Mr. Cartoon The world famous tattoo and graffiti artist joins the hosts live from Los Angeles to talk about the unique cast of characters that shaped him as an artist, translating his signature style onto Nikes, and what it was like to tattoo Kanye West.
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Mr. Cartoon

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Mr. Cartoon

Mr. Cartoon

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ROBERT GARCIA, HOST:

Please be advised that during this program, there may be some words that are profane and not suitable for children.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES BROWN'S "THE CHASE")

ADRIAN BARTOS, HOST:

Yo, yo, yo, what's up, everybody? This is Stretch Armstrong.

GARCIA: Peace. My name is Bobbito Garcia aka Kool Bob Love. Oo-ooo (ph).

BARTOS: You're now listening to WHAT'S GOOD WITH STRETCH & BOBBITO, your source for untold stories and uncovered truths from movers and shakers around the world.

GARCIA: Oh, you did it without the script.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA: Tonight, we're coming to you live from the Playa Studios in Los Angeles.

(CHEERING)

BARTOS: I think it's playa.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: It's playa, which is a Spanish word for beach.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA: Tonight, we're coming to you live from the Playa Studios in Los Angeles, Calif.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTOS: Joining us in a moment is an artist who is revered equally on the street, amongst A-list celebrities and in the corporate world. Please give it up for the one and only Mr. Cartoon.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTOS: (Imitating trumpet).

GARCIA: All right. So the former graffiti writer turned multifaceted artist, designer, film producer, entrepreneur has done design collabs (ph) with companies like Nike, Toyota and the LA Rams. He founded the Joker clothing line, opened a famous tattoo shop and has taught art to the youth. Cartoon - Pee Wee Kirkland might be a legend in two games. Mr. Cartoon is a legend in like 55 games.

MR. CARTOON: Yeah.

GARCIA: Yo, we're going to jump right in. Now here in Los Angeles, there's the low-rider culture which has its art scene.

MR. CARTOON: For sure.

GARCIA: There's gang culture which has its art scene. Let's travel back to you as a little dude, you know, even before you're even realizing you're a artist.

MR. CARTOON: Sure.

GARCIA: What are you seeing? What's inspiring you? What's capturing your eye? Like, I know for myself, when I was young, I could tell you the floor in my building, the first time I saw a tag, I was 4 years old. So what sparks in your memory in terms of the striking moment of, like, ahh (ph)?

MR. CARTOON: Wow. Yeah. I mean, I remember reading the walls, you know, my mom going to the grocery store. You're just driving. You start to read the walls and trip on the hand styles, you know. And I remember it was the early '80s probably. And MTV was new, you know. It was only about six videos on rotation. And I seen this Blondie video. And it had Fab Five Freddy. It had a Lee piece in it. And it had real New York graffiti in it. We were like damn 'cause we had no reference of what was going on in New York. In LA, it was more gang culture, right?

So there was a couple guys that moved from New York to LA that were like Soon and other characters that were doing real New York bombing in LA. So I wouldn't meet them till later on. But first, we would emulate. Like, I would emulate Futura. I got a hold of a street art book. You know, we memorized that shit because that was like our only reference to graffiti. So...

GARCIA: The street art book you're referring to is by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant, correct?

MR. CARTOON: Yes.

GARCIA: Yeah. That's like a bible for the entire world basically.

MR. CARTOON: For sure. It let the whole world know what was going on in the train graff (ph). And in the West Coast, we didn't have a subway system. You know, fools would write on the bus. Fools would write on like freight cars, but it was nothing like that. So we would look to that. And hip-hop was a big thing, so either you were a breaker, you were a DJ, you were a rapper or you were a graffiti writer.

I tried breaking, and it didn't work, man, you know. But I gave it a shot, you know. But I could draw, you know. But I was just drawing like regular shit. My mom told me I was great so I believed it, you know what I'm saying? Like, I don't even know if she knew what she was doing, but she was instilling this confidence. And when I look back at those pictures now, they were all stick people and shit, you know what I'm saying? So my parents encouraged me. They're both artists too but not by career.

