Castro--just Castro--a 34-year-old clothing and jewelry designer, came to Chicago from Ohio in 2003. Though he prefers to take custom orders, you can find some of his designs at Robin Richman and Art Effect.
Liz Amrstrong: Your shirt looks complicated. Did you make it?
Castro: Originally I made the applique and put it on a shirt and I decided that was cool. Then I had an appointment with Barneys and they said they loved it but it was too literal and could I make it more abstract? My feelings was hurt. But I cut out the applique and sewed it sideways on a shirt. And I was dyeing fabric one day and threw the shirt in too and made it all black. Then I understood what Barneys was trying to tell me. You can't really tell what it is, but you're interested in asking the person what's really going on there.
LA: What is really going on there?
C: I was going to Filter and I was thinking, I need to be inspired by something. I saw this girl with a book of African masks, kinds I've never seen before, and I was like, bang, I got it. It's just an African mask. I thought he was interesting 'cause he had buckteeth. You know they're carving them from people in the village. They must've seen this goofy lookin' dude and thought, I'm gonna carve that motherfucker.
LA: Why are you wearing a neck scarf on your head?
C: Oh, this is my Walter Van Beirendonck. I'm obsessed. When someone wears him, they stick out like thumbs. And everyone wears 'em around the neck. When I'm rolling on my bike I just pull it down a little and my ears are covered. I can't wear hats anymore. My hair is too big.
LA: You made your necklace too, right?
C: It's a bunch of skulls from France. You know skulls are hot. I got the idea from back in the crack days--you really started seeing crack in my neighborhood in 1995--people had on like 30 medallions and we was all impressed. When they walked you'd hear the ching-ching sound. We were like, damn, he's the man, but we didn't realize it was just 'cause they were cheap. Everyone was buying this hollow jewelry from Detroit. It was big. I want to do big shit. I'm into the ching-ching sound.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Saverio Truglia.