HELL’S TOUR GUIDE PART 2
Ryen McPherson photo by
Aaron Ross of Underground
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
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
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.
seem to be a pretty big target, ever think of going after Wal-Mart in
there done that. They’re too easy.
thought about talking with war vets after getting back from Iraq to hear
the tails of what they saw and did?
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?
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.
are some things we can expect from Indecline in the future?
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.
McPherson with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman
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.
done how many nights in jail prior to this?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
sometime after the 28th of July and she’ll give you my mailing address.
me through what happened that led to you having to serve? Originally you
got probation and community service at a homeless shelter. What happened?
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?
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.
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
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.
try to send you some stuff. What are you into? Have any book or magazine
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.
you okay with me posting the address on the site for others than want
to send you stuff?
RM: Of course.
hard at work
we going to be seeing any “Free Ryen” shirts from Indecline?
out. Did it work for Huey P. Newton? He got shot. That was over board.
Good point… Have you done anything to prepare yourself mentally
or physically for this?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
these guys now back on the street?
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.
that’s good news about Rufus. What’s going on with the civil
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.
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.
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.
didn’t get rich off of “Bumfights” like many assume
and the media has implied, right?
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
actually had nothing to do with any volumes beside the first one, right?
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.
guys that now own “Bumfights” are suing you as well? What
are they claiming?
dropped the cross complaint last week. It had to do with indemnity.
do you think it is so many people are scared by Indecline and the images
you are sharing with the world?
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.
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.
Lakem my brother.
Thanks for your time and go poop.
- CCF, July 2006