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No Stopping The Show: Q&A with Filmmaker Yap Zazaboi

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Video//Audio//Q&A, Words: JR Valrey // Video: JR Valrey/Paul Billingsely// Audio: JR Valrey and Malcolm Marshall Posted: Oct 17, 2006

Editor's Note: Sideshows -- extreme cruising/stunt driving events -- have been a mainstay of the Oakland CA. street scene for almost twenty years, NAM contributor JR Valrey interviews indy filmaker Yap Zazaboi on his new DVD documenting the culture. Valrey, Marshall and Billingsley are editor's at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Many have heard of the Sideshows that were birthed in Oakland CA, but few have actually seen one. To witness a Sideshow upclose you have to be apart of the scene that makes them happen.

In the late 90's, Sideshow participants and the community reached a compromise. There were plans made to bring the spontaneous improvisational cruising/stunt driving/party to the Oakland Coliseum parking lot -- home of the Raiders, Warriors and A's.

There the 18-year-old and over drivers would sign a waiver, then be able to get in the Sideshow arena and show whether or not they have handle bars (can handle a car doing stunts like doughnuts, figure eights and Ghost ridin'), floss (show off) in their whips (cars) and be able to socialize in a safe organized space.

Councilwoman Desley Brooks endorsed and brokered the deal, but the rest of city government stonewalled it, pushing Sideshows back onto the residential streets of Oakland.

Inspite of police pressure Sideshows have not stopped, they've just gotten more daring and brazen with freeway escapades becoming more regular, and with police initiating high speed car chases.

City and state officials inacted laws that allowed for cars allegedly particpating in Sideshows to get impounded and making spectators subject to arrest as part of enhanced charges for people involved in Sideshow activity.

Over the past few weeks Sideshow related incidents of violence have made headlines but the media has no way of knowing what really happens at Sideshows. To get that inside look you'd have to buy the new Sydewayz DVD , produced by Oakland based independent filmmaker Yakpasua "Yap" Zazaboi.

I interviewed Yap outside of the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland where Sydewayz made it's big screen debute. It seemed like the whole town came out to support the premiere of the DVD documenting these infamous mobile parties and the politics that accompany them. A mini Sideshow broke out in front of the theater putting a stamp on a beautiful bay night. Yap's first Sydewayz DVD came out in 1999 and won numerous awards at film festivals.

JR: For the people that don't know what is a Sideshow?

Yap: For everybody who doesn't know a Sideshow encompasses several main factors in order to be even considered a Sideshow. Number 1: you got cars. Number 2: you got women and dudes getting back and forth at each other. And number 3: is it's about flossin' and having fun.

The DVD is the who, what, why, and when on the Sideshow. It's the only dvd documentary about Sideshows that you could actually take to different states, and it gives you the answer to that question you know? You really got to see it to know what it is. There is really no describing it, you got to feel it. So if you're scared to get out in the streets, or if your mama won't let you out, pick up the dvd, and feel what a Sideshow is. This is a documentary, this is not just footage of Sideshows and parties. All the footage was shot in Oakland, the home of the Sideshow.

This is a streaming MP4 video - you'll need Quicktime 6 or later to view it.

JR: How have the police responded to the Sydewayz DVD as well as the Sideshow movement which has been going on for almost two decades in Oakland?

Yap: I can't lie there's been some police that are more in tune with what is really going on in the streets than others. You're going to have some police that are dumbfounded when they see it. You know they don't want to accept anything that is coming out of the streets. The first thing that they think is that everybody is on some 'against the law' type of stuff, but then you got some police who claim that they've been out there, so they really understand the documentary a lot more than others. When we first put it out in '99, obviously we got a lot of police harassment. I was getting jacked (harrased or arrested) every single day. Every time I drove my Malibu out in East Oakland I was getting jacked. We came a long way, from lawsuits, to court cases dealing with abusive police, and all kinds of stuff.

JR: How did the Sideshows start? Richie Rich and 415 were the first to put it on record, with their song "Sideshow" in '88, what is the game (story) on that and how it was given to you?

(13m 28s, mp3, 12.3MB) Download File

Click to listen to "Sideshow" by Richie Rich and the 415

Yap: I heard from a lot of the older cats, they put it down to me. It started when I was about 5 years old. So this is in the mid-80's. But the way it was told to me it was basically about flossing. It was a way that the block celebrated, and everybody was coming out and showing what they've been doing, how they've been eating (how well they're doing financially), and Sideshows was the way they did it. Everybody came out with cars candy-painted up, with gold ones (rims) and all of that stuff, and just would come out and shine with everybody. Some people who had it like that, who threw some extra money into the motors and stuff, they would come out and do a little bit extra. But the way Richie Rich told it to me, donuts wasn't the biggest thing about the Sideshow back then, it was all about shining. And the people that started doing donuts were really the people that had the buckets (cheap cars). It was like -- it ain't no point in trying to keep that car in one piece, just go on and tear it up. So that was how I was told, and that's how people started doing donuts out at the Sideshow. Everybody still remembers Rich in that drop 50 (5.O Mustang) that he had in '89. They say that he used to tear it up.

JR: Can you tell the people what are some of the car tricks done in a Sideshow? I know Bay rap legend E-40 is rapping about 'ghostridin' the whip' on his hit single "Tell Me When To Go" and right now fools are standing on their cars 'ghostridin' the whip' while the passenger -- or no one -- is driving...

Yap: Before we get into that, there is something that I want to make real clear to a lot of people is that they don't even know where this whole terminology got famous from, "ghostridin' the whip." They got to look back. There was a Sideshow on 9-0 (90th Ave in East Oakland) I believe, and this wasn't even all that long ago but it was all over the news, and the news is the ones that dubbed it "they were ghostriding their vehicles", but what dude did, the police were out there jackin' people real tough, they say one of the young homies took a car, I don't know if it was his or not and I don't know the whole story...

JR: ... he put a brick on the gas peddle, jumped out of the car and his car rammed into a police car.

Yap: Right. It was never meant for anybody to actually do it for fun, they were real serious about that when first ghost rode in that car. It was all over the news. The news made a big spectacle of it. It started from somebody doing something real serious, and people kind of took it the wrong way. It wasn't meant for everybody to be joking around with. Dude was real serious abut that "ghostridin'", you know what I'm saying?

JR: I know that Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks has been supportive of the young people's agenda regarding the Sideshows -- that it should be legalized and not criminalized. What is her position, and how has she worked with you?

Yap: Desley Brooks is one of the City Council members in Oakland, she was definitely a big part in trying to get a legitimate venue for the Sideshow. We're working with her and some other officials in the City of Oakland, trying to get a legitimate event going on, and trying to take it up out of the neighborhoods of Oakland. She was a cornerstone in that whole thing. She got a lot of stuff developed, all the way to the point where it was on paper. We had insurance carriers for it and everything. All of that is still on the minds of people. So it's not something that we're going to forget about. We're just going to keep it movin'.

Related Audio

(5m 13s, mp3,3.59MB) Download File

Sideshow DVD Review by JR

(5m 13s, mp3,3.59MB) Download File

Street interviews on the Sideshow by JR

Check out more audio at Block Report Radio

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