The current quarantine has allowed celebrities and their fans to interact with each other in cool and unusual ways. One example is the local DIY band Dwayne and the Rock Hard Johnsons and Tony Hawk.
The former pro skateboarder and endorser of hit video games is the inspiration for the band's aptly titled blistering two-minute track "Tony Hawk!!" off of last year's release Blue. Our own Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen described the EP as an "adrenaline-fueled acid trip."
On April 16, the trio, who include guitarist Dean Simpson and Max Mulmed on drums, posted a video taken by Instagram user @jude_hazlett of them performing the song at the Cheba Hut Sahara in Las Vegas on February 16 with the bands Yipee! and Neutral Shirt. It caught the attention of Hawk (hashtags work, guys), who commented on the post.
"I liked this, then heard the lyrics," he wrote. "Now I’m confused ... but honored?"
The band explains in the YouTube description of the song's video that the song is about lead singer and bassist Ben Schifano wanting to have choke sex with Tony Hawk. Here are the complete lyrics of the song, in case there were any doubts:
I'd like a skater to choke me out
Yes! I'd like a skater to fucking choke me out
His hands on my throat will get me close
His hands on my throat will get me fucking close and,
I won't call him daddy no I'll call him TONY HAWK
And I won't say daddy it's TONY HAWK
Schifano, who loved the video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 growing up, explains that the inspiration for the song came from a bass riff he was working on that sounded "skate as fuck." He had been wanting to write something about being bisexual, so he used the creative moment to pen lyrics exploring that. Keeping in line with the skate punk sound he was working on, he thought he would write about a hypothetical sexual encounter with the world's most famous skateboarder.
"[The song] became a coy tongue-in-cheek way of writing a song about being into men," he says. "From seeing people comment on it, a lot of people take it as silly, dumb, and fun, which I don't mind."
Schifano says "Tony Hawk!!" is part of a larger theme for the band, which is emasculating the macho aspects of pop culture, whether it's the skateboarding lifestyle or Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, the muscle-bound movie star referenced in the band's name.
To emphasize the good intentions behind the song, the band's Instagram account replied to Hawk as anyone acknowledged by the star would — in all caps.
"AHH!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR LISTENING TONY HAWK!!! AND DON'T WORRY, WE MEAN IT RESPECTFULLY," they wrote.
"I never thought in my head, 'What would Tony Hawk think of this?'" says Schifano. "That never was a process for me. He responded in the best way I could expect him to."
Schifano has been hesitant to send a DM to Hawk to clarify his response (Phoenix New Times has reached out to the skater's team for comment), but he's been in a great mood since he responded to the video, making 2020 a year to remember for Dwayne and the Rock Hard Johnsons for all the right reasons.
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.