GARCIA: You grew up in East LA, where you had low-rider car culture and gang culture, each of which had its own expression of art that branched out of it. How were you taking in these two cultures as a kid?

MR. CARTOON: Yeah. That's a good question because even though...

GARCIA: Thank you. We try.

(LAUGHTER)

MR. CARTOON: We were infatuated with New York and hip-hop. We had to cling onto what was ours. So what we invented was lowriding. We would look through Lowrider magazine, and you would see these candy paint jobs, man, that were art rolling down the street - candy Brandywine, candy tangerine, candy cobalt blue, all these different colors. And fools would compete against each other on who can come up with the freshest color for your car. And you will be judged by your car in LA because you have to drive everywhere.

So my old man used to take me to car shows. And I would walk around, and I would look at the paint jobs. And there was freehand pinstriping and murals and gold leaf and all the shit put together. And the car's laying on the grass, and there's girls around it. And people are having fun. And I said, man, I want to be a part of that. And my old man goes, hey, look at that man right there. And it was some old dinosaur airbrushing a T-shirt, you know. And I was like, man, if he could do it, I could do it. And I picked up that airbrush, and that shit was hard as fuck to do. He made it look real easy, you know. But I found my purpose.

So my old man goes, hey, it's easy. You can barter everything. You just have to be needed. You want to be wanted. So learn how to do those murals on the car. You can do it. My old man had a small mom-and-pop print shop in Torrance, in the Harbor area. And he would print business cards for all the car painters. So he hooked me up with these painters, and he would let me look over their shoulders. So I learned a lot by watching and submersing myself in the culture, not really even knowing I was doing that shit.

GARCIA: Now, for our vast audience of hundreds of millions of listeners around the world, how would you self-describe Mr. Cartoon in terms of your artistic expression?

MR. CARTOON: You know what? My style was around way before I was. So the Chicano art style started in the pachuco days in the 1940s, right? After World War II, it was rations on clothing. And the zoot-suiters would come out and they'd have baggy clothes. And, you know, they were proud of their heritage. And it was Mexicans, Filipinos, blacks, everyone kind of together in rebellion. And the style of art developed that was romantic, it went along with all the classics, so oldies. So if you looked at Smokey Robinson, he had "Tears Of A Clown" on the radio. It was your birthday, you have a clown come to your party.

So it wasn't that uncommon to see - look at a homeboy's arm and you see a clown but he's got a brim and a double-barreled shotgun all shermed (ph) out on the side of someone's arm, you know. And we'd look at that, and we'd be like, damn, that fool just got out of jail. And he's got these clowns tattoo, but they're not these goofball clowns at my party. These fools got, you know, brims and trench coats on and gangsters, you know. And they would drive only 1930s Chevy cars. And so I kind of seen that, but all that art was coming out of the jail system. So I was like, damn, I want to go to that art school, you know. That's a motherfucker right there.

(APPLAUSE)

MR. CARTOON: You know, I eventually went, but the food's not that great, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

MR. CARTOON: So I took that look. You know, I liked that glamorous - they were kind of glorifying our culture in the street and Old English lettering, you know. There was this Old English lettering. Back in the day, you know, I heard this from Chaz that everything that was important was written in Old English - if you got a death certificate, a wedding certificate, you know, your graduation certificate, it was - had the, you know...

GARCIA: I never thought about that.

MR. CARTOON: So the homeboys would emulate that and write San Pedro or Compton in the '60s. You started to see this block writing going on the wall. And it was like a fast way of doing Old English so the cops wouldn't get you, you know. And they would block this out. And we seen that shit, and we would try to copy it. Like, everybody could do that shit, so everyone was trying to do it. But for my love of hip-hop, and it being the '80s, I mixed them both.

I took the old school cholo pachuco Mexican-American version of LA culture, and I mixed it a little bit with hip-hop and kind of blew everything up and started doing these big walls in the neighborhood. That's how I learned. I would just knock on a liquor store and say, hey, you know, everyone's writing on your wall, I'll do a free mural. And they heard the word free, you know, and they jumped on it, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

MR. CARTOON: Built up my little portfolio, you know. Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTOS: You mentioned Chaz, right?

MR. CARTOON: Yeah. Chaz is an artist. And he ended up doing the "Star Wars" logo, the Warriors, "Boulevard Nights." We grew up looking at his logos not even knowing that a Chicano...

GARCIA: Mexican brother.

MR. CARTOON: ...A Mexican drew that, you know what I'm saying.

GARCIA: Born in LA.

MR. CARTOON: Yeah, of Mexican descent. And he was a inspiration for us.

GARCIA: So when I was young, the fact that I could play ball gave me kind of like the hood pass. Like, you know, I got jumped my freshman year in high school. But then like they were, like, yo, no, no, he plays ball. Leave him alone, like, he's cool, you know.

MR. CARTOON: Yeah.

GARCIA: So I'm wondering like, what type of pass did you get because of your artistic hand skills so early on?

MR. CARTOON: Yeah. That's - so 1990, I graduated from San Pedro High, didn't do any work, just drew my way through and I knew, you know, I had to. That just shows, you know, like, back then, I was actually doing marketing and like business relations in high school because I wasn't going to do any of that work. They lost me in math a long time ago. I was in basic math. But I knew how to do draw, you know. I got an A in the newspaper where I would draw for the newspaper. And I learned then that you can manipulate people and get what you want. The art of manipulation, you know what I'm saying?

And I had to graduate, you know. And I just - I would - the teacher would sit me down and be like, you know what, son? You're a good kid, but you're failing, you know. And I'd be like, you know what? The kids never listen to you, you know. You should write a sign that says, no food in the class. And if you write it the right way, the kids will notice it and pay attention. And he would do it and give me a D-minus. And I had a cap and gown. And I graduated just like everybody else, you know.

(APPLAUSE)

MR. CARTOON: And, you know, when you know how to draw, like, a lot of artists get passes to go to any neighborhood in LA. So there were certain fools that you would trip out that they were tattooers, but they can go into enemy territory and tattoo. They can go into any neighborhood. And so I started - as I got a little bit older, I had to get some kind of a job. You know what I mean? The old man was like, c'mon, man, you got to come work with me or go, you know.

So I was like, man, I could - I got arrested when I was 17 for graffiti in my neighborhood, for vandalism. And I did graffiti to pay off the debt I owed for the city. I would just walk into like a gym and convince them that they needed some lettering on the inside of the boxing gym, you know. And my sister got me a job right after that doing gangster writing for the movie studios, doing the writing, like, graffiti on the set.

So my mom would type me up an invoice on the typewriter. And I took my old man's old briefcase. I put spray paint cans in, and I showed up on the set, man, you know. And I just played it off like I knew what I was doing. I'd steal food off the craft service table and take that shit back home. I don't know. I fell in love with that shit, you know. I was like - they call me Mister. And that's when we started putting, like, I was just Cartoon back then, you know. So then we were like, oh, Mr. Cartoon, like - yeah. And then I, you know, kind of - yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

MR. CARTOON: And I was only 16. And I told my homeboy, I go, what do you think, holmes (ph)? I'm Mr. Cartoon. He goes, you'll grow into it.

(APPLAUSE)

MR. CARTOON: I grew into it, you know. And we used to put doctor in front of our name, sir. Like, we had all kinds of titles, but the Cartoon clicked. But right then, I mean, by accident, I was on a Hollywood set. I would just get jobs. And I was persistent. And I was - happened to be at the right places at the right time, sometimes the wrong place at the wrong time, you know.

BARTOS: It's interesting because you had an awareness of what was going on in New York even though you came up in LA. And if you look at New York graff writers, they were influenced by pop art, often cartoons. And movie poster signage here in LA, you have Hollywood. You have world-famous museums. Outside of your local influences and hip-hop, what were some of the external influences that, you know, turned you into the artist that you eventually became?

