Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Meet Ricky Rebel

Ricky Rebel: Untitled, marker and makeup on lined notebook paper, 1996.

OMG, where to start? In the mid to late 90s, I lived in an apartment in downtown San Diego. A block away was a neighborhood hairdresser bar where I would sometimes have a few drinks after work. A couple of times I noticed this one guy who kind of stuck out: younger than me, manic and always bouncing off the walls, he had a proclivity for ridiculous "satanic" metal t-shirts and pentagrams drawn crudely in magic marker on his hands. Despite all these obvious warning signs, I found him to be funny as hell, and decided I had to get to know him. I was in for a wild, fun ride! Meet Ricky Rebel:


Where is Ricky today? I'm not sure. He ended up moving to Seattle a year or so before I moved to Washington, DC. There is evidence of him performing open mike shows in Seattle relatively recently. We fell out of touch when we moved our separate ways, and I regret not keeping in touch with him.

When I first met Ricky, he was working as a waiter at a terrible strip-mall "restaurant." He lived in a horrifying residential hotel downtown, literally filled with drunks, junkies, whores and more cockroaches than I've ever seen in one place. Life was not easy for Ricky Rebel: exiled from a strict, Christian family, barely literate but equipped with a surgically-sharp, brutally direct sense of humor, persistently frantic with a motor-mouth to match, Ricky was an epic drama queen to boot, consistently creating chaos and disorder wherever he appeared. In short, he was a bit much for most people, to put it mildly.

Ricky and I quickly became inseparable (but always platonic) friends. We hit the bars together, hung out and talked for hours, collaborated on art and writing projects. Rick loved that I was into art, and showered me with an endless torrent of drawings like the one seen above. He had this really funny, almost childlike obsession with Satanism, the one constant theme in his work. He was hardly earnest about it, though, and loved pointing out the ridiculously straight-faced "evil" found in the work of oh-so-serious bands like Slayer. Satanism was just something hilarious to Ricky, and he loved using it to rile people up. Here's another drawing of his to give you an idea of his take on the subject:


Being friends with Ricky Rebel meant receiving not only reams of drawings and notes, but also cassettes by the dozen. Ricky loved composing and recording songs in his hotel room. When he'd say "I'll make you a tape," he wouldn't duplicate one for you; no, he'd sit down with his open-tuned guitar, press record on his cheap cassette deck, and sing songs until the tape ran out. Some of the songs would be about the person the tape was for, others would be about Satan, and still others might be homoerotic tributes to his favorite heavy metal stars or violent fantasies about whatever celebrity was currently in the gossip magazines. No two tapes were the same. I've got about twenty of them. He was like a gay, Devil-obsessed Daniel Johnston. Or Jandek. But funnier.

So anyway, like I said, meet Ricky Rebel! I've got shitloads more stuff to scan, and I may even post some of the cassettes, if anybody is interested. Consider this yet another odd, hopefully unpredictable left turn on the Pink Pony. So more to come! Yay!

And obviously, Ricky, if you're out there somewhere, drop me a line!

Note: this is not him, thank goodness.

7 comments:

Christopher said...

I'm impressed you kept in platonic! If only I could have been that smart in SF in the late 90s with my string of quasi-housed hook-ups / tricks / bfs / whatever. I mean I still have a thing for these types.

Just another post, I am sorry we never got to meet in person in my 5 years in DC.

Fran said...

Oh this is rich, wonderful! Love that art. Plus it is such a great story and says so much about how easy it is to tune out some folks who end up as total gifts for those who do not.

I want more RR!

Maddiane said...

How prevalent is the BOC logo in his drawings? I always loved that symbol, and when I doodle it seems to come up for me too.

And yeah, I'd love to hear some of his music. I was just listening to Living In A Moon So Blue today.

HRH King Friday XIII, Ret. said...

Such an intriguing chap! I find myself drawn to "interesting" people like this too. Most of my close friend are straight guys with ADD or ADHD. Hope we get to hear more about Ricky on here. The best thing is that we can do it from the safety of our own computers.

Peteykins said...

Ha, ha, well, Rick was anything but straight. It looks like there is sufficient interest to post more Ricky Rebel items.

drew in sf said...

Yes, definitely more Ricky. I think we all know one or two like him... wonder whatever happened to my crazed old friend George and his idea for using ground beef as a claymation medium....

Anonymous said...

I love Ricky Rebel!!! More RR, please!!!