Article written by: Anita Overcash of Tattoo Revue Magazine
When all is said and done, what will you hope that people will remember about you, or be inspired by you to do?
BB.) I have been involved in Tattooing, for just shy of 20 years now. I have seen a LOT of changes, and I have seen the effect our artwork has had on contemporary tattooing. I am uninterested in all of that. The main difference that stands out, and that I believe we had a profound influence on, but would NEVER take credit for, is the fact that Charity is now a common word in tattooing. When I started, tattooing was inundated and controlled by serious bikers, drug dealers, pimps and ho's, and charity was not a word in our vocabulary. Now I see "Toys for Tots", bike runs for fallen officers, abused animal fundraisers, donations for child cancer, in tattoo based promotion all the time.
This Christmas was the best one yet for that. I clicked on one of my MySpace accounts and saw like 3000 charity events at tattoo shops. While I would never take credit for that, it is awesome to see how constant and prevalent it has become for us as an industry since I climbed in. Charity used to be a bad word that incited argument.
Early on, I did some online charity auctions, and all we got initially was hate mail. "You scumbag, you're keeping that sh*t" (laughter). I believe it was when one of our artists' children was diagnosed with terminal and aggressive cancer that it really took on a life of its own. The whole tattoo industry came together to help! And he received the brutal treatments of chemo while watching his NEW big screen TV and playing his new video games! (laughter).
We raised some money for injured soldiers, a tattoo artist who had a bad car wreck, and did "Toys for Tots" again and again, all while filming the animal charity movie (Vicktory to the Underdog), and all of a sudden the incoming mail changed. It was people with their own ideas on who to help, how to help, or asking what they could do to help US!
As a result, I understood what the TV show "My Name is Earl" is actually all about. Now I f*cking love that show. "Hey Crabman!" But the point is that now it's trendy to do this, and before, it was only thought of as a scam. "Do good and good things happen".
I recently saw you on "Pitbulls and Parolees" on Animal Planet, saving the largest Pit Bull Rescue on earth singlehandedly. Tia Maria Torres as well as Shorti Rossi are now celebrities that you seem to have "discovered". What was it like working with AP, and when can we finally expect to see YOUR show every week?
BB.) First of all I did not do that singlehandedly, I had a lot of people working with me. My assistant Nicole and I, did not eat/sleep much for about 4 months to accomplish all of that with the bands, flights, insurance, permits, artwork, releases, booking, casinos, rental cars, production companies, celebrities, limos, demands for booze and free rooms, shuttles, it was insane, on so many levels. But it worked, and without it www.vrcpitbull.com would have ceased to exist.
A lot of people get all caught up in saving one dog at a time, I figured "let's try and make broader strokes", which is something I learned while filming the documentary. So our goal was not to place a dog or two, but to RESCUE someone who helps thousands and will continue to. She puts the money into the dogs, many do not, and I can personally vouch for that as we have provided her with a LOT of loot, and I continue to see growth as a result, every time I visit. I am planning another trip this summer.
"Pitbulls and Parolees" is actually a huge success now. So is "PitBoss". I am proud of both of them, but I still feel deeply close to Tia and her dysfunctional family, which I have always felt a part of. Her TV show is a cool thing. I f*cking hate reality TV, but that show has a message, and a rawness to it, that lent itself to our message perfectly. One of the producers of our film is the brainchild of that show. Michael Dinco who also created the film about BSL simultaneously (Denver Dog Massacre). He is also a good friend, that I met at Villa Lobos, those years ago.
Plus they, (the TV producers) said I could cuss, so that was cool (laughter). Not to mention the attention it brings to "TIA MARIA TORRES" and Villa Lobos Rescue Center, at a time when they needed the help so badly. So when they asked if I would do the Season Finale, the answer was a rare and resounding "HELL YES". We were just trying to keep them floating financially until they actually aired the show and got paid, the truth is they almost did NOT make it. The experience was beautiful and it changed me forever.
It was a success, we kept everyone in dog food and bail money, and once it actually aired, the craziest part was the random texts from friends asking me to hook them up with Tania Torres (Tia's daughter) or Pixie Acia (from LA Ink/Miami Ink/Vicktory to the Underdog, also on the season finale). That answer was always a NO!
What made you choose to create a documentary film? At what point did you decide to make this film?
(BB) We started filming random weirdness in my life 15 years ago while I was touring the country (US) tattooing.
