EARSNOT, Graffiti Writer featured in Infamy, of IRAK crew

For almost a decade, the IRAK crew has been the preeminent collective of downtown New York enfants terribles: arbiters of NYC cool for a generation of young people. At the helm of IRAK is the Infamy featured artist by the unlikely graffiti name of Earsnot. He’s an industry-standard classic graffiti writer in some senses: phenomenally prolific, beating down opponents, and master thief of every supply needed for the trade. But lifelong New Yorker Earsnot, a tall, black and handsome young man, is openly gay, boasting an arm tattoo of an attractive Saddam Hussein with a bulge in his pants. Graffiti is often a comically backward homophobic culture, and it takes a brazen daring to bring up the issue. No problem there: Earsnot, and his IRAK crew, are all about bravado. IRAK – as in “I rack,” meaning “I steal” - is a graffiti crew, to be sure, but it is also a collection of photographers, painters, writers, musicians, filmmakers, professional thieves, and chemical dependents, all as diverse as the city itself. Their motto is “Every night is New Year’s Eve,” and their days and nights are a sea of graffiti, drugs, theft, and rolling like kings into the best nightclubs and parties.

Each day as the crew wakes up, they’re all broke again, so they head to the shops and boutiques of New York – where Black kids such as Earsnot are usually followed by watchful staff – and still manage to commit grand larceny without a problem. As Earsnot explains in the film, “you have that customer - shopkeeper thing going on, and they have no idea that you’re stealing – no idea. Or, they know that you’re stealing, and they see you in there mad times, and they still can’t stop me because I’m so nice.” Of course, being brazen is all part of the Earsnot and IRAK way, and the collective now offers its services as fashion and lifestyle consultants, along with their IRAK NY clothing line. Whether it’s graffiti, shoplifting, drugs, or other misbehavior, the theory is plain, as Earsnot relates to Infamy’s cameras: “You don’t want anybody telling you what to do, you want to break the law, you want to take the chance of getting caught, and you love it, and you love messing with them and being like you know what? I’m gonna do it again, and again, and again, and there’s nothing you can do. I’m gonna be bad.” In being bad – and being so visibly good at being bad that the world has stopped to take notes and notice – Earsnot and his IRAK crew have become the stuff of legend, the kind that only New York can provide.