Create to Destroy: Beau Patrick Coulon
I met Beau Patrick Coulon in passing in many places over the years. He gets around the USA punk scene and documents it well by camera. I feel like I run into him everywhere. Since I keep seeing his photos published (even in MRR!) I thought I would interview him as to break a bit of the mystery of the man behind the lens:
For better or worse I’ll always be from LA.
Why do you think it’s important that your roots are in the LA punk scene?
It shaped me as an individual early on. I was introduced to squatting and living outside the norms of regular society in the Hollywood punk scene. I don’t know what it was like in other cities but in my neighborhood during the late 80s/early 90s it was junkies, thieves, hookers, gangs, and the daily hustle of survival. 18th St was shooting it out with White Fence in the Yucca Corridor every single day. Gunshots on the hour almost. You had Hollywood Dogs, The Trolls, LA Death Squad, all kinds of skinheads, and oh yeah, Crips & Bloods. Everyone brought their beef to the Blvd. It was a tense time and being punk made you a target. It wasn’t something people got into lightly. There were automatic, often violent, repercussions.
I’m not 100% sure. I remember seeing FEAR at the Hollywood Palladium when I was 14. Me and a bunch of other broke punks rushed the gates. About half of us got in. To be honest I remember the fights I saw at that show more than I remember the bands. In those days I was more into listening to tapes on my crackbox while getting wasted in the alley than watching shows. We had Green Hell Records up off the boulevard and that place ruled, I got some of my first punk tapes there.
The “scene” I came up in, if you can call it that, was hostile. Most the punks I hung out with were pretty fucked up. If you had dreams or ideas beyond the next 40 oz you were chastised for “thinking you were better than everyone else.” Kids were quick to physical violence. You had to develop really thick skin or you wouldn’t make it. It was some toxic ass Darwinism type shit. Mostly we just panhandled, stole shit, turned tricks, whatever it took to get enough money so we could get trashed. There was some solidarity however. If you saw someone who appeared even remotely punk back then, it wasn’t even a question, you had to talk to them. Half out of curiosity, half out of the need for safety in numbers. A lot of people idealize this time period. I do not. There were fun moments for sure, but compared to my life today it was pretty awful.
Are you still connected to the LA scene?
Loosely. It’s different for me now. Most the punks I used to kick it with are either dead, locked up, or moved away. Headline Records on Melrose is probably the last punk hold out in Hollywood. But there’s always cool shit happening in LA. It’s one of the most creative places on the planet. Every time I’m there it seems like there’s some good backyard show, some new collective starting, or interesting project happening. As you know, the East 7th Street Punx do rad stuff. There’s Bridgetown DIY in La Peunte and VLHS in Pomona, both are all ages punk/DIY venues. Musica Para La Destrukcion in South Central makes killer shirts, pins, and tapes. And there are shitloads of excellent punk bands from all around the LA area: BLAZING EYE, GRIMA, DRAPETOMANIA, SADICOS, TOZCOS, AUSENCIA, RAYOS X, to list a few.
Where are you now?
I have a long history with New Orleans, I lived here off and on from 1995 to 2002. To make a huge understatement, it’s an interesting place. Anyway, last year I was doing an artist residency program at ABCO Art Space in Oakland where I was given a studio to create a body of work, at the end of the program I had to find a new place to live. The idea of returning to New Orleans had been in the back of my mind for a long time, and at that point I was at a crossroads. It just seemed like the right time to move back.
Not as often as I’d like. I haven’t ridden a freight train since last fall Lately I’ve been trying to establish a base for myself, some place that might last longer than 6 months. But I’m flying to California for a quick visit this week, and I plan on getting out of the country for a while this fall or winter. There are still several continents I’ve not been to.
Tell us a little about your youth and your travels.
I spent the first 25 years of my life as if I were chased by demons from hell. Nowadays I guess the demons don’t run as fast. I feel like I’m really lucky to have survived my youth.
When I was little I had a cheap plastic point and shoot. Later I would use disposable cameras to document my friends and travels. When I was 18 I saved money from a job flipping burgers and bought my first 35mm SLR film camera. When I was 24 I lost all my photos and negatives when the car I was living out of got impounded in SF. I was strung out and homeless at the time and had no ID or way to prove anything belonged to me. Thus, I lost my photo legacy, all my “early work.” I stopped shooting photos for about 6 years after that. I only started up again fairly recently.
Because I love my life and I want to preserve the beauty I see.
Zines, a bunch of different websites, t-shirts, some album covers, all over.
I’m actually working on a music video for MEA CULPA right now. We’re going for a film noir Rumble Fish vibe. I learned to make music videos about 6 years ago when an old friend asked me for help on a video for his band. I found the work really challenging and I guess I enjoy challenges because I’ve been doing it ever since. The thing I like about it most is collaborating. There’s just so much more you can do with a group of people than by yourself. I’ve been fortunate to have done about 20 music videos so far. Mostly friends bands. Some turned out better than others.
Yes, mostly group shows but I had my first solo photography exhibit last year. Marginal Transience opened at ABCO Art Space in West Oakland (where the work was produced as part of my residency program) and at Nomad Studio in LA. I was in a group show last month here in New Orleans at the community printshop that I’m a member of, we’re a collectively-run nonprofit community art space specializing in printmaking and photography. The shop is totally open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays 6–10pm, anyone reading this who’s interested should come pull some ink or check out the darkroom.
Come out next time I have an exhibit and buy some! Aside from that I plan on setting up a webstore this summer for my zines and prints and stuff. You can keep up with me via Instagram or Facebook for updates on exhibits & print sales or you can contact me through my website.
What are your current plans with your photography?
I want to do a new zine and have another exhibit later this year, but I don’t know where yet. Other than that I’m just trying to move forward and keep improving. I’m exploring different themes and subject matter these days.
Hell yes there are! SHORT LEASH, GAS MIASMA, RIM JOB, MEA CULPA, PATSY, ROUGH SHAPE, and MOST HEINOUS! Also, check out MYSTIC INANE if you haven’t already, they’re finishing up a west coast tour right now and are playing with VEXX at Honey Hive Gallery in SF on 8/19.
Any last words, punk?
Writing words is a very inefficient way to make a photograph.