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Two-thirty a.m., the steps outside the Ruby. A sweaty rush of clubgoers overflows onto the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Among the sea of smeared lipstick and wilted liberty spikes is artist Tony Acosta, chatting up an Art Center student he met earlier in the evening. Acosta mentions that he ran out of acrylic paint while working on his latest project, so he substituted oil. “Dude, you’re not supposed to do that,” says the art student in an eye-rolling kind of voice. “I don’t care,” replies Acosta. “I’ll use dirt and food coloring if I have to. I believe in art by any means necessary.”
Which, it turns out, is the slogan of this renegade slasher, as in skateboarder/ fantasy makeup artist/ painter. “One day I’ll be doing body makeup on a photo shoot or film, the next day painting somebody’s surfboard, and later that evening bombing telephone poles with my guerrilla art,” says Acosta, who hasn’t been deterred from such midnight runs despite being arrested for tagging while a teenager. These days, he’s found a new canvas: fabric.Grace Chan (Dragon) wears aMechgod hand-painted T-shirtand cuff with an Alala ruffleskirt; Nash Roussel is in a Mechgod hand-painted hat andhand-painted T-shirt; Dara Waxman wears a Mechgod hand-painted vintage skirt with a hand-painted halter T-shirt; acrylic on cardboard panels by Tony Acosta.
Acosta is from the DIY school of clothing design. It’s all about the low-tech approach — such as using scissors and safety pins, not a needle and thread — for the South Gate native, who creates under the moniker Mechgod. “It’s because I love robots. I’m not saying I’m God in any way,” he explains. The name is an abbreviation of MechaGodzilla, the nuts-and-bolts, laser-eye-beamed enemy of Godzilla. Unlike MechaGodzilla, Mechgod does not want to conquer the Earth; he wants to create.
“I’d always wanted to do a line of clothing, but didn’t pursue it because I thought I’d need a big chunk of change,” says Acosta. At the urging of a friend, he toyed around with painting on clothes: He camouflaged stained T-shirts with cartoon creatures as well as alpha-bubbled expressions such as “Jesus Is Dope” and personalized old button-down oxfords with battling cyborgs.
After exhausting his own reserve of baseball caps and vintage ties, Acosta tried his hand at girls’ clothes — created from the castoffs of his girlfriend. He made minimasterpieces such as slash-back shirts emblazoned with sketches of diaper-clad cuties and the Ramones song title “Beat on the Brat,” bondage skirts adorned with crying robot teddy bears and the maxim “Weeping for Humanity,” and bikini bottoms gone teasingly risquÃ© with the motto “Fresh Meat.” From the profits, he bought new materials — blank sweatshirts and tees on which he hand-paints unique works. And so goes his business plan.Tony Acosta wears a Mechgod hand-painted T-shirt; Grace Chan (Dragon) is in a Mechgod hand-painted T-shirt and sock glove with an Alala cotton skirt; Dara Waxman wears a Mechgod hand- painted hoodie and cottonskirt; acrylic on cardboard panel by Tony Acosta.
Acosta’s line appeals to consumers from various walks of life, no doubt due in part to how he’s connected Mechgod to the world at large. Slogans tackling issues profound and whimsical are emblazoned on pieces — “Peace in the Middle East”; “Empty, Lifeless, Cold: I’m Stuck in Robot Mode.” Industry big shots and skate punks alike snatch up his individually tagged baseball caps. Thirtysomething casual-ites wear his girlie tees with their Seven jeans, while Kelly Osbourne incorporates Mechgod pieces into her stage wear.
Within the year, Acosta plans to expand his design concepts to the smallest fashionistas through the launch of a silk-screened line of onesies and toddler tees under the company name Baby Clones. Perhaps the ever-growing Mechgod will end up ruling the world after all.
Mechgod is available at Blest Boutique, 1634 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 467-0191.