This is going to be pretty exciting. We talked with the one and only John Pryor aka Dollar $lice Bootlegs. An artist that took the bootleg art toy scene by storm. On the following lines you will read all about this beautiful human being and things will get pretty personal, find out how resin toys literally saved his life. He opened up in a no bullshit interview exclusively to The Toy Chronicle readers. All we have to say before we start it’s an huge THANK YOU! Hopefully you’ll find inspiration both in art as in life.
Let’s get this show on the road, now it’s all about Dollar $lice Bootlegs!!!
1# Thanks for taking the time to speak with The Toy Chronicle. First up, tell us all about you (for those who been living under a rock)! Who are you? And what are your backgrounds?
F*CK YEAH MAN!!! Thank you for hitting me up and taking the time to bust out an awesome batch of questions! Well shhhhhh*****ttttt… here we go!
I’m John Pryor, better known to most people as “that asshole” and as Dollar $lice Bootlegs. Sh*t man my backgrounds… I’ve lived so many lives leading up to this movie life dream of being a toy maker… I guess I should start from the beginning? I grew up in Carmel Valley CA a small part of Carmel By The Sea and couldn’t have not fit in worse. Around 16 I discovered a band called Redemption 87, they introduced me to hardcore and straight edge. That was the first band to change my life. I dove head first into the Bay Area hardcore scene and would be at shows every weekend, sleeping on random new friends sofas.
Eventually I got sick of Living in Carmel so at 19 I got the f*ck outta dodge n started sleeping on my homies couches in Santa Cruz until I moved to NYC in ’01 after the urging of friends in my favorite band at the time, Saves The Day. So for a spell I lived in queens New York…From there I met the bands and friends I would tour with for most of the next decade… It was a crazy time, my first attempt at tour managing was with Bayside Backe when they were on Dying Wish records. It was miserable. I decided the only way I would tour was as the designated beer drinker/fun manufacturer. Then at some point in my mid 20s I went to beauty school and learned to make the hair all silky n smooth. So once I had that under my belt, I hopped back in the van/bus again and rolled with tours as their stylist. That was much more fun!!! No worries and getting to make sicky fresh hair…
But my drinking ultimately got me kicked off all tours and ended up destroying some of my closest friendships. Around 30 I did a publishing company with my pops for a few years until my drinking ruined our relationship and made me impossible to work with. Then for a few years I was a worthless drunk piece of sh*t until I bottomed out and was living in an 8’x12′ windowless cement office. I was pretty much just spiralling out of control and waiting for the courage to kill myself or get arrested and kill myself in jail.
Either way I was done with life. Around that time, Christian Slater; My band played a show with another band called The Back Up Razor from Santa Cruz. I don’t remember this show but apparently in a black out I decided to hop in their van for a 2wk tour. I know this cause I came to in their van on the way to San Diego. After the tour I decided to give life another go. Ended up renting a room in a house and adopted a 6mo old dog who had been living at the house too. My dog kinda helped give me a reason to be more present, so my destructive behaviour slowed down but was still there ya know?
At 34 I discovered resin toys, taught myself the craft and got sober 2mo later cause I couldn’t f*ck up this new found life of resin art. Legit, resin toys gave me a reason to get my shit together n crawl outta the bottle. 3.5yrs have passed and here I am… And there you are, reading this, so I must have done something right after fucking up for so long.
2# It’s safe to say that you are indeed on of our favourite artist in scene, specially when it comes to bootlegs. The first piece that caught our attention was the Morrisey/Supreme but you had other pieces before right? Like the radical muslim if memory serves me right. What was the first piece you made?
Sh*t man, thank you for the honor, its so fuck*n rad people besides me get psyched on these little beasts! So yeah, I think Moz got me a ton more attention than I was expecting! I posted the toy and for like 24hrs my phone wouldn’t calm down with alerts from various apps. It was so fuckin crazy!
But you’re correct! I had been around about 2 years before dropping that piece… lets see, if I remember correctly, my first drop was 4/20/2014 “The Green Ripper”, just a green reaper with bright pink face and hands but he sold out quick! Ive been meaning to sculpt up my own V2 Green Ripper, hopefully it will be ready for 2018 but who knows, times like in short supply.
Another piece that’s become rather iconic is my SlaughterBot who’s come out in multiple editions including chrome plated versions. Those little dudes are a blast to work on! I’ve even been lucky enough to have Steve Nazar of T&C Surf designs fame do art for one edition of ‘bots.
3# We can tell that you have lot of popular culture influences but a also a strong social/polical points of view (pieces like APOCAL-POTUS or the more recent COVFEFE) What are your main influences. What inspires you to create toys?
Heh yeah this is true. I’ve got a weird f*cking mind dude. My main influences hands down are my moods, as a reaction to my response to life around me, like no question my heart can dictate the majority of my direction at certain times. Sometimes this will be direct reflection like my piece Eighteen Visions for Clutter Galleries inaction figures 5, where the piece screams “kill me now”!!!
It’s a huge form of therapy for me honestly, as Im sure it is for all artists. Also fun inspires the shit outta me, like even if I’m spiralling down some depression worm hole, I can see a few toys next to each other and come up with something to make me smile. Like something positive to meditate on can really help center me if I’m off.
A lot of artists in my scene love the formula of pop culture item A plus pop culture item B mixed with some obvious dumb pun, release and their satisfied. But for me? That kinda sh*t makes me wanna kill myself.
Yeah I def use pop culture characters to catch the viewers eye but I’d like to think my works a lot more thought provoking since like you said I make tons of social/political statements… So you could say some of my main influences and this has been since day 1; are the other artists in my scene and to be as different from them as possible. I’ve never wanted to fit in with this crowd, I love the friends I’ve made don’t get me wrong but I just want to make art I love and sleep well because I never compromised my integrity for acceptance.
F*cking deep right? No artist has uttered that before.. lol. But yeah man, The worlds a really f*cked up unhappy mean place. Everywhere you turn, it’s all burning the fuck down and people are just so terrible to each other these days. It’s so depressing. That inspires me though, it inspires me to be the filter, swallow the negativity and sorrows, digest its poison and spit out something that will make the viewer smile. Like make them smile every time they look at it.
4# Do you have favourite artists?
Oh for sure I do but not really in the designer toy world. I love what Sucklord does, always in the audiences face pushing fucked up fun all into their personal bubble. I mean the dude created this scene, if he wasn’t still pushing along it’d be a bummer…
I’m also a huge fan of Lab Monkey #9, his stuffs fucking insane. I also like all the unlicensed pop culture stuff that killer bootlegs will make. To me, he’s not one of us in the resin bootlegs scene, he’s a mainstream toy company that just hasn’t gotten its Capitol or licenses yet but he will. Petes gonna surpass reaction one day, just watch.
Anyways my favorite artists are Grime who’s a tattoo artist, watch the documentary about him on Viceland. He’s a madman and I suggest to anyone that can, read his book 4 Year Autopsy, it will change you.
Brian Wilson for obvious reasons…. And Gunz, Gunner is the epitome of guerilla art. Nothing stops him, he will go anywhere and tag anything. No bullshit look outs, no Banksy level team… Just a beast, a can, a pen and free juice. Everyday.
5# On a side note we know that you were also very involved in the hardcore scene, do you play in a band? Can you tell us in what way that influenced your art?
Haha yes this is true! CAXHC! HCXWORLDWIDE! It’s the first family I ever had that accepted me for how fucking strange I was. I don’t have any bands at the moment and that’s actually really fucking frustrating but the amount of hxc musicians around me is pretty close to zero.
I’ve been lucky enough to tour with Strife for the last 6yrs or so though, so that’s ruled.
(Watch above D$B doing guest vocals at 1:48 in.)
I guess hardcores influence over my art would just be how I go about approaching it or how I don’t view giving up/quitting ever as an option. Hardcore over all influences my entire life from the second I wake, it’s values and ethics drive me, so I mean it’s in every aspect of my work I guess cause it’s the perspective I approach life from.
6# Recently you’ve been spotted hanging out with the Sucklord. Is there a world domination plan going on?
Don’t I always end up in the strangest damn places?! I consider him a mentor and very close friend. If there is a world domination plan, it’s already been enacted cause when that guy and I put our minds together nothing stands in our way.
7# We loved the diorama you did for the mystic museum in Burbank and more recently the slender man figure which we feel that’s like a milestone in your career due to the fact that besides collage there’s also sculpting involved. Is D$B changing? In what way?
Sh*t dude, thanks!! Yeah I agree, it definitely marks a stylistic evolution. After 2wks on the road with The Sucklord, I came back super refreshed and I dunno, the diorama came together naturally almost intuitively. Sculpting will for sure be more dominating in my work to come, I’m finally comfortable with my abilities so it’s f*cking party time!!
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Slenderman was the first example of this with over 70% being an original sculpt. Eventually I plan to sculpt a large majority of my pieces but I’ll never quit bootlegging/kitbashing, it’s too fun and my mind is made for it.
8# The chrome Slaughter Bots made it to one of our favourite resin pieces of 2016 (Morrisey/Supreme made it to number one in the bootlegs category). Recently there was a special blue variant out Tenacious Toys. Can you tell us what’s behind that piece, what makes it so special?
F*ck man, that’s insane!!! I’m so embedded under the rock i live my life that I wasn’t even aware I’d received such a f*ckin honor!!! Holy sh*t, that’s fucking rad!!! Hell yes, Moz por vida!!! Viva Hate!!! Viva La Moz!!! Dude, that’s so rad. Stoked the chrome bots made your list too! Has No Talent Bootlegs had those made in a factory over seas like all his work. It’s one of my favourite toys ever, so seeing it all blinded out f*cking rules.
The Tenacious exclusive just made sense ya know? Benny is a good friend and a blue bot was a perfect exclusive for us to collab on.
