Words by: Maurice
Images: Courtesy of Roger Gastman
Tell me how it all started for you?
I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, right out side of DC but I’m definitely from Bethesda—I have a tattoo on my chest that says Bethesda. A lot of my friends were getting tattoos that were saying DC—I made fun of them because they were not from DC, so myself and a few of my friends all got Bethesda tattoos, and mine is probably the biggest and stupidest, which I am very proud of.
I started running around and writing graffiti probably when I was 14 through the hardcore scene. Everyone had a tag so I figured shit, I might as well have one too. Most people got arrested, most people quit, parents sent them to boarding school or many other things and stop writing graffiti. For one reason or another I was stupid enough to keep doing it and through that I started traveling at a young age, 15-years old. I started traveling with friend’s bands as far as crazy places like Los Angeles, where I was painting at all the yards, I experienced all of L.A. in ’94, ’96, ’97. I was here and saw it all. I met Saber when I was 15 underneath a bridge in Canoga Park, or some random place, I don’t remember.
So, I just ended up having this network and by the time I was 19, fast forward a few years I ended up starting “While You Were Sleeping” Magazine, which was done completely by accident, but that’s another story for another time. But “While You Were Sleeping” grew and by the end of ’98 and beginning of ’99 it was more graffiti meets porn, serial killer sort of magazine with music, and editorial and national distribution—I think we were pumping out 30-40 thousand copies out there. I don’t know how that happened but it grew. I was doing the advertising, I was doing the marketing, I was doing the shipping, I was doing the design—I was doing a little bit of everything. Not necessarily doing any of it well but I continued. The more ridiculous the content, the more potty humor, the more things mother’s wouldn’t like, the better for me.
Was there still a big punk scene in DC when you were coming up?
Well it was the ‘90s and I’m a huge fan of that stuff. For me the heyday would have been the early ‘80s stuff that I missed but there was tons of stuff I loved going on. I had no idea that graffiti had anything to do with hip-hop, maybe some kids were skateboarding but they were going to Hardcore shows. What you write graffiti and do you drugs, you’re not straight edge? It was a whole other world that I learned about.
So, you’re straight edge?
I don’t run around saying that I’m straight edge and look at my X’s. I’ve bought my fair share of underage children liquor and drugs. But I’ve never had a drag of a cigarette or nothing. I’m still straight. Most of my friends that got the straight edge tattoos and preached it are drunk—probably drunk right now or packing a bowl right now.
With the magazines you’ve created and all the art books your company has published, was there anytime in your life that you thought you wanted to be a publisher?
No. I thought about this a lot, thinking what I wanted to do when I was little and I don’t remember. I never wanted high school to end.
High school was easy—I got decent grades, I had tons of friends, I would skip school all the time, I would travel, I would paint graffiti, I would steal stuff, we’d go to parties and hook up with chicks. I mean really, why would we want to leave that world and have to grow up?
And now I think people look back and think that time was so awesome but when most people are in that time they just want to move on and go to college. I think I new from early on that shit was awesome and I think a lot of that ended up in the pages of “While You Were Sleeping” because I was still friends with a lot of the same people that I’d know since the 8th or 9th grade. They weren’t writers, they weren’t photographers, they weren’t models but I would get them to go do ridiculous things.
It was kind of like the Big Brother/Jackass of the East.
In a way, I mean, “Big Brother” was going on and “Camp Kill Yourself” was going but that was foreign to us, I knew about it. And sure of course it was an influence but it wasn’t what we were thinking. It was just the ridiculous things that were coming out of mine’s and a few trusted contributors, and friend’s heads.
I find your blog very interesting, and it never fails to entertain, especially the random post about food.
After “While You Were Sleeping” I started doing books and working with the more corporate clients, started “Swindle” magazine, ended up in Los Angeles, worked on a film projects, and on and on. And I would never say I did “While You Were Sleeping” to people for a long time. “While You Were Sleeping” ended with a negative taste for me, which is again, another chapter but it kept coming back up, here and there. As everyone is getting older unfortunately, and further and further away from High School—I’ve mentioned it more and talked to people more about it and its seems like a lot more people than I would have ever expected knew about it, read it, and maybe still have copies of it. And my brain still thinks exactly as it did then, and no matter how many boardroom meetings I have to go to or smart editorial content we have to put together or whatever it is—my brain still thinks like I’m 14-years old. And I have the same…probably worse sense of humor as I did then. I’ve always been taken stupid photos—my and my friends take stupid photos all the time—photos of what we eat. We’ve had tons and tons of eating contests. It wasn’t like, let’s document what we eat all week, it was just more out of stupidity
So as “While You Were Sleeping” started to circle around back into my life I said I might as well do—there were a few things that we were going to do and it didn’t work out, but Rogergastman.com ended up out of few failed ventures.
So the site is like an extension of While You Were Sleeping?
Rogergastman.com, I would say is an extension of me, which is exactly an extension of “While You Were Sleeping”. It is definitely in the theme of “While You Were Sleeping,” and if “While You Were Sleeping” was still a print magazine, hopefully the sorts of things I would be wanting to put in it–its definitely—as ridiculous as people think some things are on it—its very PG to me.
Does Angie stay in those bad hotels on purpose just to have a good story?
I think she might seek out some of the grimier places and concocts those stories from a lot of different reviews and her own experiences.
Besides you and Angie, who else does posting?
I was putting together most of the content in the beginning and I wanted to make sure there was a lot of post going up because I don’t like blogs or websites where is like—up post every 4 days—its boring to me. Also, I don’t look at that many blogs or things on the internet other than Washington Capitals, D-Listed, Radar, and a few celebrities ones. I definitely like to know what’s going on with Brett Michaels and Miley Cyrus—But I’m not on blogs constantly knowing what’s going on. But I wanted to have a lot of content so we enlisted Deanna, who probably reads a lot more blogs than I do. I don’t even know the password to my blog.
He sends me all the content in an email. It blows up sometimes, I’ll have 60 emails from him in the middle of the night of him just thinking of shit. He’ll just have a theme for a month and I don’t know…
Coming up in January is Penis Graffiti Month but its not like, oh here’s a funny thing of a penis…haha, Its Penis Graffiti. I spent a lot of time researching finding really good penis graffiti.
So is it graffiti of penis’ or penis’ doing graffiti?
I don’t want to give it away. I was writing a lot of the content and I think we pulled out Deanna’s sickness.
Yeah, every now and then I’ll write some stuff…
Every now and then? You probably write more than 50% of it at this point…
I try to get into the Roger Gastman mindset. I’ve done ok.
You a have a fondness towards little people, do you have a favorite one?
I’ve always wanted an army of midgets, like at the end of I’m Going To Get You Sucka, which is a great film, they have the theme movie and they’re walking behind John Slade. I would love midgets walking behind me playing theme music. I don’t know what that theme music is, but we can come up with it.
You currently run R. Rock Enterprises. What do you do here? What don’t you do here? What would you like to do here?
I do anything you need done. It is a ridiculous name.
What does it mean anyway?
Roger Rock was a joke graffiti thing we would do sometimes so we put enterprises at the end of it and it made sound real and…Bang! That’s my company! I had a lot of actually really good names for a company, what they were, I definitely don’t remember because I was 18 or 19 when I was trying to incorporate it and they were all taken. And I was getting really fed up with the process so that’s what I ended up calling it. Which was kind of like a joke and if I knew 12-13-15 or however many years it is that I would still have the name, I probably would have kept trying to think of something more clever, but whatever. We’re a multi-media boutique media agency; you can hit all the cool trend words there but we kind of do it all.
Do you miss print?
I do not miss anything to do with the advertising, the added value, or having to throw events for clients or talking to the agencies—I don’t miss that. I miss the creative outlet of putting out cool culture stories. I started doing film stuff. I have two films about to be wrapped, I worked on Exit Through The Gift Shop, I have a couple of books that are about to come out, I’m curating some other shows—we’re putting a lot of content out that is not in the form of a magazine that’s every month.
What is up with Detroit?
Detroit is trendy now. It’s horrible but its trendy. You hear about it in the news a lot more, people are trying to revitalize things, people have been buying up blocks there—even Juxtapoz did the big “Let’s go find some crap in Detroit,” so Detroit has been trendy for the last few years. Again, going back to high school, we would talk about Detroit, I don’t know why, we would call it LA Troit and we wanted to go to LA Troit and make up ridiculous stories about it. And one day I hope to own many city blocks in LA Troit.
One more thing I would like to ask you about is Danielle Fishel aka Topanga. How did your love flourish for her?
I started watching the show at a young age, its probably not the demographic that they were going for at the time. I still watch the show and she’s awesome. She’s a gorgeous, gorgeous woman. I would love to take her to a meal, probably stab her with my fork, and not using that for a metaphor for my penis, I mean the actual fork. She was in one of those horrible National Lampoon movies… Dorm Daze. She played some sorority girl coke whore, that was good. That was in between her chubby—not so chubby phase, and she’s just kinda stayed good to me.
So do you prefer her in her chubby stage or not chubby stage?
Anyway Topanga feels comfortable I’m happy for her and I support her.