It's hard to remember exactly when I met Dash. It seems like we were immediately best friends. I guess I met him through Earsnot in the late 90s. Back then he was a graffiti writer known as Sace. He and Earsnot started the graffiti crew IRAK. They were the biggest vandals in the city. He was number one on the vandal squad's most-wanted list. But they never got him. He somehow always got off or got away.
He was the wildest kid I've ever known. He would tag everything and be running up on rooftops and climbing fire escapes. I remember when I first met him, he had just done a fill-in on the side of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was insane. He climbed out on a tiny ledge on the outside of the bridge and did a huge "Sace."
Dash and I bonded instantly over photography. One of our favorite books to look at and talk about was American Pictures by Jacob Holdt. We were always taking photos. We loved to document our adventures and then compare them later. He carried his Polaroid camera everywhere. His photos were from the heart. He had a loving obsession with taking photographs and the worst case of ADD you could ever imagine. I always assumed that's why he shot Polaroids. I think even waiting a minute for the image to develop was hard for him. One time, he wouldn't give me a bump of coke unless I did it off of Earsnot's big black dick. Of course I did, and he took a photo of it and I think it's one of his most famous photographs.
My most well-known photo of him, Dash Bombing, was taken over by the Holland Tunnel, high above the city on a ledge 20 stories up. We spent a lot of time on the High Line when we first met, hanging out and drinking up there. He and Snot did those big rollers. You can still see them from the West Side Highway. Those were the days when we all wore gold fronts that we got from Charlie Gold Cap on Canal Street. Dash always had the best diamond-encrusted ones.
He and Earsnot also loved to tag bums. They would give a bum $20 to let them tag all over his clothes. Bums never change their clothes, so the tags would never get buffed out like on a door or grate. And they just wander the streets. It was amazing advertising and such a genius idea that it still makes me crack up when I think about it.
I remember hanging out at Dash's infamous apartment on Avenue C. The walls were covered with Saddam Hussein masks, porno magazines, weapons, covers of the New York Post… His then-wife, Agathe, was always there taking care of us and especially of him. He needed tons of attention. I spent a lot of time photographing his and Agathe's love affair. They were the first couple to let me take photos of them making love. They had a pet bunny, Gary, named after the graffiti writer Cinik, and a parakeet named Sergeant Slaughter. They would be hopping around when we were hanging out late into the night. When Dash was drunk, he would always tell you how much he loved you. You couldn't get him to stop singing Rolling Stones songs. Right before the verse, he'd nudge you and sing the words close to your face.
He was one of my first muses. He embodied everything that I wanted to photograph and everything that I wanted to be: irresponsible, reckless, carefree, wild, rich. We were just kids doing drugs and being bad. Out at bars every night. I don't think we ever saw each other in daylight. We were like vampires. We spent a lot of time sniffing coke in the bathrooms of the Cock (when it was on Avenue A) and the Hole (when it was on Second Avenue). It was so fun to be secretive about it. I've probably been in the bathroom of every bar below 14th Street with the guy. Sniffing coke off toilet seats, doing bumps off each other's fists, and always waking up in the morning with his keys in my pocket or mine in his.
I've had so many adventures with Dash I just can't even remember them all… Driving down one-way streets in Milan at 100 miles an hour, blasting "I Did It My Way" in a white van. Wearing matching pink agnès b. suits to my first art show in LA. Dash constantly drawing dicks all over our bodies with permanent marker when we passed out. Finishing all the drugs with him until the sun was up. Finding new and innovative ways to cover windows with towels, bedsheets, and newspapers so the night could last forever. And bathroom after bathroom after bathroom. Why do I remember the bathrooms the most?
I remember when Bruce LaBruce would come into town and we would get all excited because we knew we were going to get into lots of trouble with him. One time, Dash lit a bunch of Christmas trees on fire on Tenth Street. The flames were 30 feet high. Jack Walls got so mad he told Dash that the cops were after him and Dash fled to Texas for a month before Jack confessed that he had never really called the cops.
I remember a night in Chinatown when he climbed four stories on a fire escape to steal this cheetah-print blouse hanging on a clothesline strung between two buildings. He rode around on his bike wearing the shirt, getting drunk, and eventually crashed into a parked car.
In more recent years, I think of Dash's studio on the Bowery. Cut-up newspapers covering the floor, human skulls, works in progress pinned up everywhere. A complete mess, but he knew where everything was. You'd have to tiptoe around and watch out not to step in some cum drying on the cover of the Post with a little glitter sprinkled in it. He hated phones, the internet, even doorbells. He loved weapons, serial killers, and old Polaroid Spectra cameras.
Heroin, oh heroin, oh heroin. Taken the lives of so many great artists. Taken so many of my friends' lives. I don't know if you're not supposed to write about drugs when one of your friends dies of an overdose, but those are all my memories of Dash. Drug- and alcohol-induced memories. It's always been a bottle of Jack, a bag of coke, and some beers. And lots of bathrooms. That was just our relationship. That's what our lives were. Adventures on drugs. And it's what eventually led him to his death.
After a while, I decided to clean up my act and stop getting wasted, but a lot of my friends just kept going full force. I don't blame them—doing drugs with your friends is so fun. Seriously, most of the best memories of my life have been on drugs or while drunk. We were wild children running around the city. Those were the good old days. Dash, Dan Colen, and I were like the Three Stooges. We were just bad, bad boys. Terrorizing the city and documenting everything.
The last time I saw Dash I didn't even get to see him. It was at the end of May, right before I left for my cross-country summer journey. I spent the whole day upstate at Jack Walls's house playing with Dash's daughter, Secret. We chilled all day, picking yellow flowers, watching Sesame Street, and petting cats and dogs. Dash stayed in his room the entire time.
One of my favorite things about Dash was always his unconscious moving hand. He would be sitting there smoking cigarettes, writing his tag in the air without being aware of it. I would just smile and watch the smoke twirl into the letters S A C E. That's how I'll always remember him.