In Dazed's November issue, Fashion Upfront was inspired by Larry Clark's seminal and harrowing film Kids and so photographer Danielle Levitt, whose Squatter Series we recently showcased, shot the next generation of New York kids who all shared a little bit about their lives with Dazed...
I bounced around all over and travelled a lot; Boston, Providence Jersey.
In NY there is this constant feeling that when you choose to do one thing you are neglecting to do 1000 other things more you realize the potential of NY city.
When I was about 11 years old, I started to notice the graffiti in my surroundings. Graf does not belong in a gallery. It should exist in the public sphere. For my 11th birthday I got a Vivtar 35 mm camera. From there I would go try to check out different neighbourhoods and photograph all the different things that were indicative of those areas.
I met people from all of NY city, growing up. Old New Yorkers are the shit. They are salty real motherfuckers, different in every neighborhood. There is a bunch of different cats, its not like everyone is all that great, there are some pretentious shit heads, but there are some really down people.
I grew up in NY city. I grew up in Ridgewood, Brooklyn/Queens.
I’m a photographer and illustrator. I like to combine photography and illustration.
Three years ago I picked up a camera and started taking pictures of everything. Just stupid things like dead flowers and my little ponies, trees and the sky, but from there it spiralled into a serious love of photography and I decided to study it.
I like to take portraits. I use experimental processes in the dark room. I like the aesthetic of old photography, like daguerreotypes, vintage photo process
I am in a band called Classy Trashy. We are a two piece band; it’s me and my best friend Edona. She plays drums. We don’t practice too often so we are not that great yet.
Being from NY has really provided me with some strong views. It desensitized me to weirdness. Nothing can shock me at this point.
I grew in NYC, in the Union Square area. I skate and play music. I’m in a band. the Mamelukes. Walker sings, Emil plays drums. The last show we played, we had a song that we played for 47 minutes. I live in the band house in Greenpoint.
The first punk shows I went to were free in Tompkins Square Park. We would get drunk and listen to music and dance. There were a lot of people there; a mix of kids my age and older drug addicts.
I was 6 years old and I’d go to Union Square after school on my way home to skateboard. I never wanted to be a pro skate boarder. I kinda stopped skating as much and started hanging out with girls. I wasn't doing anything else, just hanging with the girl and smoking weed. I got over chicks, I don’t know man, I was bored.
I grew up in Austin, Texas, born in Trinidad. I moved to NY when I was 13. I guess I grew up in NY. Right now I consider myself a New Yorker, my memories are here. I was home schooled, then I moved back to NY and I was put into the system. I like NY because of all of the people. You definitely don’t get to meet as many people living in Texas.
I meet kids through skate boarding. In skate boarding everyone knows each other, and then it branches out. I did not skate when I was in Austin, I taught myself how to skate when I moved to NY. If I did not skate I would not have had any other reason to have chilled with half the kids I grew up with.
I’ve wanted to be a photographer since high school but I never had the equipment to really pursue it. I do not have a particular influence. With a lot of people in NY, there are a bunch of hipster kids that are fans of every hot new photographer that comes out and blows up and I think that’s kind of lame.
I grew up on the Lower East side. My family is from Puerto Rico, but I’ve never travelled there. I have a 15 month old son named Jason Jr. Being a young dad was hard at first, but now that he’s bigger it’s a bit easier. I love having a son, and hope that he grows up doing his own thing.
I wanted to be a professional skate border when I was younger. It was my life's dream, I mean, who does not want that, to get money for doing the thing you love.
Now I want to study fashion design. I’m going to attend FIT. It’s a little surprising to my friends, they all want to be illustrators and photographers. I went to the Fashion Industry HS. There my teacher Ms. Midoun took a look at my portfolio and saw something in me. She told me, 'You will make it' and from there, after her encouragement, I decided to pursue design.
I was lucky for being raised on Bleecker Street in NY. I grew up hearing jazz cats playing "Bird" and "Miles" to hearing re-creations and Bach through my window at night. I grew up fast, and at an early age. Drugs and alcohol were certainly a big part of the picture by the time I was in seventh grade, but I felt that was quasi synonymous with most kids in New York.
Although New York has a buzz that is incomparable, that same buzz kind of drove me out of the city. By time I was 15, I was tired of the drone, and wanted a new scene. I was tired of the pretentious art folks walking around the village, and I moved to Lake Placid and more or less started over.
Recently, people have been saying that New York is changing, but as far as I can remember, New York has always changed. New York has always been on top of the social and professional world, and places with a stagnant vibe remain dead.
I’ve been playing music for 11 years. Aggression got me into music. I was always really energetic and pissed off about stuff I saw around me. I would do wild shit, but music could control me and keep me out of jail. My first band from the 6th grade was called 'Destroy All Possibilities’ then we changed the name to 'Absent From School’ then ‘Eye Sore’. It was during this time that I discovered acid and I changed. I completely moved away from aggressive music to a much more peaceful space starting this hippy group jam band type of thing. I loved that for a while but the singer soon got caught up in heroine and then the experience changed. It stopped feeling positive, but instead negative. I turned to some really heavy death metal, very heavy, speaking about dismembering bodies and shit. Now I’m in a few bands, "Big Gunz", "The Mamelukes" and "Dawn of Humans".
Despite all of this, I have been in love. It was amazing and got me out of all of drug habits. I was blinded by the power of it, but then I realized that I did not want to be a 'husband' and that I wanted to live my teen years experiencing everything and we broke up.
I have a cable access show in NY called "Duke Papi". The show is about a family of humans that we all come across. It an attempt to illustrate and bring to light various members of the sub group which comprise the five boroughs. It’s documentary style, raw. Basically the order and the flow of the show mimics my everyday walk through life. Sometimes the experiences are epic and sometimes just normal. But it’s all about the interactions between people.
I live in Brooklyn now, but grew up on 42nd Street in Manhattan. When I was a kid I was getting into bullshit. I have been locked up 8 times, I’ve gone through the system in all boroughs. I did not know then that the experiences I had were going to open up the door for this project. I am now using the same energy that was getting me into trouble to do my show.
Spending the last 20 years in this section of the earth has definitely shown me whether I wanted to or not, the most ridiculous and crazy sides of the human psyche.
Photography and Interviews Danielle Levitt
Styling Robbie Spencer
Hair Hikari Tezuka at Stockland Martel using Shu Uemura Art of Hair
Make-Up Tracy Alfajora using Dior Cosmetics
Photographic Assistants Bowen Rodkey, Jason Walker
Styling Assistants Elizabeth Fraser-Bell, Jessica Bobince
Special Thanks to Rafael Rios
Follow Robbie Spencer on Twitter here @RobbieSpencer