New for 2017 is SUCK-TALK, a short form video "Talk show" featuring the musings of Famous Pop Artist, The SUPER SUCKLORD. Acting as an addendum to the acclaimed Podcast, THE SUCKHOUR, Suck-Talk aims to just further insert the Sucklord into your feed on a more regular basis. Watch it now on The SuckHour Youtube Channel.
When I last left you hanging over a year ago, I was literally hanging, from a metaphorical vine I had created as an anaogly to my professional/ financial situation. Now, as I resume the story, I will press on with the said metaphor (seeing how it worked so well, and who doesn’t love an extended metaphor?) and pick up where I left off, Hanging from a vine…
So that was it, there was no more swing in the vine, I couldn’t get it moving. I was starting to slip. Death, on the jungle floor, loomed below me. Fuck it, it’s over, I was on the brink of absolute ruin. My rents were months over due and my sales were shit. I was eating like crap, Getting fat, and I was miserable. Yet I clung to that not-moving vine with all my life, slipping, slipping, until finally, I fell. I fell to the ground, which wasn’t actually very far below, and started running, Running on the Jungle floor. Rolling logs came at me in batches of three that I had to jump over. Caverous pits would open and close beneath my feet as I kept running. Occasionally another swinging vine came my way, and it would carry me over an upassable lake, or giant crater in the ground. I kept running. On occasion there would be no vine, and would be forced to transverse an unpassbale river over the heads of snapping crocodiles. I continued to run. Underground passages would reveals themselves to me, and I would take them as refuge from the logs and hungry crocs. But the tunnels were filled with deadly scorpions, and yielded no gold. Occasionally I would find a bar of gold or a brick of silver, or even a big bag of money, but none of it changed my situation. It would all collect in some big intangible tally on the top of the screen, but I was still in the same game, running and running. The background kept scrolling past, but there was no final board, no next level, no conclusion to the game. It just went on an on util I ran out of lives. Then it ends…
See what I did there? Yes I just likened my life to a game of Pitfall, which I think was very clever. Cuz that’s exactly how it was, just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did, and yet somehow it kept on going and going, with not real tragic disastrous end com, as I expected. The entire year went by where I was on the brink of absolute and complete financial disaster (you can hear the EXTENSIVE, 7 hour version of this harrowing tale on my exclusive Patreon page) yet somehow I kept going, against all wisdom. I made some of the best work of my life in that year, had a very emotionally fulfilling and socially satisfying 2016, and got to go to Japan for the first time inexplicably. All while being perpetually about to go bust, and get evicted form my apatmrnt and/ or my studio, and have my phone turned off and have my internet cut, or my electricity, or I have to mooch-money-off-my-18-year-old-girlfriend-how-embarassing-is-that kind of busted. Yet nothing happened. and I’m convinced it could potentially continue on like that for another year, and another and another until I drop dead. But why should it? I’m absolutely hyper aware that I’m a person sitting in front of a giant TV with a joystick in my hand, playing an epic game of Pitfall. I mean I am absolutely killing this game, but it’s also killing me. So I don’t have to play it any more. I mean I got the high score and all, and I could keep going and rack it up. But there’s a whole stack of other games right next to me. I could play them… But my High Score…. I just need the will to
TURN OFF THE GAME
That static hiss coming off the TV while you switch cartridges is kind of jarring. It’s a weird limbo. But it only lasts a few seconds. I’m excited to play something else. Or I could just get up and go outside…
In this installment of the Now World-Famous SUCKBLOG, we continue the tale of The SUPER SUCKLORD as he comes to realize the hard way that it’s real easy to fuck everything up just when you thought it was all working out…
By the beginning of 2013, things were looking good. I was still cruising off of my reality TV fame, and I was cemented as one of the living legends in the Designer Toy world. Money was coming easy and I decided to open up a Store to sell work from and throw events. I had a lot of interesting people around me, we were throwing killer parties, and I was convinced that the world was about to open up to me. I had a development deal in place for a Sucklord TV show! Some company that made programs like WHALE WARS and TRADING SPACES was looking to get into younger, edgier, urban fare, and they contacted me to develop a reality show based on my adventures in the Toy Making World. It was excellent timing. I had been offered a killer deal on a retail space in the EAST BROADWAY MALL in New York Chinatown. This place was perfect for me. It was off the beaten path, it was in an all Chinese mall that was frankly pretty run down and had a boot-leggy vibe about it. It was totally on brand for my image, and it would make a great venue for my imminent TV show. I set up shop right away and started bringing all my friends in. We did an opening a week with guys like KOSBE, HEALEYMADE, and BILLIONS McMILLIONS showing their work. We were eating dumplings all day, getting drunk and rapping in the studio all night and filming a bunch of stuff as prep for the TV Show. Stuff was selling and I was covering all the bills. It was tight, and I was getting sick of making toys for such crap money, but with that big TV deal about to come down the pipe, I figured I could keep things afloat for few months longer.
Then it all went to hell.
Out of nowhere the production company pulled out of the deal. They came to realize that they were crazy to attempt to make a show about some New York weirdo called The Sucklord. So they gave me the boot, and started making shows about Football. The deal at the Mall ended as well. All the Chinese tenants started complaining about me, some white guy, getting special treatment. I suddenly had to start paying real rent on my store, and keeping normal hours. After two Months of that, I was out of business there. I lost my girlfriend. Other friends moved away. I was drinking a lot and getting fat. My star seemed to be fading in the Toy Game as my releases became more expensive but less inspired. Fans turned against me and trashed my on my message board. A whole slew of imitators popped up, creating fresh work for less money. I was starting to smell like a has-been. Then I lost my studio. Both Me and my neighbor, LAMOUR SUPREME, were kicked out and separated. Gentrified out of the hood. The party was over. No one wanted my stuff anymore. As depressed as I was, I refused to quit. I decided to press on and keep doing it, even though I had no plan whatsoever. If I was dead, I thought, then I’ll just be a zombie…
This led me into the next chapter of my career that I call my “Vine Swinging” phase. As my circle got smaller and my money dried up, I found myself literally throwing things against the wall to see if it would stick. I had no long term goals and was working week to week to keep things moving. I would wake up on Monday having no idea how I was gonna get paid that week. I would pull something out of my ass, grind on it all week to get it out and online by Friday, and hopefully sell it out and pay some bills. It was really a lot like swinging from one vine to another, without really knowing where I was actually going. Things were fine, as long as the next vine was there. The SUCKPANELS were a product of this time. They were fast and easy and I could make a lot of them. I had to. I moved to a new studio, which was bigger and better than the old one, but waaaay more expensive. There was no room to fuck up. I managed a few upgrades to my business; a new website, and new projects were coming out all the time. But I was slowly going broke. From the outside it looked like I was back, brand new, and winning again. But inside, everything was rotting. There I was, swinging from vine to vine, making it look like that was exactly what I was supposed to be doing, even though fear was creeping up on me fast! Then during the Summer of 2015, the vines started getting farther apart. I had to reach further to grab the next one, and they didn’t carry me as far as they did before. I was losing momentum. Then one day I reached out, and there was no vine to grab.
Let’s keep milking the metaphors: Nothing was sticking to the wall, the zombie had finally rotted to the point that it’s legs fell off, and the vine I was hanging on stopped swinging. I was losing my grip, slipping towards the Jungle floor below, and certain death. Rents went unpaid, debts piled up, promises were broken, and everything was looking bleak. Days stretched into weeks and then months. Nothing came to the rescue. It was looking like I had to give up my studio. Part of me was thankful that I wouldn't have to make toys anymore. I contemplated moving back into my Mom's house and starting my life again from scratch. Giving up the burden of having to be The Sucklord was a huge relief. I really needed a rest. I was getting old...
HEY WAIT A MINUTE! If this all happened already, how is it that you are still around? You’re making new stuff all the time and 2016 looks like it’s gonna be a huge year for The Sucklord and Suckadelic. Aren’t you supposed to be laying dead on some metaphorical Jungle floor somewhere? What did you do Sucklord? How did you turn it all around? How did you finally get back on top, and actually go past where you went before? WHAT DID YOU DO, SUCKLORD? WHAT DID YOU DO?????
