Street Fever Sully
New York, USA: where
5 mins: read time
Have you ever met somebody who made you feel like you aren’t a punk, when you thought you were? I mean seriously, I thought I was pretty punk until I met Sully who could be described as a New York punk kid. I first saw him over my shoulder while he was smiling a crooked smile walking through a park. I bumped into him again outside a restaurant where he was carefully considering the window posted menu. He accepted my stranger's invitation as I asked him “want to go shopping?”. With his long hair tucked into a leather cap and the key to an old car in his pocket Sully is head to toe someone with style. I took me on a vintage tour of the city. I wish I had photos or even remembered names of some of the places he took me, but if you go out to Brooklyn you can discover them for yourself. After cruising the city he took me to his own tattoo/junk shop. His spot in a Flea market at 867 Broadway is on the J train line. He mentioned how soon the city planned on shutting down the L train for a while. He thought that could either be really good for business as more people would be passing by or people would get tired of a punk alley flea and it could bite them in the ass. From then he pointed out the roof of his shop and explained how in the four years he had been there he had been collecting stuff to put on the roof - sometimes he even grew flowers up there, before the birds got to eating them all. They had been morning glories and tall tall sunflowers. The next time I went to visit I took the J train and kept my eye peeled out the window so I would get to see the decorated roof as he had intended for train riders. The sad thing is most people are just looking at their phones on the subway but if they would look out they’d see for a second the insane collection of piled clutter and a giant records for sale sign. Sully’s shop is a collection of strange things he finds around Brooklyn, and New Jersey. It’s all a little mismatched but nothing is really out of place. Like Sully’s collection of lamps, books, tchotchkes and vintage flash pages; the neighbouring used bookshop (which occupies 3 shipping crates) zine shop and a local radio station etc all make sense together in the flea.
I passed by on a Friday evening and there was a bunch of people in the alley. I met a guy who was visiting from Texas, he had a patch roughly sewn onto his shirt. It took me a moment to realize that it was stitched together with dental floss. When asked about it, Sully just looked at me like - what you have never seen that before?. But I hadn’t. In fashion, I had always been taught about the “most correct” materials and methods. This moment made me really question that. Think about how much time you can spend waxing thread for hand sewing when floss is probably stronger and already waxed. It has a nice translucent quality to it. Here was this guy with this patch sewn simply with dental floss and it looked cool.
A couple of days later Sully was tattooing a Canadian artist who had been travelling for an artist residency. He got a compilation of three tattoo from Sully. One of them said Street Fever. He also, marked up some kids who had started a clothing line. They got Fuck you Fuck me Fuck everybody tattooed on different parts of their arms. Then they went out to a bar to celebrate. To celebrate their friendship and that they were there together, making things and supporting each other.
Sully was patient with me when I tasked if he would tattoo me and showed him a drawing of snakeheads curving into a chrysanthemum flower. He looked over it and spent a while tracing it and redrawing it while I spent time flipping through his collection of old-style tattoo books. He had a pile of Sailor Jerry type flash books and one book on the crazy tattooed couple Roy Boy and Debbie. Laughing he told me stories and anecdotes about goings on in the shop. He told me about the ways that some of his friends tattooed and the way that he tattooed - how fast a gun should be, how different needles got ink into the skin. While he sketched my eyes wandered all over and around the flash on his shop walls. I wanted him to tattoo what he was best at, what he liked the most, what he tattooed mostly. So, in the end, Sully tattooed a skull and a rose traditional style. When I asked him how he started getting into tattooed he told me “ I just used to tattoo a lot of stupid skulls on my friends”.
Written and photography: Alexis Venerus
See more of Sully's work @ssuullyy
Check out the Street Fever shop instagram @str33tfever
Visit Street Fever at 867 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY