The Kids of Kids: Speaking With Hamilton Harris and Peter Bici About Their New Documentary

By - Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

They were a family. A community and crew that always brought the energy, and always had each other’s back. The subjects of Kids, a group of skateboarders and miscreants from New York City, was comprised and conceived from very real relationships that exploded on the big screen. It’s a film that is often described as controversial, but could more accurately be referred to as real. The real tale of adolescents in a time, place and environment that was nothing if not unforgiving. The friendships they made and experiences they had were an escape from everything around them; what was happening in the city, the world, and most importantly, at home.

“I just knew I was trying to escape,” Hamilton Harris tells me over the phone. “And that skateboard for me, and for all of us, that shit was our escapism. We were trying to escape a whole lot of shit.”

That’s the story a new Kickstarter documentary, being produced by former cast members Hamilton Harris and Peter Bici, will aim to tell. Hamilton is the director of the planned documentary, and star of the blunt tutorial scene that takes place in Washington Square Park. Peter is a producer on the documentary and was an early star of the New York skate scene. They both skated for Zoo York and were pieces of the crew that originally inspired Larry Clark and Harmony Korine to write Kids.

Hamilton Harris by Ari Marcopoulos
Hamilton Harris by Ari Marcopoulos

Anyone who has seen the film is familiar with the happenings of that one hot summer day; the fights, the forties, the fucked up narrative. But that’s just one day in a lifetime of experiences. The elements that created that perfect storm of culture and adolescence had previously remained relatively unknown, until now. 

“For a long time it wasn’t something we talked about,” explains Peter. “If you would have asked me a few years ago, I would have been like no, I’m not doing it.”

“Especially not outside of the Family,” Adds Hamilton. “If you weren’t there and you weren’t family, don’t even ask.”

The stories are personal and many are difficult to tell, full of painful memories and what-could-have-beens. But they are also the stories of a unique moment in time. It was a volatile era in New York City, the birth of street skating and the heyday of graffiti were both running the streets. So, after years of remaining silent about the film, the cast and members of the original crew have come together to tell their story, about the kids of Kids.

“It takes time to reflect on that experience, the stuff we went through not just when we shot kids, but after,” says Hamilton. “We gotta reflect on the stuff before that that gives Kids context, and the whole reason Larry was intrigued by this crew of skateboarders.”

The goal of the documentary is to help provide that context to fans of the original film. According to Hamilton it will explore the things going on politically, globally, and socially. It will also address the personal lives of a crew of kids that came up together overnight, in an effort to help people realize why Larry Clark first took interest in the crew. In the end he thinks they will realize they weren’t all that different from everyone else. 

Justin Pierce - Photo by Ari Marcopoulos
Justin Pierce – Photo by Ari Marcopoulos

“I hope what people see when they watch this is themselves…when they see the true light of Justin’s experiences and why he chose to have the experiences he had, they can see themselves. Same with Harold, same with Javier, same with Peter, with everybody.”

Justin Pierce played Casper in the film, and went on to become a successful actor before tragically committing suicide 2000. Before that however, he was just another kid from the crew, one of the many high-energy personalities that would hang around and skate. He was family.

“You can’t write nothing like Casper. Nah yo, you can’t make that up. That was just that nigga yo, all day everyday.”

“And Harold too, he was a mountain of a person,” adds Peter. 

Harold may be remembered in the film as the kid wilding out at the pool, but to the people who had the opportunity to know him he was a force of nature. He made things happen just by being around, and inspired everyone he met to be better simply with the energy that he brought with him.

Javier Nunez & Harold Hunter (1994) by Gunars Elmuts
Javier Nunez & Harold Hunter (1994) by Gunars Elmuts

Memories of their two fallen friends were part of the reason why members of the Kids crew didn’t talk about the movie for a long time. No one wanted to drudge up how things used to be, only to remember that so much of the energy that used to be there is now missing. Things weren’t the same, and it affected the entire community. A piece of the motivation behind this documentary is to pay respect to the people they were and the vision they inspired.

“For me, a lot of the reason why I am doing this is for them,” Says Peter. “There was a part of me that didn’t want to do it, but there was a part that was like, ‘just do it for Harold and Justin,’ so I just went with my gut.”

Part of what makes the film Kids so remarkable is that it already resembles a documentary. Viewing it as an adolescent I was compelled to believe that this was how kids were really living in New York City. It was equal parts horrifying and inspiring. There was a certain unobtainable realness to Kids that made me thirsty for their independence and free spirit, to be able to live like that.

Like skateboarding for Hamilton and Peter, there were times when watching Kids was my escape. I think everyone has that need sometimes. It could be through reading, writing, painting, bombing, drugs, sex, rock and roll, or whatever, but everybody finds a way to escape. For the kids of Kids, skateboarding gave them not only an escape from their families and troubled lives, but provided them a new family of like-minded brothers and sisters that had their back. It’s that family that was really the focus of Larry’s vision. Hamilton Haris, Peter Bici, Javier Nunez, Harold Hunter and Justin Pierce., theirs were the real stories and energy that spawned the film, and the ones that will finally be shared in this documentary.

Please help these amazing individuals share their incredible stories by donating to their Kickstarter here. Peep the teaser trailer below, and remember, even the smallest amount helps.

Photo Gallery Credit (in order): Post-filming of Kids (1994) by Gunars Elmuts; Javier Nunez & Harold Hunter (1994) by Gunars Elmuts; Filming KIDS (1994) by Gunars Elmuts; Filming KIDS (1994) by Gunars Elmuts (2); Filming KIDS (1994) by Gunars Elmuts (3); Michael McNabb, Harmony Korine, & Hamilton Harris by Ari Marcopoulos; Danny Supasiriat & Peter Bici – Photo by Ari Marcopoulos; Harold Hunter by Ari Marcopoulos; Hamilton Harris by Ari Marcopoulos; Justin Pierce – Photo by Ari Marcopoulos.

Big shout out to all photographers for the pictures, as well as Caroline Rothstein for allowing us to use them.

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