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The name caught on quickly with their friends. They started writing it on the top of their boards in white paint. On their T-shirts, scrawled in black marker. The Wetboys.
When a bunch of the Arizona guys — skaters like Don Naughty and Twiggs — migrated to Denver, the local scene began buzzing about the Wetboys. It had as much to do with their style as their ability. There was something loose about it. Free. They seemed less concerned with mastering the stock skate tricks of the day laid out by professionals in videos and magazines than they were with discovering their own quirky maneuvers and doing them well. So well that acquaintances began referring to themselves as Wetboys. Kids at the skatepark began writing the Wetboys name on their boards. Dudes no one had ever met before began flashing the hand signal, touching the tips of their thumb and index finger in a circle while spreading the other three fingers to make a W and a B. Their gang sign.
Something had to be done to protect the Wetboys. They needed an initiation rite — an act that would brand a dude for life. Break a beer bottle over your head? Jump off a roof? Get jumped? It all seemed too easy for a bunch of skaters who take bone-crunching slams every day. Moreover, it all seemed too serious, too adult, and not at all in the proper spirit. They wanted something that would truly separate the men from the Wetboys.
And that's when it came to them. Since their name was inspired by a gay porn ad, Saba explains, "I think we subconsciously put it together and thought, 'You've got to kiss a Wetboy.'"
It's past midnight, and the party is starting to pick up as more Wetboys arrive, filling Sweets's house in Five Points with smoke and laughter. Saba is cradled in the bend of an elbow-shaped couch, remembering: "A lot of people would rather get jumped in than have to make out with a friend."
But in those early days, it was the only thing gnarly enough to "weed out the squares," as Styles likes to say. The kissing would most often take place at parties like this one, at the old Wetboys houses. Late, when everyone was properly sauced and shouting, stumbling across the linoleum. Sometimes a boy would make out with just one Wetboy, sometimes multiple. The latter was known as a "Kamikaze."
"It was like hijinks," says Sweets. "We thought it was funny. Nobody wants to kiss a dude. It's fucking gross. It was more of a charge, almost like skydiving or something. Like, 'Oh, God, this sucks.' It's scary."
Sweets's roommate, 23-year-old Marika Evanger, once walked into a room where two Wetboys were making out. She thought it was hot — and she didn't buy all that reluctant gross-out stuff. "I honestly think that's what's appealing," she says. "I think the fact that they are completely straight guys who just love each other — it's more of an endearing thing. It was always just, 'We love each other enough and we don't care.'"
Get wet with Mike Reilly: Once we all moved into the same house, all the skate community was coming over every night, and it became like the Wetboys house. But before that, it was like writing Wetboys on my grip tape and shit like that. And people would be like, "What's up with that?" and I'd say, "It's just all of us, our group of friends or whatever." For us, it was deep for like two years before that. But then we had this video and this insane party house downtown, and it hit everybody. It was like, "We have a really sick house, no one can get in trouble, we have a place for everybody, and then, let's just do it." Everyone moved in.
That's actually the exact point where we had to stop being like, "Anybody can be a Wetboy." Because for a minute it was like, "Oh, you're one of our friends and you're down, cool, rep it, whatever." I mean, even though at that point there was like me and Styles and Chad and a couple other people who had tattoos, it was still like none of us were super stressed out. My tat is this tube of red lipstick writing "Wetboys" across my inner arm in cursive. When I got it, I just thought, "What am I probably going to be a part of the rest of my life?" The Wetboys, for sure. Like, what am I never going to regret — hopefully. It seemed like the best idea at the time.
In Arizona, where he moved two years ago to escape the winter, Micah screen-prints shirts and other clothing items under his own label, Bangarang! The term comes from the 1991 Disney movie Hook, which had a grown-up Peter Pan returning to Neverland. "Bangarang!" is what the Lost Boys would shout as a slang stand-in for "Awesome!" Micah was in elementary school when the film was released. He remembers loving the thought of all those boys living up in a huge tree, playing games, fighting pirates, riding around on Disney's approximation of a skateboard, sleeping where they fell. He liked that feeling, that energy.