Saturday, May 26, 2007

Victor Wiley: Slacking Class Super Hero

And I'd been having such a good couple of days...

Vic Wiley has died.

It truly makes me weep to write that line.

For many years Vic Wiley and Stacey Mackey WERE the Little Rock punk scene to me.

Oh, there were many other giants in that scene, forming and booking bands, writing zines, and doing all the thankless work that keeps a scene alive. But when I think of Lil Rok Punx from the 90's, I always end up thinking about Vic and Stacey.

I can't remember exactly when I first met Vic. Some sweaty, hazy all-ages show in the late 80's probably. He really burst into my world when he and Stacey hooked up. Bringing Victor into my life was just one of many blessings of knowing Stacey.

Because Vic was truly a blessing. Mischevious and innocent, righteously indignant at the world's injustices but not cynical, Vic didn't just walk his talk, he danced it, slam danced it.

Victor Wiley was the man with the coolest name in the world. Like a thinking man's "Max Power."

Victor Wiley was a punk rawk art-warrior. A man whose creative energy and integrity were truly staggering. He could find the beauty in the most mundane and banal, and what's more he could share it with you, make you see it, too. If you spent any time with him and didn't have to adjust your understanding of beauty and ugliness, then you weren't paying attention.

The man deserves a huge $100 Taschen art book of his oevoure, with about 40 cds to cover his musical works. He deserves a huge retrospective in MOMA. Instead he got a no-cover, all-ages show. I think he'd be pleased.

I didn't keep as close ties with Vic when I moved to Olympia. I figured being in Oly, and him being who he was... I'd just happen to catch him playing le Voyeur or the Midnight Sun or something... And now well, though I never thought I'd say it... I wish I was in Arkansas right now... cutting through the unbearable heat to find Stacey, and stand in line to give her a hug...

You can find some of Vic's art here. That's all I could find online.
I know I must have some, but it's in storage in Arky, along with most of my photos of him, a few paintings of him, and a some zines...
I hope none of his buds who took these pictures are upset about me borrowing these. The pics here are some of the best I could find online.

From the Arkansas Times:
Central Arkansas lost one of its most prolific and important artists and musicians over the weekend. Victor Wiley, 37, died on Sunday from complications related to congestive heart disease.
It’s hard to conceive a more electrifying performer. The front man for dozens of local bands over the last two decades, Wiley channeled a kind of primordial joy onstage, an unhinged, pure burst of creativity that longtime friend and band mate Andrew Morgan describes as “funny, frightening, and always intense.”
He set things on fire, took his microphone deep within the crowd, and contorted his body in almost impossible ways. He was always arresting, Morgan says, no matter who was in the audience or how big it was.
Friends say Wiley was passionate and earnest in his art and music and volunteerism, but always with a sense of humor.
“It felt like we were always doing something for a laugh,” said Ai Lien Draheim, another longtime friend, “even if we were doing something completely serious, like Food Not Bombs. He worked hard to ensure that a good time was had by all.”
“He was a total goofball,” Morgan said. “I’ve been trying to think of recent conversations we’d been having, and I can’t quote him, I can just hear him laughing. He had like 10 different laughs.”

From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (subscription required):
Stacy Mackey, a longtime friend and the sometime girlfriend who co-sponsored the food giveaways, recalled that Wiley likewise pushed bandmates toward unexpected combinations of the raw materials of their artistry. Wiley would create custom artwork for concert backdrops and, during a performance, often suspended his own singing or guitar-playing to paint on himself or someone else.
“He always drew the best out of the people he played with,” said Mackey, who eventually founded and operated an underground Little Rock music hall, Das Yutes a Go-Go, along with Wiley. “You couldn’t just hang in there and diddle around. He was all over the place. He was on the floor, he was in your face, he would get on the tables.”
Wiley’s silhouette was familiar to many Little Rock residents whether or not they had a context for his status within the city’s music-fueled counterculture. A longtime resident of the Capitol View/Stifft Station area, Wiley frequently pedaled his bicycle along MarkhamStreet between downtown and midtown. In this way, he sprinkled the city with his striking visage, a look distinguished by lanky limbs, a narrow triangular haircut and no-nonsense eyeglasses reminiscent of the Brownline styles favored in the 1950s by politicians, scientists and Malcolm X.
Matt Floyd, who played bass to Wiley’s lead vocals in a band called The Looks, remembers a man whose style and charisma blended to make him indelible anywhere, but especially on stage.
Performing with Wiley “was electrifying,” said Floyd. “We had a song called ‘Electrify.’ Every time he sang it, he was electric. It was like you plugged him in.
“If you were in the room and he was on stage,” Floyd added, “you were looking at Victor.”

The doctors say he had stroke brought on by congestive heart disease.
This dragon knows that Vic's heart was just too damn big.
I miss ya, big guy.


A really good writeup of Vic's accomplishments can be found on Localist:

Victor Wiley was a post-modern renaissance man, drawing his inspiration from Egyptology, as well as entomology, from the Greeks as well as the freaks. He lived by the real code of do-it-yourself ethics, always ate a vegan diet, and rode his clankity bike rather than own a car. He spent everyday of his life creating, giving, and inspiring everyone he met. He was a true romantic that delivered his art with a chaotic style that assaulted us with the beauty of creation, only to have us surrender to its destruction.

He spent over 15 years feeding the homeless every Sunday with Food Not Bombs, he played in over 20 different bands and musical projects, he was the co-founder of Das Yutes A-GO-GO, and hosted hundreds of shows at his house on Park Street. A great lyricist, he wrote songs for most of his bands. He also wrote zines, comics, and jokes. Every Tuesday night for several years, he hung wall size pieces of art behind the bands at the Whitewater Tavern. At the end of the night he would take it all down only to return next week with new stuff.

He is probably one of the greatest rock-n-roll front men the South has ever seen, like the love child of Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Victor’s performances were balls out and in your face, yet stylistic and artsy, cocky and sensitive. He had a great sense of humor, loved animals, lollipops, and every year he dressed as a bug for Halloween. He gave his entire life to his art and his community and never concerned himself with monetary reward.

In his last act of giving, Victor donated his organs and his kidney was a perfect match for a stranger in need.


Anonymous said...

This is very sad. I only met Victor a couple dozen times over the years and seen him play about a dozen times. When Victor took the stage you knew within seconds that you were in for a treat as his stage persona was second to none. My thoughts are with Stacey and his close friends. Little Rock lost am amazing talent and a man with heart truly one of the good ones.

Sending good vibes.

Iain De Sane

stacy said...

Thanks for all the kind words, wishes, and stuff. His family and I will be archiving Victors art and music to produce shows, books, and c.d.s this year, next year, whatever and whenever seems appropriate. Victor and I shared a lot of dreams. Many others shared much with Victor as well. I just can't believe I'm doing any of this without him. Call me crazy, but I talk to him every day still.
-Stacy Mackey

Anonymous said...

Vic was truly a unique person. A man who lived his life spreading happiness wherever he went. He will be missed. At UCA he was also a hell of a skater!!!

trumpetflowersbicycle said...

cats and dogs have all the luck, i suppose. back in those days it was robitussen, mexi brick buds, and fourty ounces..and little debbies..
sepo in the hot southern sun, dirwin biting at the cuffs, everything in disorder, and the free hair not bombs pick ups...dropped out of uptown prophets and lived psychedelically in the country..around a mountain lion...never got back to the 100s of messages vic left...dumb old me.