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Skinnie Entertainment Magazine - October 2008

In the wake of the tragic plane wreck that killed four, Travis Barker (above right) and DJ AM, whose real name is Adam Goldstein (Above Left), remain in critical, but stable condition. Chris “Lil Chris” Baker and Charles Still who both worked for Barker were the other two passengers killed in the crash. Barker and Goldstein are expected to make a full recovery. Revitalizing the once dominant Las Vegas’ club, Paul Oakenfold began his first US residency at Rain in The Palms Casino recently. With special guest DJs including Tommy Lee, Samantha Ronson, Sandra Collins, and Donald Glaude, the stint runs for 26 weeks and combines vivid imagery and a diverse catalog of adrenaline pumping music. Teaming up to assert a new position in the MMA world, Oscar De La Hoya’s (Below) Golden Boy Promotion company and the recently Trump-ified Affliction MMA Fight Promotion company announced plans to produce four joint boxing, MMA shows beginning in 2009.  Almost 68 years to the day after Frank Sinatra did it, hip hop mogul Jay-Z will christen the newly renovated historic Hollywood Palladium. Oct. 15th Jay, the man famous for “Selling out the Garden in a day,” will open the timeless venue with a 12-piece band. Tickets…priceless. From guitar, to bolt action rifle, to Microsoft word, eccentric Ted Nugent reached out to Republican Vice Presidential canidate Governor Sarah Palin with a copy of his latest literary effort Ted, White, and Blue – The Nugent Manifesto. In a show of support Nugent also penned a personal letter stating, “We wish you Godspeed for the best hunting and fishing season of your life and pray to God almighty that you bring your bold spirit to the White House.” ‘Nuff said. All around good guy and Mr. Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt recently donated a check in the amount of $100,000 to the campaign against California state same sex ban, proposition 8. The aim: preservation of his core fan base. Founding member of Pink Floyd Richard Wright passed away last month. The man behind hits like “Wish You Were Here” and “The Great Gig in the Sky” will be missed. Only Proving the guy right, Eminem’s mother, Debbie Nelson, is releasing a tell all book entitled,  My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem. The book is said to feature never before scene lyrics and photos from the reclusive star.

Baja and Beyond
The History and Future of Off Road
words by: Nick Brion   photo courtesy of: Josh Hedges

It’s 4:45 on a Friday afternoon and your eyes are fixed on the clock. It’s been another five days in the concrete landscape of civilization, and once again, you’re ready to get out.  You can already hear the whine of your truck’s oversized tires as you navigate the long stretch of highway that connects society to the barren desert. By midnight tonight, you’ll be floating over a mile long whoop section and launching your truck through a star studded sky. It’s desert season again, and this is what you live for.
Welcome to the twisted mind of today’s off-road truck enthusiast. Daily thoughts are clouded with the desire for dirt, and Friday is the longest day of the week. Southern California has seen first hand the growth of the off-road culture in recent years. Our streets have become home to hoards of multi-colored trucks with bulging fenders and a maze of metal tubes, but what do these trucks do and why is every dollar the owner earns bolted or welded on to it, just to be thrashed once the weekend arrives. What began in the 1960s with a course plotted in the Mexican desert has become the latest craze in action sports.

Despite the competitive environment and fast paced action, off-road racing stayed in the shadows of the mainstream sports world for many years. Sanctioned races have had a rocky history of televised media coverage and corporate involvement, highlighted by the tragic death of an ESPN producer on course at a 1995 race. Now 13 years later, with the power of a younger generation of enthusiasts, off-road has found its way to the top yet again. Technology has broken new ground, corporate sponsorship is reaching new heights, and NBC has signed major deals with CORR and SCORE race series for broadcast coverage. So what’s next?

