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King Boogaloo

aDes Russell, aka Mr Boogaloo, with his homebuilt Model A Roadster. Pic by tapd.com.au

The Boogaloo Invitational hit the Aussie rod and custom scene like a breath of fresh air earlier in the year. Held in Wattle Flat Reserve in Castlemaine, the event caters to traditional styled bikes, rods, and customs. The team behind the Boogaloo is Des Russell and his partner Tesha, and as well as putting on a kick ass event, they’ve also got some cool rides in the garage. We figured it was about time we caught up with them for a chat.

Des, thanks for chatting with us. Let’s jump right into it, what was the inspiration behind the Boogaloo? I mean there’s a bunch of good events in Victoria, what makes you want to run your own?
It felt pretty obvious to me that we needed another event that catered specifically to these styles of cars and motorcycles. I have a huge passion and love for these things and I thought that if anyone was going to do it, it might as well be us. After bringing in the Jade Idol for Chopped 2013 and running a small fundraiser for Mad Fabricators at a local pub called The Kangaroo Boogaloo, it felt as though it was always going to lead to doing something bigger and better – so then came The Boogaloo Invitational.

Pics from the 2016 Boogaloo Invitational by Chris Cooper. For full coverage head on over to the Hop Up website.

And for those who don’t know, the Boogaloo was an ‘invitational’ event.  What kind of things did you consider when selecting cars?
The criteria was pretty straight forward. Pre ’65 traditionally styled hot rods and customs and pre ’75 traditionally styled British and American choppers and bobbers (2017 rules have changed to include bikes up to ’85). Customs had to have 3 alterations eg. Hubcap change, shaved door handles, custom paint etc. With hot rods we were looking for traditional styles used in America and Australia from the 1940s through to the 1960s. ‘Traditional’ can mean different things to different people and is thrown around pretty wildly. I guess at some point you’ve got to just do your research and stick to your guns. I feel we did our best to select appropriate cars and bikes, be it an extremely hard job, but on the show weekend it all paid off.

Pics from the 2016 Boogaloo Invitational by Chris Cooper. For full coverage head on over to the Hop Up website.

One thing that struck me looking at the pics was how good the event looked. The setting was great (which never hurts), but even things like the signage and the lighting at night was awesome. Was there a conscious effort to focus on all of that?
Absolutely. It’s just like throwing a backyard party. You want a great setting and vibe for your guests. We’ll try to make it more visually impressive each year. The location is a great, mostly unused space in Castlemaine that worked perfectly for what we wanted. The space is limited but we don’t intend on the show getting so big that it outgrows this venue. We want it to be somewhat small, intimate and family oriented. Quality over quantity.

Pics from the 2016 Boogaloo Invitational by Chris Cooper. For full coverage head on over to the Hop Up website.

One of the things I loved was the ‘be an inspirational motherf***er’ tag, and just generally trying to create positive vibes and celebrate all the good things people were up to. Where did that idea come from?
Ha ha, thanks a lot. I guess it’s easy for people to always jump to the negative (I’m not innocent) and I felt the one thing this certain car scene needed was way more positivity and support for each other. I made the conscious effort when promoting the show to continuously push that positive vibe. The Boogaloo is just a reflection of what I would want to go to and be a part of and I thrive on seeing people get hands on and inspire other people to build these styles of vehicles. I like to try to inspire people and be inspired by people hence, the inspirational motherfucker tag. We even made an Inspirational Motherfucker trophy for someone we thought embodied that perfectly. Someone who thrashed on their car to get it ready for the show, embraced the show’s ideals, made a long trip etc. and that trophy went to Ben Love from far north NSW for his sweet 1960 Apache.

So the ’16 Boogaloo was a corker, but it seemed like straight away you were looking to improve upon it. What are some of things we can look forward to next year?
There’s always room for improvement but like I said, we don’t intend on getting bigger, just better. We listened to the feedback we got from the attendees and vendors so next year we’ll be opening the gates on Friday afternoon so everyone can get in and set up camp. We’ll be looking for more short films from Australian filmmakers for our Boogaloo-Vision screen and while we won’t be having live music we will have a couple of DJs instead of the old iTunes playlist that we had this year. We’ve got a couple of international special guests coming in Keith Weesner and Max Schaaf and we’ll also have The Dirty Dozen Art Show and a shitload more Melbourne Moonshine.

The art show sounds neat, can you tell us a little about the artists and how you picked them?
The idea was brought to us by our friend, Matt Bailey and we thought it was perfect. We wanted The Boogaloo to be all about celebrating the cars and bikes as well as the people that build them, trim them, paint them, the artists, photographers etc. and The Dirty Dozen Art Show seemed like the perfect addition. Basically, we had the number of 12 in our heads and between Matt and myself we came up with a list of people who had mostly been involved with The Boogaloo in some way and all brought something different to the table. We’ve asked that the artists create something that embodies The Boog in some way and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.

The Boogaloo isn’t the only project you’ve got on, tell us about your roadster?
I’ve always got a million projects on the go, ha ha. My roadster is a 1929 model A Ford. It’s running a fully rebuilt mild 324ci Olds Rocket topped with 4 chrome Stromberg 97s, Borg Warner 3 speed gearbox and early Ford 9inch diff. The whole car was put together by myself in my little workshop. I’ve tried my best to make the car look like an East Coast channelled hot rod from around 1959. It’s a constant work in progress but it’s the most fun thing I’ve ever driven and I get a huge feeling of satisfaction every time I drive it.

And did anyone or any cars influence the style of it?
Absolutely. Apart from actual old hot rods in little books it’s definitely stolen a lot of aspects from Piero DeLuca’s Livewire coupe and pretty much everything that Bob Bleed builds.

You’ve also got a chopped single spinner which was featured in bare metal on the cover of the Street Machine Custom Annual mag. Is that still in the shed?
Yeah, it’s still in the shed. I’m not one to make excuses but we moved house into a place that only had a small workshop just big enough for the roadster to be built in so the spinner has been put on the back burner until the new shed goes up which is currently in the works. I have big plans for the spinner and I’d say I’m halfway there. But like the roadster, I want to do everything myself so it’s good that I had some time off the spinner to learn some new skills and change some plans for it.

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The old saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman. But to be fair, it looks like Tesha is much more your partner in crime, and by that I mean she’s by your side getting her hands dirty.
She definitely is. Tesh was definitely thrown into The Boogaloo but she embraced my crazy idea and helped a huge amount with the planning and especially all the admin type stuff. I couldn’t have done the show without her, that’s for sure. As far as getting her hands dirty, there’s no doubt about that. I had her rubbing bog with me for 2 weeks straight. She’s helped out quite a lot on the ’55 Buick which is her car and she’s learned a lot. She also sewed up the trim panels on the roadster and I plan on making her do the rest, ha ha.

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Things like the Boogaloo and your rides don’t happen by themselves either. Who would you like to give a shout out to?
Yeah, these things do take a lot of work. All the people that put up with me ringing them to bounce ideas off them for the show like Chris Cooper (www.crcooperphoto.com), Matt Machine (www.themachinefiles.com.au), Kyle DeKuijer and Cameron Warde. They put up with a lot and were a huge help over the weekend as well as everyone that volunteered. We appreciate their help and support so much. Our sponsors were great. It takes a lot to get behind something like this for the first year. But we’d have to give a special mention to the Melbourne Moonshine guys (www.melbournemoonshine.com) as well as Clive at Stromberg Carburettors (www.stromberg-97.com). As far as the cars go, there’s always a good mate willing to lend a hand or offer some advice and without their support you can’t build things like this.

And what’s the best way people can keep to date with Boogaloo news?
The website for The Boogaloo is www.TheBoogalooInvitational.com.au which is where you can find all the information on next year’s show and display vehicle criteria but most of our updates are done through our Instagram page @TheBoogalooInvitational or Facebook www.facebook.com/TheBoogalooInvitational.

Cheers mate, thanks for your time. We can’t wait to check out next year’s event.

Special thanks to Chris Cooper for permission to use his pics from the Boogaloo.

My latest pushie build, and my entry into the Rat Rod Bikes Build Off #11. An Electra Custom, built with a more European influence along the lines of a porteur bike. The frame was taken back to bare alloy and brushed, and key components like a Basil Portland front rack, Brooks seat and grips, and a careful selection of other parts to carry through the low key look.

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Some pics from today’s Grey Pride run in Berrima. While the focus is on grey powered cars, a lot of the attendees bring along other era Holdens as well. Some neat cars and a beautiful location made for a great lunch stop on today’s drive.

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John ‘Chopper’ Katsanis was arguably one of the biggest legends in the Aussie custom scene. Sadly he passed away in 2011, but his spirit and passion lives on through his sons, and the shop that bears his name – John’s Rod and Custom.

One of the cars the he started work on was this FJ Holden. If it looks familiar, you might have seen it at the Victorian Hot Rod Show or when it was featured in bare metal in Street Machine a few years back. The good news is she’s been dragged out, the cobwebs dusted off, and the boys have started work on her again. Between the rails is a Poncho engine sporting a healthy 421 cubes and injection, and the body mods are too many to mention, but you can see she’s not so humpy any more. I’m really looking forward to seeing this truly special car finished off. A special thanks to Carps for letting us share his pics.

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The mosaic in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial is as poignant as it is beautiful. It features panels representing the army, navy, airforce and the women who served in World War II. There is significant meaning behind each of the panels, and that understanding only serves to make them more powerful.

The Hall of Memory houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and is accessed by passing the Pool of Reflection which includes the names of 102,000 people who have given their lives to serve our country. It is the heart of the Australian War Memorial and one of the most sacred sites in the country.

The Hall was originally conceived to commemorate the soldiers killed in the Great War, with stained glass windows and sculptures. However before it was completed, World War II had commenced. Following the second World War, it was decided to incorporate mosaics representing the pillars of the Australian defence force. The mosaic work was undertaken by Napier Waller, who also served in World War One. This is an excerpt from the Australian War Memorial website:

The figures in these drawings emphasise qualities of strength and endurance. Their poses are frontal and each – except the sailor – has its left foot extended forward in the manner of an archaic Greek ‘kouros’. The enlarged, intense eyes are also characteristic of both ancient Greek sculpture and the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna, which Waller had visited in the late 1920s. In contrast, the uniforms and hairstyles are contemporary. The faces express their feelings. The figures are of ordinary men and women, elevated to demigod status by their monumentality and references to antiquity.

Each of the following explanations of the imagery also come from the Australian War Memorial. A short video from 1955 on the construction of the mosaics can also be viewed here.

The Army: The war is over. The last traces of the storm symbolising it can be seen as water running down the tree trunk, while the sunshine bursting through the trees causes the soldier to contemplate that the sacrifices of his dead comrades have brought a ray of hope for the future. Through the beams of light he imagines he sees in bird-like form their ascending spirits. After the dreary war years, with freedom still ours, he is removing his wartime equipment and preparing to return home.

The Navy: On the fore-deck the sailor in summer uniform is preparing to hoist the white ensign, which symbolises the oldest tradition of the fighting services, as the ship goes into action. Behind him is the nautical compass as a reminder of the Navy’s service in all seas. Above, on the upper fore superstructures of the ship, are an Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun, and fixed searchlights from which beams of light are crossed with beams coming onto the ship. Smoke belches from the funnel as she steams towards the foe.

The Air Force: In the remaining walls of a cathedral, the flying officer stands and surveys the destruction of beauty and human ideals. He is inspired to defend his tradition. The sculptured “wyvern” grins down sardonically on man’s stupidity, and on the perverted ingenuity by which he can destroy in a few moments what has taken centuries to build. The idea is sustained symbolically in the decapitated saint and mutilated hand and book, and, from above, the rain of missiles. In but two generations this youngest of the services has built up its wonderful tradition of prowess and the noble one of chivalry.

The Women’s Services: This figure is clothed in blouse and skirt, this part of the uniform being the same in all the women’s services. The different branches of the services are symbolised by their own badges in the lower right hand part of the design. The figure has stepped forward from an opened doorway, from which bursts a halo of winged light. She remembers the many sacrifices and disasters suffered by her sisters; one of which is symbolised above by the engulfing waves of the sea into which sinks the “sea-centaur”, symbol of that war tragedy in which the hospital ship Centaur was sunk and all but one of her nurses lost their lives. The suggestion of missiles falling from above is a reminder that so often the service woman too was a victim of gunfire and the wrack of bombs.

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There’s a bunch of good photographers around at the moment, but one that is consistently nailing it is Chris Cooper from Melbourne. He’s got a great eye for not just the cars, but people as well. His work has been featured in magazines like Fuel, Street Machine, Cruzin, Gasoline, 2020BMX, Fly Wheels, FocalPointBMX. We caught up with him for a chat about what goes on behind the lens.

Chris thanks for your time. Your photos do a great job of capturing the atmosphere of our rod and custom culture. What inspired you to get into photography?

Thanks, man. During high school, I rode BMX almost everyday, and when photography came up as an elective, I jumped at it. After I burned my first roll of Illford, the bug latched on. It was another way to express myself off of my bike. A way to document my buddies riding. A creative outlet with no limitations.

Most Monday mornings my friends would be bugging me “have you printed the photos yet?” and at lunch, we’d sit around looking at a bunch of wet prints wrapped up in paper towel. Sharing the photographs with a bunch of close friends was always an amazing feeling. And today, that is stronger than ever.

I rode and photographed the scene I was a part of. It wasn’t until the first Fuel Magazine launch party at Rancho Deluxe in Collingwood and the 2010 Chopped that a new chapter of my life started.

My hobbies may have fluctuated over the years, but my belief in why I need to take photographs still remains. I am documenting my life and the people who are a part of it. A time in their lives and mine. I want to leave a legacy of photographs on this earth. Everyone is a photographer nowadays, however, these are my photographs, of my friends. I want them to be able to look back in 10-20 years from now and think, “fuck, we had some bitchin times”.

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I really love your candid shots from the shows you attend. Lots of people can take good photos of cars, but only a few really excel with this kind of work. What interests you about this angle with your work?

Photojournalism has been a huge influence on my work for a very long time. Its truth, a part of history. An event isn’t just about the cars and bikes; it’s also about the people. Who attends these shows? What happens at these events? Who are the builders and owners? A photojournalist captures and creates a story from a certain event in a series of photographs. That’s my objective every time I head out with my camera.

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Have you got any tips for the aspiring photographers out there?

Stop “branding” yourself and get out there and shoot. Don’t limit yourself, be open minded to what you find interesting. Email photographers you look up to. Never be satisfied or content with the knowledge you have. Shoot, shoot, shoot.

Don’t merchandise something you’re passionate about. Cups, calendars, clothing whatever other cheesy shit is out there…..Put all that time, energy and money into pushing your knowledge, skill and finding your style. The only way you’re going to improve and eventually be noticed as a photographer is to build a body of work. A body of GOOD work. Build a blog/website, don’t rely on Facebook. Update that sucker daily/weekly and only upload your best work. Be brutal with your editing.

Anyone can pick up a camera and claim to be a photographer. But not everyone has that certain eye for timing, great composition and has the passion.

Shoot for yourself. Stop pushing people to like your work. If you put out quality work, people will respond to it, and if they don’t, who cares? You’re taking photographs because there is a passion inside you. And lastly, print out your work for yourself. A photograph isn’t finished until it’s printed.

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One for the photography nerds who’ll want to know, what do you usually shoot with?

My over the shoulder camera is a 5yr old Canon 5dMkii with an even older Canon 50mm1.4. When I need to, I’ll hire out the Canon 35mmf1.4 and the 50mmf1.2. These paired up to my own Canon 135mmf2 and it’s a pretty boss kit. Perfect for how I shoot. Film wise my Leica M2 with Voigtlander 35 F1.4 is the Holy Grail.

Recently you went to Japan and checked out the Mooneyes show over there, how was that?

I am still speechless about that show and I honestly can’t describe it in a few short words. It was mind blowing and such an eye opener. The amount of people that attend the one-day show was surreal. Having the hang over from hell didn’t really help but packed in like sardines is no word of a lie. The most memorable part of the show was the attention to detail the builders put into their creations and their displays just for the one day. I couldn’t fathom the amount of work they put in. It’s a show you truly have to see in person to really understand and respect.

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So how does the Japanese scene compare to Australia?

They were extremely welcoming, but that is the natural nature of the Japanese. Very accommodating. Chris Thorogood and I did experience the owners of numerous cars dimming their headlights when they noticed we were taking photos. Both of us have never experienced that here. As two countries, they are two very different worlds. My advice is to check it out for yourself. Go without any pre-expectations and take it all in. It’ll make you look at our country and way of life in a whole new light.

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On the home front, have you got any interesting rides on the road or in the build?

My on going project at the moment is a 53 Belair hardtop that I imported 3 yrs ago. It’s been through a rough patch, but insurance is a godsend. I’m currently repairing a bunch of rust with the help of Benny Mickle at Barebones Customs and eventually some subtle changes with the help of Ahron Jefferee at Rolling Art Body Works.

It will always be a driver, never a show car. I haven’t welded since high school and I wouldn’t know the first thing about panel work and mechanically, I can just get by. With that said, its so rad to be able to go out to the shed and start tinkering with bits and pieces after spending a few solid hours processing photographs.

Just like photography, it’s yet another way to express yourself creatively. A new avenue to gain knowledge and life experience. I am surrounded by some very amazing people with skills to match, that are more than willing to teach me a thing or two, and I am truly grateful for that.

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One thing we’ve noticed is that you’re into BMX, as are a lot of the other younger guys getting into traditional rodding, bikes, and kustom kulture in general. What are your thoughts in terms of why this trend is happening?

When I was riding I could show up to a skate park by myself, and within minutes be exchanging life stories with a fellow rider. I think that camaraderie can be very strong within the traditional car and bike scene, which is a massive attraction to riders and skaters.  You have something very specific in common.

Sure, there will always be a dick in the crowd, but for the most part, you quite often find people that you can still call your friend 10 years later.

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We also understand you’ve got some cool art in your pad. What artists are you into?

Man this is hard…there are simply too many people to mention, but here are a select few off of the top of my head: Keith Weesner, Ryan Ford, Chris “coop” Cooper, Jacob Bannon, James Natchwey, Chris Thorogood, Scott Pommier, Craig Nye, Jacob Rapauch, Marc “lowech” Woltinger, Ricky Adam.

Speaking of art, where can people check out your work? And how can someone get a print from you?

I am more than happy to print any of my photographs that you see on my blog/website. Send me an email crcooper84@gmail.com for some prices.

Website: https://crcooperphotography.wordpress.com
Instagram: Crcooperphoto

Chris thanks again for your time!

Today was the Hawkesbury Swap Meet, which is held at Clarendon to the west of Sydney. It seems that every year the number of guys selling Commodore bits seems to grow, and the number of guys selling 60s and earlier parts shrinks. Still, the guys I was with and I all managed to find a few bits and pieces for good prices.

Anyway, here’s some pics of stuff that caught my eye.

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