Well kids, I’ll tell you in the next one, as soon as I figure it out myself. You gotta leave something to the imagination. don't you?
In a continuing effort to re-brand myself, I am reflecting on and recounting my formative years as a player in the Designer Toy Industry. I aim not only to clarify my biography to new fans who might not know the backstory to the SUCKADELIC enterprise, which hopefully will inspire them to buy more of my products. I also lay it out so I too may understand where I have been so I may better chart where I’m going. Self serving and self indulgent? Perhaps. But fuck you, nobody is forcing you to read it. (or are they?)… Here is the next part of the story. The part of the story where I finally “Make it” in the world of artist created action figures.
It was 2003 and the so-called “Designer Toy Movement” was starting to take shape. The Lower East Side of NYC was starting to fill up with artists who were making all sorts of plastic interpretations of their work, and it was showing up in places like ALIFE, 360 Toy Group, and TOY TOKYO. I had amassed quite a few designs of my own, figures, vehicles, playlets etc, and I knew everybody. I was sure to be able to get a deal somewhere for someone to start producing my shit. I was MR.TOYS after all! But truth be told, it wasn’t really going that well. Lev over at Toy Tokyo was doing a little producing and offered to take a look at some of my work. I showed him a sculpture of something I called ARCADE 666 which was an anthropomorphic Video game cabinet with a TV set eyeball for a head, a game of BREAKOUT playing on his chest, one robot arm, one tentacle arm, treads for feet, and a giant quarter being inserted into his back by another figure; a small dwarfish creature with an Atari Joystick for a head with a giant Bloody eyeball sitting on top. “Too Simple” said Lev, and the deal never happened. Next I went to Jakuan at 360 Toy Group. He was fucking with Futura, Michael Lau, and Kaws; all the OGs in the game. At this time it wasn’t so easy to get access to a factory, and a lot of the old guard guys wanted it to stay that way to keep the Suckers out (LOL) so the fact that he would even consider looking at my shit was a big honor. I showed him a few pieces from my TECHNOFEAR series, which was basically personified personal electronics like a Television and an Atari console transformed into predatory monsters. He was down to make a bunch of them, but didn’t really have the money to pay for it. My own personal attempts to raise the capital fell flat, so I was on my own.
Right around this time, my friend Joseph Ari Aloi AKA JK5 was doing a solo show at the famous old ALIFE store on Orchard street. He asked if I could help make a Toy and some sculptures to support his illustration work he was presenting. I jumped at this chance thinking it would be a great opportunity to showcase what I could do. It began as something simple, just a few kit bashed Star Wars figures and a large scale foam sculpture of his character, but then it blew up into a four month odyessy of me going up to his house in North White Plains and spending days locked up making a giant installation out of thousands of broken toys and massive foam monstrosities. The cap piece to all of this was a series of 60 unique resign figures of a creature he created called the INO. It was a small tear dropped shaped little guy sitting in a lotus flower base. I had never made a resin toy before, but my friend Charlie Backer did. He had been experimenting with casting and mold making for years, getting a little shine for his Rudy Giuliani figure, which turned from a villain to a hero after 9-11. Charlie had a studio, ironically, in the 195 Chrystie street Building in which I would later set up headquarters. He schooled me on how to make molds and do casting with all the pigments and glitter etc. It was hard work, but at the end I had an incredible set of 60 individual toys. Then the show came. It was a big turn out, it got press, and even Jeffery Deitch was sniffing around. This is it, I thought. Now the Big Time begins. Except that it didn’t. Yeah we sold a handful of the ions, but when all was said and done, none of my sculptures, none of my kit Bashes, none of my anything sold. My contribution to the show was never sufficiently acknowledged and when it finally came down, I had no actionable opportunities to follow up on.