Following the likes of its counterparts in the action sports industry, off-road truck racing and its competitors are being digitalized and reborn in a reality based off-road video game. Robb Rinard is a game designer with a long list of accomplishments, including MX Unleashed, ATV Off-Road Fury, and Motocross Madness. With the debut of THQ’s Baja this month, Robb will have one more title to add to his ever growing list. Baja is an off-road racing game that boasts 95 different tracks, hundreds of real life race vehicles, and most impressive, a replica Baja 1000 race where up to 10 online players can compete in a four hour, 300 mile race against each other without crossing the same terrain twice. Robb and his team of developers spent months working with professional teams in real race environments to get a complete understanding of the mechanics of the vehicles, as well as the community and culture on race day. The end product is a symbol of accomplishment for the sport, and a game that every off-road truck enthusiasts can enjoy from start to finish.

The true evolution of off-road from past to present is a little known tale of people doing what they love, whether the world was watching or not.  From its inception to now, the faces, vehicles and terrain of the sport have all changed time and again, but one thing has remained constant. It’s the feeling you get at each of the hundreds of off-road events and designated OHV areas, the sense that the passion, commitment and competitive spirit from that first race are still alive inside today’s enthusiasts and racers alike.

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Look Daggers
Razor Sharp and Fit To Kill…Typical Hip Hop
Words by: Ramon Gonzales  photo courtesy of: Tomoko Matsushida

Though some might have never expected a collaboration effort between Ikey Owens of the Mars Volta and 2Mex of the Visionaries, those who had any familiarity with either ensemble, the reaction was probably along the lines of a swift, “No shit!?” The duo first convened some three years ago at a home studio in Long Beach, CA and began working on what would become an epic trek through pop, hip hop, rock, jazz and everything in between. Described vaguely by Ikey as, “A hip hop record played by humans,” the synopsis may have missed the boat. Enlisting the help of both local staples and cohorts in better known bands including Mastodon, Reel Big Fish, Long Beach Dub All-Stars, Shapeshifters and the Free Moral Agents, the result is a collection of music that couples the cadence of a hip hop record, riddled the broad array of influences from that would only make sense from the cast of contributors. “I have been spoiled,” Ikey admits. “I have always played with amazing musicians that have been exposed to all kinds of music. The direction of this from the beginning was to be a hip hop record, but as musicians there are things these guys do naturally that changes it up and makes so that the sound never got boring.” Although both Ikey and 2Mex have developed reputations for dabbling with improvisation, pounding out dramatic keyboard fills and flexing sharp freestyle lyrical prowess respectively, Look Daggers, was birthed and followed a deliberate blueprint from start to finish. Recorded live, Suffer In Style, spits in the face of the kind of hip hop music plagued with over produced loops and Pro Tools dependency. “Alex (2Mex) would come ready with the lyrical side, and I had a direction for the music. When we were in the studio the songs were mapped out so recording it live worked best for us. Like I said, I’ve been spoiled that way. The musicians I get to play with are all bring something new to the table. Sometimes I found myself wishing I could be in their band. Working on this record I got to do that.” Appropiately titled, Look Daggers have compiled a collection of music that is rooted in stylized projection. While the record pulls together competent musicianship and socially conscious lyrical focus, the sound can function as the audio backdrop for a smoky conversation in a dimly lit lounge, just as well as the soundtrack for the party.  While you won’t hear about champagne and oversized rims, there is nothing about Look Daggers that will force you to the throw of social upheaval either. “I’m not a fan of what people consider underground hip hop. I think it’s more of a message than a sound. This project was about doing hip hop with a sense of energy and some attention to detail. If I get bored playing it, what’s the point of showing it to anyone else?”         

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Oh’s, Ah’s, and Ouch
Welcome to Lucha Va Voom, Where Luchadors, Sexy Burlesque Girls, and Comedy Collide.

