Ryen McPherson photo by Aaron Ross of Underground Vegas Film

CCF: Is there any fear of prosecution for this release? To me the stuff on this DVD is more incriminating than anything on “Bumfights.” There are a couple of physical assault scenes that appear to involve members with Indecline.

RM: Indecline has no part in the assault of anyone in the video. We were simply there to film it. We don’t condone violence but have accepted it as an integral part of our world. This DVD has been out for quite sometime and we’ve been free from any legal issues thus far. After we proved to the courts that we didn’t commit any crimes while producing “Bumfights Volume 1: A Cause For Concern” I think they know now not to waste their time with us. Essentially we’re documenting others committing crimes and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is funny how much people love to kill the messenger. We don’t blame the war photographer for the deaths of those he’s photographing. What we do isn’t much different.

CCF: That is so true. Tell me though, where does the violence, graffiti and skateboarders fit into the whole Indecline movement?

RM: All of the things we present are a part of counter culture and it’s all very fascinating. When a kid risks his life climbing a corporate billboard just to tear down their message to replace it with his own, he’s raising awareness and getting people’s minds functioning. We believe strongly in independent thought and our videos serve as a reminder that you should always wonder where you’re thoughts come from.

CCF: McDonalds seem to be a pretty big target, ever think of going after Wal-Mart in any way?

RM: Been there done that. They’re too easy.

CCF: Ever thought about talking with war vets after getting back from Iraq to hear the tails of what they saw and did?

RM: Done that too. They say the same shit. Either they give us a bunch of “Freedom talk” or they tell us about the atrocities that happen on a daily basis. This knowledge is out there already. Go watch “Hearts and Minds.” We want to address new things. Wal-Mart and the war in Iraq are topics that some liberal hippies can tackle.

CCF: So you don’t see yourself as a liberal hippy?

RM: That’s insulting.

CCF: (LOL) Okay, moving on... Have you ever tried or thought about following a homeless person around just to watch their daily activities? Not in the way the Bling Bling video was done, but in a serious manner seeing where they sleep, what they eat, how people react to them. It would have to be a pretty vocal individual and someone interesting, but this could make for a hell of a documentary. Maybe get their back story of how they ended up where they are and follow along as they dig in the trash or whatever it is they have to do to survive. And I mean follow them for years maybe even. Just hang out with them a few days, track them down later... etc...

RM: I don’t know. Our fascination with the homeless has come and gone. We’re much more interested in the elderly these days.

CCF: What are some things we can expect from Indecline in the future?

RM: Indecline is currently finishing a big graffiti video. It’s actually more of a documentary that we’ve spent six years shooting. The time and effort we put into this will show as it revolutionizes the way graffiti videos are seen around the world. We’re also close to launching a proper clothing line. That should be interesting as well.


Ryen McPherson with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman

CCF: You are actually going to be serving some prison time for “Bumfights?”

RM: Not prison time, jail time. No ass rape included. I’ll be holed up in county jail in San Diego, California.

CCF: You’ve done how many nights in jail prior to this?

RM: Only a few days over the last two years. It’s mainly the boredom. I read a lot as it is, so as long as I can get my Dostoevsky on, I should be fine. If anyone wants to send me some shit they can hit my mom up at sorryiaminjail@yahoo.com sometime after the 28th of July and she’ll give you my mailing address.

CCF: Take me through what happened that led to you having to serve? Originally you got probation and community service at a homeless shelter. What happened?

RM: Wow, long fuckin’ story but here goes. Two of us were sentenced to 280 hours of community service at a homeless shelter In 2003. After one day of work in which they had us sweep for 15 minutes and then sit around for 4 hours and do nothing, we decided to take a few months off. I made a phone call to the director of operations at the shelter months later and asked if there was anything we could do that would benefit the shelter aside from sweeping. She told us that they were having a blanket drive and that for every blanket we brought in she’d gladly credit us an hour of work. Fast-forward two months, and hundreds of blankets later and we had our certificate of completion. This was submitted to the court in 2004. A year later we asked to have a hearing to see if the judge would let us off probation early on account of our good behavior and early completion of community service. The District Attorney called the homeless shelter to verify that we had done the work and was surprised to find out that nobody knew who we were. Since we were only stopping in once every two weeks to deliver truck loads of blankets, we were never required to sign in and out as you are required to do when you work the sweeping shifts. In the course of the year, the director of operations had quit and the secretary had been fired. All the main heads from the shelter were rounded up and we held a hearing in which they played one of the best finger pointing games I’ve ever seen. They all demanded that it was someone else’s responsibility to see that we signed in etc. After two hours of perjury, the judge had heard enough. Originally, he told us we would serve 120 days in custody if we violated our probation. That day he went above and beyond his power and sentenced us to 180 days in custody. In 2002 when we were facing six felony charges and two misdemeanors, our bail was set at $20,000. For a misdemeanor violation of probation this judge set our bail at $100,000. Smell some malice?

