TheOriginalCultClothing Designer Male Los Angeles, California, US
My Website: Lip ServiceMy MM URL: http://www.modelmayhem.com/TheOriginalCult
Mayhem # 1290062
About MeI was 14 years old, and still shopping with my mom at the May Co. when I found exactly what I was looking for... BRIGHT ORANGE, HANG TEN SHORTS, SIZE 36!!! Keep in mind that my waist was about 20"... I was a total skate rat kid and these shorts were the perfect expression of my rebellious individualism. They were my first attempt at fashion. I sported those babies year round, rain or shine!... Well, you get the picture. They were the beginning of it all... Now, if you know anything about the late seventies, then you know about the punk scene that was going on, and Hollywood was just the right place to be... And of course... I was there!!!!!!!
It was Halloween of '79, I was at the Hong Kong Cafe to see the Germs, Black Flag, and Fear with my buddies Rikki Rachtman and Monty, (brother of the notorious Mike Fresh) from DFL. The show f***'n rocked and totally inspired me to butcher my hair... that, and the request from my parents to "get a haircut" (although it wasn't exactly the haircut they wanted). So I managed it just in time for the next gig. Most of my teenage years after that were devoted to religiously attending every frickin' show that I could.
When I wasn't in the pit at some show, I was learning to play guitar. My first band, America's Hardcore, was also my first business. I was not only guitarist, but manager, promoter and booking agent. We were totally straight edge and played mostly local venues. It was also around this time that I met legendary L.A. punk artist, Brian Tucker, of Live Nude. Brian had a silk screening business and taught me how to print t-shirts. I was also hanging around Ape Leather a lot, waiting for my friends to get off work. I got so bored that I asked if I could do something. So Ellen put me to work riveting and attaching pyramid studs. Both were experiences that would pay off later, but I'll get to that.
My next band was Crucifix. I spent two days learning their songs and then we were in Vegas for my first show with them. After that, on to 55 cities, 5 months of touring the U.S., Canada and Europe. We played in New Mexico where I met Gen from The Genitorturers. We played in Texas with the Butthole Surfers... we ended up in New York City for about three months and played places like CBGB's,... Then on to Canada, where we got stopped at the border. We were trying to get in to Canada to play. We had no work visas, we were smuggling in our equipment using a Canadian van, and had about $120.00 between 7-8 of us. My hair was blue and all of the other guys were a bunch of punk rock freaks too. The Border Police questioned us, where are you going, how are you gonna get there with the little money you have and what are you planning on doing once you get there? Things were not looking good, when I had a brainstorm... I whipped out my dad's Mobil credit card and said, We have all the provisions right here in this piece of plastic. The Border Nazi came back with, but there are no Mobil stations in Canada. Without a flinch, I flipped that card over and showed that it read, While in Canada use this card at Esso. Frustrated, but with no other angle to play, the guard let us go through. THAT WAS THE DAY I DISCOVERED MY GREAT ABILITY TO PUT OUT FIRES. From Canada and chicks' sofas, to Europe and London's squats, to home sweet home, Hollywood, California. By 1984, I moved to San Francisco, to permanently join the band... Unfortunately, their last show was played not too long after that. The height of my Crucifix career was the farewell show. Metallica was in the audience that night. Here I was playing to these metal gods and all I could think was, God, I suck at guitar.
After Crucifix broke up, I was working as a clean-up guy on a construction site. I was making $5 an hour, coming home all dirty, tired and miserable every night. Meanwhile, my friend, Ellen, the owner of Ape Leather, introduced me to the wonderful world of wholesale. She handed me a bunch of samples and some line sheets and said, Go to stores, ask to see the buyer and sell them this stuff. What's a buyer??? I said. It was all new to me but, new or not, I guess I was a natural. I got my first order and did the math. I just made $130 in an hour... f**k that manual labor shit!!! There's real money to be made. So, next day I quit my construction job and began selling belts full time and eventually picked up other lines, like Marche Noir and Nana Shoes.
Alright, so there's the background info on my life before Lip ServiceÂ®. Here's the bit about how Lip Service' got to where it is today!!!