MR. CARTOON: My parents were a trip, man. I was a real quiet kid. And I would carry a pad of paper under my arm and a pencil in my ear. And my parents could take me anywhere. They would take me to parties. They would just put me in a room. And they'd come in kind of faded and show their son off to their drunk friend and those types of things. And a lot of the music my parents were listening to, you know, listening to Cameo, Earth Wind & Fire.

My first little album cover I drew was "Saturday Night Fever," you know. And I would draw the Queen album covers and shit. And I remember there was a song "White Lines" that came out, and it was all, damn, they're talking about cocaine. I mean, I had never done coke yet, but I was a little kid and I would draw all these pictures of cocaine, you know. My mother was like, you can't draw this, you know. And it was graffiti and like cocaine mixed together. And it was - I didn't know what I was doing. I just knew it was like forbidden. And it was dangerous. And it was cool, you know.

So I started drawing anything I kind of wanted to be down with. Like if karate was having a kung fu theatre, I would draw like Shaolin Warriors, you know. And BMX was hot in the late '70s here. I would draw that, you know. And when you got a teenager, start drawing girls, you know. And you draw all these things. And I would just submerge myself into whatever I was in blindly and just draw about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BARTOS: So you mentioned that your mother was a big encourager of you as an artist. Other than your mom, who's always going to love you no matter what...

MR. CARTOON: Right, right.

BARTOS: ...Can you tell us a person that in your formative up days made you believe that you can actually have a career as an artist?

MR. CARTOON: Yeah. I think my old man was waiting in line at the bank one time. And he comes home, and he goes, good news, son. And I go, what's that? He goes, I signed you up for karate. And I go, oh, Pop, no, man. I don't want to do that, man. He goes, oh, you're doing it. I already paid for it. You got to go. So he takes me by Inglewood and drops me off at some karate school, you know. But the good thing is I walked in there and all the walls were muraled (ph) inside of the karate school. And it was like these dragons. Inside the dragons were like faces of women. And their hair would go down and would go into a clock. And the clock numbers were crooked, and that would go into something else.

And I was like obsessed with these murals inside. And gym black-belt certificates were all hand-stippled and drawn. My old man would print them. And he goes, hey, you're going to trip out on the master. He paints cars. So my karate master was the candyman of Hawthorne. And he would candy paint the lowriders and black out on some karate shit and start painting the lowriders and like doing kung fu at the same time and shit. And my karate teacher was my...

GARCIA: Wait. What was his name?

MR. CARTOON: His name was Vic - Big Vic Larue (ph). So Big Vic had a handlebar mustache, and he would - he was a animal, you know. He was a beast. So he took me over to Ron's (ph) house. And now, Ron was an Indonesian Dutch guy. So he had Asian eyes but they were green. And he had Popeye forearms. And you could see every vein in this man's arm. He was a tunnel rat in Vietnam. And he had a big hole in his ear because he had stopped by a mine and it blew his ear out. But he was so short that he would go in the tunnels in Vietnam and kill the sergeants or, you know, higher-ups in the Vietnamese army.

So he was gone, right? But he was a master artist pinstriper and laid gold leaf on cars. And the first time I had seen a mural on a car was him showing up at my old man's shop to pick up his business cards. And he had a mural of him on the hood of his car with a tiger, with a topless girl with waterfalls in the back. You know, I was like, damn, you know. And I was like, I want a mural like that, you know, like, of my shit. I seen that it could be done, you know.

So this man let me look over his shoulder. He had no patience for kids. And he would beat me up half the time, you know. It was like half kung fu training, and then the other half was art. And he liked my old man, so he put up with me. But he was kind of like, why am I teaching this kid? He's going to steal my job. Like, get the fuck out of here, man. He would throw me out all the time. But I learned enough. I seen it done.

So I was like, man, if he did it, it's humanly possible I could do this. That mural was done by hand and his imagination. So I think that - and it was on his car hood. So that was the closest thing for us to have our name on the side of a subway car is that we would mural these cars, and we'd have them drive through the city. And we would get fame that way.

GARCIA: So - this is incredible, yes. Give it up.

(APPLAUSE)

GARCIA: Incredible.

MR. CARTOON: Big Ron.

GARCIA: Incredible. I mean, you've often really given a lot of love to your mentors, right. Now, clearly, some of the people you just mentioned may not have...

MR. CARTOON: They missed the Internet, that's for sure. They missed the Internet.

GARCIA: But I'm saying, but they mentored you and not in a direct way. And the ones who did directly mentor you, what are the kind of like lifelong jewels that you sort of grabbed from them that are still relevant that you hold dear today?

MR. CARTOON: My old man, you know, is a rare situation where he's 75 right now. He would listen to motivation tapes that had a concept of, if you think it, it can manifest in your life. If you can't see it, I can't help you get there, right? So he would put these little jewels in my head. And it just kind of gave me a skeleton in my head of how to approach invisible things.

So when you're an artist - right? - you don't know if you have a job tomorrow or next week. It's kind of you have to create your next job or your destiny, right? Even though I was making it up as I was going along, I didn't know that I was kind of preparing myself for bigger things.

All the little things that you're doing that you're maybe not getting applause for, no one's giving you credit or saying, hey, holmes, you know, good job or whatever, all that are building blocks that I was doing that one day put me up to another level. So it's all about those times where no one's paying attention and no one cares that you build yourself and start to carve yourself as an artist, you know.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTOS: So whether you were being mentored intentionally or just being influenced by OGs, by your dad or whatever, you went from being a mentoree (ph) to eventually being a mentor. And you've invested a lot of time with younger people.

MR. CARTOON: Sure.

BARTOS: Can you share a moment where you feel you had a profound influence on the life of a young person in a really concrete way?

MR. CARTOON: Yeah. I think back and I remember my friends that were my age becoming art teachers. My friend goes, hey, can you come down and talk to these knuckleheads at my school, man? They won't listen to nothing we're saying. They'll listen to you. They'll trip out on you, you know. And I go, yeah, I'll go down there. And I took my airbrush compressor, and I took my airbrush. I put a T-shirt on a piece of wood. I stretched it and I showed them how to airbrush T-shirts. It felt pretty good because teaching people kind of gave me this little bit of a rush.

That's one thing I could talk about is art. So I was like, I'm going to show these fools how to hands-on trade with your hands. Because in my head, I was like, you know what? If I learn nothing else but sign painting, I'll always have a job. Give me a brush, candle and a can of paint and I can letter. A zombie apocalypse happens, they're going to need it this way, you know, and I got a job. You know what I mean? If I got drafted in the military, I'd paint the teeth on the plane. I - when I tried being in a gang when I was a kid, I would just do the block gang letters, you know, in the neighborhood.

Like, art got me out of everything, you know. And now with every collaboration I would do with, say, a corporate company, I would bring in a couple busloads of kids and tell them how to do it. So you can't be mad at me saying I sold out on some bullshit. Well, you can, but my comeback is I helped these knuckleheads right here. So, you know, it balances it out.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTOS: One of the things that you're most well-known for is your tattoo business. You're infamous for having a serious waiting list of folks waiting to be inked up by you. And your client list includes celebrities like Eminem, David Banner, Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre and even Beyonce. Of all the famous people you've tattooed, who took the pain the least?

MR. CARTOON: Probably the hardest one I had - probably had to tattoo was Kanye. Dealing with Kanye, imagine what it would be like, you know what I'm saying? He's art directing the art director. He's giving me a hard time. And, man, you know...

BARTOS: He tried to take the needle out of your hand and show you how it's done?

MR. CARTOON: At one point, I was like, you do it, holmes. You do it. You know, but you deal with creative types, man, and they're the hardest to deal with. And a lot of people - the guys that pass out the most are the biggest, toughest, strongest guys, you know. They'll - I thought it was the needles, you know, but people started to blackout when I was just drawing with the Sharpie on them. You know what I'm saying? Like, having people pass out on you is a part they don't train you for. You can't get training on people psyching themselves out and blacking out in the chair. It's a whole mission, man.

(APPLAUSE)

GARCIA: So you got on my radar in the mid-2000s, probably 2005 or 2006. I was doing a show for ESPN called "It's The Shoes." And they hit me up. They were like, yo, we got to interview this cat. He just did a collaboration with Nike for the Air Force 1 shoe.

