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Dave Carnie & Sean Cliver Interview

Big Brother x DC Exhibition


The 90’s are back with full force. Now even the best magazine from back in the days has its comeback. Together with DC they released a clothing collection, a book and – at least in a limited run – the Dave Carnie pro shoe. We met Dave and Big Brother colleague and skateboard graphics mastermind Sean Cliver in Paris to chat about crying old men and buttfucking pirates.

Sean Cliver & Dave Carnie

Sean Cliver & Dave Carnie

Since Big Brother times skatemags have changed a bit. What do you think about skatemags nowadays.

Cliver: I’ve never thrown away a skateboard magazine until the other day when I was reading – or not reading, but just looking at The Skateboard Mag. I looked through it once and then just threw it away. There was no substance to it. Carnie: I mean, there’s two ways to cover skateboarding. To just show pictures of it or to talk about something else – and we were the ones to talk about something else. You can’t really write or talk about skateboarding. What is skateboarding? That’s kinda like describing the color red to somebody. Anyone who tries to talk about it sounds kinda stupid, so it’s two ways. You can just put out a picture book, like The Skateboard Mag or Transworld, or you do what we did. Talk about butt fucking or the barf olympics or whatever. That to me is as much skateboarding as skateboarding is.

"Every generation has their own shit to shit on"

If you’d do Big Brother nowadays, would you do it the same way?

Carnie: I wouldn’t do Big Brother now. [laughs] Even about the time it died, we already were feeling that it’s hard when you get in your 30’s and early 40’s and you’re hanging out with 16 year old kids. You have to read the writing on the wall, this can’t go on forever, we need to find younger people to do this, because I can’t do a skateboard magazine for the rest of my life. Even before Larry Flint just pulled the plug out. Every generation has their own shit to shit on. That’s for the quote section. [laughs]

But skateboarding has grown older, there are a lot of old men now.

Carnie: And so is punkrock. Exploited still plays. [laughs] Cliver: When Big Brother started, anybody who was like Tony Hawk or Steve Caballero, they were old. It was all about these new 15 year old, 16 year old kids. It wasn’t until the last ten years that anyone was like: “Oh, you guys should come back into skateboarding.” It’s cool to see that they’re accepted.Carnie: I think it’s weird. I still haven’t watched the Bones Brigade video. I don’t want to. I refuse to watch it, ’cause they cry. All through it. There’s a bunch of crying.

It was okay to see Rodney Mullen cry, but it was hard to see Lance Mountain cry.

Cliver: No, no, Rodney didn’t cry. He punched himself in the head. Stacy cried, Caballero cried and Lance cried. Carnie: I heard that Stacy’s crying was fake crying. Someone told me, but I haven’t watched it yet, they were like: “Watch it, it’s fake crying, it’s totally fake crying”. I think he was inspired by Caballero’s crying or Lance’s tears. That’s a good band name, Lance’s tears. [laughs] That’s kind of annoying in skateboarding, the old fuckers.

Besides that – what else is annoying about skateboarding right now?

Carnie: Skateboarding itself. Can you stay on that fucking thing? Because it’s harder for me now to stay on it than it was before. Skateboarding is more annoying than it was before. Everytime I skate I’m worse than I was the last time I skated which is different from what it was before. Riding a skateboard is one of the best things in the world, but it’s also the worst thing about skateboarding now.

"Magazines just are farts as compared to a shit. A shit is like a real book, a magazine is a fart"

What was different when Big Brother started? Do you think the scene was better or…

Cliver: People have romanticized it like: “Oh it’s so rad, the early ’90s”, but no, it sucked. They really did suck, as far as skateboarding went. But for Big Brother it was great, because Skateboarding was so small, the industry was small, there was no corporate involvement. It was so under the radar, you could do anything and no one was telling you no, you can’t do that. And that changed, eventually people were telling you you can’t do that. In that brief time period, you could do anything.Carnie: Yeah, what Marc McKee said in an interview. That question keeps coming up. “Would you be able to do all those board graphics you did then now? That’s propably indicative of the industry in that period. The board graphics he was doing in the early ’90s for World, Blind or whatever, you won’t see those today. Nobody wants to run that shit, everybody’s scared to make it because they’re scared no one will put it on their shelves because they’re scared someones gonna get mad at it.

