BADCOCK APPAREL - WHERE NAUGHTY IS NICE!
By Marla Santos
Badcock Apparel is for the cool, hip and unique people of this world. It is not for the timid or wallflowers that don’t have the desire to stand out.
Their line of sexy T-shirts are for the wild child, man or woman, who love to laugh, have a good time and are confident in who they are. They’re past the age where fitting in is what it’s all about, and they dare to let the world know that they have a rebel spirit waiting to come out. There is definitely an air of rebellion in these shirts with their overt graphics of sexuality and inside jokes. The number “69” isn’t printed in big bold numbers, but cleverly disguised as “Neunundsechzig” meaning 69 in German. Rather than use the word “Cock”, a graphic of a bold rooster is used, which is also the logo for Badcock. With “Eye Candy” or “Delicious” emblazoned across the front of a low-cut shirt, this is not for those that embarrass easily, but rather those who enjoy making a statement. Obviously, a guy wearing the “BAD Motherfucker” shirt isn’t worried about being embarrassed – he rather loves to shout it to the world.
These shirts are the brainchild of Seth Harris and Lacey Bell. Seth had twenty years of marketing and branding experience before he decided to launch the T-shirt line. Seth runs Badcock Apparel, but the sayings on the shirt are from his alter ego, Badcock Jones. Lacey, who also has years of retail experience, keeps the wording and graphics from crossing over the line to vulgar. Kim, who recently joined the team and works on product development, along with a creative artist known as Irish Joe Badcock fill out the company. Printed on super-soft material that people want to touch and cuddle up to, these shirts are designed to have a vintage look and feel. Talking with both Seth and his alter ego, Badcock Jones, we get a little more insight into the Badcock Apparel line. Lacey, also known as Racey Bell, chimes in, too. It sounded to STRIPLV like the daily goings-on are anything but terribly serious, and that’s what makes everything work in this rebellious, yet lighthearted, all-in-one unique company.
STRIPLV: You quote James Brown: “I’ve got soul, I’m super bad!” Is that your motto these days?
SETH: I’ve got a lot of influences. At the core is a lot of anti-establishment behavior. The guys I like are the guys that were trailblazers going against the grain. Whether it’s James Brown, Frank Sinatra, Rolling Stones, Elvis, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, they all seem like they were trying to do something different that wasn’t the norm. Frank Sinatra wasn’t mainstream, even though he had this ultra mainstream appeal. His behavior and the way he lived his life wasn’t mainstream at all.
STRIPLV: What inspires your sayings?
BADCOCK: The sayings are all from this devil-may-care attitude, or this attitude to thumb my nose at proper society. In the end, it’s all about being funny, and can I be a smart-ass and not get punched. (laughter)
STRIPLV: What gave you the idea to start this rebel spirit styled company?
SETH: Have I always been mainstream? I’m a little the opposite and have lived this very mainstream life. When I was younger, I think, like most kids, you fight to be part of the in-crowd. You want to be cool and be accepted, and it wasn’t until I went to college that I saw that being hip was a conscious, good choice to make. When I was younger, I felt like an outsider looking in, and all I wanted was some stability and calmness. Here I am living in the suburbs, raising a family, and I feel like I’m on the inside looking out. My desire to be an outsider and a rebel is even greater now.
STRIPLV: What’s your outlook on life?
BADCOCK: Life is pretty uniform for everyone. You kind of live this life, and everyone has very similar problems. It’s just a matter of magnitude. It doesn’t matter how someone looks or where they live or what their economic situation is, for the most part, they’re human beings, and they hurt and they love, and they’re just trying to get through the day and survive. If I can empower them or make them laugh with what I’m doing, that’s a big fuckin’ bonus.
STRIPLV: So instead of jokes, it’s your outlook on life.
BADCOCK: Yeah. I have this kind of sarcastic, smart-ass streak through me that gets filtered and massaged, so that it can come out in a healthy way that doesn’t get me punched, which has happened.
STRIPLV: Where did this smart-ass streak come from?
BADCOCK: Everyone wants to make someone laugh. In grade school and high school, I was one of those kids that never shut up – always trying to make people laugh. Then you fall into the group of kids that are funny and obnoxious and it just becomes trying to one-up each other. It got taken to another whole level in college and you’re talking pro level sparring, trying to be funny every week. In fact, the movie Animal House was based on my fraternity’s chapter from Dartmouth College. It was a very similar group of misfits that I was in, and every week after our meeting we’d spend an hour with busting-balls storytelling. You had to be razor sharp and laser accurate or you’d get booed out of the room, and then get made fun of by everyone else. I’ve got 20 guys that I still call all the time. We have jokes that have lasted 25 years and it’s still just as funny. The whole 69 joke is from one of my college buddies. To this day, if you ask him a question that has a numerical answer, the answer is 69. (laughter) Nobody grew up, just a whole bunch of Peter Pans. Where Badcock is now, is that I’m independent and don’t care. This is my opinion and I don’t want to offend you, but if you’re offended, think about it. What is it you’re offended by?
STRIPLV: Are the shirts meant to be more sexual or more humorous?
SETH: This is a humor thing for the 14 year-old inside all of us. They’re dick jokes, and I don’t think they ever stop being funny. The humor on the shirts is like what you’re seeing in the “R” rated movies like Hangover, 40-Year-Old Virgin and Wedding Crashers. My thought is: ‘If it’s funny in a movie, it’s funny on a T-shirt.’ People tend to hide sexual things, but they’ll laugh about them. It’s in your face and it’s funny and we’re hopefully doing it in a way that’s not disgusting. There are several shirts that say 69 in different languages, but not one that just has “69”, because people would find that gross and they’d look at me and think: “What a pig.”
STRIPLV: What about the comedic side of Badcock Jones? If you were a comedian, who would you choose to be?
BADCOCK: If I had to equate the humor that I’m trying to emulate, I’m the bastard child of George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld. (laughter) I’m a weird, unholy, homo-comedic love machine.
STRIPLV: Tell me a little about yourself, Seth.
SETH:After college, I worked for retail companies. You get exposed to many different types of people and situations in different parts of the world, but it’s still fairly corporate. I worked for visual merchandising companies. Being a straight guy in visual merchandising is a rarity. I eventually started my own company called Stingray Studios. It was with Stingray that I did a lot of work in Vegas. I did murals at New York, New York, Mandalay, the Luxor, and I did a ton of work at MGM with the Hollywood photos that were in guest rooms for ten years. I think that’s the longest time frame that guest room artwork lasted. I assembled this huge collection of vintage movie star photographs for them, and then helped decorate the hotel with them.
STRIPLV: Where did you meet Lacey?
SETH: Lacey and I met at a gym while working out here in Columbus. She was on her way out from Abercrombie and I thought I could use someone like that and she came on board. We did graphics for a number of years, and then in 2009, we started Badcock. My uniform was jeans and a T-shirt. You get to a certain age and you don’t want to wear a graphic that’s got some company’s name on it. I don’t want to be a billboard. When I went to look for T-shirts, I wanted something smart-ass or subversive or rebel type T-shirts and you don’t find a lot of good stuff. My thought was that I had a point of view, an opinion and a sense of humor, so I thought I’d make some T-shirts that I would wear. I figured that there were a lot of 40-year-old people out there that don’t want to wear a company’s logo on it. So we did it ourselves, and naively jumped into the fashion world.
STRIPLV: What’s it like to work with Seth?
RACEY BELL: I think the funny thing about Seth is that he’s this New Albany dad. New Albany is this really nice neighborhood and he’s this country club dad that’s involved in everything and then he’s got this rebel badass side to him, and Badcock Jones is his bad side. He’s this anomaly with Badcock Jones and this everyday cool dad. I think that’s what the clothing brand is all about. The highest quality T-shirts with some witty undercutting humor on them. Seth has got many hats he wears and he’s authentic in all of them, that’s what is so funny.
STRIPLV: Both Racey Bell and Kim Badcock say they wear the more conservative shirts, but even those are great conversation starters.
BADCOCK:Oh yeah! There’s that dichotomy between Badcock Jones and Seth Harris, like Bruce Wayne and Batman. I wore the Badcock motorcycle shirt and people were really shocked. One of my favorite shirts that I wear that everyone teases me about has “Mr. Bitchin’” on it. I can kinda rock that. It’s a little badass and kinda funny and it’s kind of making fun of myself. That’s a shirt that I did for some friends of mine who made a movie about an artist named Robert Williams, who is generally credited with creating the lowbrow art movement. Most people wouldn’t know Bob, if you don’t know his name, but they’d know the painting he did titled “Appetite for Destruction”, that Guns N’ Roses used on the album of the same name. The album’s name came from Bob’s painting. Bob is an amazing guy! There’s a movie coming out about him called “Mr. Bitchin’” that Badcock is involved with from a sponsorship level, and we did a bunch of T-shirts. The T-shirt can come across really goofy or kind of menacing. It’s one of my favorites.
