he passed away I ended up buying a few of his books. “Education of a Felon” is my favorite book of all time. “Little Boy Blue” is a great one too.

Yeah we’re gonna make “Little Boy Blue” into a movie eventually.

Okay so Runaway Train was your first movie, but what’s crazy is I feel like everyone knows you from Blood In Blood Out. That’s the first movie people mention but you had the smallest role, like did you even say anything in that movie?   Yeah I had a couple lines. But literally everyone knows me from Blood In Blood Out.

What’s your favorite line from Blood In Blood Out?   “La Onda don’t shine shoes.”

(Danny’s cell phone rings and he walks out the room for a second)

Okay so I don’t appreciate you answering the phone, I didn’t answer mine when it rang.   Oh shut up stupid! (Laughs) If Maeve (Danny’s ex-wife) calls you, you better answer. (Laughs)

Okay what else you got?

How much time did you spend in prison?   In total about 10 years. The last jolt was 5 flat.

For what?   I sold 4 ounces of pure sugar to a Federal agent, no drugs were involved. That motherfucker got mad. They beat the fuck out of me! They beat me all the way from North Hollywood to the Federal Building in Downtown L.A. and turned around and beat me all the way back. Richard, they beat me so much I liked it. I was like “I like that shit, hit me again motherfucker.” That was in 1965 when I got busted.

What’s the best advice someone’s given you?   “I’d rather have a mangy dog for a friend than an enemy.” -Eddie Bunker

Who inspires you the most?   My children.

What’s your favorite cereal?   Oh man, Raisin Brand. With a little milk and hot water, that’s what we used to do in the joint.

What’s your favorite cartoon?   Ninja Turtles. I’m actually working on that right now, I did voice overs for it today.

Who’s your favorite Ninja Turtle?  Donatello

Wow I was gonna guess that! I always ask people that question because I feel like it says a lot about the person they are. It’s like you like the one that you are more alike.

Okay so what’s your favorite movie of all time?   The Searchers with John Wayne

Favorite director?   Robert Rodriguez

Who’s your favorite actor?   Robert De Niro

What’s your favorite role that you’ve played?   I’d have to say Machete. I would’ve liked that movie even if I wasn’t in it. People always show me Machete pictures on the internet, they showed  me one that said, “Chuck Norris, never heard of her.” They’re like what do you think about this one Danny? I’m like, “Shit, I hope Chuck Norris doesn’t see this.” (Laughs) Me and Chuck are friends though.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen a fan do?   I was in New Mexico and my cousin goes, “Danny you gotta come down to this bar, I want you to meet this girl.” So I go to this bar and she had half of her head shaved with a Machete tattoo on the side of her head. Her husband came running in screaming for us to take a picture together. He was like, “That bitch wouldn’t let me get it tatted!” He wanted it. (Laughs)

That’s fuckin’ crazy.   Yeah I was like you guys are tippin’ me out. A lot of people have Machete tattoos, it’s crazy.

Okay where’s your favorite place to eat?   The Pantry Cafe in DTLA or Musso & Franks

Do you prefer more peanut butter or more jelly?   More peanut butter. They call it peanut butter & jelly because if you put the jelly first you can’t put the peanut butter on.

What’s the last song you listened to?   “Ain’t No Big Deal” by The Radiants

How many cups of coffee do you have a day?   Damn, about 8 or 9 – with a little cream. In the joint we used to drink coffee all day long.

What’s something that you have to do every single day?   Pray. I don’t really have to do anything else, go to work I guess.

What was your first job?   Working in a wrecking yard for 3-4 dollars an hour.

Did you graduate high school?   I got my diploma in San Quentin.

Do you still have it?   Yeah it’s somewhere.

I would have shit like that framed and up in my house if I was you – San Quentin diploma right next to a picture with De Niro.

What’s your favorite country that you’ve visited?   Rome, Italy. It’s beautiful, just unbelievable. There is streets and streets of shopping, you gotta tear up your daughter’s or wife’s credit cards before you get there.

Who haven’t you worked with that you would like to work with? Any actors or directors?   No. I mean I’ve done over 280 movies, I’ll work with anybody. Just let me know how much I’m getting paid. (Laughs) A lot of actors don’t like that I treat this industry like any other job. I’m the same as a painter, as a brick layer, this is my job. I just go to work and this is what I do. It’s special in everybody else’s eyes but it’s not special in my eyes.

