Ricky Powell (The Rickster)
20 November 1961 to 1 February 2021
"A huge loss for the city [...]
Powell's official cause of death has not yet been released, though he's known to have suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He also had trouble with his heart. Ricky Powell was 59 years old [...]."
FOX 5 New York [FOX 5 News, 4 February 2021]
Ricky Powell's book "The Rickford Files" (from 2000) contains a photo of NYC-based artist Peter Max at a "Rock against Fur" concert, with the caption "Pop artist Peter Max at the Palladium [former concert hall in NYC] at the 'Rock Against Fur' benefit concert. Cool, very cool." [The Rickford Files, 2000]
One of the headliners at this concert was River Phoenix (1980s/90s superstar, actor, and animal rights vegan). This concert seems to have taken place on 18 February 1989 [Setlist.fm, 2023].
According to a Vegetarian Times interview from March 2010, Peter Max is also vegan.
Ricky starts his public access TV show "Rappin' with the Rickster" in summer of 1990 [OG Talk, 8 January 2020].
November 1990Ricky Powell had his own local (New York City) TV show called "Rappin' with the Rickster". In one episode, he interviews Adrock (Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys), Adrock's then wife (and actress) Ione Skye, and Cey Adams.
Ione Skye mentions that she has switched to a dairy-free vegetarian diet after reading "Diet for a New
America", a popular pro-vegetarian/vegan book at the time, written by John Robbins.At around 17:07 min, there's the following conversation:
Ricky: "And you're on a special diet now?"
Ione: "Oh, I just stopped eating dairy. I had already been a vegetarian since I was 15 [i.e. since ~1985]."
Ione: "I now I just stopped dairy because I read that book "Diet for a new America". So, after reading that I couldn't bear the thought of the horror [of the dairy industry]."
Ricky: "I hear you, man."
Ione: "Yeah. I know, you're inspiring. You're good ... you're good with your food."
Ione Skye is probably referring to the fact that Ricky Powell was a vegetarian or vegan himself and an advocate of animal rights. This interview with Ione Skye was filmed at the same hairdresser's that can be seen in the Beastie Boys' 1994 VHS tape "Sabotage".
Ricky Powell and Ione Skye in an episode of Rappin' with the Rickster (NYC)
The same episode of "Rappin' with the Rickster", immediately after the Ione Skye interview, also features an anti-fur protest by a group called "Activists for Animals". It starts at around 17:35 min.
Activists for Animals (NYC)
In Ricky's book "The Rickford Files" (see below, 2000), there is a photo of graffiti artist Seen (from NYC), with the caption: "Seen '96, East Bronx. [Graffiti writer] Zephyr arranged a bug-out session at the legendary Seen's Tattoo shop in the Bronx. I brought my video camera, hoping to capture some footage for my public access show [Rappin' with the Rickster]. Seen's artwork is colorful and dopelicious. We drove over to some old train tracks where he used to practice piecing. This old-school legend was a character with a voice and everything. But he scored big points with me 'cause of his love for his dog and animals altogether." (see photo below) [The Rickford Files, 2000]
Ricky Powell's first book, "Oh Snap! The Rap Photography of Ricky Powell" (1998), contains a dedication to "PETA" (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
"Word to veggie burger!"
Below you can see "PETA" being mentioned (third line from the bottom), and it says "Don't forget to appreciate and respect animals and Mother Nature".
June 1999In the foreword to Ricky Powell's 2000 book "The Rickford Files", TV producer and writer Sacha Jenkins writes: "ANIMALS ARE OUR FRIENDS. FURRY AND CUDDLY, RUGGED AND RAW, CUNNING, INTUITIVE. BLOODTHIRSTY EVEN - ALTHOUGH NOT REALLY - WHEN ONE CONSIDERS THE LAWS OF NATURE. AND PEOPLE, THESE DAYS, WONDER WHY THERE'S NO ORDER IN MOTHER NATURE'S MOTHERFUCKIN' 24-HOUR, SLEEP-DEPRIVED COURT: CORPORATE REIGN HAS FLOODED THE ORGANICALLY GREEN SCENES OF OUR (NOT RONALD MCDONALD'S) RAINFORESTS WITH A URINE-YELLOW, CHEMICALLY ENGINEERED, STOMACH- AND PSYCHE-DISSOLVING MOUNTAIN DEW. SHAME ON THE GREEDY ONES - THEIR HEIFER-SLAVES GRAZE AND DEFECATE IN NEWLY CLEARED, ONCE MINERAL-RICH SOUTH AMERICAN FIELDS OF CULTIVATED DEATH. VOLVIC, BRAIN-BUSTING MAD COW DISEASE LIVES! PEACE TO EVERTON 'BIG E' COLI WHO HAILS FROM PARTS UNKNOWN, BUT LIVES UPTOWN SOMEWHERE. Enter Ricky 'Rickford' Powell. [...]
