Marky Staltari's affinity toward all-things pinball isn't difficult to explain. The punk rock guitarist of local band Janitors of Anarchy cites pinball's controversial history; the game spent a large part of its history banned in major US cities and was a symbol of rebellion in classic Hollywood movies.
Marky Hellspite, as he's known in the band, says he started collecting pinball machines and memorabilia in the '90s out of nostalgia: "[The machines] are the ultimate toy."
Unfortunately, Staltari's sold off some of his machines to pay the bills, whittling down a collection of about 28 to 6 (including one machine made famous as the one Tommy plays in the film adaptation of the Who's "Tommy").
He's kept around some the old ones, from the '50s, '60s, and '70s, that he couldn't bear to part with, such as a classic billiards-inspired machine.
Functioning machines aside, Staltari's collected about a dozen slabs of painted glass, which act as the scoreboard for the game, as well as old books on pinball machines and vintage fliers advertising the games. His fliers are from the 1950s to 1990s, and includes one of Elton John (another actor in "Tommy") promoting a line of pinball machines. If someone can't afford, or isn't willing to invest in a pinball machine, Staltari says, they'll go after a flier.
After spending so much time collecting the machines and related antiques, Staltari knows a thing or two about the games, especially the art behind them.
He smiles when he points out some almost conspiracy-theory-level stories (like people discreetly performing sexual acts in the crowd of one glass scoreboard). "It's just ... weird shit," he says.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.