Posts Tagged ‘@versace_plug’

Does A Thrasher Part Risk Puncturing @Versace_Plug’s Distant And Detached Instagram Mystique?

February 8, 2020

The year was 2008. The global economy was beginning to circle the ‘toilet,’ Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were balling for position across primary-voting states, food riots shook several countries, and in Baton Rouge, singer-songwriter Webbie released ‘Savage Life 2,’ propelled into the musical mainstream by the feminist anthem ‘Independent.’ This manually spellchecking ‘club banger’ told the story of a street-savvy and successful career woman who, occasionally to the surprise of Webbie and featurees Lil Phat and Boosie, rejects their patriarchical advances to acquire and pop her own bottles, leave the club early for work when necessary, and exhibit few if any onion ring aromas.

Was Webbie, 12 years ago, actually writing the story of @versace_plug, sometimes knowed as Hyun Kummer? The answer is yes. One of the pivotal moments for the skateboard industry in the ’10s occurred when the snooze-flicking IGer denied then ghosted Torey Pudwill, after the latter had put forth a presumably unsolicited offer of Thank You flow:

Have you ever tried to reach out to any of these Instagram stars?
Torey Pudwill: Yeah, I hit up that kid Versace Plug*. He told me, “I don’t do sponsors.” That threw me off so I told him, “That ain’t what this is!” He never hit me back. I guess he’s on some new shit.

The implications were enormous: Here was a kid out of continental Europe turning down one Skater of the Year and another credible coulda-been to continue filming clips with his friends for ‘tha gram.’ Rather than submit to the skate-biz machinery of compulsory product-drop hashtaging, camera-specific filming missions and associated hobnobbing, @versace_plug has spent however much of the ensuing years he deems appropriate skating, perfecting the fine art of the trap-soundtracked park clip, tending a Nike hookup, and gathering flamey emojis from pro skaters and fashion industry admirers. By the all-important follower metric he is batting 400K, nearly halfway to his onetime would-be employers’ personal totals and multiples of the meandering Thank You enterprise, with next to none of the traditional ‘coverage.’ To Be Sure, gifted others have walked from the industry’s embrace — Travis Stenger, the sorely missed Ted DeGros — but @versace_plug seems never to have had much careerist aspirations to begin with, and crucially, hasn’t really appeared to seek much validation from the industry, which nevertheless continues to lavish upon him positive emojis and comments.

Until Friday, that is, when @versace_plug delivered a part for Thrasher. It is a fairly comprehensive distillation of his IG exploits — big stair sets, leaned landings, bigspin flips, costly shoes, Chief Keef with hyperactive hi-hat cymbals. There are some surprises, like the hardflip up the long stairs, the spastic-fast between-stack nollie flip, the nose manual down the hubba, the Bastien Salabanzi-channeling kickflip backside lipslide shove-it on the micro rail. It is a serviceable, even impressive answer to the long-running mystery of what @versace_plug might produce if he directed his considerable skills and laconic, moneyed style toward a video part. But by making such an effort and offering it up to the center of the skateboarding universe in 2020**, is he risking the posture of aloof indifference he has cultivated via rejecting the blazen path?

Is this whole topic neutralized and rendered moot if he winds up getting onto Primitive? How much of @versace_plug’s digital clout derives directly from his top 10-level choice of handle? Has @versace_plug made a convincing enough case to be added to the short list allowed to do varial flips? Or is this in fact a ‘trick question’ and no such list ought exist whatsoever?

*’To Mr. and Mrs. Plug, a son, Versace.’
**The one not called Instagram

A Smile From A Veil

March 19, 2018

When the machines complete their account of human history, our current era will be remembered for several things: an improbable resurgence of the color yellow, @versace_plug, and the skateboard industry busily getting its act together so as to gather as many dollars as possible in conjunction with the steadily nearing international Olympic hoopla. Already a schism is visible between those striving to have their proverbial shit together, and the have-nots. Dustin Dollin, proudly among the latter, explained recently to fellow traveler Ali Boulala the difference between himself and future Olympic medallion hoister Nyjah Huston, at least when it comes to chemical-fueled art heists:

DD: The thing also about skateboarding is that if you do get that popular you really have to watch your step. That’s what’s good about sticking to the society of the underground, I can fuck up and be a drunk and nobody is going to say shit. But if Nyjah does that shit, pulls down some paintings in a hotel he’s fucked. His sponsors would be out.

For those young strivers raised in sanctioned skateparks to reach for maximum experience points, straight-and-narrows may be obligatory. But for others figuring they have time to affect a pivot from Dustin Dollin’s Pellucidar to squeaky-clean Team USA garms, decades spent straying from any and every paths are busily being recorded for posterity. Consider Heath Kirchart, no stranger to bodily risk, fresh off an engrossing ‘Epicly Later’d’ that plumbed one of the industry’s more mercurial personas, who seems to have traded in a skate career with plenty of runway for legacy-milking for a series of odd jobs interspersed with life-threatening missions pursued with an endearing zest for minimal preparation. A less misanthropic pro or bro might draw accusations of burnishing his or her image for a stab at a bigger platform, but Heath Kirchart’s own circumstance reads more like a death wish, and in some ways, a relic belonging to an era swiftly fading into the chemtrail of a Tokyo-bound jet liner.