And, oh yeah, he [Ricky Powell] loves animals, and hates humans who abuse them. You got a problem with that? No, I didn't think so, son." (see photo below) [The Rickford Files, 2000]
2000In January 2000, Ricky published his second photo book "The Rickford Files: Classic New York Photographs". You can currently (as of March 2023) view this book for free on archive.org (create an account and log in - it's free).
On the cover:
(model) Kirsty Hume, (actor) Laurence Fishburne (NYC, 1987),
Basquiat & Warhol (NYC, 1995), and Method Man (!)
This book also includes a photo of Chris Rock, and the caption reads: "Chris Rock. The best thing since the carob soy shake. I was at a Lenny Kravitz show. I was on one of my first assignments for [artist/director/photographer] Lynn Goldsmith. I was supposed to shoot [photograph] Lenny...This one I kept for myself."
At the end of the book, in the acknowledgments, Ricky Powell thanks, amongs others, "Joe's Pizza (Carmine Street)" [7 Carmine St, Greenwich Village, NYC - according to a TripAdvisor review from 2015, they have "the greatest VEGAN pizza".] and "PETA".
In 2004, Ricky published his (third) photo book "Frozade Moments: Classic Street Photography of Ricky Powell". Again ... if anyone has this book and could tell me if it contains any references to vegetarianism, veganism, animals, or animal rights, I would really appreciate it.
Flavor Flav and Biz Markie on the cover
2005In 2005, Ricky published his (fourth) photography book, titled "Public Access: Ricky Powell Photographs 1985-2005". Again ... if anyone has this book and could tell me if it contains any references to vegetarianism, veganism, animals, or animal rights, I would really appreciate it.
Ricky (photo from 1995) and an unknown dog on the cover
July 2010In a video by ughh.com (underground hip hop), you can see the Puma Clyde high-top Ricky Powell shoe [ughhdotcom, Blacastan & Ricky Powell - 'Ricky Powell: UGHH Cribs Episode & Interview By Blacastan', 20 July 2010, at ~3:10 min]. These don't seem to have been a regular model that Puma made and sold but rather a custom made shoe, made by Puma for Ricky Powell. At least two colourways, i.e. two pairs, seem to have existed (dark blue with green Puma stripes, and purple with red Puma stripes). It's not clear what the shoes' upper was made of, possibly suede.
The shoes say:
STREET PHOTOGRAPHY · NYC
There's also a picture of a dog (husky) on the tongue of the shoe, a picture that Ricky Powell used on some of his merchandise (baseball caps, wrist sweatbands, see 2022).
In the same video, you can also see Ricky's Converse Chucks "made out of hemp" (Ricky Powell says so in the video - and you can see the coarse texture in the photo below). These had a Ricky Powell signature embroidered on the tongue [ughhdotcom, 20 July 2010, at ~3:10 min].
Sometime in 2010In a video that says "copyright 2010" but that was posted to YouTube under the title "Everybody Street: Ricky Powell" in 2012, you can also see Ricky's custom-made Puma Clyde high-tops.
Ricky Powell had his a (presumably vegan) "falafel burrito" named after him in a local fast food restaurant: "The Lazy Hustler" (Ricky's nickname). The restaurant is called "Eva's", I think (see 2018).
I don't know from when this photo is. But I would guess, this is from 2010 very, roughly.
Around 2010I would guess that this photo of Ricky Powell feeding a squirrel is from around 2010.
Dedicated". This photo also was on a T-shirt (see 2012 below).
In a short documentary about Ricky Powell from 2012, Ricky says that he has been living in his small apartment in the West Village (Manhattan) since January 1991, a place without a kitchen (!), and that he just gets take out food [Monihan Monihan: "Ricky's Museum", 16 June 2012].