Six months later, I was still a freak; I was 21, had long black dreadlocks and was into the glam and death rock scenes. I wore white make up, big boots, a skull necklace and mostly black. I had lots of crazy ideas, so, one day I asked a buyer if they would buy leggings with prints on them, you know in the 80's it was all about leggings. Until then, they were always solid. She asked, What kind of prints?... I don't know, something like this skull necklace. ... How much?... I don't know, I'll figure it out. So, I used mom's copy machine to create a skull and dagger graphic. I repeated the pattern to make a huge screen print. I took apart a pair of leggings and found out how much fabric I would need to make a pair. I had no idea of what sizes fabric came in or what type I would need. I called some chicks cuz I figured all girls knew all about fashion and fabric and stuff. Then I called some fabric stores and said, Uhhhh, I need some fabric... Uh, I don't know, like, black stretchy stuff. They told me that I had to come in. So, I bought enough to make about 200 pairs. I figured if worse came to worse, I could always wear them the rest of my life. I took the fabric to a printer, then to a sewer. When I picked up my first fashion creations, they were rolled in balls and in garbage bags. I took them home and after the insanity of trying to use my mom's dryer to tumble out the wrinkles and folding about 30-40, I said f**k this and took them back to the contractor and found out that for $.20 each, they could be pressed and folded. The leggings sold like hot cakes out of stores on Melrose like Retail Slut and Na Na and up the coast to San Francisco. I started doing other prints, which were also totally hot sellers.
In 1985, I noticed that London designers were using black shiny vinyl and I thought it would be really f***n' cool as a motorcycle jacket. I designed a jacket, got the fabric, but couldn't find a cutting service willing to deal with this new fabric. Into my dad's garage I went, scrounging saw horses, plywood, and a cutting tool. I laid out and cut the fabric myself and in the middle of all this mess, my dad came up yelling at me, I hope you're going to clean this shit up! I was working hard and so fed up that I ran after him and yelled back, I'm out here sweating my ass off trying to make a decent living, I could be out there selling drugs or something and that's all you have to say to me??!! Dad apologized and repeated himself about cleaning up. I guess that's what you get when your father's a rocket scientist.
But, anyways, people loved the designs and they wanted more. Vinyl sales were awesome, but buyers were constantly bugging me for stretch jeans. We want stretch jeans. You should make stretch jeans. Stretch jeans would rock Stretch jeans, stretch jeans!! So I came up with some styles in solid and printed black twill and said, You want stretch jeans? Here's your Stretch F***N' Jeans!!. It sounded so good; I put it on the label. Stretch F***N' Jeans, just a little bit of my personality on your ass. The business was really starting to grow now... I moved from my parent's garage to a small warehouse. Three years later, I opened a couple of retail stores, one on Melrose, the other on Hollywood Boulevard. I hired a sales rep and my girlfriend was working with me too. It wasn't easy; there were a lot of long grueling hours, stress over production and the usual screw heads in the business world to deal with. I've gotta admit, though, I've had some lucky breaks.
One of the biggest was Guns 'N' Roses. Before GNR hit the big time, Izzy would come down to the warehouse and scrounge around for free stuff. One day, he found a jacket with war? Printed all over it in a box of leftovers. Wow!!! I'll give this to Axl! Axl's picture appeared everywhere with him in that jacket. Free press!!!! Pretty soon, all the rockers wanted Lip ServiceÂ®. It was loud, it said something, it meant something, it was hard, it was cool, it was in your face. That was about a decade ago. Since then, I have gotten out of retail and put more focus on the wholesale side of the fashion business. I closed the Hollywood store and sold the one on Melrose to Red Balls, which has become a big success.
Skip ahead to over a decade later and you've got Lip ServiceÂ® where it is today; still going strong and available nearly anywhere you live! We've got a team in our warehouse comprised of a bunch of misfits who are still punk rock kids at heart. We all work as a family and contribute in our own idiosyncratic ways to make Lip ServiceÂ® a super unique brand for individuals and independent thinkers! We take pride in doing everything ourselves, from the designs to the photo shoots, the marketing to the website, and we never forget our influences of raucous music and a hardcore attitude! We're selling to boutiques all around the globe so that we can influence others with our unique, one-of-a-kind styles no matter where they are or where they shop! Oh, and even though our styles nowadays run the gamut from the vinyl and strapped down Fetish Classics' to the soft and worn in Blacklist', it's still signature Lip ServiceÂ® and always will be!
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