Were he cut from careerist cloth, would Heath Kirchart instead find himself trussed and dangling over a poisonous cauldron of righteous internet anger, freshly bubbling as podcast interviewees trot out tales of long-ago terroristic behaviours? As the ‘#MeToo’ movement claims celebrity scalps and forces industries from media to politics into uncomfortable self-examinations, the increasingly upward-mobile skateboarding biz might ponder its own richly checkerboarded past. Witness a string of podcast interviewees trotting forth entertaining and engrossing tales of mental and physical grotesqueries doled out by Heath Kirtchart in younger, freer and harsher times:

Jamie Tancowny, The Bunt: After I hurt my knee I moved back up to Canada for a year, year and a half… I couldn’t skate at all, I was kind of just by myself up there. That led up to, when I moved down here that’s when I switched to LE, that’s right when I started to film again pretty much to get back to the level I was before. And basically [Emerica] were like you got six months to get an interview in Thrasher. And it was like in July or whatever… I actually got it done and that’s when Heath became the team manager. And pretty much they kind of just were like, “yeah, we can’t do it anymore, we gotta stop paying you, and if you want to put your feelers out to try and find a new company you probably should start doing that, somebody that will pay you.” And I was like alright, that sucks, pretty much got kicked off.

TB: …what’s up with Heath?

JT: He’s still a good guy. He just has a temper I think. …He was there when I first went down and stayed at the Emerica mansion actually… he just kind of kept to himself. I don’t know, we’re like homies, so it was definitely kind of weird. I still see him these days, and it’s just like water under the bridge, I don’t hold a grudge, it’s not his fault.

Jerry Hsu, the Nine Club: Demos are mellower because the whole team’s with you, you’re not alone. But when it gets down to just you, though, it sucks… I’ve definitely been like the last person skating and then not landed the trick, just because I was trying something. And I’m the last one, and it’s just so brutal, every attempt. And then sometimes people will start doing a ‘Jerry’ chant, like Jerry Springer… oh my God, that only compounds it. Heath used to do that, when he was the team manager at Emerica, he would even do that when he rode for Emerica. He would start that chant and I would have to tell everybody like, no, don’t…

James Hardy, The Bunt: We went to LA to stay with [Dan Rogers, Heath Kirchart, Skatetalk Bob], I was turning 16 on the trip, while I was staying with them. I was super excited to meet Kirchart, he was one of my favorite skaters, but he was pretty reclusive… as the tale goes with him. He didn’t come out hardly ever when we were there the first four or five days. And then that’s when my birthday happened. I was asleep on the couch and lights come on and I get woke up getting put in a headlock by Dan Rogers. He was into wrestling or some of that stupid shit so he put me in some weird jock-y headlock. I got my face on the ground, he’s got his foot on my neck.

I had my face on the ground, squirming. I’ll throw Ben [Gilly] under the bus… I think I kicked his foot and he went off crying hobbling to the bedroom. Heath randomly came out of his cave and started heel kicking the back of my thigh. And started punching me. My nose started bleeding at one point… he had me in the headlock, they beat my arms to a pulp, my legs to a pulp, at a certain point I couldn’t walk.

…Eventually I was so tired I just gave up. Just beat me, I don’t care. They duct-taped my arms together, duct taped my feet, my whole legs together and then threw me in the backyard and just left me there. Someone had flour… they came out, thought that would be even cooler just to throw flour on my face. So they threw flour on my face. After I while they felt bad, I was spitting it out… so stupid, so jock-y. And then they came and hosed me down with a water hose, left me out there another 30 minutes.

Eventually the party’s over, they cut me loose. I hated all of them. I was 16… I thought all these dudes were pro skaters, they’re supposed to be rad, I thought they left all the jock stuff back in middle school. It was just typical jock-y shit. Anyway I shower and rinse off, go to bed, exhausted, just can barely stand. I wake up in the morning and my eyes are just plastered shut with pus. I could not open my eyes. I had to take my fingers and peel my eyelids open.

…And they filmed the whole thing and gave it to me as a birthday present. I still have the tape somewhere back home. So once I got sponsored that story got told a couple times, just in passing. At the Vans downtown showdown, in 2008, 2007… I told that story to a couple buddies, I guess it got around a little bit. And Kirchart came up to me, and said, “Hey man, what’s your deal?” I said, “What are you talking about?” “You’re making me look like a bad guy with that story.” I said, “Yeah, you pretty much beat me to a pulp and left me outside with flour in my eyes so I don’t really feel bad about telling that story.”

“Well you’re just making me look like the bad guy, I didn’t even do any of that.” I said, “Actually yeah, you did.”

…I will say he is one of my favorite skaters, even after that. But I never want to see him again.

Do such tales of Heath Kirchart’s malevolent reign — and there are more — serve as a cautionary signal for today’s ascendant pros bearing their own skeleton-stacked closets, perhaps with more to lose and (most likely) far less hallowed bodies of work with which to counterbalance any misbehaviours? Or do all others’ prior indiscretions pale in comparison with this fearsome visage, except maybe for Andy Roy and Fred Gall? Are folks who favor the Pink Floyd version of Heath Kirchart’s ‘Sight Unseen’ part over the official-release Moody Blues number hopelessly fooling themselves?