All that fucking work, making all that happy shit, all that time and…. Nothing. I started to get bitter. I had a freelance job at the time working under sub-contract for HASBRO setting up their showroom during New York TOY FAIR. I was doing thankless fabrication and display work, thankfully a lot in their STAR WARS room, which was still a huge set piece at the time. I didn’t mind it. Although doing it at that time was particularly painful because it looked as though that was ALL I was going to be able to do for the rest of my life, while all these other happy Jokers got shine for their silly, shiny toys. I decided I had to do Something. One perk of working at Hasbro was the abundance of loose, display figures I had access to while doing their merchandising. One day I absently put one of those removable Jango Fett helmets on a Count Dooku body and I was like, Huh, Bounty Hunter Sith Lord… Cool. There was some really cheap silicone and casting resin at the shop in Queens where a lot of the fabrication took place, so I boosted it. while I was waiting for the paint to dry on the Death Star wall panels I was charged with making, I whipped up some molds and began casting, keeping it all under a blanket in case anyone walked in to the room I was working in. I was on the clock after all. I kept casting and the molds got shittier and shittier as it went on; yeilding some really janky figures that were all cracked and deformed. Some of them were missing legs. “I don’t care,” I told myself. Nobody was gonna like these and they are all Assholes anyway. Fuck Toys and the people that buy that cute Happy shit. Fuck them all. When the molds finally gave out, I had 48 gray figures which I gave the most cursory coat of silver spray paintfrom a (stolen) can that was quickly running out. They sucked. I wanted then to suck. And I liked it that was. “Who is this guy?” I wondered. I had already been trooping around in my Hip-Hop Boba Fett gear since 1997, and I was using the SUCKADELIC name for my brand. “He’s me, I guess… Everything sucks, and he lords over all of it. He’s THE SUCKLORD. The SUCKLORD 66” I knew it was a disaster that was never gonna make it in polite society, so I wrote “You’re an asshole for buying this” on the back. And that was that.
I was vaguely satisfied with it. I made a Grey package with a shitty xerox photo of myself in the newly created Sucklord costume under some crappy dented bubbles pilfered from these old Power of the Force figures I had. I put them on my website for $20. A few actually sold and I was able to dump a few more at San Diego Comicon in 2004. It was cool, but not a game changer. Finally in 2005 I got a break. A relative of mine passed away and left me $7000. I had been working and living at my Mom’s house this whole time, and it was really tough. So I took the cash, rented a small Art Studio on lower Broadway, bought a tank and a compressor and all the other materials needed to make self-produced figures, and set up shop. I wasn’t quite set on doing more bootleg Star Wars figures at the time. I had a big plan to develop this line I dubbed SUCKPEGS; little cute peg monsters based off of the FISHER PRICE LITTLE PEOPLE I grew up with. I had dozens of character ideas sketched out, including vehicles and playsets. I attempted to make some runs of them myself. However, my mold craft was still at the novice level and I needed them to have the same clean feel as the toys I was copying, and I just couldn't get there. They came out rough and imperfect, and I was only able to make one prototype set before my patience gave out. I was getting nervous. I had never had to worry about rent before, and my inheritance was running low. If this little venture didn’t start paying off and soon, I was done for. It was just around this time that a little company called KIDROBOT had set up an office nearby in SOHO, and thru some friends I was able to connect with them. They were expanding and I saw my last chance to get a deal. I managed to get their founder, PAUL BUDNITZ, to come to my studio where I presented the Suckpegs to him. I did a big song and dance and had all these materials to show him. He was very nice and praised me and my work highly, but stopped short of offering me any kind of deal. That put me in a black mood. With time running out, I turned back to the SUCKLORD 66, my only marginal success and decided to make a follow up. This is a Bootleg, I thought, and I am working out of Chinatown, everyone in the Toy world sucks so fuck them, they don’t want me, so I am going to be the Villain of the story. I’m gonna make crap toys, blatantly steal from Star Wars and piss on the whole toy game. I thought “What’s cool in Star Wars after Boba Fett? The Stormtrooper, duh. I’ll make a weird Stormtrooper. How can I make it weird? Change the color? What’s a wild color? How about pink? Ok Pink. Why is he pink? Is he Gay? A Gay Stormtrooper? GAY EMPIRE? Sure why not…”
