Interview by Gabe the Saint
50mm Staff Writer
Panic is one of the most recognized names in Los Angeles Graffiti. He is what I call a 5 point player…Hand- styles, throw-ups, background, pieces, and characters. He has done it all. Back in the early 1990’s it was difficult to travel around the city and not come across a Panic and Poize throw-up. Years after I was able to sit down with him and get his perspective about his personal life and Graff…
GTS: From my understanding your parents are artists. What kind of art do they do and why did you take up Graffiti instead of following in their footsteps?
Panic: My mom is naturally a good artist and never had any type of training. She never did much with her art besides make her own dresses, draw and paint as a hobby. I chose Graffiti because it was a cool- modern –art- form that caught my attention; all the colors involved and the straightness of the letters really appealed to me.
GTS: Did you parents support you painting Graffiti instead a more traditional form of art?
Panic: My mom did not really condone Graff because all of the vandalism and trouble that it got me into. As time went on, she noticed my devotion. Laying down on the floor with fifty markers and a piece book in front of me and drawing in it for hours on in, she realized that I really had a passion for it. She truly never accepted it, but she adapted to me doing it.
GTS: Besides Graffiti what other type of art do you do?
Panic: Besides Graffiti I don’t really do any other art…I don’t dance or anything like that (laughs). Graffiti is the only art form that I have done to express myself.
GTS: One time I heard about a perfume/cologne racking scheme. Is there any truth behind that, and if so can you elaborate?
Panic: Alright. I don’t want to put too much out there on blast because I am sure that there are still people out there doing this as we speak. It was a very profitable thing for us poor writers to do. It boosted us economically. It opened up opportunities for us to be able to do things that we normally would not have been able to do. I did it in the early 1990’s and it lasted a few years for me. I had many great experiences racking cologne within the state and neighboring states. We would fill up the trunk of the car with cologne and comeback and cash in the loot. We had different racking teams going up against each other. At times we would cross paths hundreds of miles from home. They would be leaving the store that you were going to and vice-versa. It was fun.
GTS: So was one of the reasons why you did this to support your Graffiti career?
Panic: No. We racked all of our supplies and that is the only way we knew. Paint cans always fit nicely in my sleeve and around my waist so that was cool. Well that is until I accumulated too many petty theft charges, which added to my criminal record. Most of the cash from the cologne/ perfume scheme was used for entertainment, basically just to spend it.
GTS: Let’s turn to your early days in UTI.
GTS: Skill’s presence in the Los Angeles Graffiti scene is greatly missed by many. Breakdown what he meant to you and to Graffiti in general.
Panic: Skill is an extremely talented and outgoing individual. I really looked up to him coming up in the game. He was the motivator of the crew that would gather us up and get the walls done, get other people involved, etc. If you were ever drifting off, he would find you and encourage you to continue doing your thing. He would keep the crew on their toes and always moving forward. He was just an influential person for Graff and overall, a good friend.
GTS: Any Skill stories in specific that come to mind?
Panic: I remember lots of bombing and painting missions. One time, Pride, Smurf, Skill, and I were cruising back home towards the Glendale area. If you don’t know, Glendale cops are real “assholes.” On the way there we were destroying the city and the cops ended up stopping us, and it turned out becoming this adventure. We were tossing cans, hiding stuff, lying, etc…and they were using their mental manipulation skills to get us to confess. They eventually released us and I think that by that time Smurf had already made his way home by running through the bushes and hitching a ride back to the Valley or something. I had lots of good times with Skill. It was truly a privilege to see him paint and to gather knowledge from watching him do his thing.
GTS: Panic and Poize are on of the most prolific and memorable bombing duos in Los Angeles. Tell me some stories. What became of Poise?
Panic: Poize has been incarcerated for wow…I guess the last sixteen years or so. Poize is a good guy. He was writing way back in the day and went under the name Kilroy from KNS. I remember seeing him up in the Eagle Rock area on busses and street. I met him and we teamed up with the vision to destroy all of the highways and what ever was possible to do throw-ups on and catch a landmark. We would go out 3 to 4 times per week and hit about 4 to 6 spots per night. It was strictly business…Just destroying shit. That was Poize.
GTS: How did you become involved with SH and LOD?
Panic: SH was formed in 1989, as “Seven Seeking Heaven Crew.” I was in UTI at the time, but I was always around the OG’s such as Precise, Acme, Siren, and Ware. We all lived near each other and were homies way before SH was formed. I was always unofficially part of the group until Acme in 1993, decided that he was going to put me down with the crew. After that I began putting heavy hours into SH. With LOD it is a similar experience. By tagging and bombing I ended up meeting Sleez in 1990. Through him I met the others such as, Chris, Toe, Lest (r.i.p.), JoeG and all of the other Hollywood heads. LOD always had a good party vibe attached to it. I would constantly hang out with them and we became real tight with each other. In 1995, Oiler decided to recruit for the crew. He drafted 5 people, which were Bash, Precise, Sham, Acme, and myself. From that point on I have been putting in hours for LOD.
GTS: What occupies your times besides your daughter and Graff?
Panic: My biggest hobby right now is cycling. I am really into just riding my bike and being outside getting fresh air into my lungs. I also enjoy passing up cars real fast while they are stuck in traffic. It is a real mind freeing experience. I have actually been doing more bicycle riding than I have Graff.
GTS: Does your daughter know that you do Graffiti? Would you let her do Graffiti?
Panic: I am not sure that she understands the term yet, or what it stands for, but she has seen my work. I would not support her being a Graffiti artist because the laws are getting tougher and it is just more and more penalties. There are also all of the haters and the negativity that comes with it as well. I don’t think that I would want to put my child through that.
GTS: You first took note of Graff in 1985, and have never stopped. You have been arguably one of the most up writers in this city. You observed the scene closely year after year. With these qualifications, I ask: Who is the “All Time,” “All City,” king of Los Angeles in the history of the movement?
Panic: Wow…That is a tough question to answer. Let me clarify about 1985. I was first introduced to Graffiti in that year and I did lots of toy, “malicious mischief.” I was doing lots of petty tagging with Marks-A-Lot markers, and other wack markers. I did not really understand the whole concept of graffiti in depth. In Early 1987, I really felt the love for it and I devoted myself to getting better. I’ve had a few vacations here and there, but not too many. As far as the “All City” thing…It is really difficult to narrow it down to one name and almost impossible due to the fact that different styles have emerged, different people have come in and out, and different types of damage and levels of damage have materialized. But if I have to say one name I will probably have to go with Wisk. I really like the way he bombed all over the city. When the “W’s” were up they were everywhere. There was not a freeway or area that you would drive or walk through that you would not see him up. That is why I would have to give it to Wisk.
GTS: Any advice for the youngsters?
Panic: Just be positive and do not get caught up in the tag-banging, ego- maniac wars. Concentrate on becoming a dope writer and paying your dues. Try to better your styles and strive forward. It takes time and patience. I know many kids that claim that older writers don’t school them or hand down knowledge. Every time that I get a chance I try to give a youngster good advice and encouraging words. I know that there is lots of potential out there and all it takes is a little effort.
GTS: Any last words?
Panic: Peace to the entire L.A. Graff scene, both new and old, wack or fresh, stay out there and keep doing it.