The story behind the slaughterbot isn’t that exciting. He was one of my first pieces I had made. It was really bizarre to me that no one had sourced the SNAKE armor from GI Joe ya know? So I dumped out my source material toy box and stared until the pieces kinda just spoke to me.
I mean their so damn cute and silly looking, they just kinda caught on. I dunno, they’re really cool and the viewer seems to connect with them even if they have no idea about designer toys.
9# Do you feel that the US bootleg scene is evolving? In what way?
Hmmm I think so, I mean there’s always a constant incoming stream of new artists dipping their toes in the scene. Some of em actually push some boundaries or do something new and fun. It’s definitely evolving in articulation, I’m loving that! Before I came along and brought in magnets, folks were only pegging their articulation or doing only static pieces.
I feel like maybe there’s more surreal influences going on a bit too, like I’m seeing less Star Wars bootlegs and that’s kinda nice. Star Wars bootlegs rule and all but they’re kinda over saturated right now. Honestly, what the f*ck do I know? I’m still pretty new myself, 4th wave, so I can only say so much with out feeling like a complete dick hahaha.
10# We love the way you’re interacting with fans and you are always ready to teach the trade, regular Instagram live videos and a recent patreon page, is that something you will explore further? What can we expect?
Thanks man! It’s a blast being able to rap with fans of my work while I work. If I can answer some questions along the way then fuck yeah! Honestly, I put up that page, never promoted it and it’s dormant. I might do something with it soon though, anyone that joins gets some pretty cool shit either way.
11# Any words to our readers?
Fuck anyone who doubts you. Fuck religion. Fuck the Police. Fuck Trump. Fuck Nazis. Fuck Meat. Fuck dairy. Believe in yourself.
Quick fire questions:
- Favourite color? Ah man!!! I live for bright neon slime green. Like that tone just makes my heart so happy. I remember seeing it on bullfrog faces as a kid and being mesmerised by the shifting pigments yet they all remained SO bright. It left a huge impression haha!
- Favourite food? Haha take a guess! Yo, ever since Daiya non-dairy cheese came out and changed the game, vegan pizza has been a dream!!!!! So yeah, pizza hands down. Pizza is f*cking progrock in food form. Whatever the f*ck you wanna do, as long as its with balance n love, the pizza will come out perfect. Throw in whatever noodley crazy off time food ya want, if ya do it right, the reward will be 360 degrees of melted perfection. Im also a huge fan of kale smoothies but really I could live off a combo of pizza and watermelons the rest of my life.
- Favourite Movie? Ah man, just one? Like I can’t dude, but here’s a few that I can always watch n feel better after A River Runs Through It, Till Human Voices Wake Us, Big Fish, Life, GleamingThe Cube, Star Wars, The Princess Bride ,The Burbs…
- Favourite Music? Top 5 Bands: The Beach Boys, Nightmare Of You, Weezer(Blue/Pinkerton era only), Saves The Day, The Murder City Devils Top 5 songs: Space Age Love Song- A Flock of Seagulls; Paint it black- Rolling Stones Wouldn’t it be nice- the beach boys Rock N Roll- The Sounds Will To Die- Strife
- Favourite Star Wars character? Ok, this is gonna sound crazy but not Boba Fett. Like I used to love him as a kid and I think his outfit is the coolest ever designer. Like he is the image of movie screen magic perfection… But let’s face it, he went out like a freakin weanie!! Carbon hazed out blind ass Han deletes his ass and on fucking accident. Nahhhh brahhhhhh. Yo, my favorite character is Han!! Hans wallet had “Bad Ass Mother Fucker” written on way before Pulp Fiction came along. Han shot first, Han got the golden bikini babe Princess, he’s a rogue, a top class smuggler! The dudes awesome!! I love his struggle, wanting to leave after payment yet still doing the right thing in his heart and staying with the rebellion.
- Ysagi Yojimbo vs D$B, who wins? Sh*t, both of us? I’d toss the long eared carrot munchers a broccoli wand n let that mj mellow out any confrontation. Then we would be friends and he could introduce me to the tmnt clan. That would be dope, can you make that happen dude?
Thanks for this trip! Anyone you wanna give props to?
Just wanna make sure and give a shout out to my apprentice lingering_remains_toys!! The kid’s a beast!!! Check his work for sure!! Also a huge shout to Dogmantoys!! Dude;s doing some really f*cking cool original sculpts and bootlegs! You’re blowing it if you’re not following both these guys. Also a shout out to Jamie Jasta shout outs on his podcast The Jasta Show. Dude literally gives shout outs to shout outs and it’s just the f*cking coolest cause he’s constantly giving small bands tons of attention/shouts on his show.
Also thanks to Dov and Sarah Joe DKE for their unending hard work to provide a stage for bootleg artists. Annnd!!! Shout out to Herbal Cruz 41st Ave Sant Cruz for all the support and sweet sweet meds!!!