Words by: Ramon Gonzales

Masked men in spandex flying through the air into crowds of spectators, midgets, scantily clad women dancing to ? & The Mysterians, irreverent comedians with diarrhea of the mouth, booze, tattoos and hipsters…the travesty would be to get lost in the novelty of any of it. Beyond the wrestling, the stripteases and the occasional f-bomb, the allure of LUCHA VA VOOM can be reduced to a simple truth according to co-founder Rita D’Albert.“Rock ‘n roll isn’t dangerous anymore, we make sure our show is.” A modern vaudevillian revival, LVV flirts with the vibrant colors of classic B movies and the spontaneity of theatrical improv. Celebrating its sixth successful year, the production that prides itself on making debauchery fun has become a huge draw not only in the City of Angels, but internationally just the same. The fusion of traditional Mexican wrestling, the playful seduction of burlesque, and the kind of comedy that would make even the iPod generation blush is proving that there is a need for the occasional slice of danger. “Sexo Y Violencia” never looked better.
The Start –
Hollywood costume designer Liz Fairbairn and Velvet Hammer famed burlesque performer Rita D’Albert came together with a true penchant for the provocative. After working in Mexico on a film, Fairbairn would develop a fascination with Lucha Libre and along with D’Albert, would find that masks and madams would make a harmonious match. “We all worked together at some point. We all loved the culture of Lucha Libre and wanted to show people what they were missing. Being involved in burlesque and watching as it was becoming bigger and bigger, we felt this would be a unique way to bring in the crowds.” Scheduling the first production initially at the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles, Lucha Va Voom would change venues and find a home at the historic Mayan Theatre. Highlighting the prestige and theatrics of the Luchador, the scripted drama of good versus evil combined with comedic blow by blow commentary, rounded out with a real element of seduction between falls, Va Voom would receive unanimous praise. With thematic events every June, October, and Feburary, the ticket has become nearly impossible to get.

The Masks –
“Lucha Libre in Mexico is more than just wrestling. These are real athletes, but the drama of the storyline and the significance of the mask makes it mysterious. They are like superheros. “ While relegated to being a most Mexican phenomenon, the crossover appeal of these larger than life combatants is a combination of sheer athleticism and a real understanding of entertaining the crowds. As bonafided celebrities in Mexico, Luchadors maintain their larger than life personas in and out of the ring. Lucha Va Voom has managed to lure some of the sport’s most respected names including Rey Misterio Sr. and even Mexico’s most revered luchador, Mil Mascaras (A Thousand Masks). D’Albert explains, “The luchadores love to perform here in the States. The crowds in Mexico are usually working class families. With Lucha Va Voom,  it’s aimed at adults. The luchadors have huge personalities and that translates to any crowd in any country.”

The Curves –
Although the notion of a “ring girl” is nothing new, the marriage of burlesque and wrestling has now been cornered. Between “Neo-Burlesque” visionary Michelle Carr and longtime troupe performer Rita D’Albert, a considerable foundation of LVV was rooted deeply in the subculture that was once considered taboo, Until the Velvet Hammer. “Buxiotocas” as they are called in this production, take the stage and though every performance has some degree of humor and innocence, the sexuality is impossible to deny. Hula hoops, pink balloons, pogo sticks, nipple tassles and animal costumes all become props in a lavish feast for the senses. The hooping and hollering cross gender lines and are received with smiles from the dancers who take on more than just the role of “in-between” entertainment.

The Jabs –
No combative event could ever function the same if not for the role of the animated commentator and grand master of ceremonies. Behind the microphone comedians Blaine Capatch, Tom Kenny, and “King of Queens” star Patton Oswalt flip the duty of voicing the action on its head. Wise-ass quips, the occasional foul mouthed slip and loads of political incorrect-ness culminate in the only kind of commentary suitable for an event that would have wrestling chickens and bare breasts in the same hour. To give an idea of how vital the comedic aspect of Lucha Va Voom is, the production was actually positioned to work with the A.D.D. stylings of Dane Cook, but he refused. D’Albert talked about the proverbial, “fuck no.” “Well, to be honest, we want to make sure the show is funny. The comedians we work with are all people we respect and are fans of. We want to keep it that way.”  

The Reason –
Not to be obscured by celebrity endorsement, or the droves of hipsters now flocking to see Mexican wrestling, Lucha Va Voom is the harmonious collision of aggression and sexuality. A production provocative enough for Las Vegas but focused enough for Broadway, the reality of the event’s success goes deeper than the exaggeration of its ensemble cast. The dancing, the jokes, the violence all reaffirm a real need to explore what you aren’t supposed to. We love to watch the fight, we love to watch the foreplay, and we love to laugh at the parts of life that might hurt a little too. Lucha Va Voom is predicated on allowing their fans to do what they normally can’t, live outside the norm. A true celebration of culture and humanity, the decadence of flying fists, shaking tits and a stiff cocktail all result in one universal truth: “Underneath the lights and in the ring we all get to have fun and allow people to forget real life for awhile.”

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Chicks Dig Scars
The creative duo behind System of A Down talk about their new project Scars On Broadway and dish on maturity, Neil Young, and Swastikas.
Words by: Alex Mendoza photo by: Jeff Forney

Normally when a band decides to go on hiatus, the general assumption is an unspoken (or rather public) rift has manifested itself.  A slew of reasons follow and suddenly it’s the type of literary fodder that becomes the stuff of internet legend.  Most of it is inaccurate, over assuming, and even slightly offensive.  For Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan, however, their reasons for System of a Down’s hiatus are genuine.  During the course of the interview those hiatus issues never rear their head, but there is the occasional reference to the fact that they were at a point in time where they all had different ideas in mind.
“I felt that while I was writing the music for Mesmerize and Hypnotize that my music was going in a different direction.  It was going to places I never really thought it would go and I’m the type of person that simply writes whatever comes to mind. There’s no general formula or method to the madness as people would call it.  I simply call it as I hear it and I was hearing atypical sounds and melodies that were well outside what System represented.  Scars on Broadway pretty much represents this shift in my writing and my maturity as a musician.  I’m doing things here with John that we could have never done with System and it feels great,” Daron explains enthusiastically.

Scars on Broadway’s music is a dramatic shift from the manic underpinnings of System of a Down.  There is the lingering presence of that frenzied energy that dominated System’s songs, but with Scars the music is unwavering and never fails in assaulting the senses – while possessing that feeling that it could crescendo at any moment.  The most appeasing aspect about the group is that it truly feels like a separate incarnation; more than a side project Scars establishes a unique identity rooted in a straight-forward songwriting style.

“This music is definitely more straight forward than most of the stuff we’ve done with System,” John coolly describes the songs.  “It’s just a testament to Daron’s growth as a writer. He’s going places we could never go with System – using Bowie and Neil Young as some of his influences.  That’s one of the main reasons I was attracted to the project because it was different from what I had been doing for the past ten years.  Tackling new styles is refreshing as a musician and exciting.”

Listeners will immediately notice the drastic lyrical shift.  There are no in-your-face political agendas commandeering the music.  Whether it’s the electronic tinge bubbling in “Chemicals” or the brutal clutch of songs such as “They Say” and “Babylon,” there’s always a sense of some twisted stream of consciousness pulsing through the music. Daron explains, “When I’m writing lyrics, I pretty much go with whatever comes to my head.  It’s the same as when I write my music.  I have my finger on the pulse of the world, but I’m not aiming to address some political agenda, or blatantly attack particular authority figures.  I’m doing whatever I feel is necessary to convey the spirit of the songs,”

Scars on Broadway is not a project that has recently emerged from the aftermath of System’s hiatus. In fact, the project began during the thick of System’s success in 2003.  So what about that band name? John detailed how Scars on Broadway came to be. “Daron was walking in New York along Broadway and he sees stickers of swastikas lined on the poles and it was a compelling sight.  He said to himself that it would be a cool name for a band: Swastikas on Broadway, but it wasn’t the image he felt would represent the band because of the negative connotations associated with the swastika.” While Swastikas on Broadway probably wouldn’t have boded well with the FCC, Scars on Broadway took shape with a provocative name to match its unapologetic sound.

“My biggest challenge in pursuing this project was finding the right set of people who could really mesh well with what I had in mind musically. I like to think about the big picture because when you’re in a band it’s like a family.  If one guy doesn’t get along with another guy in the band it’s never going to work out.  I had to go through several guitarists before settling with Dominic and even some drummers before I contacted John.  Having him on board made it a familiar-type of gig because we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  We played off each other really well and helped established the family dynamic,” Daron says.

Building on the success of System, Scars may take the notoriety with them, but are having to earn the audience one tour stop at a time. “One of the most surreal aspects so far was going to Europe and playing these shows and people were singing the lyrics to all the songs and the CD isn’t even out yet.  As System we kind of took the fan base for granted because we knew as long as we played the hits they would respond.  With Scars, we have to start right from the beginning and earn their trust all over again.  It’s an amazing feeling to be playing in these clubs with these crazy fans who are really paying attention to what we’re saying as a band – lyrically and musically,”

And as one final word of assurance, Daron elaborates on the importance of the music the band has created: “For us as musicians and performers, the stuff we’re doing with Scars is like a child we’ve raised.  We’re happy with the results and that’s what it’s about.  We set out to create music we knew would represent our best intentions.  We never aimed to finish by a certain point because to me that seems like a disservice to ourselves and the music.  This is the best material we’ve done and we can’t wait to share it with everyone else.”

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Sunny Garcia
Don’t Call It a Comeback, He’s Been Here for Years.
Words by: Ramon Gonzales

In the middle of our conversation, Sunny interjects, “I remember back in 1986 man, I was a kid surfing in the World Cup riding nine foot swells. I placed fourth that year. Fourth. And my prize money turned out to be 400 bucks. I almost drowned twice that day…the sport has come a long way.” A dominating figure in the sport of surfing for over two decades, Sunny Garcia has become a name that is latent with legacy in the water. At just 16, Garcia would drop out of high school to compete at the professional level. In 2000, Garcia would achieve the ultimate goal in the sport by capturing the world title, a culmination of years of training, traveling and sacrifice.

With numerous sponsors, countless fans on shores the world over, and the respect of everyone else who paddled out into the water, Sunny had cemented a legacy and established himself as a household name. Just a short seven years later, Sunny would again paddle out to prove himself, only this time with an electronic monitoring bracelet securely attached to his ankle. Obscuring a lifetime of contributions to what Sunny calls, “The grandfather of extreme sports,” Garcia would run into the long arm of the law and instead of facing those mammoth Hawaiian swells, he would face a judge and a jury of his peers. Having gone from being the fresh 16 year old who dropped out of high school to turn pro, to the pro disgraced by personal indiscretions, Garcia has since emerged to become surfing’s prodigal son. Finding redemption in the waters he felt had become “a job,” the Hawaiian has gone from behind bars and back to the beach with his eyes set on the winner’s podium.

“I know it might seem weird saying this, but going to jail really was a blessing for me. I had lots of time to think about my career (chuckles), but what that time really did for me was remind me how lucky I was. I love surfing and I love being in the water. I love to travel and see the world. Surfing allowed me to do all that and for a long time I didn’t see things that way.” Garcia slows for a minute almost to reaffirm the thought he just expressed. In 2006 Sunny was brought up on charges for federal tax evasion. The charges asserted that the surfer between the years of 1996 through 2001 failed to report over $400,000 in prize money he had acquired. In 2007, a California judge would convict Sunny Garcia and sentence him to three months in a federal penitentiary, with a subsequent six months of house arrest.
Returning to the water upon his release, Sunny Garcia would begin his slow ascension back to becoming one of the most feared competitors in the sport. “I spent 20 years of my life surfing with the elite in the game. I was in the dark about the kind of talent that was out there. On the tour (WCT) you don’t see all the young guys who are going to be the next ones to change the sport. Taking that time away made me refocus and train hard to compete on the level I have always been at.” Within the last year Garcia has once again climbed in the rankings in the ASP World Qualifying Series. Gaining a strong foothold consistently in the top 20, the Qualifying Series is now bending the corner on familiar stomping grounds for Garcia.