August 2012In an interview with Spine TV, Ricky Powell explicity mentions vegetarianism:
Ricky Powell: "Why am I a vegetarian? ... [puffing on an e-cigarette] For health reasons ... you know. If I'm gonna party hard, I can't be havin' no dead, like, animals in my body. Now, it's twofold. One, I'm an animal lover ... love animals ... and I don't like the way they're fuckin' bogarted in this life. I don't like that at all. You know, they're beautiful creatures. They're all chill, for the most part. I don't like that we just fuckin' go and bogart them like ... even seafood, like, you know ... fishermen going in the water and bringin' back fuckin' lobsters. They're just trying to live their life ... and then they put them on fuckin' display in a glass for, like, rich cornballs, and then they put 'em in a fuckin' pot and boil them to death. It's like ... It's disgusting, dude. ... I look good though, right?" [Spine TV, "RICKY", 29 August 2012, at ~5:30 min]
9:37 min]. Originally, the Puma "Clyde" was made from suede, but canvas versions do exist, and synthetic versions also exist, I think. But I'm not sure if synthetic suede versions exist. You can also see the custom-made Puma Ricky Powell high-tops and the Ricky Powell Converse Chucks mentioned above (2010).
At the beginning of the Spine TV video, Ricky is wearing Pony sneakers, but not his signature shoe - these Pony sneaker may not have been vegan either.
Ricky wearing the Ricky feeding squirrels T-shirt
"It's also gaining the trust of these little creatures [squirrels] ... that I like." Ricky Powell (at ~4:46 min)
"I'd like to live till 70, maybe 75, but that's it. Now, I don't know if I will make it because ... it's a jungle out here ... and you never know when you're gonna step off the curb ... and get hit my a food delivery dude going the wrong way [...]." (at ~8:50 min)
Also in August 2012, the website "Flea Market Funk" wrote: "Love him or hate him, Ricky Powell has been a New York City institution forever in Money Making Manhattan. If you were involved in the NYC music scene in the Village at some point, you ran into the Rickster and had a story. Street photographer, sneaker designer, artist, vegan [This seems to confirm that Ricky was leaning towards being vegan, or maybe he was vegan for a while.], TV show host, animal lover, and all around party guy Powell is profiled in this 10 minute video for Spine television [see above]. In this documentary Ricky speaks on a variety of topics. The day (or days) in the life of this Native New Yorker take us from parking lot to stoop to coffee shop to the inside of his apartment (which I heard was a sports page clipping museum). Along the way he chats about the past, present, and what the future holds in NYC, smokes a bowl (“nature’s candy”), being vegan [They are referring to the same video mentioned above, by Spine TV - it's also on Vimeo, not just YouTube, and it's posted on the Flea Market Funk website, Ricky does talk about being vegetarian but does not mention being vegan], part time pets, photography principles, New Jack Cornballs in his neighborhood, feeding squirrels in the park, his transistor radio [which he calls his Jewish boombox], and photographing Cindy Crawford in the ladies bathroom among other things[.] One topic Powell speaks on is the death of Adam Yauch, where he reflects on his past relationship with Yauch and the Beastie Boys. The respectful eulogy like comments on his past times with the band and how Yauch influenced him are in a way touching. It’s a side of Powell you rarely see, and gives you a new perspective on the persona of the man. Powell, now 50 [in August 2012], says that he wants to live until 70 or 75 (if he makes it that long), and feels like an outsider in his own city. The mature b-boy is still doing things his way to a Jazz soundtrack from his transistor radio tuned into WBGO and shows no signs of letting up. Ricky Powell is an NYC institution, and like I said earlier, love him or hate him, you still have to give it up for this lifelong NYC resident who has left his mark on photography as well as the Hip Hop world. The Rickster is still Rappin’ and preaching to these youngsters. New Jack Cornballs beware." [Flea Market Funk, 20 August 2012]
In October 2012, the "sportswear" company "Pony" came out with a Ricky Powell signature shoe (or colourway) which they called "Ricky Powell X Pony Slam Dunk". And this was a vegan shoe (see below).
"Kicks on Fire" write: "Pony is an American sportswear brand [...]. Established in Brooklyn, New York, the brand was most successful during the 1980’s and influenced by the emerging hip-hop culture of that time. [...]." [ Kicks on Fire 2023].
About the Ricky Powell sneaker, Kicks on Fire write: "It’s been a long time coming, but the Ricky Powell Capsule Collection is finally available [I'm not sure if there were actually other Ricky Powell signature shoes apart from the shoes shown here]. Included in the drop is this pair of Pony Slam Dunk sneakers, encompassing Powell’s artistic lifestyle and vibe. As an animal lover Powell opts for a vegan-friendly build, using Dark Denim Blue on the minimalistic upper. [The upper looks like it's canvas or actually denim or "jean" - looks more like canvas to me.] [...]. Powell’s signature “Do You” phrase has been printed on the inner lining [...]." [Kicks on Fire, 10 October 2012].
Ricky Powell x Pony Slam Dunk
I might be wrong, but this seems to be at a sneaker store called "Foot Patrol" in London (UK), with Ricky wearing the shoes:
"Sneaker Freaker" wrote: "[Ricky Powell:] From Frozade salesman and cool substitute teacher to capturing the likes of [Andy] Warhol, [Keith] Haring, the Beasties [Beastie Boys], Run DMC, PE [Public Enemy] and Sophia Coppola on camera, life's been a heck of a ride for Ricky Powell. A true NYC original whose photography captured street culture in its creative prime, it seems only fitting that the Rickster should pony-up with the Product Of New York. Simple yet poignant, these Powell x PONY Slam Dunks feature Ricky's signature on the tongue and his famous 'Do You' exaltation dotted throughout the lining. Harking back to an era of clean, uncluttered sneaker design, these vegan joints reflect Powell's life-long love of animals. [...]" [Sneaker Freaker, 10 October 2012]
A German sneaker website, "Sneakers Magazine", also mentioned that the shoe is "vegan friendly" and that they are made from blue canvas with a white rubber cap [Sneakers Magazine, 8 October 2012].
In a video titled "Time Pieces: Ricky Powell in NYC (Directed by Jason Goldwatch)", shot on Super 8, and posted to YouTube on 15 May 2013 by "Mass Appeal", you can see Ricky Powell strolling the streets of NYC in what look like Puma Clyde low-tops (at ~0:18 min) - and these are most commonly made with a suede upper [Mass Appeal, 15 May 2013].
1:57 min) [Mass Appeal, 15 May 2013].
November 2013There is a short (6:45 min) documentary about Ricky Powell by Dimitri Ellerington, titled "The Squirrel King", posted to Vimeo in November 2013. Ricky: "I like how they get psyched when they [squirrels] get a peanut [...]" [Ellerington, 2019].
Ricky feeding squirrels in NYC (still from "The Squirrel King")
In a video titled "Snaps: Ricky Powell", posted to YouTube by "300 Entertainment" on 9 June 2015, Ricky says (at around 0:47 min): "As far as my diet, I'm vegetarian, ... you know ... I don't eat meat 'cause I love animals ... and I have a general rule ... I don't eat anything that had eyeballs or feelings. I don't want nothin' to do with that." The video was "Shot by: Matt Westreitch and Mauricio Lopez".
August 2015In a video posted to YouTube in 2022, titled "Ricky Powell Rappin with the Rickster MCA Day 2015 Produced by Brian "Dwels" Nobili", you can see Ricky Powell with Glen E. Friedman at MCA Day at Littlefield (art space), 635 Sackett Street, in Brooklyn, NYC, on 8 August 2015.
Sometime in 2015 (summer)In a video titled "Ricky Powell Rappin With The Rickster Difara's Brooklyn Pt 1 Produced by Brian "Dwels" Nobili" - Ricky Powell says "Rappin' with the Rickster 2015" (at ~3:46 min) - you can see Ricky at "Di Fara" pizza restaurant in Brooklyn.
You can see Ricky eating pizza with cheese (I'm guessing real cheese; at ~7:11 min). You cannot actually see which pizza (or what in general) Ricky is eating, but a slice of the pizza in the foreground of the picture is put on the plate in front of Ricky. So, I'm guessing he was eating vegetarian (but non-vegan) pizza.
Ricky being served a slice of the pizza in the foreground. That is Ricky's arm, with the dark blue shirt (on the right side of the photo).
It's this place: Di Fara, 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NYC ... a review from 2010 says they have vegan pizza (without cheese): "My vegan pizza was so good that I ordered a second slice".
