Jack Martinez and His Black Flys Are Back!

The '90s may be long gone, but not OC's infamous, lunatic eyewear brand

"Oh, my God, it was embarrassing. I had to have lost $2 million in sales," Martinez estimates.

But Martinez didn't let that dampen his party mood. After the show, with $500 in singles in his pocket, he returned to Orange County, ordered a pizza and went out with friends to some strip joints.

By February 1999, most was forgiven by ASR management, and Black Flys returned to San Diego. However, Martinez was told he could not step on the grounds of the trade show.

* * *

The company's relationships with musicians were no less antic. In 1990, Martinez and friends hit some waves around San Miguel in Baja, where they caught a band playing on a plywood stage. The trio played ska, but in a much punkier, ruder way than up-and-coming Orange County group No Doubt. Martinez introduced himself to the band's guitarist, Bradley Nowell. "I'm starting this sunglasses brand; you should check it out," Martinez told him.

Soon, Sublime were regulars at Black Flys parties, where the band's legendarily bad behavior was celebrated. During one party, Nowell's dog, Lou, jumped in the mosh pit and reportedly bit and nipped at the moshers. The dog even tore a hole in the seat of the pants of a Flys friend, Jim "Jay Bird" Jones. Jay Bird just laughed it off and kept on skanking.

The Black Flys warehouse was the first place to go when the band was hit by bad times. Nowell used to drop by the Black Flys warehouse after tweaking on meth. With the Sublime front man looking skinny and not smelling that good, and with his pupils pinned, Martinez knew Nowell was in no condition to mix with any kind of society, much less a polite one. So he guided him to the skate-ramp area in back of the warehouse, where he could smoke and drink and not get in too much trouble.

Besides Nowell, Black Flys attracted other lost souls. The talented and troubled longboard-surfing champ Joey Hawkins worked as the brand's surf-team manager in the mid-'90s. Skate star, jailbird for drug dealing and now associate pastor at the Sanctuary church in Huntington Beach, Christian Hosoi hung out there, too.  Somehow, despite all the excess, the company continued to succeed. "They could go 90 percent without self-destruction," Lamph says. "We were smart enough to not take it so far so you could not continue with growth."

If there was an epicenter to the Black Flys party scene, it wasn't the stripper pole in Flecky's Newport Beach house, but rather the Corona del Mar home Martinez purchased as a foreclosure. He ripped out the flooring, tore down the curtains and installed a nightclub-worthy sound system so powerful you could hear the bass bump throughout the upscale neighborhood. He painted the house red and black. Some of the walls were lined with images of naked ladies.

Neighbors fled, and Martinez soon paid for acting as though he were a delinquent. He says Newport Beach police arrested him for being a nuisance 20 times. Sometimes, he was taken away while wearing only his underwear or pajamas. After-parties rivaled the craziness of Club Rubber, which was produced by Black Flys snowboard-team rider Damian Saunders. The club ran for 14 years at Santa Ana's Galaxy Concert Theater (now the Observatory). It attracted thousands of people, remembers Dave Audé, a Club Rubber DJ.

Every night had a theme. The most popular was "Naughty Schoolgirl."

"The real theme was girls wearing almost nothing," Audé says.

There was sex in the VIP rooms, some shady characters sold drugs, and some unattractive people scared others by getting half-naked. But there was a lot of eye candy. Lamph remembers visiting the club with his wife, who wore a tight leather body suit, and her friend, who wore nothing but pasties and panties.

In 1997, 1998 and 1999, Audé mixed three Club Flys albums for the now-defunct Moonshine Music label. Audé included superstar DJs of the time: Keoki, Josh Wink, Armand Van Helden and Stuart Price, who went on to produce Madonna albums. None of them turned into a big payday, but each made a statement, and that's what Martinez was interested in. "He loved the idea of doing something new," Audé says. "I don't know how much he loved the music."

As Black Flys parties grew even more anarchic, porn stars became part of the party mix. Before one confab, Candy Apples—celebrated by fans for holding the world record for gangbang sex—shaved her head, donned a wig, strapped on a dildo and fucked another chick in front of a crowd of Black Flys label people and their friends. After the woman orgasmed, Apples pulled off her wig, and the crowd gasped at the spectacle of her bald head. Then she and her friend offered the boys $5 blowjobs, claims Martinez. (Apples could not be reached for comment by press time.)

Other porn stars attending the parties typically did not put on such bravura performances, with the possible exception of Jenna Jameson, who reportedly went to one party and peformed a head stand on a skateboard—while topless.

But the parties turned tragic when people overdosed. On Independence Day 2001, a lot of people were drinking, smoking weed, doing Ecstasy and coke during a Malibu event sponsored by Red Bull, Kik Wear Industries and Black Flys. Keenan Milton, a skateboard star, was swimming in a pool choked with plastic cups and other junk. Someone jumped from the house roof into the pool; Milton took a powerful blow to the head and drowned. There was too much stuff floating on the pool surface to see a man was drowning. Milton's body wasn't pulled out of the pool until 30 minutes later, according to a complaint bought by his family.

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3 comments
DON HAFFKE
DON HAFFKE

He had to leave ...... Los Angeles !!! Check out my Fly's hi above LA....

Sarah Roughan
Sarah Roughan

I use to read Lava Magazine before I even met Jack. Eric Lamph and I ended up working on the first edition of OCWeedly 15 years later. There is a magic about Jack A. I've been wearing Flys ever since the day I started, I'm no quitter ;)

 
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