CCF: So basically, they didn’t really care if you were doing anything productive with the time there at the shelter such as collecting blankets, they just wanted actual hours put in there even if it was sitting on your ass not doing a damn thing for anyone?

RM: Pretty much. They were very grateful for what we gave them but their record keeping was abysmal. We felt that there had to be a better way to contribute to the shelter aside from sweeping their fucking patio.

CF: That’s got to piss you off majorly. That pisses me off. I find it extremely odd that when this stuff was going down early on it was plastered all over the news. But now that you are going to jail over jack, no one seems to care. I actually had no idea till I got your package in the mail and you left the note about having to serve. Truthfully, I was thinking to myself, “what’s he mean serve, like jury duty or is he talking community service?” Anyway, what goes through you mind when you stop and contemplate for six months of your life you’ll have absolutely no individual freedom?

RM: I’m hoping to at the very least have the freedom to read and write. I’d like to turn this into a learning experience if possible. I need a break from Vegas anyway.

CCF: I’ll try to send you some stuff. What are you into? Have any book or magazine wish list?

RM: I have a huge book list that I sent my mom. Once I’m in, I plan on giving her my ID and address. You can email her if you want to get the address and info to send shit. Anything is appreciated.

CCF: Are you okay with me posting the address on the site for others than want to send you stuff?

RM: Of course.

Ryen hard at work

CCF: Are we going to be seeing any “Free Ryen” shirts from Indecline?

RM: Played out. Did it work for Huey P. Newton? He got shot. That was over board. Sorry.

CCF: (LOL) Good point… Have you done anything to prepare yourself mentally or physically for this?

RM: I’m trying to have a lot of sex and get all of my current projects done or handed over. Physically, I cut off my hair and grew a beard.

CCF: What do you think some of the ramifications of this whole thing could end up being? Essentially, you are going to be serving time because others deemed what you filmed was morally wrong. That’s a pretty scary thought to all filmmakers. To me I don’t see what will stop them from bringing down Joe Francis (“Girls Gone Wild”) and entrepreneurs like him of the world and then start going after the porn industry and on to the Larry Clarks of the legit entertainment industry until the only option for us is to watch what the government deems morally okay for us to view.

RM: Maybe it’s all this simple, Joe Francis and Larry Clark make millions of dollars we’ll never see doing what we do as filmmakers. They donate a good portion to the right political corners of the world and skate by with a smile. It’s a well-known fact that all the big pornographers support Bush. It’s big business. Back scratching at its best. So ultimately what happens is that those who can’t pay off the white religious monsters go down. That’ll eventually be us. It’s scary, but someone has to give it all a shot.

CCF: Now, you are from La Mesa, right? But now Las Vegas is your home. Were you actually ran out of town or is Vegas just a better fit for your art?

RM: A little of both. San Diego made it pretty apparent how much they hated us. It’s funny because so much of the controversial footage in “Bumfights” was filmed in Las Vegas who never really investigated the video. San Diego is much more fastidious and uptight. Vegas is blatant about the sex and drugs. It’s all part of the allure. Part of us felt like Vegas was proud to be home of the “Bumfights” video.

CCF: You were actually friends with Rufus and Donnie from way before “Bumfights?” Can you tell me a bit about that relationship?

RM: I met them when I was 15. I was the only person to treat them like human beings. My friends and I spent every Christmas and Thanksgiving with them and we treated them like brothers. I actually spent more money on Rufus one year than I did my entire family. These were two men who gave me a huge lesson in life and hard times. They were pretty happy for being homeless and felt that they were free and able to do what they wanted. This I respected. It gave me a new way of viewing the homeless. Rufus felt that the “real bums” were those with credit cards. The people rushing to and from work, slaving away just to retire and be too old to go out and do anything fun. This philosophy, from a local bum, I carry with me always.

CCF: Having known him that long, do you miss having Rufus around?

RM: For sure. He was closer to me than most of my high school friends. If it weren’t for the fucking cops and attorneys wanting a spot in the limelight so bad, I’d be with him today.