But there are some provocative Polar graphics, some Fucking Awesome stuff. What do you think about those?

Cliver: I mean, skateboarding is also changing again, it always does – which is great. It’s revolving again. The small companies are going to be popular again because the big companies did become big.Carnie: It’s accessible now with the internet. You can have a company and have a website, do your own marketing and advertising and it’s quite easy, really. When Big Brother started, one of the reasons Jackass and the Big Brother videos happened was that we came up in a time in that video cameras became accessible to the masses. You could finally afford a little camera and dumbshits like us could buy it and film the nonsense we’re doing. Bam always had the stories that in bars people would come up like: “My little brother’s been doing that fucking shopping cart shit way before you did it” and his answer was always: “Yeah, well did you film it?” That was just what happened. People were doing what we did before, but we filmed it. That’s kinda what’s happening now in skateboarding. A lot of the smaller companies also recognized that it’s boring and bullshit and stale right now and so they’re shaking things up. They’re just making their boards because everyone can make graphics on their computer, anybody can start a website, anybody can get them printed and start a skateboard company. Like the Fancy Lad dudes, which you should check out, you’ll like them, in Boston. I mean, these fucking dorks, in Boston, who can’t skate worth shit, like, they actually suck – but they’re funny.

Sean Cliver

When it comes to skateboarding media, would you say that Jenkem is doing what you guys did back in the days?

Cliver: They’re doing their thing.Carnie: I like what Ian does, I like Jenkem. I’m a fan, they’re doing great. At the same time I’m really critical. I don’t think any of that shit would’ve flown in Big Brother. It’s a different time and it’s a different group of people. It’s the same kind of spirit, they’re trying to be mischievous a little bit, they’re pushing buttons, they try to do weird shit. I really like Jenkem.

What do you guys think about social media, because a lot of pros are getting really angry on Instagram.

Cliver: [laughs] Yeah, it sure exposes… Mystery’s a good thing.Carnie: I mean, the Tas Pappas thing. The documentary came out and he probably shouldn’t have said the things he said on social media. That just made him look worse. He had been blattering on social media and he’s an uneducated Australian who can’t spell anything. I mean, he’s a nice person and he has a good heart, I feel like he’s made some mistakes, but his fucking social media posts were not helping this cause at all. If you can’t spell words you just look like an idiot. Cliver: I think that’s become acceptable these days – which is really unfortunate.Carnie: I think there’s sort of a pass that people give to illiteracy on social media. I don’t think that should be allowed. You should be accountable for your dumb fucking mistakes. But at the same time it’s part of the evolution of skateboarding. It’s a huge part of skateboarding today and in some ways it’s great. When we were kids, we didn’t know… I mean, as a kid one of my favorite skateboarders was Tom Groholski, but I never got to see Tom Groholski. If Instagram existed back then, I would probably get to see Tom Groholski every day doing Lien to Tails over the channel. So in that sense, it just made the world – not just skateboarding – smaller in general. I love it.

Dave Carnie

Do you think despite of the web, there will still be skateboarding magazines in the future? Are they still needed?

Carnie: It’s definitely needed. Even if it’s a magazine I don’t like, I still wanna see it. I flip through all magazines and I subscribe to so many magazines. I get Vogue, I get Food & Wine, I get Bon Appetit and I get all these skateboard magazines. My wife hates me for it, because there’s magazines all over our house. At the same time, magazines are complete garbage. There’s fucking rarely anything good in any of them. It’s just pretty pictures and some nice words. Short little articles, that’s so funny about magazines, everything is so tiny it’s just like these little farts. It’s just farts, basically. Cliver: Is that a direct result of the internet?Carnie: Magazines were like that before the internet though. Magazines just are farts as compared to a shit. A shit is like a real book, a magazine is a fart. Magazines are just kind of an echo or a ripple of reality. They’re fascinating, in that sense that they’re just weird little throwaway things. That’s why it’s always been a desire and it’s been flattering to me that people though what we did was interesting. There’s actually a shoe been made, a book been made about our magazine. Magazines are fucking dumb and in a sense I think that’s kind of what we were doing with Big Brother, we were trying to do everything wrong. We just wanted to make magazines wrong and by making a magazine with some content that people would pass around we were doing it wrong. Look at magazines like GQ, they’re talking about: “Next time you’re in Rome stop off at this little fucking hole in a wall bar and have this cocktail” – Next time I’m in Rome?! Who the fuck are you? [laughs] What is the audience here? What kinda bullshit article is that? I don’t know, I just think we were documenting our lifes and it was in the context of a magazine, but it wasn’t like any other magazine. It was because all the magazines are stupid and we didn’t like magazines, we were trying to do everything wrong. That’s how Big Brother happened, doing things wrong.