And there it was. I had 25 somewhat shoddy looking fake pink Stormtroopers. I made another shoddy looking xerox card for it and slapped it under a bubble. I splattered some pink paint all over it to make it look like some sort of accident happened in the shitty sweatshop it was supposedly created in. I tossed them on my website and…. Nothing. Uh-oh. Guess I’m moving back into my Mom’s house. Then one day shortly after that, FRANK KOZIK himself decided to post about this weird new GAY EMPIRE figure on the KIDROBOT Forum, and then BAM! The sales began. Nobody knew what to make of this thing. It sure didn’t look like a Dunny, or whatever cutesy thing everyone else was buying, but I guess the humor and the flagrant copyright infringement was enough of a novelty that people were willing to fork over $25 for this “Joke” figure. But I still didn’t have rent money. Then about a week later I get an email from some guy named Dov Kelemer. He says he has this distribution company called DKE TOYS. He sells a lot of Star Wars stuff and also distributes Artist Toys to stores. He says he would like to purchase all my stock of Gay Empire figures to sell to his retailers. BOOM! The check comes quick, the rent gets paid, and I’m now officially in business. I work my ass off. The Gay Empire stays in production, and new figures get added: The Necromancer, Sucklord 75, Another Bitch you Didn’t get to Fuck, Galactic Jerkbag, Mary Paper$. It was all selling! I moved to a better space in the old 195 Chrystie Street Building, quit all my freelance jobs and started to make bootlegs figures full time. Soon after that, in 2008, a guy Named Simeon Lipman came around. He worked for Christie’s Auction house and wanted to put my work in one of his sales. Man, this shit is really paying off, I thought. In just 3 years I went from nobody to the big league! And the hits kept on coming. 2009 was a breakout year, with figures like THE CREATURE, MISS THING, and THE FATES selling out within one hour of posting. I raised my prices, I got new fans. I would roll into Comicon with a briefcase filled with exclusive figures and I would literally be swarmed by lunatics waving cash at me; cleaning me out in minutes. I could do no wrong, it seemed. Then 2011 was another epic year. Famous Artist LAMOUR SUPREME from MISHKA moved in next to me and we partied and collaborated our asses off, selling shit like crazy. Any old half ass thing we would drunkenly pull out of our asses would sell for hundreds of dollars on instagram. Were were literally spinning gold. I had a fan club called GALACTIC JERKBAGS where all these die hard Suckadelic fans would hash over every detail of ever piece of minutia coming out of my world. The money was good.
And things kept getting better. I was running group shows. I had Hollywood Directors buying my shit. One of the Original Sucklord 66 figures sold on ebay for ELEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!!! I had countless imitators popping up, trying to copy my style, I finally was able to make The Suckpegs up to the standard I wanted. The press was relentless. I was so happy! To cap all of this raging, continuing SUCK-CESS, I was cast as a contestant on BRAVO TV’s famous Art Competition Reality Show: WORK OF ART: THE NEXT GREAT ARTIST. And I killed it! All the art I made on there was terrible, but they loved me for some reason. I clashed with famous Art Critic JERRY SALTZ, all the girls flirted with me, and I ran my shtick all over the place. I even got all sentimental over some little girl I had to make art with, which humanized me. Not only was I a successful artist; a God in the Toy world I once despised for leaving me out, I WAS A STAR! Twitter was buzzing, there was mad press all over the place, work was selling. DKE was producing a bulk of product with my name on it. I had a TV deal cooking for my own show. Everybody wanted a piece of me. I did it! I went from being THAT guy; depressed, left out, broke, and bitter to THIS GUY: Paid, laid, Famous, and Winning. The sky was the limit. Big things were on the way. It was all upward and onward. There was no downside. I had finally made it… WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
Stay Tuned for the next part of the story: ON THE ICE
As promised, We are continuing our new “Blogging” exercise here, with a little backstory on who the fuck The Sucklord is exactly and how he came to have any authority to comment on the so-called “Designer Toy” industry. This information is out there already and probably some who are reading this already know this stuff. So beat it dickbag, if you know everything. This isn’t for you. This little piece here is for some of the newer followers who may not know the story of how a disenfranchised toy designer carved his own place at the table and rose to the top of an underground Art industry, only to see it all come crashing down. In this article we explore the primordial origins of what caused this individual to take on a career in making shoddy looking fake Star Wars figures and become famous for it. The story starts waaay back in the day…
The golden age of Star Wars was the background of my formative years. From 1977 to 1985, Star Wars, and all the toys that went with it, was the main tentpole from which an entire childhood was built. I had a generous family that bought me ALL the toys and vehicles that came out during this era. It wasn’t just Star Wars. I had all the GI Joe, He-Man, and other flavor of the day action figures that came and went. I had some creative artistic inclinations as well, and this was encouraged. I had all the clay, paint, and construction materials I needed, not to mention a Super 8 film camera and one of the very early video cameras; the kind that was the size of a cinder block and had to be plugged into your VCR.
