Kevin Imamura: Let’s start at the beginning, how long have you guys known each other?
Robbie Jeffers: I think we met through Richard Mulder. You went to Japan with us. So that was 9/11. We were planning on leaving that day. We were supposed to leave for the 411 “Vacation” tour and that was September 11, 2001. So, it had to be late 2000 when we met.
Lance Mountain: I met you through Richard Mulder. He was talking about the Stüssy team and asking me questions, then he introduced me to Robbie.
KI: How did the pieces and the show come together?
RJ: My friend asked me about doing a solo photo show and I said, “I don’t want to do a solo show. The only way I’ll do a show is if other people are involved.” I had the idea of combining photos and painting, then I decided to call Lance. It was that simple.
I have tons of photos of Lance from over the years. And then it morphed into using these photos from a Stüssy campaign we did with Huf in 2003. We decided that it had to be whimsical, foolish and fun, because you can’t take life too seriously. How can you take a photo of Lance in a bee suit seriously?
LM: Robbie asked me, “If I printed photos with a blank area on one side, would you paint on them?” And I said, “Yeah sure.” And then I spent a couple months with no idea what to do and asking why I said yes … [laughs]
KI: How did the ad shoot come about?
RJ: At a certain point, I was asked to shoot photos for Stüssy adds. Keith Hufnagel was opening his new store in San Francisco, so I had the idea to get a photo of Lance in a hotdog suit with a sign that said, “Shop at Huf.” But we couldn’t find a hotdog costume. We did find a bee costume and that photo was the add.
KI: And the single photo was the only thing from the shoot that got used?
RJ: That’s it. One of the funniest stories from that day is when we showed up at a skatepark.
LM: I had already gotten into character …
RJ: So, he’s like, “Let’s go!” He didn’t take off the suit. He starts pushing around at the skatepark and I’m shooting and laughing. I take a break to go sit under a tree when this really angry dude rolls up and says, [using gnarly voice] “I heard there’s some dude in a f’ing bee suit.” And I’m like, “Uh, yeah …” just playing stupid.
Then he goes, “We came down here to kick his ass because that’s lame. Then it turns out it’s Lance Mountain, our frickin hero! I’m so pissed!” I had to bite my lip from laughing. They were so mad that someone was rolling around in their park in a bee suit and then it was their hero. That was one of the highlights of that day.
LM: It has always been about self-entertainment. Just embarrass yourself first and watch people. It’s funny.
KI: Any chance of the bee suit making an appearance again?
Both: We looked for it!
LM: I almost bought a $9 one at the Halloween store for an eight-year-old girl and just wore the wings. But it was so far off that it wasn’t even funny.
RJ: We tried to get it for the show to have him in it, but we couldn’t locate it.
KI: How was the editing process for the photos of Lance?
RJ: I edited the 20 rolls down to 30 photos then I let Lance pick the final ones. He picked the eight.
LM: I tried to pick half vertical, half horizontal just so they would be even when you looked at them. And then I tried to pick ones that were the most different from each other, the ones that had the most variety in space.
KI: Do each of the pieces tell a story?
LM: [In serious voice] At this point in my career, I’m searching for new mediums and experimental … [burst out laughing]
They’re all open-ended ideas about skateboarding. But they’re up for interpretation like skateboarding is. To me, the highest level of skateboarding is ideas. When people start saying “This is the highest level of skateboarding. Now we can figure out who the highest-level skateboarder is.” I think you lose a lot of ideas that way. To me, it’s all fun, it’s all freedom, it’s all self-interpretation. I really would like to see what people think they are. That’s what I would rather do.
To celebrate his Thrasher part, we caught up with Jacopo and talked about his favorite skaters, what makes the Milano Centrale plaza so iconic and his favorite era of disco.