"Pegboys were the boys, who sat on the boat on the peg to loosen their assholes, so the pirates could fuck them"

How was it now to make the book and flip through the old magazines and re–watch all the stuff?

Cliver: [laughs] It was fun to go back and look through all the stuff, all the stuff I even forgot, like all the horrible ads. It was a pain in the ass, because there was no archive before going digital, so I just scanned everything.Carnie: But it was worth it, it came out really good, I like it. It’s sold out, people like it too. That thing fucking sold out, I was shocked or whatever, I’m still shocked.Cliver: So was the publisher. [laughs]

Looks like people want Big Brother back.

Cliver: It’s the common nostalgia disease. Carnie: Old, fat farts. They remember that time and now they don’t skate anymore. So they remember that period of their life when they did skate.

How many of your pro shoe have been produced?

Carnie: Three! This pair, the pair downstairs and then there’s another pair at DC I think. Apparently they’re making another dozen or so, for friends and family.

The shoe was designed to look stupid, I guess, but I did a little research on the internet and found some real skateshoes, that look nearly as weird.

Carnie: Yeah, when we made this, it was in ’97, the design was just a reaction to that there was a bunch of companies all making signature shoes. So we figured like fuck, we’ll make a Dave Carnie shoe. We just tried to make it as stupid as possible. But yeah, you’re right. Nowadays – I still haven’t seen a shoe with a dick on it before – but beyond that, it’s really not that crazy. I walked past Sound of Sneakers today and there was a pair of white Nikes I think, it looked like this. It was a white high top, but the toe was bright gold! Just ridiculous, fucked up. Some shoes are really fucked up, those Adidas wings things also. I worked for Supra for a little bit, so I know all about clown shoes.

Dave Carnie Big Brother Shoe

Do you think the Skytop was influenced by your shoe?

Carnie: I’m not sure if Muska was influenced by the Carnie signature model. Cliver: Well, I’m sure he wasn’t. [laughs]

I think the Skytop sold pretty well though, maybe you should produce some more of your model.

Carnie: I think DC is, I don’t wanna say too scared, but I think they’re actually too smart to make a shoe with a dick on the side. You’re going to these sneaker geek stores and there’s a lot of twerp bitches moving like, “Yeah, foreal, we’ll get some cool shoes” – no one wants a dick on their shoe.Cliver: Have you heard there’s a term for those people who buy all that gear? Fuccbois.Carnie: Fuckboys?Cliver: Like F–u–c–c–b–o–i–s. I have no idea, but it’s kinda like a descriptive term for those dudes. Carnie: Those that wait in line for shoes? I can’t twerk so…

Cliver: No, no, fuccboi means something else. [laughs] It’s more of a pirate term.

A pirate term?

Cliver: Well, they were called pegboys I guess, right? Pegboys were the boys, who sat on the boat on the peg to loosen their assholes, so the pirates could fuck them.

What, you made up this story, right?

Cliver: How would I make this up? Talk to the internet and see this is true. The pegboys were the boys on a boat who were there for them.

I thought pirates had sex with prostitutes in the ports.

Cliver: I don’t know, what happens at sea, stays at sea. Carnie: Kind of a synonymous feature, fuckboys, pegboys and twerps. I’m seriously working this out. Cliver: I don’t think I made that up. Carnie: I’ve never heard it before…Cliver: Fuck. It was like buttplugs, you know? Carnie: I can picture what’s going on.

I think that’s the perfect end of an interview.

Carnie: Talking about buttfucking pirates. I used this all the time and no one ever caught it, I would always say: “But pirates make good friends”. So now you’ve got the butt pirates so it’s cool.

Big Brother x DC