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Bud Bundy, Original Gangsta 

David Faustino parlayed his Married ... With Children fame into a hugely influential hip-hop party. Now he wants back into the scene.

Thursday, Dec 1 2011
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See also "Bud Bundy's Rap Career?!"

It's 4 on a recent Friday afternoon, and David Faustino is chillaxin' as hard as he can. The former Married ... With Children star sits on a beach chair in his West Hollywood garage, just off the Sunset Strip. It's quitting time somewhere, and between pot-smoking sessions, he and his buddies are sipping vodka-and-sodas and smoking cigarettes.

On the iconic show, Faustino played Bud Bundy, Christina Applegate's horny younger brother. He still hangs with other kid actors of his generation, such as Seth Green, for whom he's often mistaken. Then there's Faustino's buddy Corin Nemec — he played the title character from '90s sitcom Parker Lewis Can't Lose — who painted the graffiti-style murals in Faustino's garage. "Platinum-colored splooge" is how Faustino describes one of the designs.

click to flip through (5) PHOTO BY KEVIN SCANLON - David Faustino
 

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Clad today in a straw fedora, sleeveless T-shirt and camo shorts, Faustino is immediately recognizable as Bud Bundy and, at 5 feet, 3 inches tall, approximately the same size. "You dunkin' yet?" his neighbor once sardonically asked him. But he's charming, and his friends attest to his ever-sunny disposition, which extends to discussions of his vanity. As he explains, he usually wears sunglasses in public, except when he needs an ego boost and wants to be recognized.

This, apparently, is one of those times. A bright green, convertible Hollywood Sightseeing tour bus — crammed with tourists from spots as far-flung as Serbia — pulls up in front of the garage. Even if not obviously starstruck, they're certainly curious.

Where some celebs might grab a nine iron — or at least retreat inside — Faustino approaches the vehicle and hobnobs with the crowd. He trades jokes with the afro-wearing driver and poses for photos. He's more than happy to indulge the curious, he notes upon his return; at least this guy didn't attempt to summon Faustino from inside by crooning the Married ... With Children theme song, as another driver did.

"I'm addicted to the fame," Faustino admits. "I'm addicted to the attention."

Now 37, he'll forever be associated with his most famous role, and folks likely will never stop asking him if he slept with Applegate. ("I don't kiss and tell," he tells them. "Keep that one a mystery.") But he's not exactly trying to shake his past; a framed photo of Bud-era Faustino hangs above his staircase, "just in case anybody forgets who built this place."

He was briefly married in the mid-aughts to actress Andrea Elmer, but his current bachelor lifestyle is reflected in the decor of his roomy, comfortable pad, which includes a sketch of a topless girl in the living room. He spends much of his time recording in his professional-quality studio downstairs. His boutique record label, Old Scratch, has signed Oregon rapper Patience Price, and Faustino and his partner are dead serious about pushing his career, enlisting a lawyer and even a marketing guy for the task. And that's not all: Faustino raps himself.

The fact always seems to surprise people, but Faustino has serious hip-hop credibility. He's actually an influential figure in the history of West Coast rap, as responsible as anyone for bringing a then-niche genre to the masses here. He co-founded an early-'90s Sunset Strip party called Balistyx, which was frequented by an absolute who's-who of hip-hop stars and featured performances by such cutting-edge artists as N.W.A and KRS-One. The Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am got his start there. "[Faustino] had a big influence. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for his club," will.i.am says. He credits his first record contract to his freestyle battle rap performances there.

Faustino has been through a lot since his Bud Bundy years. He opened and closed a marijuana dispensary, spent a night in a Florida jail after a pot arrest and endured the death of his father, who keeled over while having sex. Although he longs to star in a hit series, Faustino's career has seen a recent boom, doing voice-over work for cartoons and T-Mobile commercials.

But hip-hop remains his great passion, and on the 20th anniversary of Balistyx's launch, he and the party's other denizens took a stroll down memory lane. Two decades after the fact, folks can't contain their reverence for this event, which, they say, helped bring hip-hop into the mainstream. Kicking off in 1991, the party unfolded in a unique time in L.A.'s racial history, pre-riots, when hardcore rappers kicked it with pint-sized white kids dressed like gangstas.

"Dave looked like he was in N.W.A but white and short," says Nic Adler, who co-founded Balistyx with Faustino and two other partners, and nowadays runs The Roxy. "It was so colorless, this merge between black and white. It was the golden age where you could be whoever you wanted, and it didn't matter."

Balistyx was originally held at Whisky a Go Go, the glam-metal outpost owned by Sunset Strip magnate and Grammy-winning producer Lou Adler. Adler helped throw the Monterey Pop Festival, and he sits next to Jack Nicholson at Lakers games. But every Thursday night he allowed his teenage son, Nic — whose mother is Bond Girl Britt Ekland — and his friends their time to shine.

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