I have a vault of tapes that would kill an elephant. I was filming some short YouTube stuff about abused pit bulls before the Vick case broke.
Annie Oakley, is my second favorite dog (behind only Cain Bond) and it was her experience of being saved from euthanization that we were filming.
Then "it" exploded onto my own TV in the background of what we were filming,Vick and fighting dogs were everywhere in Atlanta. On every channel, and Atlanta almost erupted in riots, everyone was freaked out. The black quarterback, the dog fighting in black society, the rednecks in Georgia that also fight dogs, the dog mutilation with all of Vick's horrible details in testimony, the differences in our racial perspectives, even Whoopie Goldberg put her foot in her mouth about it on "The View".
The film project grew, the experiences got more intense, some of my friends in Los Angeles wanted to be in the film, and presto, we found a real live movie happening. The story is f*cking intense, definitely not Animal Planet type sh*t. Danny Trejo, Tia Maria Torres, Pixie Acia, Michael Berryman, Bob Barker, Donal Logue, and several GA Senators all instantly became part of the project. It was an amazing project to have created that was constantly growing. And still is.
How long did it take for you to create this award winning film from start to finish?
Much of the footage is 15+ years old and is from my many years of touring, travelling, and partying; so technically this project is the culmination of a lot of destroyed video cameras and police reports.15 years worth of chaos. There are even boobies. We cut out all pornographic material however. It is a damn charity film after all. But it doesn't view like one. In fact within 2 minutes, there are hard nipples glowing on screen on fire.
Just how much of a financial impact did the "Great Pit Ball" in Las Vegas have on Villa Lobos Rescue Center?
(BB) Tia Maria Torres discussed it with me while I interviewed her for our film actually. She explained the financial situation she was facing. She asked me to help, so we started helping as hard and as intensely as we could. One of our producers was actually working with her on a pilot and trying to get her the show "Pitbulls and Parolees". I gave her a large donation on the spot (to keep it going) and vowed to keep her going long enough for her to reach the masses.
The first thing we did was hold an online auction on our websites and we raised about $20,000.00 for her within a month or so. We also started an online donation collection for her, which worked and netted her another 5g's "widget style". This all was wonderful, but her operating expenses exceed these amounts, and dramatic action had to be taken.
I had effectively run all 4 of my companies into the ground finishing this film and working to create this huge Vegas fundraiser, all the way across the country dealing with Casinos and flights and venues I had never even been inside of. It was an insane 5 months, but we did it. And according to Tia, we saved her operation, so we DID IT! Without all of this dramatic action, bankruptcy was imminent. The fight is not over, but we are closer. Once her TV show aired the donations began to ROLL IN! Television can reach a much wider demographic than anything my companies can provide, so we wanted to simply keep her afloat until the Animal Planet money started to appear. It worked..
Without our help, she would have been forced off her property and all the dogs would have again become homeless and hopeless. The first thing to dry up in dire economic circumstances is DONATIONS, and she is 100% dependent on donations to survive. So the answer is, the financial impact was monumental.
The event was about more than just raising money - it was about awareness. Do you feel you have managed to reach the hearts and minds of people - not just those attending, but people to who think pit bulls are dangerous animals that we need to be protected from by legislature?
(BB) I believe that the film itself does that yes. Anyone who watches this film, is affected, no matter who they are or how they feel about anything. The dogs in the film are simply a metaphor for so much more, and many widespread topics are explored - man vs. nature, man vs. man, prejudice, assumptions, media, and the ability for ANYONE to do some good in this world. There is something for everyone in this film. It is 100% uncensored, and untainted by cooperate influence. The pure definition of an “Independent Film”. This is nothing like what you would see on Animal Planet, it's an extremely “in your face” piece and it’s a roller coaster from hell.
What about the bands? "The Great Pit Ball" featured acts like "Sick of it All", "Madball", "The Spyderz" and "Toetag" - favorites of yours? Were there any other bands you wish could have attended in addition?
