STARTED : 1971
AREA : Manhattan, N.Y.C.
MAIN LINES : 1's, 3's, CC's, D's.
1) When and where did you start writing.
In 1971- NYC. I was one of the many who read the TAKI 183 article in the NY Times and was motivated to join in.
2)What were the earliest names you remember seeing when you first started.
Cay 161, Junior 161, Spin, Stay High 149, Phase 2, Barbara and Eva 62.
3) How did did you come up with the name STAG 161.
I would spend hours with a Black Book sketching out different tags, trying different styles till I came up with Stag. It wrote out real well, was short, and I thought it was a great sounding name.
4) Who were some of your writing partners in the early years and who would you say was your best partner.
My brother was Jive 179. Seggi and Mousey 89 were also around a lot.
5) Could you tell us about your first time hitting the trains and did you have a particular strategy in doing it.
No strategy at all. Just happen to run into Mousey who new about the lay-ups. I didn't know anything about hitting trains until then. We were toys up until that point- just hitting the insides of the trains. We went with Mousey that first day to the One Tunnel and rest is history.
6) What are all the train lines you wrote on and what line did you focus on the most? Did you you do many pieces in the early years?
Mostly the IRT's and some of the BMTs. We started out just tagging the trains. The first couple of times we only had enough paint to do tags. At that point we just were concerned about getting up, so we hit everything in sight. We would tag every single car in the lay-ups, knowing that eventually
they would be split up and get us on virtually every train in the line. This was 1971-72, so it was still early on in the development of the styles. Pieces were just starting out and mostly consisted of thick letters (with the help of the tip off an Easy-Off Oven Cleaner can) and an outline. In reading some of the history of NY Graffiti, I am credited with being the first to mix colors. I think this comes from my Sun piece. I did a piece with a sunburst in the background where I bled the colors together. I got up on style with that one.
8) Your hits appear in the book THE FAITH OF GRAFFITI, could you tell us what your reaction was to that, and the reaction of others.
I never knew I was in that book until now. So I am just seeing it 30 years later. Honestly, my reaction is "what a mess we made!" I can really respect the art that graffiti has developed into, but in the early days we really destroyed a lot of property. If I still lived in New York I would not want to see all that writing on the outside of my building. I guess that's the difference between being 15 and 45!
9) Would you have any chase stories you could tell us about.
Seems like we were always being chased- chased in the tunnels, chased in the paint stores, chased over the turnstiles. We only got raided once in the One Tunnel. I got away by running all the way through the tunnel to the 145th street station. I left Jive behind and he got busted. Another time I got busted by a uniformed Transit cop who called himself Dirty Harry. He spotted me hitting a wall in the station. He came up behind me and I punched him and started to run, but he grabbed me, slammed me against the wall, and punched me in the stomach. 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 nick name.
10) Have you ever met STAY-HIGH and what was that meeting like.
I met Stay High on the IRT's. He was with Hugo Martinez and all the UGA artists- Lee 163, Phase 2, T-Rex 131, and Bama. Stay High was writing Voice of the Ghetto by that time. As I recall, the UGA group was supposed to be a group of "reformed" graffiti artists- yet here they all were hitting the inside of this car. I remember Stay High as being very reserved. I guess he was used to receiving accolades from all the other writers. I thought he would have been more complimentary to meet me, being that I was up on the IRT's at that time, but he wasn't impressed at all.
11) When and why did you stop writing.
About 1974. I discovered girls.
12) Any closing words.
I hadn't thought about writing or my graffiti escapades for over 30 years. One night I couldn't sleep so I was on the computer surfing and just happened to type Stag 161 into a search engine. I found all these web sites about graffiti and was transformed back in time seeing all those old tags. I was so impressed to see all the writers out there. I never was aware of how the art progressed, since I left New York in "74. The extent to which it has evolved is truly amazing.
~~ STAG 161 RETURNS 2004 ~~
***************** EX KING OF THE IRT's ******************
Photo Credits go to MALTA & CAMP TDS. Should any one have photos of STAG 161's work. Please contact us MESSAGE@SUBWAYOUTLAWS.COM