MR. CARTOON: For sure.

GARCIA: Now I found that interesting because to get a LA-based artist to collaborate with the quintessential New York shoe for me was like brilliant. How did that collaboration happen with Nike?

MR. CARTOON: Well, prior to me getting the collaboration, I would go with Cypress Hill to New York. And I picked up on that the East Coast was all about fashion. They were all about your getup. They didn't have car culture the way we had. Their car culture was the shoes that they were wearing. That was their car, you know. And they knew a lot about it and we didn't. I was learning about Js. And I was learning about Air Force 1s. And I would go to Tokyo a lot. I would spend a lot of time in Tokyo, and I would see Bapes and all the shit way before a lot of people had seen it, you know.

So I started to see the shape of the shoe and what it meant to hip-hop and that true hip-hop heads were wearing that shoe. So I was like, man. When I seen that Futura did a shoe and Stash, I was like, man, it's possible, you know. These are other graffiti heads, but I'm from LA. So that's - like when they thought about fashion, it was New York immediately and like Subway graff writers from the '80s, you know what I'm saying? And I had this idea. I was like, man, I'm going to make me a West Coast one. I know this one kid named B-Win (ph). B-Win at the - works at Nike. That's my in. I'm going to hit him up. It's going to be the shit. I got to figure it out in my head.

And I showed up at the Nike headquarters and let me in, gave me a Red Bull. And I go, B, I got this idea, holmes. You ready? Air Force 1, Mr. Cartoon, West Coast black and grey, holmes. What you think? He goes, let me see what I can do. He called me back a week later. He goes, you're not going to believe this shit. I got you a trip to New York first class. And you're going to tattoo at the Air Force 1 event. Mark Parker's going to be there. Everyone's going to be there - Futura, all these - all your heroes.

GARCIA: Just for those who don't know, Mark Parker's like top of the food chain at Nike and then - under Phil Knight, the founder.

MR. CARTOON: And I was all happy. I called my manager. I go, what you think, man? I hit up Estevan (ph), I go, what do you think, bro? And he goes, that's the shit. That's a lot of money, and it's a good opportunity. But if you take that money, they'll never do a collab with you. I was like, damn. So I called back B and I was like, I can't do it, man, but I'll go if they want to fly me out as a tastemaker, some new word I had learned at that time and shit.

(LAUGHTER)

MR. CARTOON: I didn't know what that shit was, you know. I had been called a lot of things but never a tastemaker, you know. So - but they had - you know, cool. I'll slide in under that title, you know. And they did it. And I got to meet Mark Parker. And I rapped to him for, you know, 30 seconds. I got the collab after that.

(LAUGHTER)

MR. CARTOON: Thank you. But even though the Air Force 1 was the hottest shoe on the planet, I mean, it was like crack cocaine, man. And it was like the shit. It was very important to me that I did a Cortez because I couldn't forget where I come from, you know what I'm saying?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BARTOS: Cartoon, you've got stories for days. Right now, we've got to get to some people's favorite part of our show....

GARCIA: Ya'll know.

BARTOS: ...Favorite part of WHAT'S GOOD WITH STRETCH & BOBBITO, and it's called the Impression Session.

GARCIA: Session. (Imitating trumpet).

BARTOS: You know about the Impression Session?

MR. CARTOON: No. You got to tell me about it.

GARCIA: (Laughter).

BARTOS: All right. I'm going to tell you about it. We each play you a song and you react to it any way you want.

MR. CARTOON: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF MALO'S "SUAVECITO")

MR. CARTOON: This is Art Laboe, and you're listening to the Oldies show. Up next, we got a call from Flaco (ph), calling from the penitentiary up north. And he shout-outs Chi Girl (ph) and saying, baby, I miss you.

BARTOS: That is "Suavecito" by Malo, right, the San Francisco-based band. That song is known as the Chicano national anthem, so I thought it was apropos. And I'm just - I've always been intrigued by the musical component of Chicano in lowrider culture. And I think about how it parallels the way skinheads and punks in England in the '70s were obsessed with roots reggae. And you have, you know, a Mexican-American Chicano lowrider culture that was - even though that's not an R&B song but there was this...

