1. Just how much of a financial impact did the event make for Villalobos Rescue Center?
(BB) Tia Torres came to me late last year (08) and explained the financial situation she was facing. She asked me to help, so we started helping as hard and as intensely as we could. The first thing we did was hold an online auction on my websites and we raised about $20,000.00 for her within a month or so. We also started an online donation collection for her, which is STILL active and can be found at http://widget.chipin.com/widget/id/3d72a4c8e84f56ca and we have already exceeded $5,000.00 that way. This all was wonderful, but her operating expenses exceeds these amounts, and dramatic action had to be taken. I have effectively run all 4 of my companies into the ground finishing this film and working to create this huge Vegas fundraiser, all the way across the country dealing with casinos and flights and venues I had never even been inside of. It was an insane 4 months, but we did it. And according to Tia, we saved her operation, so we DID IT! Without all of this dramatic action, bankruptcy was immanent. The fight is not over, but we are closer. Once her new TV show airs I believe that the donations will ROLL IN! Television can reach a much wider demographic than anything my companies can provide, so we are anxiously awaiting the shows immanent debut. It's an incredible show, Ive already seen a couple episodes, and I am in fact on my way to LA right now to film another episode with them. Without our help, she would have been forced off her property and all the dogs would have again become homeless and hopeless. The first thing to dry up in dire economic circumstances is DONATIONS, and she is 100% dependant on donations to survive, she still needs more help, but we kept them going! So the answer is, the financial impact was monumental.
2. The event was about more than just raising money - it was about awareness. Do you feel you have managed to reach the hearts and minds of people - not just those attending (that's just preaching to the choir!), but people to whom pit bulls are dangerous animals that we need to be protected from by legislature?
(BB) I believe that the film itself does that yes. Anyone who watches this film, is effected, no matter who they are or how they feel about anything. The dogs in the film are simply a metaphor for so much more, and many widespread topics are explored - man vs nature, man vs man, prejudice, assumptions, media, and the ability for ANYONE to do some good in this world. There is something for everyone in this film. It is 100% uncensored, and untainted by cooperate influence. The pure definition of "Independent Film". This is nothing like what you would see on Animal Planet, its extremely "in your face" and it's a roller coaster. I own 100% of the rights to all footage and we are currently seeking the best distribution deal. The money of course will go directly to Tia, less our hard costs. So help us sell it!
(BB) My favorite piece was a painting by Robert Pho, who is also a well known tattoo artist from Las Vegas. Unfortunately while I was filming with Animal Planet someone out bid me on that piece and I did not get to bring it home to my gallery. It was a bummer. I'm still upset about it. Other artists included: Cam De Leon (famous for creating artwork for the band Tool), Brandon Bond, Damon Conklin, Durb Morrison, Dave Tedder, John Lloyd, Jace Masula, Short Parker, Ryan Downie, Matt Dunlap, and many more. The art show was an incredible and ecclectic collection of paintings, photographs, sculpture, mixed media, and collage. The art was auctioned off by "Heckles and Twitch", www.hecklesandtwitch.com. All proceeds from the art auction were also donated to Villa Lobos, and helped us cover the monumental costs of throwing this huge event.
Being an artist myself, and owning a gallery, it only made since for me to use my connections in the art world to get a bunch of awesome pieces sent out for the event. Seeing as "art" is actually what funded the entire film project, it just made since. My entire award winning staff at www.AllOrNothingTattoo.com also donated pieces to the show so it was a family effort for sure. I did purchase the Dave Tedder painting of a pit bull it is amazing! His artwork can be viewed at www.AllOrNothingTattoo.com
4. What about the bands? The Great Pit Ball featured acts like Sick of it All, Madball, The Spyderz and Toetag - favorites of yours? Were there any other bands you wish could have attended in addition?
(BB) Yes, I personally contacted each band, and personally bought their flights and rooms and all that. I called in a lot of favors to pull this off, but the bands were AWESOME about helping. Evan Seinfeld is the pure definition of a rockstar/pornstar, but is extremely cool about charity stuff, I have been a long time fan of his music, however I consider him a friend also. Sick of it All has been one of my favorite bands since I was in middle school! As has Madball, and I have been very close friends with John Wiley (CEO of Eulogy Recordings and guitar player for ToeTag and Until The End) and he has helped us out on many projects to date. Our first film "SEE YOU IN HELL" availible here: http://strangleholdmerch.com/see-you-in-hell-p-62.html exclusively features Eulogy music, and my instructional tattoo seminar DVD series "The Whole Enchilada Vol 1 and Vol 2" both feature all Eulogy music: http://strangleholdmerch.com/the-whole-enchilada-p-108.html. He and I have worked on many projects together, and the original motion picture soundtrack to "Vicktory to the Underdog" is predominately Eulogy donated music which can be found here: http://strangleholdmerch.com/soundtrack-vicktory-to-the-underdog-p-197.html
(BB) Actually, to be perfectly honest, it was a long terrible road. I was not able to sit back and enjoy my own premiere even! I was constantly having to walk out of the theater to talk on my cell phone and prepare everything for the concert! My assistant and I (Nicole Webster, who is also in the film) have never worked so many gruelling hours 7 days a week. It was unbearable. We were pulling 20 hour shifts because of the different time zones, and the chaos and the bands and the flights. And she is 8 months pregnant! Poor girl. It was horrendous, an event like this is usually planned out at least 8-12 months in advance, but Tia (www.vrcpitbull.com) needed the money NOW, so we had to step it all up. And with the last minute venue change a lot of people said it couldn't even be done. We did not relent. Tenacity is a trait I learned from my Pit Bulls and my father. We did not give up, and even in the face of all the chaos, Nicole and I persevered. Every single member of the "Pit Ball" committee fell off, quit, or disappeared as the event grew and approached and it was only us. At the last minute I reached out to Mario Barth a long time friend and celebrity tattoo artist who owns a studio in Mandalay Bay, and John Huntington (formerly of Hart and Huntington and the tv show INKED) who has a tattoo shop in the Palms. They and companies like Best Friends Animal Society and H20cean came in at the last second to help financially, and we did it! I am officially retiring from events all together - its was a rough ride, I'm still exhausted!
