STAG 161 INTERVIEW
©2002, 2003 @149st Do not republish without permission.
What inspired you to become involved in writing?
Just became intrigued by the emerging art. 91st Street was the abandoned station on the IRT and we used to climb down the hatch from the street and run through the stations that way. Of course it was littered with tags and it was just natural to add to the mess.
Did you have a mentor?
No, started out solo.
Who influenced your style?
I liked Stay High's style. You can see from my tag how I was influenced by him.
How did you get your name and number?
Would spend hours with a black book sketching out different tags, trying different styles till I came up with Stag. Although my tag was 161, I lived on 90th Street STAG 90 didn't sound as cool as STAG 161 I guess.
List all the other names under which you have painted?
I also wrote JAKE 1.
What borough are you originally from?
I'm from Manhattan.
What subway lines have you hit?
Just about all of them. Mostly stuck to the IRT. We had master keys for all the transit locks so we could access the yards and restricted areas. We even burned some freights down below Riverside Park and a couple of visits to the bus yards.
Who were your most successful partners?
They were JIVE 179 and MOUSEY 89.
Do you have any interestingraid stories?
In the yards we would burn cars for hours. Of course we had to stay quiet and all you would hear was the continual hissing of the spray cans. We would even shake all the cans before hand so as to not make a lot of noise. One night the silence was broken by the sounds of radios and the proverbial "jailer's keys". Before you knew what was happening we were being ambushed by Transit cops. I ducked under a car and got away. Ran straight home and acted surprised when the phone call came to my parents to pick up my brother from the precinct. I had to go down there with them and the cop made a comment about the paint on my fingers. I told him I was doing some community work. We both looked at each other-knowing that we both knew!
Who were the main cops when you were writing?
I was busted by Dirty Harry, not the Dirty Harry of Clint Eastwood fame, this was an overweight uniform Transit cop. He spotted me hitting a train in the station. I punched his shoulder and started to run but he grabbed me and slammed me against the wall. When he called for back up and a squad car picked us up to go to the precinct, he picked a scab on his finger, made it bleed, and then said I bit him! I guess that's how he earned his nickname.
Are there any writers of your era that you feel need more acknowledgement in history?
In all the sites dedicated to NY early 1970s graffiti, I never see JESUS SAVES mentioned. He was city wide, and all done by one person. I met him when I had to do community work for my arrest-which of course was cleaning subway walls- great way to meet other writers by the way. I also credit JIVE 179 with breaking in the block letter style, which is still prominent today.
When did you quit painting trains?
I quit in 1975.
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