Hamilton Harris – ‘Kids’ Documentary Interview

Hamilton Harris, the guy who did the bonnet ride to hands behind his back push in Eastern Exposure 3 (aka style incarnate), was also in that film Kids you might have heard a thing or two about. The film that pretty much birthed the acting careers of the likes of Leo Fitzpatrick, Chloe Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, Javier Nunez and Harold Hunter (R.I.P – that goes for Justin Pierce too). Almost 20 years later Hamilton is making a documentary on Kids and what it was like to be a participant in the NY skate scene of the time and how things changed after Larry Clark chose to create a film about it. Vice got a decent interview with him – top marks to the interviewer who clearly knows their onions.

We’ve got a small excerpt below but to read the interview in its entirety click here: bit.ly/1oJIzRu

VICE: Hey, Hamilton. So in your film’s press release it talks about how, growing up, you guys created your own reality. In Roger Ebert’s review of Kids he talks about that reality being a world where “adults simply do not exist.” Is that a fair assessment?
Hamilton Harris: No, I don’t think so, actually. Maybe it’s because I’m four days off my 40th birthday, but I’m coming to the realization that there’s a lot of crossover between children and adults—some children can be just as psychologically and emotionally advanced as an adult, and vice versa.

So what was the reality?
Oh, it was, uh [laughs]… As raw as it seemed, it was still a fun experience. And as fun an experience it was, there was still a lot of pain and trauma. You know, growing up in America—this is global, but I say America because that’s where I was in the 90s—you’re dealing with stuff like crack, AIDS, and full-blown racism. People don’t like other people because they look “different” [laughs]. It’s fucking hilarious, but it’s real! So we had all those issues around us, but because we were a group of individuals who had different racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds—though the same traumatic situations at home—our experience went beyond race, creed, and background.

It seemed like skating helped with that transcending of race and background.
Yeah, definitely. What’s cool about skating is that you’re always in motion. And when you’re on the board, even if you’re with a group of homies, skating isn’t a team thing—you’re not gonna get the assist to jump a garbage can; it’s all on you. When you fall on your ass, it’s on you to get up and deal with it. It gives you a sense of responsibility—you’re being your own therapist, which I think is especially helpful if you come from a dysfunctional home, you know? Skateboarding is therapy.

It is a pretty isolated thing in that way. But it also seemed like—in your case, at least—it gave all you individuals a collective identity.
Yeah, it’s that thing of something being so abstract but so tangible. See, that’s what Larry captured in the film, man. I don’t care how fabricated the story was—us bashing gay dudes, all that shit. It was Larry’s story and vision; let it be what it is. But he did capture that primal essence of this reality we were living—that energy, which is spiritual, as far as I see it.