By Dave Carnie
Jason Dill, NYC. Photo: Josh Friedberg
Does anyone really care about this? I’ve been told they do—that you do. Is that true? They say “everybody” is talking about this photo.
“If so,” I said, “I’ll do it. I’ll call Dill up and write about it.” I’m a big fan of the gays. And I’m a fan of the not-gays acting like the gays. But I’m an even bigger fan of Jason Dill, so I’ll take any excuse to call him. But calling Dill proved to be more interesting than this photo.
Dill, like me, doesn’t have a cell phone. Or he has one but doesn’t use it? I’m not sure. His phone situation is, like Dill himself, complicated. But I applauded his phone-free lifestyle.
“I don’t particularly like talking on the phone,” I wrote him in an email, “so why would I carry a phone around with me? I might as well carry a tennis racket around with me. ‘Yeah I don’t play tennis, but everyone has a racket, so I figured I might as well get one too.’ Idiots.”
But, unlike Dill, I do have a phone. It’s just connected to the wall. Jason had to call me from a payphone in Brooklyn. “They still have those?” I asked.
“Not in LA,” he said. I could barely hear him. He sounded like an astronaut in space. “They’re still all over in New York—hold on, I’m going to find a better phone. I can barely hear you. I’ll call you back in three minutes. Okay, bye.”
As eccentric and weird as Jason is, I’ve always found him to be very caring and honest. He gives a shit. There’s fuckups and artists, but it takes a special kind of person to be a reliable fuckup. Or should I say, “It takes a special person to be a fuckup that’s reliable?” Because you can certainly rely on a fuckup to be fucked up. But, the point is, you can rely on Jason to do what he says he’s going to do. Especially if it involves getting fucked up. Or calling back.
Three minutes later the phone rang, but instead of Jason on the line, I got a woman’s voice. “This is a collect call, from [pause, followed by Jason’s voice], JASON DILL. Do you wish to accept this collect call from [pause] JASON DILL?”
“I just got ripped off on a calling card,” he said when we were connected. “I swear I went to call you back and it was like, ‘You have .79.’ My girlfriend moved back to London, so I know all about calling cards. It’s like, I don’t know, I just went to the wrong deli right now. Hopefully this doesn’t cost you too much.”
Jason Dill and PJ Ransone: Photo: Terry Richardson
Because of the rates, there was no time for jibber jabber. I had called to talk about the Terry Richardson photo of PJ Ransone doing a reverse ball cup on him. “What’s going on in this photo?” I said.
“I didn’t realize that anyone even gave a shit about that stuff,” he replied. “The thing is PJ gets such a kick out of making it seem like I’m gay in the skateboard industry. And he’s such a camera coverage whore. He’ll take coverage any way he can get.”
“So you’re not gay in the skateboard industry?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “I’m sorry to disappoint everybody. I thought my vivacious tendencies towards African American women had been well documented. I get that more than I get gay I think. It’s funny to just spark people off, and that was obviously a joke, and all set up by PJ.”
“So Terry didn’t direct PJ to cup your balls?”
“No. PJ was like, ‘Hey Terry, shoot this, shoot this!’ We were just hanging out right there. I’ve had many photos taken with PJ where he’s like, ‘This is gay. Which is funny.’”
“So this is not an exclusive interview with the first major pro gay skateboarder?”
“Most certainly not.”
I still think that the Bones Brigade was gaying off and that they were the first openly gay pro skateboarders, but I have yet to find anybody to substantiate my theories. I continue, however, to search. “Have you and the Bones Brigade ever, you know, gayed off?” I asked him.
“No,” he said sternly. He seemed to be getting kind of miffed. “I mean, doesn’t everybody—especially you. I would think you would know—I’m not calling you ignorant, but you know the gay ones are real quiet and you never think—don’t you know that? The gay ones would never have a photo op like that. It just wouldn’t happen.”
I had to explain that I’m down with the gays. And that I’ve been in Jason’s shoes many times. Worse even. There was a photo of me in Big Brother with a dude’s balls in my mouth.
“Dude,” Jason said, “I’m super into it, I think it’s great. I remember one time, I was fucking young, I went to Miami on some—I don’t know what I was doing there, it was the 90s so it was a long time ago, for me. And I remember some kid I met up with skating was like, ‘You could stay at homeboy’s house.’ And he was that kid that rode for Birdhouse, Tim Von Werne or something like that? And I was just talking to him and he was like, ‘Yeah I gotta go to work in the morning.’ Oh and his roommate was this big, super fat goth chick, and it was like his best friend. But what am I fucking like fuckin’ 18? I don’t know. Nowadays I’d be like, ‘Oh your big fat goth friend? Oh you’re not gay.’ So I was like, ‘What do you mean you work, I thought you skated for a living?’ And he was like, ‘I work for this modeling agency and I pick up the models when they come to town [Jason adds a slight lisp to his story] and I drive them, whateverrrrr.’ I was just like what is this guy all about, driving models, what? That was all so foreign to me.”
