20 Questions with Steve ‘Espo’ Powers

Juxtapoz // Friday, 10 Apr 2009
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A love of street art and graffiti has earned Steve ‘ESPO’ Powers (Juxtapoz cover #83) a few things in life: superstardom in the art world, notoriety on the streets, a criminal record, and even a treasured Fulbright scholarship. NYC based ESPO needs no introduction; his witty and boldly colored artwork often does all the talking for him. Unless you throw a bunch of questions his way. Read our 20 Questions with ESPO himself below:

 

What's the first thing you did when you woke up this morning?

 

Lifted the lid on the dumpster and checked the weather.

 

Something about yourself the average person wouldn't guess?

 

I'm straight. 

If you had one day left on Earth, what’s left to be discovered?

 

Will the Statue of Liberty look better flat black?

 

What is your first art-making memory as a kid?

 

Re-drawing Rush album covers, 20 dollars each. My attention to detail started fading at Night Flight, and I got bargained down to 10 dollars each.

 

Do you need long periods of time alone, or are you energized by interaction?

 

Which one is masturbation?

Is being in the dark with the lights out frightening or comforting?

 

Depends if I’m masturbating.

 

What's the most non-art involved activity you continually find yourself enjoying?

 

Masturbating. No, sandwiches.

 

Have you been to jail? If so, why? If not, why not?

 

I’ve been in bookings, but that’s not jail. Probably because I don't rage against the machine, I just feed it quarters.

 

What kind of car do you drive?

 

I’m chauffeured on a train everyday. 

What's your biggest non-green inspired indulgence?

 

Pouring used paint thinner in my dolphin tank.

 

What is the single most important thing you did to breakthrough as a career artist?

 

Carving SP WAS NOT HERE in the back of my nanny's Buick at 5.

 

Best hustle you ever pulled?

 

Why the fuck would I tell you?

 

Are you ever bored?

 

Right now.

 

What excites you?

 

The idea of the Dow hitting 5000.

2023 will look like . . . ?

 

Pretty much the same, except for the inhabitable areas caused by dirty bombs, Brooklyn being a refugee camp, the abandoned island of Manhattan, and the flat black statue of liberty.

 

If you could have a drink with one artist, living or dead, who would it be?

 

Houdini, unless Matthew Barney got to him first, then he'd be covered in Vaseline and in a fetal position. So then Bob Dylan, I bet he could still drink me under the table, if he wanted to.

 

Last passport stamp:

 

ESPOLAND. Drew it myself when I hit the border.

 

Can’t stand:

 

I can't stand up for falling down
I can't stand up for falling down

 

Simple though love is
Still it confused me
Why I'm not loved the way I should be
Now I've lived with heartaches
And I've roomed with fear
I've dealt with despair
And I've wrestled with tears

 

H. Banks A. Jones, performed by E. Costello

Can’t live without:

 

My radio, believe me, I like it loud
I'm the man with a box that can rock the crowd
Walkin' down the street, to the hardcore beat
While my JVC vibrates the concrete
I'm sorry if you can't understand
But I need a radio inside my hand
Don't mean to offend other citizens
But I kick my volume way past 10
My story is rough, my neighborhood is tough
But I still sport gold, and I'm out to crush
My name is Cool J, I devastate the show
But I couldn't survive without my radio
Terrorizing my neighbors with the heavy bass
I keep the suckas in fear by the look on my face
My radio's bad from the Boulevard
I'm a hip-hop gangster and my name is Todd
Just stimulated by the beat, bust out the rhyme
Get fresh batteries if it won't rewind
Cos I play everyday, even on the subway
I woulda got a summons but I ran away
I'm the leader of the show, keepin' you on the go
But I know I can't live without my radio

 

Lyrics J. Smith

 

Words to live by:

 

You've tried the rest, now try the best. Overbrook Pizza 215 473 3303

 

More on Steve ESPO Powers at www.firstandfifteenth.net

 

Portrait photos: Ross McDonnell for The New York Times  

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