(BB) The reviews have been amazing, and inspiring. People are freaking out, it is an entirely different perspective portrayed in the film than the usual animal rescue "BS". I would have done the movie much differently had we had more time for sure, we were under a lot of pressure, and had numerous issues with production and the producer out in LA. the hardest thing I have ever done was this film, and I have done a LOT of projects. It too was a hell ride, and was barely finished in time for the premiere! The limited edition widescreen DVDs are shipping worldwide now however, and they are being incredibly well received.
(BB) I am maxed out on dogs, taking in any more than the 6 I have would not be fair to those 6 or to my wife! She has to take care of all of them! And yes, the film has inspired a lot of adoptions already. We have been getting flooded with mail about how people are opening their eyes, and looking to adopt in their local area. Villa Lobos will inevitably see a LOT of adoptions once the show airs and the movie sees more distribution as well.
(BB) YES, actually Animal Planet was in Vegas filming for several days, and YES it will the be in the new season of Tia's show for sure. This June is the latest projected air time. The fact that they were there barking orders at all of us made the event 10 times more stressful for me and a few of the people involved, but it is for a great cause, and will inevitably create the best record of the event.
(BB) I would say that 90% of all patrons were heavily tattooed yes. It is my demographic for sure. I have the ability to reach these people in a way that "Disney style, animal planet fluff" cannot. These are the people that actually own pit bulls, these are the people over breeding them into oblivion, and these are the people that are joining together to speak for those without a voice. It is amazing. There was an incredible collection of tattoos everywhere! It was awesome, like a tattoo convention, without the tattooing.
10. In our last interview you mentioned you were still waiting for a response from Michael Vick's attorneys, which they promised to give you after viewing the DVD. Did they bite?
(BB) I have not gotten a response yet no, and honestly don't expect one. They are so focused on him going back to play football that unless this facilitates that, they probably will not want to respond. HOWEVER, in the film we suggest that second chances are VITAL, and that even Vick deserves the voice to represent how cruelty to animals is sick and depraved. So we may get something from his people. Whether he actually means it or if his PR people are just telling him what to say is completely irrelevant to me, the message needs to get to the young kids that idolize him. I don't care if he means it or not, I just want him to scream it from the rooftops regardless. People are listening. in fact I will gladly meet with him and hook him up with a tattoo! We have a lot to talk about! and I do in fact have one if his dogs sitting here licking my foot right now.
11. You mentioned earlier that L.A. is your next stop. What are your plans there, as far as promoting Vicktory to the Underdog and general pit bull awareness? What's next for you?
(BB) I am taking the trip out to Villa Lobos, to figure out all the money from the pit ball, and to visit Tia, and to film for another episode of her show. I am also going to see Evan Seinfeld's band Biohazard in their 20 year reunion tour and do a lot of drinking. I am very excited to go on this adventure. However I am exhausted absolutely, so I am slightly apprehensive. I need about a months worth of sleep.
After that I am returning to TATTOOING! And I am very excited, I book appointments about a year in advance normally, however, with all this charity chaos and movie crap we have not even booked a single 09 appointment! So firstname.lastname@example.org is now compiling a massive list of eager clients flying in to get tattooed throughout the summer and fall and we will be giving out dates starting as soon as April!
I beat my face against the cooperate wall long enough with all this charity and movie crap, and I'm super excited to just go back to what made all of this possible. My artwork. I am making a "no talking about dogs or movies" rule in my new studio that is being built for me now. I may even hang a sign. Unfortunately now everyone and their brother seems to want me to do portraits of pit bulls all over them! I'm joking, kinda, I don't mind tattooing images of dogs actually. I'm just tired of people talking to me about it! But I am thrilled to go back to my normal life and turn off my phone.
This is me disappearing into what I know best and going out of the charity game fully knowing that we kicked a lot of ass. So stop sending us mail about dogs! The whole purpose was to incite OTHERS to do their part, so roll your sleeves up and get involved. We did our part! I'm going back to work and actually going to try and get my wife pregnant, which sounds like fun in a lot of ways!
Thank you for the interview.