Shea Serrano is the Jawn Claude Van Damme of kicking it on eBay
The bestselling author on digging up rare & cherished gems
Shea Serrano — he’s a proud San Antonio native who wears shorts & slides w/ his socks hoisted 2 the d*mn kneecaps ALL DAY and still finds time to rain No. 1 New York Times Bestselling books down on the populace, such as Basketball (And Other Things), Movies (And Other Things) and The Rap Year Book, which became a 6-part documentary on AMC … Shea also co-hosts the new podcast The Connect w/ Jason Concepcion, where they UNEARTH PROFOUND HIDDEN LINKS between movies … and he’s devoted tens of thousands of $$$ to beautiful things like helping undocumented students pay off student debt; helping ppl on Twitter pay rent; and supporting womens’ centers & antiracist community groups across the country…
EVEN DOPER THAN ALL THAT, THOUGH? Shea has been known to PUT IN WORK on arcane eBay hunts, burrowing MILES DEEP into the search results and copping COOL/WEIRD/DORKY S**T he’s been obsessed with his whole life …
Since Blackbird Spyplane is the No. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon” on dope under-the-radar joints, we asked him to tell us about a unique & cherished possession from “The Serrano Vault”… He replied with zero hesitation: “I’m gonna go with my Bloodsport poster,” so we hit him up on the encrypted SpyPhone to get the intel …
Blackbird Spyplane: Yr a big eBay boi — before we get to the Bloodsport poster, what kinds of things do u look for online?
Shea Serrano: “For me eBay’s similar to when you’re on Netflix, just scrolling through titles without any intention of watching anything in particular — it almost becomes a ritual in itself. So I might put in a combination of words, like, I don’t know, ‘Last Action Hero Action Figure’, and several pages will pop up and it may not be what I was looking for, but then I’m, like, ‘Oh shit, this is an autographed press photo they sent out, now I need that.’
“My three main categories are weird sports stuff, weird movie stuff and weird rap stuff. Basically, it’s fun to root around for stuff you grew up caring deeply about — except now you’re not poor anymore, which is awesome, so you can actually buy it.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I think that’s really common, at least among ppl who grew up without a lot of dough — I remember loving the Bordeaux 7s when I was 11, which aren’t even most ppl’s favorite Jordan, but they cost way more than my parents were going to spend. I never forgot about them, and finally copped a pair on eBay like 20 years later.
Shea Serrano: “Yeah, as far as Jordans, for me it was the 11s — the Concords. I wanted them in high school, and my parents couldn’t afford them, but it was the coolest shoe I’d ever seen. A couple years ago my wife Larami found them on StockX and got them for me. The thing was, I wanted the actual ones that came out in 1998 — I didn’t want a reissue.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Do u keep them on ice? I’ve roasted & toasted the Bordeaux…
Shea Serrano: “These went straight up onto my wall. I’ve never even worn them. But most things I collect, it’s rarely anything with any real value for anyone else. The other day I was talking to Arturo Torres, the illustrator on my books, about how much I like Todd McFarlane. It’s not even that I like his style of art or the character of Spawn that much. It’s more that McFarlane built this whole thing out of nothing — he had that ‘bet on yourself’ mentality. Noah Callahan-Bever did an interview with him for Complex that I watch every 2 weeks because it’s just so inspiring to hear him talk about taking that gamble on himself.
“So I bought a certified and graded 1st issue of Spawn autographed by McFarlane, and I think I paid $230 — which is not a ton of money, compared to, like, the first appearance of the Hulk and Wolverine, where you’re talking about $70,000 comics. But I’m not chasing those.”
“For sports, a perfect example is, last year, Larami found a commemorative Spurs medallion they issued when San Antonio won the championship in 1999 — it’s worth, like, $40 but it’s one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever gotten. I wanted that coin for years.”
Blackbird Spyplane: All right, so out of all these cherished joints, the one u decided to serenade above all the others is yr Bloodsport poster. What’s the story?
Shea Serrano: “So Bloodsport is one of my favorite movies of all time, and something I have a very sentimental connection to. One of the first memories I have of going to the movies is when Kickboxer came out. I was 8 years old, and I have five uncles on my mom’s side who raised me, and the youngest one, Uncle Brian, took me to the theater to see Kickboxer.”
Blackbird Spyplane: At 8 years old ?!
Shea Serrano: “It was the best thing I’d ever seen. It pulled me all the way in, and from that moment forward, I was like, ‘Jean Claude Van Damme is my guy.’ I didn’t even know his name, but that was my guy, and now I’m trying to watch everything he’s in. So Uncle Brian says, ‘Check out Bloodsport,’ and we rent it, and I thought it was even better. I loved the set up of it: They’re having a tournament to decide the best fighter in the world. Even if you’re 8 years old, you understand that.”
Blackbird Spyplane: How did you get yr hands on the poster?
Shea Serrano: “I always wanted one for my bedroom, and I never got one — so when I got my office, it was one of the first things I set out to get. I wound up just ordering one from this kid online who prints them out at home, rolls them up in a tube and sends them to you. He charged me $15, and then I spent $400 on a custom frame.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Hold up this s**t is a repro?? You didn’t track down the rare Hollywood-memorabilia-plug and cop an original?!
Shea Serrano: “I didn’t even know that was a thing you could do. But if I came across an original today I’d 100% buy it.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen a Van Damme movie — I distinctly remember not being allowed to see Bloodsport because of the violence, and I never went back to check it out. What did you love so much about him?
Shea Serrano: “He was this handsome, muscular dude who says cool shit. Like, I understand that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were more iconic. In the ‘80s alone they had 18 or 19 action movies between them and they reformatted what the action-movie star looked like. Before them it looked like Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, very Western. Then they show up and now we want the biggest, most muscular dudes on earth. Like, there’s a scene in Commando where Arnold Schwarzenegger jumps out of an airplane, falls 300 feet, and just gets up and walks away. And we’re just like, ok, cool, that’s what he does!
“Someone like Bruce Willis, he reformatted what the action star was gonna look like in his own way, because he’s much smaller, he doesn’t want to be a hero, and he gets hurt — the most memorable scene in Die Hard is him pulling glass out of his feet. If that happened in a Stallone or Schwarzenegger movie it would be about how much it didn’t hurt.
“So that’s the top level, and below them you have guys like Van Damme and Steven Segal, but Van Damme had this crazy stretch where he does Bloodsport in ‘88, then Cyborg, Kickboxer, Lionheart, Death Warrant, Universal Soldier, Hard Target, Timecop — it’s this crazy block of movies where he’s karate-kicking everybody in the face, and he develops his signature move, which is doing the splits, so you start looking for that.
“I also always thought he was more handsome than Stallone and Schwarzenegger, like, he looked more like someone I wanted to look like, he wasn’t crazy muscular like Stallone in Rocky 4, he looked more like Brad Pitt in Fight Club: something relatively more attainable — cooler in all the ways I wanted to be cool.”
-The full “Blackbird Spyplane Interview” archive — featuring Jerry Seinfeld, André 3000, Nathan Fielder, Rashida Jones, Emily Bode, Ezra Koenig, Online Ceramics and more — is here.
-Shea Serrano is on Twitter here and Instagram here
-You can buy his books from yr local bookseller or thru Bookshop dot org, here
-Listen to his movies-podcast with Jason Concepcion, The Connect, here
-Shea also “linked and built” with our friends at Throwing Fits last week (we hit him up in a total coincidence before we knew about that ep because “great paradigm-shifting media-disrupting minds think alike,” baby)