STRIPLV: Who comes up with the sayings, you or Lacey?
SETH: I do. Ninety percent of the stuff is me. Lacey is the conscience of the business. She keeps me from crossing the line that would take what we’re doing from clever to disgusting. You don’t want to cross that line, and I think we’re straddling that line – and as close as we can get. We want to be funny and provocative, but not vulgar.
STRIPLV: When coming up with the sayings, he’s definitely Badcock Jones?
RACEY BELL: Oh, yeah. And the ideas come at any time of the night in an email and it’s always Badcock Jones!
STRIPLV: He claims that you’re the one that has the red line and makes sure he doesn’t cross it.
RACEY BELL: I’m the conscience of the company. It’s a very hard job. It’s a battle in every sense possible, because I kind of keep him in line and keep Badcock from going over to the dirty side. It’s a daily task.
STRIPLV: What are your inspirations for your line?
BADCOCK: Everything inspires me. Daniel Tosh’s show is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. I love Tosh.O. I love Jackass. I love this badass freedom that those guys have. I feel like, in a world where Daniel Tosh, Johnny Knoxville, and South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone can voice all this stuff on airwaves – and there’s toys and movies and T-shirts – it’s like the Wild West. It’s got to be! That’s what I don’t understand about what’s going on in America. Somehow the word “Badcock” is offensive, but South Park is revered like the elder statesman now. If Daniel Tosh was in a bar saying the stuff he says and wasn’t famous, he’d be killed everyday. People would beat the shit out of him. Oh my God, he’s misogamist, he’s racist, he’s semi-elitist… I love that guy! It’s really funny stuff. We do have freedom of speech, so if you can say all that stuff, then why not have it on a T-shirt? I can’t get up in front of a crowd and say all the stuff that’s on my mind, in what I would consider a cohesive manner, so I’m doing it from the safety of my T-shirts. That’s where I feel safe doing it. I can wear a T-shirt and get my word out that way.
STRIPLV: What are some of the favorites and the biggest sellers?
SETH: “Mama Needs a Cocktail” and “I Love Cock” shirt, (the one with the heart and the rooster), is a classic. You can wear that shirt to the grocery store and people get it or they won’t. If they get it, the majority of them will laugh, which is the appropriate response, and if they don’t get it, they’re not going to be offended. If, instead of the rooster, you had the word spelled out, now you’re going to offend them. I’ve got daughters and I don’t want my nine year-old daughter reading that, but she sees it as “I love Badcock.” She doesn’t make that association yet, and I don’t have to explain it. The “BAD Motherfucker” is a really good seller for men and women!
STRIPLV:And “Reefer Room” tee...You support the legalization of marijuana?
SETH: Yeah, I do. I think that there are a lot of things that shouldn’t be overly-regulated and a lot of things that are not regulated that should be.
STRIPLV: Are your sales in general more men or women, or equal?
SETH: There are more women than men right now, which is a surprise. Maybe because there are other lines that cater more to men that like to think of themselves as badasses and rebels, and not so much for women.
STRIPLV: When he comes up with something that’s over the red line, you’re just relying on your own instincts you’ve gathered over the years?
RACEY BELL: I’m your girl-next-door. I’m really not too racy. One of us has got to be a professional, but I still like to party. The shirt that I wear is the one that says: “You lost me at Hello”, and guys will just look at it and laugh. I tend to wear the more subtle ones. A lot of our customers are 40-year-old soccer moms, and they like the “Mama Needs a Cocktail” shirt. Everyone can find a shirt that they will giggle at.
BADCOCK: I like to think we’re making naughty shirts for nice girls.
STRIPLV: Do you also decide your visuals?
SETH:I’ve got an artist that has been with me for a couple of years. We call him Irish Joe Badcock and we work very closely and have a similar language and he’s very good at taking my nut-brained ideas and creating the graphics.
STRIPLV: Tell me about the T-shirt that you can customize.
SETH: That came out of a dispute that I had with someone. I had it made reading “Jason is a Douche” and we thought that other people may have their own experience, too. So we have a blank fill in the douche shirt that you can fill in with a sharpie marker.
STRIPLV: Do you have a favorite shirt?
SETH: Every week I have a different one. I love them all. The “Delinquent” one is a favorite and so is “Bad Influence”.
Badcock Apparel also stocks accessories such as handmade leather wallets and belts, ball caps, work jackets, and professional-speed bottle-openers, to add an element of outsider edge to wardrobes. badcockapparel.com