July 26, 2015

Here’s the story. Tell me if it doesn’t make it to you:

Well, I can now say I have shared the same space as Steve McQueen.
I spent the afternoon hanging out with Steve Kafka (http://stevekafka.com). I grew up seeing Kafka's work on countless custom cars, yet the guy was like a ghost until I was about 21. Then I found him at a car show at Timothy's Spirits (also recently mentioned elsewhere) one night, striping a car right there, at the show.
Anyway, he's more than ten years older than me, but we grew up in the same neighborhood in Framingham, went to the same school, and ran in similar circles, only years apart. It was awesome to talk about the old days back in Framingham.
After talking for close to an hour, we went out back to check out the Von Dutch bus. Kafka has taken it upon himself to restore the bus. He recently finished it. This is where Von Dutch (AKA Kenneth Howard, but you probably already know that) worked and lived for a good portion of his life. The bus was set up with the needed implements to create the artistic magic he did, such as metal engraving, pin striping, fabrication and other things (even gunsmithing). He even had the bus wired for 220, and had plug-ins on the outside of the bus to hook up welding cables. Pretty slick.
Steve McQueen spent tons of time on the bus with Von Dutch. Von Dutch worked on and customized/restored many bikes for McQueen. The bus and Von Dutch were present on most all of McQueen's movie sets, due to how close the two were, and the fact that Steve almost always had a need for the skills Von Dutch possessed.
Most people these days only know of Von Dutch due to the clothing line that was popular some time ago. This was after his death, and his kids sold the rights to his name to some designer, who I'm sure made shitloads off the deal. The flying eyeball was something I've seen and been aware of since I was a kid. Ed Roth (Rat Fink guy) and Von Dutch were guys who were a presence in my life, even though I'd never get the chance to meet them.
Anyway, enough with the talk. Here's the bus.

  Bullet holes from one night when Von Dutch was drunk. There were other bullet holes that have since been covered up.

His lathe, and a few other implements.

Yes, he slept on the bus. He also cooked on the bus. I didn't get a shot of the tiny cooking area.

Steve Kafka. The man responsible for the bus' restoration, and an amazing artist himself.

McQueen slapped this decal on the bus years ago. Solar Productions was his film company.
An original Von Dutch flying eyeball.

His fridge, that still works.
Von Dutch on the right in this picture.

Writing and photos sent to us from Howard Kelly


arcadian said...

Fantastic, thats opened my eyes, what a creative guy and well done steve kafka

arcadian said...

Framlingham Suffolk UK?

Fashion Serial Killer said...

So rad!!