CCF: These two guys were former military vets, living on the street in La Mesa, Calif. that the world had tossed aside and forgotten about. You actually had them set up in an apartment in Las Vegas at one point. What happened with the relationship that it soured and led to these guys testifying against you and suing you in civil court?

RM: I was arrested in 2001. While in custody, a big time attorney flew to Vegas with an old friend of Rufus and Donnie’s. They went to their apartment and convinced them that they were being taken advantage of. A power of attorney contract was signed and it was all downhill from there. It was funny to see how one day Rufus would tell the news how much he loved us and describe all the great things we did for him. Weeks later, with a few new and strategically placed vocabulary words he was singing a different song. It was very obvious that the suits were speaking through him.

CCF: Are these guys now back on the street?

RM: Actually, Rufus has been sober now for 3 years. In a way, the “Bumfights” video saved his life. During all of the legal bullshit, one of his six illegitimate children called and expressed her disappointment after seeing her father run his head into walls and fall down hills. He straightened up shortly thereafter. Donnie on the other hand refuses to let go of the bottle. He complains about a tattoo on his forehead that he could have removed for free at any moment because of his VA benefits. Every once in a while I’ll hear stories from back home about Donnie showing off the same tattoo and signing “Bumfights” DVD’s for high school kids. Another example of attorney intervention gone wrong.

CCF: Well, that’s good news about Rufus. What’s going on with the civil case?

RM: Settled out of court for $300,000 by my dad’s home owner’s insurance company. Since I was a minor when I filmed all the footage of Rufus and Donnie, my dad got sued. Of course the news made it sound like we paid the money when in reality we have less than Rufus and Donnie right now. They’ll both see a little chunk of the payment. Not much, but enough for some prostitutes.

CCF: What charge was it exactly you plead guilty to with the “Bumfights?”

RM: The charge was illegal prize fighting. When I was 16 I was filming a video for my Economics class. The topic was unemployment. Naturally, I used Rufus and Donnie for the skit. They were to go into a local donut store, apply for a job and upon receiving notice of their acceptance, celebrate by eating a box of donuts. Simple enough. While we were shooting the donut scene Rufus and Donnie started chucking donuts at each other. It was all in fun but some fat bipolar bitch that ran a flower kiosk nearby saw what was happening and made a fuss. She accused me of “Inciting a riot”. 2 year s later in court I stood before the judge and pled guilty to: GIVING SOMEONE SOMETHING OF VALUE TO HIT ANOTHER WITH A JELLY DONUT. No bullshit. That’s exactly what I had to say. Being that I hadn’t met the others at the time of the incident they had to plead conspiracy. Since the clip was in the Bumfights video, they were guilty by association.

CCF: What was the reason you decided to take a plea?

RM: The reason we plead guilty was simple. There was no way we wanted this thing to go to trial. Preliminary hearing are only supposed to be two or three days max. Ours was five. We’d had enough.

CCF: You didn’t get rich off of “Bumfights” like many assume and the media has implied, right?

RM: Technically we never made any money off the sales of “Bumfights.” Only a few months after the release we (Indecline) sold our rights to the project to these two “investors” who were making our lives hell. It became an absurd venture and we wanted to focus on Indecline. Since then, two trust fund babies have been running the company and putting out shit videos.

Ryen McPherson

CCF: You actually had nothing to do with any volumes beside the first one, right?

RM: Exactly. The second volume was a complete rip off of things we had already filmed. The third volume actually has a lot of our footage. We made a trade to get out from under some restrictive contract stipulations.

CCF: The guys that now own “Bumfights” are suing you as well? What are they claiming?

RM: They dropped the cross complaint last week. It had to do with indemnity.

CCF: Why do you think it is so many people are scared by Indecline and the images you are sharing with the world?

RM: I’m actually not sure scared is the word. Maybe I was wrong. They’re most definitely pissed though. People don’t like these things shoved in their face. Maybe it makes them feel guilty, or maybe it’s just the fact that we’re upsetting them that makes them turn on us. It’s confusing. But at the end of the day, nobody has really given us a good reason to believe that we’re the bad guys. I have to poop.

CCF: Ok, well. Ryen, thanks so much for your openness and honesty. I wish you the best of luck and hope your jail time can be as pleasant as being locked in a cage for six months can be. Just try and make the best of it. Like you said, use it as a learning experience and do lots of reading. If you get really bored, do like Malcolm X and sit down with the dictionary and hand write each word and its entry out from front to back.

RM: Asalama Lakem my brother.

CCF: Thanks for your time and go poop.

- CCF, July 2006

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