Filed under: Attack of the Beardos,Internets,Interviews,Not Your Average
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Dallas Penn is an intehnets institution. Whether he’s dropping bombs at his blog, going in on the streets of New York with his handy cam or forming like Voltron with Rafi Kam and Casimir Nozkowski as the Internets Celebrities, he manages to school the youth and bug the fuck out all in the course of an average day. For the first part of this feature, I’ve gone into the archives to bring you the highlights of a two hour conversation from January 2008 before we move onto more recent events in the second half.
Robbie: Are you famous yet?
Dallas Penn: Part of Internets Celebrities is the ridiculousness of celebrity and how it really has no value, unless you use your celebrity to bring information to people or make that little bit of dirt you’re standing on a little better than it was a day ago. How worthless has celebrity become? You’re endorsing all kinds of bullshit, you’re endorsing nonsense, constantly. People say, ‘Oh man, you guys aren’t fucking celebrities! We don’t fucking know you!’ And they’re right – you don’t know us. But on the internets, you fuckin’ know us…or maybe not.
Internets time is a trip. Three weeks ago is ancient history.
That’s the people that we’re talking to a lot. I think the folks that have grown-up with the internet as their information source, for them, information is totally disposable. How do we create something – a message or a meme – that somebody will remember the following day? Part of that is to take things that we kinda see all the time, like the corner bodega. You consume shit out of there all the time, you buy 40 Oz. of malt liquor from there all the time, but maybe you never considered the other options. We’re gonna tell you, ‘Hey listen, there’s this other bottle right here that you can fuck with! And it’s even cheaper! And the next thing you know you’ll be smacking the shit outta your mom’ [laughs]
Urine Nation would have been your riskiest shoot I assume?
We’ve been run-out of spots on a couple of scenes, but generally the thing that I’ve imparted into the group is that we act like we belong there. So when we got into a spot with our camera and we’re focused and we finish our shoot before you have any time to think about, ‘OK, who are these guys? Are they news? What are they doing?’ In another couple of minutes we’re wrapping and we’re running outta there. When we did that VH-1 Hip Hop Honors joint – everywhere we went we acted like we belonged there.
No one wants to read anymore – that shit is hard work! If YouTube has taught me anything, it’s that people just want to see pet cat’s doing stuff, like tap-dancing or rolling a White Owl.
[laughs] Anything on video seem to be how people want to receive their content. People like Raf and I, who aspire to be writers, we were kinda like how do we take out information and bring it to a wider audience. This was Rafi’s idea from the beginning. Rafi sent me an email and he was like, ‘Man, when you wrote about creating the Ghetto Big Mac that shit is hilarious. We should make it into a video’. I was kinda like, ‘Naaah, nobody’s gonna want to fuck with it’. He was like, ‘Nah, don’t worry about it. I like that shit, and I think it’s gonna be a viral hit.’ So I said, ‘Fuck it. Wasn’t nothing to it but to do it’. Raf called his buddy Cas, and I met him and Cas the first time right on the street in Long Island City, right near my job. The shoot took us about two and half hours.
Was it a situation like when they shoot commercials and the actors have to bite into hundreds of burgers?
I think we bought a total of three double cheese burgers. Honestly, our production values from the gate…I mean totally on our videos we may have spent ten dollars – on all our videos. The three dollars we collectively spent on Bodega, the four dollars we spent at Ghetto Big Mac and I think one of us spent two dollars to get on a subway. That’s about it!
I imagine you were surprised when the ‘Ghetto Big Mac’ video snowballed?
We were all kinda surprised, and we kinda had fun doing the shoot. It was silly and it gave us enough humor that it made us consider doing another one. The thing was, Casimir – the director and film-maker – he felt funny about the project only because to everyone that saw it, they thought it was a McDonalds commercial when it wasn’t. He was like, ‘Why the hell are we bigging-up this multinational corporation?’ So he wanted to have a better social theme inside the next video, and that’s what led us to doing Boedega.
Are there any ideas that you’ve thrown at Rafi that he wasn’t down with?
A couple of things. I’m a little more gonzo – I wanna shoot while we’re all on LSD. Rafi’s got a family, so he can’t. Cas could, but he won’t.
What about if Rafi doesn’t take acid and you do – then compare how you both react to certain situations.
I would like that, and Rafi would probably go with that too. I don’t know if Casimir would accept it, because Casimir wants us to be considered serious film-makers now. He doesn’t want us to be total screwballs. We need Casimir because if it were just me and Rafi I would have us doing all sorts of dumb shit, like jumping in front of subway cars and shit.
So Cas is the Daria to your Beavis And Butthead?
He keeps us on the level. My inclination is to be a total eff-up. I can’t help it. I love being a dumb-ass. Do you wanna know the origin of the word ‘gully’, as I learned it?
Break it down.
Seagulls created the relationship of the word ‘gully’ as being something that’s down for whatever. Ready to get it out! They go in! If a seagull see’s an opportunity to get it poppin’, they gonna get it poppin’! I’m at Jones Beach, right? So I’m just sitting on my back, just enjoying myself, and I’m watching this lady give a little sandwich to her son. Her son is a little baby, about 3 years old. So the baby is holding the sandwich in one hand and shoveling sand with the other. While the hand is up, holding the sandwich, the baby is watching the shovel and a seagull comes and steals the sandwich and fly’s off! Now the mom doesn’t see this, and the baby doesn’t see that it’s the seagull that did it! The baby is looking at his hand now, like, ‘Yo, what happened to me sandwich?’ The baby’s looking around, like, ‘Yo, did I just drop my sandwich?’ He’s looking for it, he can’t find it and he then just started crying. Then he shows his mom and she’s asking what he did with his sandwich, and he’s crying, and I said, ‘Oh, shit! That seagull was straight-up gully!’ True motherfucking story.
Nice. Can you tell me why people are still developing robots when every sci-fi movie shows that robots with A.I. always turn against us when they get sick of doing our dirty work?
[laughs] Then we find out robot’s have been in control for that long. They went back in time…
What are five things you love at the moment?
I’m lovin’ the Ghetto Big Mac. I gotta be honest with you, I’m loving the Wu-Tang. Nullus to loving a group of men by the way, but I love the Wu because it’s all these different dudes with different styles, trying to spit for the same end goal – which is to blow somebody’s mind. Number three is White Boy Weed. I think the white consumer appreciates quality over quantity. Black dudes just want something to fill up a cigar with. Number four – I’m gonna say Nike Dunks.
That leads me to my next question…what’s the story with sneaker groupies? Did you used to get girls wanting to touch your kicks at parties?
The groupie shoes that I have, I don’t wear out. The funny thing is, as an over-sized Black dude, people don’t typically approach you and have conversations with you. The reactions I get from white cats that have seen our videos as opposed to Black cats are night and day. White cats actually approach me, they say, ‘Hey! Internets Celebrities! I like what y’all was doin’!’ And we get to build and have a little quick conversation, whereas I’m at this party and this dude is ice-grilling me. I’m like, ‘What’s this guy’s story?’ Then he said to me, ‘Yo, Internets Celebrities, right?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, yeah homeboy. What’s up?’ And he’s like, [in disgusted tone] ‘Yeah, aiight!’ and walks off! Like what the fuck? What’s wrong with this guy, man? This guy’s a psycho! People are funny style, though.
What’s your beef with The Wire?
The Wire comes in with a lot of truth, but I hate trying to find the humanity in people who sell drugs. I did it – I lost my humanity selling drugs, so you can’t tell me there’s a silver cloud…there’s no happing ending to it. The only happy ending you have is you get stripped naked, you get kicked in your ass and you have to run 20 miles to get to your house, and that’s how you get to leave…if you get to leave. You have to be brought down to your knees and for one reason or another, the trigger doesn’t get pulled.
What are five things that are on your shit-list right now?
Bad rap music – Souljah Boy. He’s retarded because he’s an asshole who dropped outta high school. I hate freelancing – I hate being a freelance writer and chasing down checks. Number three – women’s issues…and Oprah. Nobody should have that much power. She’s on the cover of every magazine she’s ever put out and she won’t give anyone else any shine! Police brutality – still a serious issue – and lastly…the robots.
Fuckin’ robots, man.
Fucking robots, ‘cos they control everything and they’re total haters.
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