GARCIA: Soul.

BARTOS: Sure. And, you know, they were into bands like Blood, Sweat & Tears and War. And I think if you look at Chicano gang aesthetics and you're an outsider, just with a superficial reading, you probably wouldn't expect that the musical component of that culture is what it is.

MR. CARTOON: That's right. Yeah, that was - Art Laboe was a famous DJ. He's still alive. And you would hear a lot of "Suavecito." You would hear War and Tierra and those type of groups playing. And his voiceover, he was out of our culture but in our culture. He was like a - he got a pass. You know what I mean? He would pronounce some of like the Spanish shit wrong sometimes.

BARTOS: I'm familiar with this dynamic.

MR. CARTOON: Older. He was like a older Armenian man, but he was always there, you know what I'm saying? And he bought all this music. And he had a radio show. And he would do shoutouts for people that were in prison. So you could tell, oh, he's calling from Soledad, you know, somewhere up north, you know, in a Chino prison or somewhere. And he would do dedications, you know. And he's like the voice of LA as far as an old, old DJ like coming out of like Huggy Bear and those type of old-school DJs where they actually played oldies. And it was for the specific crowd.

So these groups would tour, you know, The Dramatics, The Temprees, The Whatnots, Dynamic Superiors. And they were these black groups from the East Coast, from Philly, New York, New Jersey. And they would come to the West Coast and play for purely Chicano Mexican crowds. So they must have been tripping looking in the audience. There would be a few Crips in there and shit, you know. But overall, it would basically all be Mexicans in there, you know.

GARCIA: Mr. Cartoon, I have a song for you. Hit it.

(SOUNDBITE OF "WONDER WOMAN" THEME SONG)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) All the world's waiting for you and the power you possess.

MR. CARTOON: It's time to go to bed. Put those pens away. Did you just draw on the wall right now? Go to bed, can't watch Wonder Woman tonight. That's my mom scolding me.

GARCIA: You can bring it down. You can bring it down. So for those who don't know, that's the theme song to the TV show "Wonder Woman" from the 1970s. But anyone who lived in the '70s, we all had a crush on Lynda Carter. Years later, I find out that her mom was Mexican. I was like, oh, word. That's dope. And I'm finding out about all these other - like Charlie Sheen was Mexican and Martin Sheen was Mexican. I'm like, yo, that's crazy. So I just wanted to get your feedback about your memories about the TV show. I just wanted to get your thoughts on that song.

MR. CARTOON: Yeah, it brought back a mean flashback right there.

GARCIA: Did you have her poster on your wall?

MR. CARTOON: Yeah. I mean, that was a real big deal man, you know. Like all bullshit aside, like, an invisible plane, you know, and an island full of women, you know. It's like that shit's - and she looked Mexican. She had feathers in her hair. And her hair went back. It was like dark brunette hair, you know. And - yeah, man, that was like the shit, you know. And back at that time, when that show - I used to write all over my mom's walls, you know. And she hated it. And my kids ended up drawing on my wall too, you know. And - but all these shows, man, carved us out, I think, as our characters.

GARCIA: Let's give it up for Mr. Cartoon, yo.

MR. CARTOON: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

GARCIA: Stretch.

MR. CARTOON: Love you, my brother.

(APPLAUSE)

MR. CARTOON: Hey, I'm just really grateful too that all you guys showed up tonight, man. It really means a lot, man, you know. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTOS: That's our show. This podcast was produced by Maria Paz Gutierrez, Frannie Monahan and Sami Yenigun. Our editors are N'Jeri Eaton and Steve Nelson.

GARCIA: Special thanks to our engineers, Patrick Murray and Marcia Caldwell.

BARTOS: Our executive producer is Abby O'Neill.

GARCIA: If you liked the show, you can hear more on NPR One. Check out our interviews with Rosie Perez and Eric Haze as well as Hill Harper. See you.

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