Theories: Chris Reyes & Face Value Zine

[6 Oct 2017]

Intro/Questions: Lino Gonzalez

Face Value is a new zine project from life long New Jersey BMX rider and Rodeo Peanut founder Chris Reyes. The zine focuses on raw street photography from the Philadelphia area. I have known Chris for a long time and have traveled many miles with him. He is never afraid to speak his mind or crack a quick joke. I asked Chris some questions for our latest “Theories” article to supplement the zine which is now available in our online shop.

-Your history in BMX goes back quite far. Your from Metuchen, NJ correct? How was the scene there growing up?

I started bmxing in 97ish. I had a chrome dyno air with black trispoke GT mags. That bike got stolen no longer than a year later and I ended up with a taiwanese Hoffman Taj, and that’s when things got hot and heavy. Metuchen was small, but had some spots. It’s like a small city, it wasn’t some backwoods town where you had to ride like 12 miles thru grass to get to the nearest ledge. We had a small industrial park with tons of banks, small banks to ledges/curbs, there was small ledges all over town and maybe even a wall ride if i remember correctly. I was also lucky enough to be a close train ride away from manhattan  and new brunswick, which had the real spots. Those cities are where I met a lot of people in bmx and probably would not have held onto bmx for so long if it wasn’t for those cities/people. The scene we had in NJ was tight, I remember meeting up with Jared and our soon to be crew for the first time ever during a new brunswick street session with probably close to 25 other people. I heard about this street session on AOL and next thing you know we’re eating grease trucks sandwiches and getting chased by cops. I guess its the same shit except now we’re all on instagram. It’s sick how you can make life long friends from something like this tho.

-The Jolly’s bank to ledge and the New Brunswick Black Rail are two spots that come to mind when I think of riding with you. Are you fond of those spots or any others in the area?

I loved those spots more than anything else back in the day. I couldn’t go a day without grinding that rail. It was an obsession we all had with that thing. Its insane. Jolly’s was amazing too, it wasn’t as close to us as the black rail, but you better believe we were there draining our car batteries with our headlights pointed at that shit on any given night.  That part of NJ had so many spots, so many classic spots that we even saw when we were younger in older videos like DQYDJ and Grizzle, we would find them and be hyped and they became staples for us. New Brunswick was by far my favorite place to ride, it had everything and you didn’t have to drive. Just the ability to pedal from spot to spot and not sit in traffic made that very appealing to me.

-On to the zine… If someone were to ask, what would be the “artist statement” for the Face Value zine?

The zine is focused on street photography, mainly portraiture. It ranges from drug addicts and strays to young kids and cops to  a few of my close friends. I love the idea of documenting the streets and showcasing its true grit, and after compiling and sitting on a few photos of my own I decided to put em into print. The zines are printed in Philly and hand numbered/stamped. This is the first issue in the series and expect  to see more in the near future.

-What camera or cameras were used to shoot the zine? Also what type of film?

I have a few different cameras that are in constant rotation. If I’m going out shooting I will usually have an SLR on me- either a canon f1 or canon eos a2. I will always have a point n shoot in my pocket as well. In my f1, I usually have ektar 100 film. Olympus stylus or Yashica t5 will have anything from tmax400 to portra 400 or 800 even. People always give me expired rolls of film too. I will use almost anything, but the ones i mentioned are my favorites.

-Philly can get a bit dicey in the streets and a lot of the photos in the zine are up close and personal shots. Did you end up getting into any uncomfortable situations while shooting?

There were a few uncomfortable situations. 99% of the time I am out alone. There have been a few times where I have felt cornered and had to leave the situation asap. I know my gear would mean nothing to them after they saw no digital screen on the body and know some shots just aren’t worth it. Philly is grimy and truth is I have been lucky. I look at street photography like street riding, you know from the start what you’re getting yourself into.

-I mentioned this to you before, but I particularly like the two page spread photo of the Cop on the dirt bike. That photo looks like its from some 70’s movie. What was happening there?

It was a few blocks away from home. I saw smoke from our street and decided to ride up there. As soon as I got there the cop sped off on his motorcycle from the side street where the fire was. I dont know why hes still dressed like its the 70s, maybe the cops in kensington haven’t updated their uniforms/motorcycle gear yet hahah.

-Some may not know this but you are a very early member of Rodeo Peanut. Can you explain how that came about?

Yea. Me, Jared, Alfredo and Brian Tunney were among the originals to start prankin pro bmxers. It was all fun and games and mostly jokes, we never hated anyone personally. I came up with the name in art class in high school by combining a coffee brand and a popular peanut brand. Long story short, that dumb ass name stuck since 2001. We would go on trips together and smoke weed and prank call people. They wouldn’t even answer and we would be laughing our asses off. Fast forward to the age of instagram and we got a lot more to make fun of.

-A couple years a go I was in LA and someone pointed out that Rodeo Peanut was  the biggest East Coast BMX “media” outlet and they were bummed it was based on making jokes or what some would consider negativity. I thought that observation was hilarious, your thoughts on that?

We are def making jokes. We def are negative towards how wack some shit in bmx is. I’m speaking for myself at least. But at the end of the day you can’t take that too seriously. Its just bmx and half the guys that were roasted on the instagram I have never even met/dont even know. You cant deny it, theres a big difference between real street riding and park riders riding street. We may be haters and negative, but we’re not that bad.

-Anyone ever directly threaten you over a Rodeo Peanut joke?

Yea of course. it usually always comes back to me for some reason hahahha. Im not gonna name names. We all know who made all the IG videos for rodeo peanut and now look at him. Im pretty sure he never caught any heat, he should be gettin roasted now for the videos he be making. I dont give a shit either. most of the riders names I know these days are people who I am actually friends with. I have never made a video for the rodeo peanut IG and probably never will. I will sell you a rodeo peanut shirt tho, so if you’re interested get at me.

-Are You into any conspiracy theories?

Yea, I’m into this theory that bmx/print/video making has been bastardized by the internet. I still love the internet tho. peace out and thank you Lino and 90 East.


Thanks Chris