What are you working on now?   I just finished Bad Ass 3 and I’m leaving to New York tomorrow for the Howard Stern Show.

Any last words?   “The whole world can think you’re a movie star but you can’t.” -Eddie Bunker

Richard Mendel Klotz

Interview by Richard Massie

Age: Oh shit, umm.. ageless.

Ethnicity: I guess Latino. I’m half Costa Rican and half Uruguay.

Where were you born? Hollywood, Ca.

Where’s home? West Hollywood – It’s a drag, I don’t like it. I mean my place is nice but the area sucks. It’s like Midtown Manhattan, such a dull crowd.

What do you do for a living? Design & Conceptualize

If you could have any job in the world what would it be? I already got the job.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Listen to NPR (National Public Radio)

Who inspires you the most? My mom.

Money, power, or respect? Respect

What’s your weakness? Women – women of the darker persuasion.

What’s your favorite book? The “Unauthorized Biography of Cocaine” by Dominic Streatfeild or “No Logos” by Naomi Klein

Favorite cereal? Raisin Brand

Do you have a favorite cartoon? Not really. As of recent I’ve been into Alice The Goon.

What’s your favorite song right now? “I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door” by Eddie Hodges

Drink of choice? Cabernet

Movie suggestion? Glengarry Glen Ross, that’s probably my favorite movie.

More peanut butter or more jelly? More peanut butter. I like my peanut butter chunky and funky. (Laughs)

What’s something you have to do every day? Eat and workout.

Have you ever taken acid? Yes

What would you tell someone that never has? Be prepared.

How old were you when you lost your virginity? 14. It wasn’t very memorable… But my first time “scamming” was! (Laughs) I was in 6th grade and her name was Tammy Macias. She would fight all the time but boy could she kiss!

If you could have a one night stand with any girl in the world who would it be? I’m not into one night stands anymore. It used to be a fun game, trying to figure out how to make my nights end with a happy ending.

What was your first job? I used to paint store signs in DTLA when I was 14.

Did you graduate from college? No. I had to drop out in my last semester because of Freshjive. I was working on Freshjive for about 6 months and I got $300,000 dollars in orders at our first trade show.

Was starting a clothing company what you wanted to do? I just wanted to start a clothing project. I was somewhat into fashion but I just wanted to show the various cultures I was into.

How do you feel about being considered a pioneer of street wear? I’ll accept that claim.

What was the first Freshjive t-shirt? The parody Tide logo.

Speak about when you walked away from Freshjive in 2001, what happened? I was just sick of the game. That book “No Logos” was a influence at that time. I just said fuck it and walked out. I had some money put away and the luxury of not thinking. I wasn’t planning on coming back.

How do you feel about the current state of street wear? I’m pretty removed from it now. I don’t like the tribalism of branding, that’s about it. I appreciate good ideas and the little authenticity that still lives. It used to be about selling authentic vibes back then. You had to authenticate what you were putting out by living it.

It’s kinda ironic now… Creating a piece of art on a t-shirt is easy as shit. It doesn’t mean anything to put a t-shirt on a rapper just to blow up. Popularity doesn’t equate good design. The problem, commercially speaking, is everyone is vying for the same look. Everything has to be the same, it’s choking.

What would you like to see more of and what would you like to see less of? I’d like to see more original ideas. More of Those Folks and less street wear bozos.

Any last words? Those Folks ain’t no jokes, local Venice homie locs, fat trees for smokes, deep cookie strokes, their mind provokes, those that evoke a hoax. Them Folks are yolks, lock, stock, and barrel blokes, dem motherfuckers even feeding homeless folks.

THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS "PEMEX"

Interview by Richard Massie

Age:  46 in my mind, 26 in real life.

 Ethnicity:  Native American and Spaniard. Put Mexican in perentheses.

Where were you born?  Martin Luther King Hospital in Compton, Ca.

Where’s home?  Home is where my art is.

What do you do for a living?  I sell art, paint murals, and do tattoos. Sometimes I sell drugs if I have to.

Did you graduate high school?  Hell no. I got my GED with honors and I went to 6 different high schools.

How long have you been doing graffiti?  For about… (counts his fingers) 9 years.

What got you into graffiti?  I used to draw girls’ names in like 5th-6th grade for Valentines Day or whatever. I started doing graffiti illegally from just skateboarding around and seeing “Lier” tags up. I knew he used to skate so I just started doing what he was doing, you know?

Did you know him?  Yeah, we were cool. He used to give me markers because he would “rack” them. He got into drugs though so I started hanging out with his little brother. Most kids that wrote graffiti were into hip-hop but “Lier” listened to punk rock so I thought that was cool.

You were really into punk rock huh?  Punk rock was the only thing that helped me deal with the shit at home. It was my getaway from family drama.

What’s your favorite punk band?  Eskorbuto from Spain

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done or saw at a punk show?  I had sex with a random girl on the side of the house from where this show was. On the grass, like not in the cut at all, just right there. She said she wanted to fuck me because of my mohawk.

What color was your mohawk?  Pink

Who are/were your biggest inspirations in graffiti?  In graffiti you can say that “Gkae” was when I first started. “Oiler” from COI, “Saber” and “Revok” from MSK, and “Siner” from LTS too.

What’s the best advice you were given?  Some of the best advice I ever received was from “Sedek” (R.I.P.) I’m getting chills just thinking about things he would say. The kind of person he was, he wouldn’t tell you something, he would suggest things and leave it up to you to figure out if it was good or bad. The best advice he told me was: “Why join somebody’s empire when you can start your own.” That’s what LOLc was to him and that’s what it became to me.

In your own words describe what graffiti is about:  Graffiti is about creating an identity for yourself and projecting it onto society for them to judge.

Who would you consider the best graffiti artists or most influential?  Wow, there’s so many… The top 5 to me are: “Ayer” LTS, “Revok” for sure, “Dream” TDK (Oakland) “Sedek”, and “Retna”. Oh, and “Reyes”.

If you could have any job in the world what would it be?  To design cars for Mercedes-Benz.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?  Check my pockets for my wallet, phone, and keys.

What is something you must do every day?  Draw

What’s your favorite tattoo that you’ve done?  Probably the four arm samurai I did on the homie “Doja”

Who’s your favorite Ninja Turtle?  Rafael, the responsible muthafucka.

He’s not the responsible one, Leonardo is.  No he’s not! Rafael is. He’s the one that makes executive decisions.

You’re wrong. Leonardo is the leader, he’s the logical one. Rafael doesn’t think before he acts.  Rafael is the one that saved April right?! He’s the G!

Who’s your favorite cartoon character?  I would have to say Bobby from Bobby’s World.

Favorite cereal?  Life

Favorite book?  “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

Favorite movie?  No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood.

Favorite past time?  Writing on things.

More peanut butter or more jelly?  Jelly

Thank you. I hate when people say more peanut butter.  That shit is so dry, that’s why niggas are so thirsty now n’ days.

When was the last time you were arrested?  Last year for public intoxication or pissing in public, not sure which one it was.

Isn’t pissing in public a sex crime?  Yeah, you have to register as a sex offender after your third time. I’m on my second.

You better be careful pissing out there.  The second time I gave a fake name so I’m good.

What’s the last song you listened to?  “My Nigga” by YG, Jeezy & Rich Homie Quan

What’s your go-to choice at the ice cream truck?  That’s easy, strawberry shortcake.

How old were you when you lost your virginity?  15. That shit was tight as fuck.

What was tight, the girl or the experience?  (Laughs) The experience. She wanted to fuck before but I was so nervous about getting her pregnant that I waited until I had a condom. She was some girl from my school, we ditched just to fuck.

Was she a virgin?  No. She had fucked 1 guy already, I was heated.

So how old were you when you found out you were gay?  Fuck you. (Laughs)

If you could have a conversation with anyone from the past who would it be and what would you ask?  I would sit down with JFK and ask him how I could get over on the Military-Industrial Complex.

If you could have a threesome with any 2 girls who would it be?  Oh my god… Kate Upton and Tianna Gregory from Instagram, she’s so bad. I hope she sees this somehow. 

Okay, if you could have a one night stand with any girl who would it be?  Hilary Clinton, duh. Nah don’t put that. Umm… Eva Longoria.

What’s the best characteristic in a female?  Attitude

Do you have a girlfriend right now?  That depends, define a girlfriend.

(Laughs) So why not?  Other priorities.

What’s your favorite thing about Those Folks?  Free product nigga! (Laughs) That’s stupid. Those Folks is a family, that’s like asking what your favorite thing about your family is.

Any last words?  Shout-out to all the family and folks that have looked out for me. All the homies from the hood, you know who you are.