(BB) Yes, I personally contacted each band, and personally bought their flights and rooms and all that. I called in a lot of favors to pull that off, but the bands were AWESOME about helping. Evan Seinfeld is the pure definition of a rockstar/pornstar, but is extremely cool about charity stuff, I have been a long time fan of his music, however I consider him a friend also. "Sick of it All" NYHC has been one of my favorite bands since I was in middle school! As has "Madball", and I have been very close friends with John Wiley (CEO of Eulogy Recordings and guitar player for "ToeTag" and "Until The End") and he has helped us out on many projects to date. Our first film “SEE YOU IN HELL” exclusively featured Eulogy music, and my instructional tattoo seminar DVD series “The Whole Enchilada Vol 1 and Vol 2” both feature all Eulogy music. He and I have worked on many projects together, and the original motion picture soundtrack to “Vicktory to the Underdog” is predominately Eulogy donated music. When was the first Great Pit Ball (to raise money for Villa Lobos Rescue Center)?
March 14, 2009
What was the "Great Pit Ball"? Please respond as if you were the promoter of the event?
The Great Pit Ball, a star studded charity event to raise money for Villa Lobos Rescue Center, was a resounding success on March 14, 2009 in Las Vegas, NV. With over 3,000 attendees flying in from all over the globe, the guest list included celebrities like Michael Berryman (The Devil’s Rejects, The Hills Have Eyes, Weird Science, One flew over the Cuckoos Nest), Pixie Acia (LA Ink, Miami Ink and Fear factor game show winner) Tera Patrick, the number one porn star in the world who won the coveted “Best new starlet” award and has been in over 100 adult films; Evan Seinfeld, the well known lead vocalist of the multi-platinum album selling Biohazard , an adult film actor, director, photographer, writer, entrepreneur, and starred in the HBO series “Oz”, James Madio (Hook, Basketball Diaries, Lost Boys, Band of Brothers), Shorti Rossi and Tia Maria Torres both of Animal Planet fame following our film's release, , UFC fighter Alex Karalexis from the UFC reality series and 3-time UFC veteran, “Razor” Rob McCullough the 5 time world Muay Thai champion and former World Extreme Cage Fighting Weight Champion; Mario Barth, world renowned and celebrity tattoo artist, owner and chief tattoo artist at Starlight Tattoo; John Huntington, formally from the show "INKED Hart & Huntington" which is now Huntington Ink at the Palms Casino, also known as the country’s premiere nightclub promoter; and Boo-yaa Tribe, a hip-hop group from California, Ice-T, rapper and actor, and many more celebrities.
You are a world-renowned tattoo artist, and many of the visitors at the "Pit Ball" were heavily inked. It is clearly an artistic medium in its own right - customers of yours?
(BB) I would say that 90% of all patrons were heavily tattooed yes. It is my demographic for sure. I have the ability to reach these people in a way that “Disney style, Animal Planet fluff” cannot. These are the people that actually own pit bulls, these are the people over-breeding them into oblivion, and these are the people that are joining together to speak for those without a voice. It is amazing. There was an incredible collection of tattoos everywhere! It was awesome, like a tattoo convention, without the stalkers and tattooing.
How many pit bull dogs do you have?
(BB) 6 of them. Well the most important one just died. I am still f*cked about it.
How did you find funding for the film? Was it self-funded?
I ran all my companies financially into the ground (not literally but almost!) to complete this film, but they are back in full force baby. My tattoo career, the studio in Atlanta (www.AllorNothingTattoo.com), and my online retail company (www.Strangleholdmerch.com funded this film 100%. No partners or distractions. Most of it was filmed by my friends and family. It is as independent a movie as any film ever made in the history of earth. It was very difficult, a long expensive crazy process. But that way we could make it any way we wanted to. I think the "F" word is in the film about 200 times?
The Great Pit Ball March 14, 2009 Palms Casino (Film Premiere, Concert, Elegant Dinner, and Art show benefiting Villa Lobos Rescue center www.vrcpitbull.com and filmed for "Pitbulls and Parolees" season finale on Animal Planet).
Action on Film Festival Laemmle Theater Playhouse 7,
Pasadena, CA July 29, 2009
(Won "Best Social Commentary" Award
and nominated for 4 total awards.) Benefited "Shorty's Rescue" and filmed for "The Pitboss" on Animal Planet which aired in his first season.
Artivist Film Festival
December 2009 Los Angeles (Official Selection) ARTIVIST is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. All proceeds benefit the Annual Artivist Film Festival, creating a platform for socially conscious "Artivists" to share their inspirational and informative films with the world.
Milwaukee VICKtory Premiere May 6, 2010
Milwaukee, WI (Charity event and Film premiere)
Benefited Battle Against Dogfighting and Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue.