Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The 10 Best Pics of Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jay From Monster Mania Con 28!



With the summer installment of Monster Mania in the history books, the countdown to Halloween is fast-approaching. Although it's a horror convention, my mind never associates it with the onset of the Halloween season. Not sure why, but when you think about it, in merely a matter of days, Dinosaur Dracula will be signaling to all that the countdown is on. Halloween is right around the corner, yet this is still a summer event, one that's ripe for escorting the sweltering season directly out the door without passing go. Good riddance to you summer, I say. Oh, I suppose you want to know more about Monster Mania? OK, I'll give you all I can remember.

Let me get this out from the get-go: we didn't get drunk with the Joker and Freddy Krueger like we did that other time, but once again, the forces of Dinosaur Dracula, Freddy in Space, and The Sexy Armpit came together and had quite an interesting time to say the least. It's a scene not for the faint of heart. You'd probably like to know all about our sordid Monster Mania tales from this time around, but we've got to keep some decorum here, plus, details are fuzzy. Put it this way, there was a lot of liquor and VHS tapes involved. And Tom Bryce's pretzels. It was a veritable Shit Pretzel Fest.


As I mentioned, it's a little foggy, but the bits of this event that I do remember include buying a Princess Bride poster AND more monumentally, meeting Rowdy Roddy Piper. With the Hot Rod in New Jersey, how could I miss the chance to meet one of my favorite WWE Legends of all time?

I think I must've gained a lifetime membership to the club. You know that club, Those Who've Met Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper Within a Matter of Days From Each Other Club. It's not the kind of braggable anecdote as say, being in the mile high club, but it's a tidbit that'll most certainly be engraved in my headstone.

While waiting on line I noticed Piper was smiling and taking his time to talk with every one of his fans. Fortunately, Matt (@DinosaurDracula) arrived, grabbed my phone and snapped over 20 photos to make damn sure we commemorated this historic meeting of the minds. It was a nearly impossible task to narrow it down, but here are the top 10 best photos of Hot Rod and I from our impromptu photo shoot. Some of the shots are different, yet so completely the same.

As they were swiping through these photos on my phone, a few of my friends and family members asked what I talked to Piper about. Seeing 20+ photos of he and I prompted one of my friends to ask "how long was he talking to you for?" No joke, it had to be at least 35 minutes. There were "BULLSHIT" chants coming from the people in line behind me. To be clear, we didn't talk wrestling, we didn't talk They Live, and we damn sure didn't talk politics. But he did offer me a recipe. It's just like good old Hot Rod, recipes are so typical of him. You can see how good he is with a blender in that episode of Legends House. Piper vs. The Blender, a feud that can only be rivaled by Hogan/Piper.


The blur was actually present in the room. It eventually dissipated, but, at first, it was like The Mist.


JAY:
"Hey Hot Rod! How exciting it is to meet you!"

HOT ROD:
"Hey, thank you man, what's your name?" 

JAY
"I'm Jay."

HOT ROD:
"Jay, I love that shirt!" 
(I'm wearing the Panther shirt that Roddy wore to the ring in the early '80s.)


JAY:
"It's classic! I'm about 6 tequilas in, so excuse me if I sound like it."

HOT ROD:
"Ohhhohoo, so you want to be a big shot don't ya?"

JAY:
"Well, not really, I just wanted to get drunk with my friends."


HOT ROD:
"Now that you mention it, you are lookin' a little bit under the weather, You know what, I know exactly what you need. It's what I used to make when I was oh, knee high to a grasshopper."


JAY:
"Specifically, what kind of concoction are you going to supply me with the recipe for, Roddy? Not that raw egg in the blender gimmick that Hulk gave Mean Gene I hope!"

(Just when he thought he had all the answers, I obviously changed the questions.) 

HOT ROD:
"Now, don't insult me kid or I'll crack your head with a coconut, trust me you'll want to listen to the information I'm about to lay out for you."

JAY:
"I'm all ears, Hot Rod."

HOT ROD:
"Do you remember once upon a time when that little meatball Rachel Ray's cooking show was a hot commodity? Well it can't touch Mixology with Rowdy Roddy!"

JAY:
"I'm confused, are you saying you're changing the name of Piper's Pit?"

HOT ROD:
"Listen up, stop your lips from yapping for one minute. If you want to be big time, you're gonna have one of these with me"

Piper proceeds to instruct me on how to concoct a Hot Roddy.

HOT ROD:
"Ever hear your grandmother talk about drinking a Hot Toddy when she was sick? Well, this is what I call a Hot Roddy."

JAY:
"I assume it can cure what ails ya...or ails me. After all the drinking and partying at Monster Mania so far, this is just what I needed. Some kind of an elixir to rejuvenate me."

HOT ROD:
"You're damn right, and remember Jay, this drink ain't FOR EVERYBODY, but if you want a banana have a banana, us, we gonna have ourselves a Hot Roddy."



HOT ROD
Oh no...

JAY:
Oh no, what?


HOT ROD:
Oh no...who is that taking our picture? Please don't tell me it's that damn motherf*ckin' Dino Drac, that sonofabitch! OK, OK, that's enough pictures, you know where you can stick those VHS tapes! This is the last picture and then get that photographer the hell out of here!


I have come here to show you at least 10 photos and kick ass, and I'm all out of photos.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nerd Lunch 145: The Poor Man's Podcast




X is the Poor Man's Y is the subject of this week's episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast. Once again I'm in the 4th chair joining Pax, Jeeg, and Carlin from Pod, James Pod (just want to stress that he's not C.T.) It was an interesting discussion about actors, toys, and cartoons. Download it to your phone or iPod or check it out above. Thanks for listening!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Interview With Pinup Artist Erica Hesse


Erica Hesse brought to life our vision to commemorate The Sexy Armpit's 10th birthday in a vivid, epic work of art. In my interview with her, we get an in-depth look at her creative approach, her influences, her favorite comics and horror movies, and growing up in New Jersey.



SA: I've had this idea for a commission from you in my head for quite a long time and it's finally come to fruition and it's very exciting. Since I'm not an artist, how does it feel knowing that you've created the exact piece of art that I had in my head?

EH: It's pretty rewarding, as an artist you can only hope you can bring every idea to life that the person has- and be able to do it justice. Especially when the client has original ideas and thoughts and you want to be able to convey what they are thinking. I think it helps in this case, a lot of the subject matter I'm familiar with and a fan of. So it made it that much easier to interpret and have fun with! 

I'm glad you had some fun with this project! Do you prefer to create a piece of art directly from your imagination or do you like having more of a direction such as in commission work?

I like doing both to be honest. Doing art straight from my imagination is therapeutic and freeing. I can do whatever I would like with no one to tell me any different. But I do like commission work too, because it keeps me on the straight and narrow and gives me a sense of direction. I learn a lot from each commission and it gives me a new perspective on how to solve or approach each new piece of art. I find that a lot of commission work I get the clients usually have a lot of imagination and creativity, some things that I wouldn't think of doing. So it's refreshing, challenging, and fun to do these pieces of art, subject matter that is "outside of the box" for me. There is this one project I've been working on with a writer for a while now, about a year or so. It's completely different than what I'm used to illustrating, it's really creative and thought provoking. The story is pretty amazing and we have a great working relationship. He has a great imagination and has a clear vision of what he wants, and that's exciting. I welcome other people's ideas and thoughts when it comes to art, I think a large part of it is due to the some of the training I had. I worked for a company before where I had a lot of art direction and creativity within a team. I welcome that because in some cases you only become better at what you do.

Can you briefly tell us about the process you went through to create this piece? You incorporate traditional and digital art, right?

Sure! You're right I did incorporate traditional and digital art for this piece of art.  Every artist has a different way of approaching a new piece of art, I feel I kind of do things unorthodox as far as my approach in laying out the composition. I usually sketch/pencil in the main characters first, trying to capture a feel for them, then build up the background and elements around them. I usually do two different concepts and email them to the client to see if I'm heading in the right direction concerning their ideas. If it's approved I then go back and print out the rough concept, lightbox the rough onto a piece of heavy bristol paper and start working on the final pencils. The final pencils is a tighter and more clean version of the rough concept. From there I ink over my pencils with a brush. I typically use a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen or a Windsor and Newton watercolor brush. All depending on the look I need to achieve. When the inks are done, I erase any remaining pencil lines and it's ready to be scanned and digitally painted. Once I have the line art scanned in and cleaned up, I started blocking in loose colors using Photoshop and my Wacom tablet. From there it's a lot of playing around with colors and determining if any small details in the composition need to be changed. Colors, for me, I find at times to be challenging, I like them to be heavily saturated and have a certain "pop" to them. I work best when I'm working on a piece of art and walk away from it for a day or so, that way I have a fresh eye when I look at it again. Sometimes it changes everything.

And that POP is certainly distinct in the final piece! How do you feel about it? Is there an aspect of it you think is exceptional?

I was a bit concerned as I first started digitally coloring the art and how I was going to make it all work with each other. Honestly I think every artist has that thought when they approach a piece of art, the gears are constantly turning and asking yourself "How am I going to make this work?" But as the piece progressed I was pretty happy on how it was turning out, I really love it.

The parts of the art I think are exceptional are how a lot of pop culture references are sprinkled throughout the art, from the He-Man sword to the Toxic Avenger-like waste barrels, the art is one big fun New Jersey pop culture piece. I love adding the little elements in there that perhaps only people from New Jersey would get. I honestly could have added more, but didn't want to take away from the main focal point, which is the characters. l do have to say I did add a little personal touch in the art. The license plate on the beach is one number/letter off of my own old license plate I had for years.

Ha! That's awesome. A little Easter Egg hidden in there! I love it. Switching gears, I've always been a huge fan of pinup culture. When did you realize you were in love with pinup style art? Is it something you realized you excelled at and just continued to do or is it legitimately your favorite style to create?

I think pinup style art has been part of me since I was a kid, it was somehow always around me in some shape or form. A lot of the comics I read growing up had a "pinup" aspect to the art, Archie's Betty and Veronica, Katy Keene, Millie the Model, Sabrina the Teenage Witch all had an impression on me growing up. I didn't actually discover pinup (in the form of photography and art) until years later. I knew this guy and he had this calendar of Pinup art, I believe it was by Olivia. I remember the image for that month, the woman was a brunette and had on a white man's dress shirt and it looked innocent and incredibly sexy at the same time. And it wasn't a photograph, it was a painting! I wasn't drawing for a few years around that time, that image resonated with me and was in the back of my head. Fast forward some years later I was introduced to Bettie Page and was intrigued by her. I was at a point in my life where it seemed pinup art was always reaching out to me, calling to me and I finally made the leap. I guess you can say it's been a slow steady progression.

I don't know if pinup art was something I thought I excelled at, it's definitely a form of art I enjoy doing. Some people liked drawing animals or wildlife scenery, for example. I like illustrating those things too, but I'm always drawn back to illustrating women. I've always been drawn to the female figure and consider it to be one of the most beautiful forms in nature. It's a form of expression, an extension of myself if that makes sense.


Well, we think you definitely excel at it! As an added bonus, much of your subject matter incorporates comic art, horror, burlesque - which just so happen to be things that I am heavy into. Your piece Roller Bride of Frankenstein really seems to sum up the stuff you enjoy. With that said, can you share with us your favorite horror movies and comic books?

Ooh yes! Ha, I sure can! My favorites change here and there, but here's what's on top of my head at the moment. For horror movies, I love a lot of the classics. All of the classic monster movies, Bride of Frankenstein,Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy. I love Night of the Living Dead, White Zombie, Dawn of the Dead, Fright Night…I could go on and on! Fan of the first few Nightmare on Elm Street movies. For newer horror movies, none stick to the top of my head at the moment. I did recently see the remake of Evil Dead. While it was good, nothing beats the original.

For comic books, I'm currently liking/reading Brian Wood's X-Men, The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, and the new Harley Quinn series by Palmiotti. Other favorites include Linsner's Lucifer's Halo, Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise, Wonder Woman, Witchblade and The Walking Dead series. I usually go for comics with strong and interesting women in them. Or if they have zombies.

Zombies are always a plus. I'm enjoying the new Harley Quinn series as well. Also on the DC front, what are your thoughts on the promo photo of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman from Batman v. Superman?

I thought the promo shot looked good, but kind of holding back my opinions until I see the movie. There's a lot of thoughts and concerns that are rambling around in my head but I know that will probably change once I see the movie.


Can you tell us some of your artistic influences?

I kind of have a mash up of people, art, or artists that I'm inspired by. In no particular order: Gil Elvgren, George Petty, Alberto Vargas, Alphonse Mucha, Dan De Carlo, Stan Goldberg, Linsner, Coop, R. Black, Bettie Page, Rita Hayworth, Dita, Mosh…to name a few. Tara McPherson and Tokidoki are big for me in the Designer Vinyl Toy World. 

I'm a big fan of Vargas, De Carlo, and Miss Mosh as well. How about influence from your ? Were you born and raised in New Jersey? Growing up, tell us some of the places your frequented or fond memories you have from living here.

Oh heck yes. Born and raised here in good ol' South Jersey. A lot of the memories I have growing up is where I used to live, in Egg Harbor City. I spent a lot of my time in the Don and Tom's Newspaper store and the local Ben Franklin five and dime. Mostly buying comics and plotting which Barbie doll was going to be added next in my collection. I had a huge Barbie doll collection. It's funny, I was never allowed to leave them naked (undressed) they always had to be fully clothed. I had a few Ken dolls but they were boring to me. I used to "borrow" my brother's G.I. Joe dolls and make them Barbie's boyfriend. The guy had flocked hair, how can Ken compete with that? I think I even somehow managed to make my brother's 18-inch Alien figure Barbie's boyfriend too. Barbie had great taste.

As far as places I checked out, I would say Ocean City was the top of the list. To me it was the "place to go" it had a little bit of everything. It had the boardwalk, ice cream, the beach, the Boardwalk Mall and of course boys. I was a bit of a boy crazy nut then. But what teen wasn't? Of course I was rarely on the beach, I was always wanting to hop on the water slides or stuff my face with boardwalk pizza. Man, I loved that. And I used to tan, A LOT. So glad I gave that up…eventually, ha. Now I'm as "un-beachy" as you can get. The only tan I get anymore is a driver's tan.

Same. I get as much tan as David the vampire from The Lost Boys. Similarly, I used to take my sisters Barbie dolls to have my GI Joes mingle with them on her party boat. It was a blast. So, what's on the horizon for Erica Hesse? Are there any upcoming projects or comic shows you'd like to mention?

I've been keeping busy with quite a few sketch cards projects this year. Some are currently out right now. I did a few exclusive sketch cards for Zenescope's Oz and Grimm Fairy Tales for San Diego Comic Con. I also did some cards for Chaos and the Women of Dynamite which were only available at the San Diego Comic Con as well. I have some more sketch card sets in the works but can't mention them really until they are talked about in the press or been released. I've been kind of laying low on the comic con scene (which is really hard) this year due to commission work and the day job. I also made a point not to do any shows this year because I really, really want to jump back on some things I've been putting off. As much as I LOVE drawing pinups, I'm really itching to work on some sequentials/comics! Don't get me wrong, I'm still working on pinups, but I just want to develop some ideas that have been in my head the past few years. These stories are dying to come out. I'll be sure to talk about them when the time is right. To keep up to date on any news you can follow me on www.hesse-art.com or my Facebook page over at www.facebook.com/TheArtofEricaHesse.

We'll be on the lookout! As we wrap up, being a fan of your work, I've read that you've really made your own way. You practiced hard to become a great artist and carved a space for yourself via Internet/social media as well as setting up at shows such as Wizard World to sell your prints. It's very inspirational, so if you could leave us with some sort of motivational wisdom that might apply to anyone, not just artists, no matter how cheesy it might be, that would be awesome!

I guess the only thing I can say is do what you love. You're going to get criticism and feedback on no matter what you do, just take it all in stride and grow from it- don't let it affect you negatively. Do the best that you can do. Don't worry about what this person is doing or how successful that person is, that's a total mind killer. No art would ever get accomplished if we constantly compared or doubted ourselves.

Excellent advice Erica and thanks for the interview! The new Sexy Armpit artwork KICKS ASS!

Erica obviously has our full endorsement, so check out some of her art here:
http://www.storenvy.com/stores/159375-the-art-of-erica-hesse

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sexy Armpit's EPIC 10th Birthday Surprise!

Even though the Sexy Armpit doesn't turn 10 until November, you're getting a sneak peak, mostly because we just can't wait to show you! For this milestone, we don't need fancy desserts that pack on the pounds, instead, watch this video to see what we got for The Sexy Armpit's upcoming 10th Birthday. It's EPIC!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hulk Hogan's Birthday and Meeting The WWE Hall of Famer at iPlay America

Super Posedown: The Sexy Armpit and The Hulkster 
at iPlay Americain Freehold, NJ

CM Punk once said: "...I have zero faith in Hulk Hogan as a man who's what...60 years old and tries to dress like he's 18 and he lives on the Jersey Shore..." While I can't agree on the faith in the Hulkster part, I sort of agree that Hulk has been looking a little bit Jersey as of late. Or maybe some of us here in NJ have tried to look like him? The horde of Hulkamaniacs on line for Hulk Hogan Uncut at iPlay America in Freehold on August 2nd, 2014 were all donning their red and yellow while some wore black and white N.W.O t-shirts. Since today is the Hulkster's birthday and there will be a bash for him on WWE Monday Night Raw tonight, let's look back at the Hulk Hogan Uncut event I attended at iPlay last weekend.

Hulk was usually billed from Venice Beach, and later, Hollywood. California may have some beautiful weather and states like Hawaii and Colorado may have the happiest people in the country, but New Jersey has definitely got to be king of the quirk. If you believe what you see on TV, you probably think all we're good for is fist pumping guidos at Jersey Shore clubs, but I'm here to tell you, it isn't all like that. Where else can you run into perhaps the greatest professional wrestling icons of all time, go to a KISS and Def Leppard concert, and stroll around a Punk Rock Flea Market all in one weekend? Last weekend was surely a jam packed pop-culture filled experience and it all kicked off in huge way: a meet and greet with the immortal Hulk Hogan!

To me, nothing beats a weekend where I have absolutely nothing planned. It's not that it makes me feel like the weekend is full of possibilities, it's more that I know I can settle in for a couple of days of doing absolutely nothing and kicking ass at it. Many of us claim to be the best lazy f*ckers around, but daddy says I'm the best at it. That was my Vacation tribute.

Winning the championship of couch laying was not in the cards for me. I actually had stuff to do. I felt like it may have been too much, but it was fun stuff, so how I could I complain? It's one thing if I had to go to some banquet hall and get dressed up for a family function, but it's quite another that I was slated to go to a nearby cavernous indoor arcade to meet my childhood wrestling hero.

We made our way down Route 9 toward iPlay America in Freehold for Uncut with Hulk Hogan. The event included a Q&A session followed by a meet and greet for fans. I'd passed on two meet and greets with the Hulkster in previous years, but I felt like this was the one that I couldn't miss. I already had tickets to see KISS later that night with Miss Sexy Armpit, so why not complicate the day even more and tack on another thing for us to do? Fortunately it was on the way down to Atlantic City and the timing worked out perfectly, so it was meant to be.

Accompanied by Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart, The Hulkster answered questions submitted by the fans and offered insight into some of his biggest career milestones. If you're a fan and have seen WWE's Hulk Hogan DVD collections, you've seen and heard much of the content here, but they did leak the fact that Hogan would appear on Raw in two weeks, which is tonight. That little spoiler was definitely an exclusive for us before it was officially announced by WWE.

The Hulkster was genuinely happy to meet with everyone. He flexed and smiled for photos with each fan and when it came time for The Sexy Armpit, I didn't pull any punches, brother. First he said "Sweet shirt, brother!" in regards to my Thunderlips t-shirt from Barber Shop Window which is a parody of the classic Hulkamania t-shirt, but with the name of his Rocky III character in the same font. I blasted a "Thanks Hulk!" in reply, then I immediately asked him if we could do one of his iconic poses, one of my favorites from his ring celebrations at the conclusion of his matches. If Hulk said no, my second option would've been the Rip'Em hand gesture from No Holds Barred. Surprisingly I didn't see anyone do that, where's the love for NHB people?

I'm glad we took part in this event because Hulk was very cool. Often, meeting celebrities turns out to be a big letdown. After my very brief exchange with Hulk, I raked his back and then hightailed my ass out of there. I'm kidding of course, I raked his eyes.

This awesome experience all went down at iPlay America, which is a fantastic place for kids as well as adults. It's basically an indoor amusement park with an arcade and an upscale Atlantic City casino atmosphere. If you're in the ti-state area, it's well worth it to pack the kids into the car and make the trip to Freehold, NJ.

I don't even think the staff of iPlay had any idea of the onslaught of people that showed up to Hulk Hogan Uncut. I've read a few articles about this event floating around that basically referred to this as having "a nice little turnout." That is a total understatement. I don't have an accurate head count but a shit ton of people showed up to see Hulk and I'm almost positive that it was completely sold out. It's not surprising either, considering all the exposure Hulk has been getting since returning to WWE TV this year.

In this case "...and today is his birthday" doesn't refer to Jason Voorhees, but the Hulkster. Yes, today IS his birthday and Jimmy Hart's spoiler that Hogan would be on Raw tonight was accurate, but what they didn't mention is that there are rumors swirling of a possible N.W.O reunion tonight. Tune in tonight, brothers!

http://iplayamerica.com/
110 Schanck Rd.
Freehold, NJ 07728
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