The native Hawaiian makes no bare bones about the pride he takes in coming from the place he says, “is home to the best surfers in the world.” Starting in October and carrying on through the beginning of December, the World Qualifying Series will host three of its final five events on the island of Oahu; with two of the events carrying major importance, as they are Six-Star ranked events. After 20 years, it would be unimaginable for most people to still compete at the same level they did when they first began, but for Sunny, surfing has taken on a new perspective. “Surfing had become a job for me. When I was a kid, it was exciting signing contracts and traveling all over the world. The sponsors were there and I was doing what I loved. But then after a while, it wasn’t exciting anymore. Being on the CT, it felt like I signed my life away for a while. Now, my sponsors aren’t pushing me to do the tour. They just want me to ride. Surfing is like how it used to be. I get in the water and it feels like how it used to.”

With a realistic shot of not only qualifying for the World Championship Tour, but actually winning the World Qualifying Series, one of sports’ truly miraculous comebacks is unfolding one event at a time. Yet when you ask him how he sees his legacy, Sunny scoffs, “Nah, I never really thought about myself in that way. I don’t think most people do. What I do think about is how I know things now that I wish I knew back then. I see these young guys sitting in meetings (with sponsors). And they don’t want to give, then the sponsors who are trying to do business don’t want to give. Sometimes I just want to punch these guys in the head and see if then they will get it; the surfers too. This sport has become so big and so many people are buying into the culture of it, but the surfers aren’t paid how other extreme athletes are. This is the grandfather of extreme sports, but it so hard to find a balance in the middle.”

Despite the turmoil of litigation, the loss of sponsors, and the sort of tarnish that most would never attempt to come back from, Sunny Garcia has proven why of the countless surfers in the world, he is included in a handful whose names are readily recognized. To watch him cascade and slice across the kind of swells that make for epic still frame surf pictures inspires the kind of awe that almost wakes a sense of envy in you. It’s euphoric to watch someone do what they love to do so well. Basking in the comfort that only comes with finding a renewed sense of quality of life, Garcia has regained solid sponsors, regained a firm ranking, and regained the kind of energy he had when he was 16 and paddling out on the board. Garcia laments, “It’s amazing to see how the sport has grown. I am proud to be a surfer from Hawaii. It feels good to be a part of something that reaches so many people.” While the comeback is something everyone can see on the horizon, the real story remains how life sometimes forces you to stop and remember why you ever started in the first place.

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The Terrorist and the French Fry
A Few Words of Wisdom From Master Debaters and Presidential Hopefuls Obama and McCain
Compiled by: Don C. Stepanovich

BARACK OBAMA
“I would have to...investigate more of Bill’s dancing abilities, you know, and some of this other stuff before I accurately judge whether he was in fact a brother.” - On whether Bill Clinton was “our first black president.”

“I don’t want to be invited to the family hunting party.”  - On revelations that he and Dick Cheney are eighth cousins.

“(The pundits) said you can’t win in a year like this with a name like Obama. There was quite a bit of confusion at first, but it did get me free airtime on Al Jazeera.”

“It’s been a great ride. But I know how quickly these fads can pass. You all remember the pet rock, the mood ring, Howard Dean.”

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

“I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.”

“You know, my faith is one that admits some doubt.”

“Why can’t I just eat my waffle?” 

JOHN McCAIN
“Thanks for the question, you little jerk.” - John McCain, after being asked by a high school student if he was too old to be president. For good measure, McCain then threatened to draft him.   

“We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos; there will be genocide; and they will follow us home.”

“Presidential ambition is a disease that can only be cured by embalming fluid.”

“I’m older than dirt, I’ve got more scars than Frankenstein, but I’ve learned a few things along the way.”

“Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” - To reporters in New Hampshire after being asked about about Mitt Romney

“We spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don’t know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue.” - On wasteful congressional spending.

“Washington is a Hollywood for ugly people. Hollywood is a Washington for the simpleminded.”

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