Throwback Thursday: "The Straight-Faced Revs and Cost" in the NY Times 1993
For this week’s Throwback Thursday post we take a look back at a New York Times article on Revs and Cost from nearly 20 years ago. This tag team was not only two of the most prolific graffiti writers in the history of New York but also two of the most innovative. A scan of the article was posted in the New York City thread in the Writers Forum by nycisdead106. Click the image below to view larger or scroll down to read the text from the article.
The Straight-Faced Revs and Cost
By Michael Cooper
Published: January 03, 1993
REVS and Cost — two men whose nicknames, printed on signs all over Manhattan from the Battery to 96th Street, have puzzled New Yorkers for a year — are as enigmatic as their posters.
The signs, with cryptic messages like “Who killed Revs” and “Hello my name is Cost,” first appeared almost a year ago in SoHo, and soon spread to St. Marks Place, Sheridan Square, Lincoln Center and points north.
In a recent interview in Washington Square Park, the two spoke on condition that they be identified only by their nicknames. They kept secret even their ages — they appear to be in their mid-20’s — and the neighborhoods where they lived.
“We want people to say, ‘What the hell is going on?’ ” said Cost, who is unemployed and was wearing jeans, high-top sneakers, a red baseball cap over his close-cut black hair and headphones around his neck.
So, what is going on? “There is no direct answer,” Cost said, smirking. “Once you’ve figured us out, game over. If you could give us the meaning of life, I’d give you the meaning of us.”
Revs, his hair short and blond, wore an Army-style field jacket, faded jeans and a pair of battered canvas sneakers. He works in an office by day and goes on postering missions, as he called them, by night.
“Real art is not hanging in the Louvre,” Revs said morosely. “It’s in the gutter.”
Revs and Cost met several years ago when they were both writing graffiti on buildings and walls in the city. Cost got his name from the tag that he was spray-painting. The two met again a year ago, only to discover that each was wheat-pasting posters with his name around the city, using a mixture of flour and water.
Revs said he adopted his name about a year ago, after almost jumping off the Manhattan Bridge late one night. “Revs is short for Revs Suicide,” he said, adding that it stands for many things but declining to elaborate. “I just walked down from the bridge, and ever since that day, I’ve known what to do.”
Cost said: “We both started the campaign by ourselves. I was doing mine, and he was doing his.”
Revs and Cost, aware that their signs were arousing curiosity around the city, began putting a telephone number on them. “I like to be incognito, but we have to have some way of contacting the public,” Cost explained.
Those who expect to be enlightened over the phone will be disappointed. On an answering machine, the voice of a woman who calls herself “the infamous grandma of graff” (short for graffiti, Revs said), says: “My intuition tells me that you’re asking yourselves who are Revs and Cost and what are they doing? What is it? What does it mean? What does it mean? What does it mean?”
Revs and Cost boasted about the calls. “We get 80 calls a day,” Cost said. “We’ve gotten a marriage proposal on there.”
“Was it the anti-Cost?” Revs asked his partner. “That chick?”
Revs and Cost warned that the posters are merely the first phase of a campaign that would “tear the city to pieces and rebuild it,” Revs said.
“It’s starting out as kind of abstract,” Revs added mysteriously, “but soon, the pieces are going to form a clear picture.”