Blunts And Bleached Assholes
How to kinda make it in America, with Pascal Stansfield.
“Call time was at eight; we got to the studio at six to prep, and I’m thinking ‘when is this going to get weird?’” Pascal Stansfield says of the Penthouse shoot at his Restless Studios. “I turned on the big industrial fans, one of the girls walked over, pulled her pants down, spread her ass in front of the fan and goes, ‘Oh my God, my asshole’s on fire! I just got it bleached’.”
On the way to meet Pascal, photog Nick Green and I navigated confused one-way streets, sidetracked by a quick detour around a woman laying in the middle of the road with her eyes open. We slowed the car down to for a look; a bike cop’s silhouette loomed over her frozen body and said, “move along”. We found the drop pin in a dismissed alleyway adjacent to the Staples Center in Downtown L.A., and met Pascal outside of Restless Studios.
Top Left: If you live naked in glass cases, don’t throw rocks. Photo: Restless Studios. Top Middle: Feeling anxious? Photo: Restless Studios. Right: Spread ’em and cool down! No that ain’t a postcard. Photo: Restless Studios. Bottom Left: In loving memory. Photo: Nick Green
Mr Stansfield’s a Malibu-bred, ex-professional surfer who you could say is “in the know.” He’s good buddies with Robert Trujillo, Metallica’s bassist; the Charger’s Shawne ‘Lights Out’ Merriman stops by the studio for drinks before his L.A. nights; Brody Jenner’s a good pal, and the list goes on. Pascal rode for RVCA (15 years ago!) at their birth, before going on to start his endeavour: Freedom Artists. “I was surfing in North L.A., and Conan Hayes came down to the beach. Ironically, he was pursuing the girl I was in love with at the time,” Pascal quips between sips of an Old Fashioned and a game of billiards at a downtown speakeasy–a ring the doorbell three times, what’s the password? type of joint–“I was so devastated, but somehow I landed the best backside full rotation air of my life. It was the biggest fluke. He called me two days later and asked if I wanted to turn pro. At the time, I was going to UCSB, studying women’s lit, poetry, and writing. I called my parents, told them I wasn’t going to go to school anymore and that I’d been forging my report cards so I could continue living in Isla Vista. RVCA sponsored me and gave me more money and a bigger travel budget than I ever thought imaginable.”
After more than a few good years, Pascal got real. “At about 27, I knew I wasn’t Kelly Slater, I wasn’t Alex Knost, I wasn’t going to have longevity,” he says. “I really wanted to start a clothing company and my buddy Patrick Jensen said he had this name, Freedom Artists. I was like ‘yeah, let’s do it’. When I was with RVCA I saw Pat Tenore’s genius and watched him build a five-ten t-shirt line into the creative monster that it is today. I would say it’s still the coolest company out there. I called Pat and told him ‘no thanks and I would love your blessing’. He helped us out a lot with what to do and what not to do.”
When it’s on, you’ll find Pascal whipping around the greater Malibu region. Photo: Sean Stanley
These days, Restless Studios occupies Pascal’s time. It’s been in the works for a year, and the doors have been open for the past eight months. The studio is a three-story building, and as you enter, an old Airstream greets your left. To your right, a stocked bar complete with a black and white photograph of a young John Candy with his arm around a pre-adolescent Pascal.
“My partner Geoff LeBeau’s cousin had a big warehouse in China Town called the Clam Factory, we were like ‘fuck, that’s gnarly, we’ll call it the Fish Factory,” says Pascal on the early days of Restless. “In retrospect, we should’ve called it the Clam Factory. For eight months we did whatever we pleased in it. Geoff makes props and sets for a living, for things like the X-Games and ESPN’s College Game Day. So we had the guys from Freedom Artists come in and tag up the walls, do big murals, photo shoots and work on whatever they wanted. It started to gain momentum, and we figured we were onto something.”
Grinding grease on the white wall. Photo: Nick Green
After their trial in the Clam/Fish Factory expired, they searched for a new location. “We looked for six months and finally came up on the spot we’re in now,” he tells me. “It’s an old cap embroidery shop; they’d make championship knock-offs for teams by the time the game was over and push them in the street. It was a full-on sweat shop when we found it. It was perfect, so we took it. We got quoted an absurd number for demolition, so we did it ourselves, 16 hours a day for six months. We lost a shitload of weight drinking pizza and eating beer…that’s how we say it. Our friend and partner Rob Mendez made this whole thing possible; Restless Studios wouldn’t have happened without him. ”
A few drinks later we’ve slid into discussing the most memorable shoots that have taken place at Restless, between David Simm’s for iPhone, Chris Brown music video scenes, and H&M, the ones that stick out are Penthouse and a music video for Khloe Kardashian’s arm candy, rapper French Montana. “The French Montana shoot was a trip,” says Pascal. “I called his manager and asked ‘what does he want?’ He wanted some weed. I was thinking, alright, I put everything I have into this place but, whatever, I’ll buy 300 bucks worth of weed. He rolls in with his eight-person entourage, and I hand him the bag and say, ‘hey, welcome to the studio, you guys can do whatever you want in here.’ He goes ‘oh, right on, thanks,’ and opens his backpack to reveal a pound of weed. I was like ‘dude; that was my fucking lunch money!’ (laughs). Then they proceeded to smoke up the whole place.”
Smoke, mirrors and fibreglass. Photo: Nick Green
“The Penthouse shoot was a good one too,” Pascal continues. “We had Risky, who’s the godfather of graffiti, do a huge mural on these brick flats Geoff made. There were four girls here, and the wardrobe was too good. We had H&M shoot here, and they had five rolling racks filled with outfits. Penthouse had one rack of Halloween style outfits: The naughty teacher, the fire-woman, etc, covering about six inches of the rack. They were just cruising around naked all day; I was sitting in a chair eating a cheeseburger and watching these girls do backbends. We didn’t have any full penetration, or double penetration, or DVDA, DVVA or DBBA. I mean, I’ve heard of those things, but I don’t know what they are.”
“The cool part of having Restless is, everybody stops by before Lakers’ games,” Pascal says as we reach the ice of our drinks. “All my friends come and hang out, we have a full bar, they fill up their flasks and head into the Staples Center. Because who wants to pay 12 dollars a beer?”
Left: The well-pieced decour of Restless. Photo: Nick Green. Right: No one’s scared to light a fire. Photo: Restless Studios
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