BY BETH ALLEN
Rev. Rot is an old friend of mine from Vancouver, Canada. I met him when he did the ’zine Gee-Zuz. He is an incredible artist and fanatical toy collector. Unfortunately, since this interview his van has died and been scrapped. It was an incredible work of art when it was rollin’ though, both inside and out.
When did you buy your van?
My memory’s a little foggy, but it was around 1987 and I got it from a boy scout leader in suburbia. It was a total ripoff at 1800 Canadian dollars... and that didn’t include cleaning costs to remove the boy scout seminal fluid stains.
What kind is it? And are you a make-loyal man, like, does Ford mean something to you??
It’s a camperized ’71 Ford Econoline with a raised roof. I never was particular to any one make or model, so long as it was big, and not a stinkin’ VW. Now, though, when I see other early-’70s Ford Econolines cruising by, I feel a definite kinship, akin to how motorbikers wave to each other on highways. Fords aren’t my favorite “looking” van [that would have to go to Fargos or Corvaires] but they do tickle my fancy. What does “Ford” mean to me? Fix Or Repair Daily!
Why did you decide to get a van?
“Decide” isn’t the right word. I had always wanted a van, ever since I was 13 or so. Basically, I just wanted a room that could be moved away from my home life, a safe, secluded home on wheels... which, basically, is a van. I used to spend nights dreaming about my escape pod, and days drawing and designing new floorplans, gleaned from the pages of various “vanning” magazines. Circumstances prevented my dream from being realized until I had already owned two cars... but I can’t see myself ever going back now.
Does your van have a name?
Well....depends. It is most often referred to as “piece of fucking shit”, generally on a daily basis. Sometimes it is titled depending on the decoration it currently dons, so, right now it has “Battlevan Gallactica” written on the visors.... but, if one name had to be repeated, I would say I most commonly refer to it as “The Bank”: i.e., the place where I put all my money.
When and why did you start painting/elaborating on your van? What tools do you use? Any tips?
I guess that’s twofold.... 1] everything I have is decorated oddly, extensively; it’s just my nature, so... 2] when I got it, the thing was brown, orange and tan, inside and out. God awful even for someone who loves bad taste and tackiness [but that’s just going too far], so it desperately needed adornment before I could handle even being in it. As for tips... silicone [or bathtub caulking] is a wonderful, wonderful thing... it seals leaks, sticks things together, fills cracks and holes and is a great glue. Completely waterproof... but doesn’t take paint all that well. Marine enamel paint is my fave colouring medium. It’s shiny, bright, tough... I like it. As for body work.... well, if you’re as inept and broke as me, spray insulation works great for keeping rusted bits of side paneling, wheel wells and undercarriage together. Spray it in, it expands to fill the area and small cracks, is waterproof and fairly strong.... it’s all that’s holding my van together at the moment.
What drives you to decorate?
Insanity..... I just simply MUST be surrounded by crap. hanging off of me, dangling in my field of view, falling on me from shelves above... I NEED STUFF!!! and the goofier/weirder, the better.
How many reincarnations has your van gone through, what were they?
1] Big ugly tan piece of crap [not my fault]. 2] Two-tone purple with big cartoon green “splootches” flying off the wheel wells. Back doors had a large Gwar logo, with “Have you seen me,” written on the bumper, complete with baby dolls chained by their necks, dragging their feet down the street, their eyes removed with spray insulation foaming out of their sockets, looking like intestines. The dashboard was covered in action figures and other toys, and the inside.. ahem.... was kinda hippy-ish. 3] Black and silver twotone with a velvet-type painting of Jesus on the front above the windshield, the grill and sides painted to resemble Spiderman’s face. Cartoon characters Milk and Cheese depicted on passenger side [nothing on driver’s side, to help with getting through the border crossing] as well as the saying “Please, please, kill everyone now”. Inside pretty much the same. 4] Black and silver still, passenger’s side shows Jesus on the cross with Milk and Cheese again, this time saying “No one dies for my sins till I say so” and “No gin, now THAT’S a sin”. Back has two pin-up style nuns and a large flaming heart. Driver’s side has anti-Christian logo and stitches where some moron side-swiped me. Roof now has bowling trophies. Toys have been removed and replaced by various frankensteined electronic devices, all of which are hooked up to batteries and a console and can be operated from the driver’s seat. Interior is awaiting a full makeover, but I’m reluctant to spend much effort right now since the van appears to be.... well.... terminally ill.
Were you ever inspired by any other art cars?
Nothing in particular, but everything in general.... if anything, other cars inspire me to try to do something different, yet they inspire me to be as outlandish as I can get away with. Unfortunately, in this weather, without a garage, the outside decor is virtually limited to mere painting.
Had many problems with the thing?
Problems? No. Unless you’re talking about such minor problems as having no brakes on the highway, losing a transmission, having the hood fly off and smash in the windshield going 80, blown tires on sharp curves, no wipers on the I-5 in December, headlights turning off on the Redwood Highway at night with nowhere to pull over, doing 360’s on black ice and having eight different stereos stolen... but besides that kinda stuff, no, no problems.
What are some of the reactions your van gets?
Some people look as though they’re at the circus and have just seen the greatest thing they could imagine, some pull me over so they can get pictures, I get a lot of “thumbs ups”... I hate those people. The reactions I like are the mom drawing her child close to her, telling him not to look. The bible thumpers that ask “Why do you hate Jesus?”, the drunk guy who threatened to beat me up, the cops that take one look and say “Um... yeah”, the people who stand there, mouth agape, brow furrowed, and give me dirty looks for blasphemy... actually, I hate them too.
Got any good sex stories to tell about your wheels?
Well, I’ve had good sex in it... but no interesting stories. It has a fold-out double bed, so, it’s pretty much just like being at home.
Have any favorite vans?
Besides mine? Well, there are too many vans from the late 70s [where’d they all go anyway?] but most of the ones that are heavily customized, with three axles, I love those.
What are some trips you have taken in your van?
It’s been up and down the I-5 dozens of times. To Vegas, L.A., and one trip all the way to New York and back. These days though, I’m lucky to get as far as Seattle.
What does “truckin’” mean to you?
Heh heh.... nothing really, but if I had other vanning friends that were into doing the “truckin’” thing [which I suppose is akin to biker gang summer meetings, etc.] I’d be game.
If you had the money and time to do ANYTHING to your van, what would your wet dream wheels be?
Oh man... I have such dreams. First, the chassis.... lowrider hydraulics all around, the whole works, the kit and caboodle. Small tiny front tires, big fat honkin’ back tires with hot wheel rims, jacked up of course. Skid plates and spark plug flame thrower in tailpipes. Strobe lights as headlights. Sirens and loudspeakers behind grill. The whole front grill area is a retooled Edsel grill and bumper/lights etc. The back is a ’\50s caddy bumper, chrome knobs and double sized fins. All taillights are molded in the shape of skulls. And of course, running board lights a plenty [and even though others hate ’em, I gotta have some blacklight ground effects too]. Inside... just do what I already have planned, but better than I can do it, with no expense spared.... electric toys and gadgets covering the “cockpit”, accessible from driver’s seat captain’s chairs.... oh, how I’d love captain’s chairs. All interior doors and walls covered in silver studded black leather, door handles, grips and window handles made of solid chromed chain. More blacklights, strobe lights and disco balls and a bigger, better stereo.... that’s all.... that’s all I want.... is it so much to ask?
Check out Rev. Rot’s paintings and action figures
PICTURED ABOVE: (Top to Bottom) “The Bank” in all it’s glory, R.I.P. and Rev. Rot.