I think Tim Von Werne’s interview in Heckler was the first interview with an openly gay skater? We followed with a bigger interview with Jarret Barry in Big Brother a couple years later. We even gave him the cover. In assless chaps. But they weren’t “major” pro skaters.
Jason Dill, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh Friedberg
“I was so surprised to hear,” Jason continued, “that you’re so—‘enamored’ isn’t the right word—to be taken aback by it. It’s just such a funny position.”
I shut the tape recorder off to explain to Jason that my interest in the subject is indeed a little queer. I am not taken aback by it. I don’t give a shit about it. At the same time, I am a hard-hitting journalist (of sorts) and stories of this nature are my forte. And they sell magazines. People love this kind of shit. On a personal level I became interested in the subject of homosexuality in skateboarding (again) because of a series of recent incidents in which I was, without asking, given to learn that the person I was speaking with wasn’t a homosexual. “No homo,” they said in the middle of what seemed like an innocuous, asexual conversation.
“I didn’t suspect you were a homosexual?” I said confused. “What made you think that I was thinking you were homosexual?”
It’s not the homo part that bothers me—although I do think it’s offensive/racist to our gay brothers and sisters—but what bothers me is just how fucking dumb it is. Its backwoods inbred stupid. I’ve always thought that skateboarders were better than that.
“It’s so dumb,” Jason said. “And I gotta tell you that I know a brother of the gay orientation out here and he’s a giant graffiti writer and he fucking hates that term. It’s so fucking corny. So lame. Someone made this ‘I (heart) NY No Homo’ shirt. It’s so corny. I don’t understand why brothers gotta be wasting their time on that shit. Did you know that dance hall and reggae is super homophobic and all that stuff? Why you gotta make it bother you so much?”
“I just thought everyone got the memo,” I said, “the more homophobic you are, the more obvious it is that you’re suppressing your own homosexuality. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Being gay that is. But the more homophobic you act, the more you exaggerate the very quality you’re trying to repudiate in yourself. Which just looks ridiculous to me.”
“Hey, look at Congress,” Jason said. “Look at Republicans. Every time some motherfucker is like I’m going to pass this bill on prostitution, and gay marriage, and bathhouses, all of a sudden who’s fucking getting fucked at the airport in the bathroom stall by a dude? It’s those male, white republicans. It’s so funny. Who would have ever thought that some reggae dance hall singing phenom of the late 80s has so much in common with a white Republican congressman?”
I think Jason was referring to Buju Banton? But yeah, the reggae scene, and hip-hop for that matter, are both extremely homophobic. “I just think skaters are supposed to be smarter than that,” I said.
“Oh yeah,” Jason snorted, “have you seen how they dress?”
“Have you seen how you dress?”
“Hey,” he said, “what are you going to do?”
Jason ended by saying that he just thinks it’s funny that anyone would care about a photo of him with another’s man’s hands on his balls.
“There’s a few things I wish I’d never done,” he said, “interviews and whatnot. There was definitely a time when I was like, I’m going to push it so fucking far over the edge because everybody is such fucking kooks about everything, that I just wanted to be so far out there and removed from it. But nowadays, [this photo] wasn’t even one of those. That was completely just joking around.”
“I’ll assume you were joking around in that other photo with PJ as well,” I said referring to the photo where they’re both nude. “Because I was laughing my ass off looking at your junk. What the fuck is wrong down there?”
“That photo is a decade old, so those are the old days,” he said laughing. “Nobody trimmed back then. No, I know. You trim the grass to make the house look bigger. It certainly didn’t help for either of us in that one. It’s hard for white guys to look good flaccid.”
We talked for a little while longer about more interesting subjects like Intervention and the side effects of watching other people do drugs, Facebook, phones, getting his grandmother a hockey stick, etc., but I finally remembered that this was a collect call. Jason concluded by saying that he thought any rumors of him being gay are boring.
“I’d much rather have rumors about the money I turned down in skateboarding to ride for whack companies,” he said. “I’m running around trying to be Mr. fucking Integrity and I’m calling you collect from a fucking payphone in Brooklyn.”
It was worth every penny. No homo.