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SKEME RICHARDS

Age: 46

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Profession: Professional DJ

Favorite vinyl record or throwback tune: "As a DJ and music lover, it's tough to pick a favorite. My favorites change depending on my mood, but a good place to start is always James Brown's 'Revolution of The Mind' LP."

What does black vintage mean to you?

Black vintage to me speaks to a pre-1990 era of items produced for a black audience that are now deemed as "cool", collectible or highly sought after by the public. Black vintage sparks a sense of nostalgia and brings folks back to a fun, youthful and less-stressful time in their lives.

Do you see yourself as a “collector”? If so, how did you come to collect? If not, why not?

At 47 years old, I’ve never considered myself a collector because I’ve always held on to things that I’ve owned since my childhood. I consider myself more of a preserver of culture who has amassed a collection of different things. For me, being a collector means that you intentionally set out to find things, versus a more organic process of acquiring pieces that you appreciate and slowly realizing that you have a collection of things that reflect your own interests.

What vintage items in your collection are you most proud of and why? 

There are a few pieces in my collection that I’m extremely proud of, including my vintage Muhammad Ali pinball machine made by Stern Electronics in 1980. There were only 2410 made and the last I checked, there were only 50 complete and working ones listed in collections. It’s great to have a piece of that history because it was rare for a Black celebrity figure to license their image to be used on pinball equipment.

Keeping within the sports theme, Julius “Dr. J” Erving is my favorite basketball player of all time, especially during his ABA years playing with the NJ Nets and of course, as a 76er. I have a few pieces of memorabilia like his rookie card and other team cards, but my favorite pieces are original photographs of him in action. For years, I wondered who who took all these action photos of him and after some research, found that he had a personal photographer. I did a little more digging, found his photographer and bought original photos of Dr. J that had never been used in magazines or press. That’s going the extra mile to collect what you’re interested in.

Another favorite piece is a vintage Captain Soul board game featuring African-American superheroes from 1971. Black folks were rarely represented by mainstream companies in a positive and non-stereotypical way during that time, so this had a really big influence on me. I also have a collection of vintage Players magazines including rare issues, like the joints with the Pam Grier spreads and the cover with Big Daddy Kane in the hot tub with two women. Pam Grier is the queen of cool and showed how visually/emotionally strong a Black woman could be in Hollywood. Rounding things out, I have a nice amount animation cels of Fat Albert, Brown Hornet and Jackson 5 that were used to make the respective cartoon series'. Seeing black characters on Saturday morning TV felt good and having these images framed/hung around my home makes me smile because those characters always brought joy to me as a child.

To check out Skeme's work, visit his website here + follow him on Instagram here.