While STAR WARS was the main inspiration for all the creativity, it was actually the documentary THE MAKING OF STAR WARS that really catalyzed things. This was the film that showed all the behind the scenes processes of building the ships and doing the special effects. It all seemed so practical and do-able. It was just guys making models out of ordinary things and making it look magical. I can do that, I figured, and began at once to make it happen. I made costumes and props, I shot little stop motion films. I made little sets and environments for my figures, I created clay figures of all the characters that were never produced, and even famously attempted some mold making and casting using a bar of soap for a mold and a melted green crayon to pour into it to make a bootleg Greedo figure. It failed, but regardless, it was an incredible era of raw unimpeded creativity…
Then Star Wars ended; no more movies, no more toys. The era was over. I was becoming a teenager, taking drugs and chasing girls. I stayed “Arty” but I stopped thinking about toys for a few years. I was in college and trying my best to half-ass my way through it and not do any real academic work. After flailing through being a biology and a Psychology major, I realized I needed a scam if I was ever gonna graduate. I took a jewelry making class so I could make a Led Zeppelin medallion and I kind of aced the class. I released the that I could grift my way to graduation as an Art Major. I sucked at drawing so I focused on sculpture, where I discovered my talent for bullshitting a crappy piece of art into a masterpiece. This was probably the most important thing I learned in Art School; something half ass can be made to seem like important Art if you tell a good story around it.
With this in mind, I coasted my way thru my final year of independent study, where I worked one-on- one with a teacher on a project of my choosing. All I really wanted to do was smoke weed all day, so I chose projects that came easy to me. I was on some sarcastic ironic shit at the time, and the idea of making a toy of a Crackhouse occurred to me. I convinced my teacher that that was a good idea, and spent 3 months making a little playset out of sculpey and cardboard that depicted little crack hos and baseheads getting high in a cute little Sesame Street looking brownstone, It was a Hit! I got an A in the class and it was all the rage at the student review gallery show. This made me realize that an Artist could use toys as a medium of expression. I figured if a painter could make prints of their paintings, then a sculptor could make toys of his sculptures. That’s my career, I thought. This was in 1992.
For the next several years I pushed the ACTION CRACKHOUSE PLAYSET as a thing. I hit up toy companies and investors in an attempt to get this thing made into a real plastic toy. I had no money and at the time there really was no way to access a factory or do something like this as an independent. I even had a meeting with MATTEL to show them some of my ideas. No action. I could not find a way to get this shit made. I continued with my practice, making weird characters out of Sculpey and trying to show them around. I got a little blurb in Juxtapoz and had a little show at the VICE store, but nothing really was happening. Then, around 1997 the Futura Pointman came out.
This was the first action figure produced by an artist, and I realized “It’s happening.” Then 360 Toy Group opened, KAWS, Michael Lau, and Eric So came on the scene, and I knew everybody. I knew that this was the coming thing. I was “Mr. Toys.” I had been doing this for years, so I assumed that I would just step in and take it over. After all, I had zillions of prototypes and I knew everything there was to know about Star Wars, which was back in style. I even had a little fame for a album I made
called STAR WARS BREAKBEATS. It was a shoe in, I thought. Someone was gonna see my work and give me a deal. A real company was gonna make my toys, I would be a star and make a million dollars. Too easy! Well it didn’t work out that way at all…
NEXT UP: BOOTLEG KING