In a not-an-interview interview from 2016 (in San Francisco), you can see Ricky wear low-top suede Converse "one stars" (at around 2:20 min). In this same interview (at around 7:10 min), Ricky says that he was in Miami, Florida, recently, ordering pizza, which ended up not being very good, and that the "pizza pie was like a giant cheese sandwich". Ricky also mentions eating Mac'n'cheese "last night" (in San Francisco). So Ricky was definitely eating cheese and using leather at this time.
Ricky Powell in San Francisco (Dirty Donny TV)
Ricky Powell's fifth photo book "NYC Street Photography ... It's the Joint" (with Brian Nobili) was published in 2017. If anyone out there has this book and could tell me if it contains any reference to vegetarianism, veganism, and/or animals or animal rights, that would be awesome.
In 2017, Ricky also published his photo book "The Individualist". Again ... if anyone has this book and could tell me if it contains any references to vegetarianism, veganism, animals, or animal rights, I would really appreciate it.
On the cover: Kenny Scharf (painter), Ricky, Jam Master Jay & Darryl McDaniels (of Run DMC), Basquiat, Warhol, KRS-ONE, Chuck D, and Sandra G. Bernhard (actress).
Probably first part of 2018In a video title "Ricky Powell - A Walk & Talk With 'THE LAZY HUSTLER'" that was posted to YouTube on 16 October 2018 by "Chrome Industries Official", the man Ricky is talking to says "... and you got some old-school suede Converse on" (at ~3:27 min). You can see the shoes later in the video:
In the video's description its says: "Earlier this year  we met up with our old friend Ricky Powell at Eva's Kitchen in Greenwich Village. [...] After picking up his signature burrito (The Lazy Hustler) at Eva's we went on a 'walk and talk' with Ricky through Greenwich Village [...]". At the beginning of the video it also says:
New York City".
This seems to be the address: Eva's Kitchen, 11 W 8th St, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NYC ... Ricky says: "Here we are at Eva's, my spot since 1978." (at ~0:42 min). I think, he also says: "Hey, can I get tahini?"
Ricky with the "husky" hat, with "Do you" and "Ricky Powell" embroidery
In this video, you can also see them visiting the "PS41 School" (Greenwich Village), that Ricky attended, and apparently Adrock (Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys) and (in Ricky's class, class of 1972 - see the "Organic Grill" video, 2019) Adrock's older sister too. Ricky says: "[...] Adrock from the Beasties, he was a little skate rat. He used to be skateboarding in here." This was also where Ricky Powell had the first photo shoot with the Beastie Boys (in 1986). This is also near to where he took the photo of the Beastie Boys crossing the street (Adrock first, MCA last, with a skateboard) [Chrome Industries Official, Bryce Richardson/Matt Reyes, 16 October 2018].
In 2019, the show (video podcast) "OG Talk", centred around the vegan NYC (East Village) restaurant "Organic Grill", hosted Ricky Powell as a guest. One of the hosts (Eddie Brill) mentions that Ricky is vegan (at ~2:13 min), in Ricky's presence, which Ricky did not deny (or confirm):
Vlad Grinberg (the other host and co-owner of the restaurant): "But I think we should introduce Ricky."
Eddie Brill: "[...] [Ricky is a] photographer, videographer, substitute teacher, book writer, DJ, friend, vegan."
Ricky actually directly responds: "former dog walker".
The OG Talk hosts also did the same, i.e. say that the guest was vegan, in another episode of OG Talk, with Sick of it All drummer Armand Majidi who did declare that he was only vegetarian nowadays and not vegan anymore.
In this episode, Ricky also refers to his book "The Individualist" (see 2017, above) as "my latest book" (he also says that it's his sixth book), i.e. it seems to have been Ricky's last book and seems to have come out after his book "NYC Street Photography ...".
The Organic Grill & Ricky Powell video was posted to YouTube on 8 January 2020. However, a tweet by OG Grill from 31 October 2019 (see below) indicates that Ricky was at Organic Grill and the episode was filmed in October 2019 [OG Talk: RICKY POWELL: The Individualist aka Lazy Hustler became a photographer to piss off his ex girlfriend, 8 January 2020].
1 February 2021
Ricky Powell passed away.
This is the husky logo that was also on Ricky's custom made signature Puma sneakers (see 2010).
[rickypowell.com, viewed 25 March 2023]