Screenshot via New York Daily News / YouTube
One day in 2011, when The hopeful mayor of New York City, Eric Adams he was a state senator, he decided to make a video he felt it was of critical importance to its components. The topic: how to look in your own home for “smuggling” (weapons, drugs, and other illicit accessories) that your children may have hidden in the home. He hired a staff member to help him get the props and filmed the spot the very next day, shooting him at his Brooklyn apartment in a single, unscripted shot. Within a week, he had it posted on YouTube.
The video, Which one has resurfaced on Twitter this week, is incredibly strange. In it, Adams explains how an innocent-looking jewelry box could disguise a firearm, pulling a very small gun out of such a box and waving it at the camera to prove its point. He flips a backpack — which he calls a “popular backpack in many different locations,” for some reason, and reveals a “used crack pipe,” dodged in a pocket. Apparently, every corner of Adams’ apartment turns out to be a hiding place for something sinister: behind a shelf is a giant bag of fake cocaine; behind a photo frame are bullets; inside a doll, there is a sack of what looks like a weed; inside a pillow, another pistol.
The video was filmed by Matthew Kulvicki, who was then working as a production director for the New York State Senate. According to Kulvicki, Adams gave him virtually no time to prepare. Instead, he just told Kulvicki to show up at his apartment ready to shoot.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it,” Kulvicki told VICE. “Then he said, ‘I’m ready.’ Then I got a record.”
VICE spoke with Kulvicki, who now works as a film and video director at Institute for New Economic Thought, about what it was like to film Adams that day. It turns out that the story of how the project came about is almost as ridiculous as the video itself.
VICE: Where did the idea for this video come from? Did they ever give him any kind of release?
Matthew Kulvicki: With Eric, it wasn’t really a release. It was like “tomorrow I want to make a video about looking for drugs in your house.” I wanted him to do mine, basically following him as he spoke and making sure I could hear him. And then there was an employee: he walked into the office and said, “Matt, are you working on the senator’s video?” And she said, “He told me to go out and buy some grass and a crack pipe. How do you think I’d be able to get a crack pipe? Who do you think I am?”
And I’m just thinking, Well, I’m glad you didn’t tell me; it could have been just as easily me. He did not ask her for any specific reason; just happened to [fall] to her. So he runs running looking for things for him. [We needed fake] pot and, as you know, oregano could be used. And then he wants cocaine, maybe you put it as a package [of something] in a Ziploc? I remember he taught me and asked me if it was too much. And I was like “Nah.”
How was the video experience for you?
So we’re going to shoot the thing and he tells me he’s going to look around and point things out and talk to the camera. And he said, “I’m going to put this revolver on a pillow.” He was talking to himself and he was talking to me too, like, “I’d go there, wouldn’t I?”
And I’m thinking, No, I probably wouldn’t put a revolver on the pillow. But I won’t tell you that. I usually put it between the mattress and the box spring, if you’ve ever seen a movie, but I was like, “Okay”. I had another gun in a jewelry box that he shot at me and you can see my reaction with the camera. He didn’t warn me that there was a second weapon. He told me, “I’ll just wander around the room and find things.”
It was all crazy. I knew it would go wrong when we got there, by that time I had already done a few [videos with him]”But I was a little surprised by this one.” “There are no First Amendment rights in your house,” I didn’t know I was going to say any of these things. I didn’t know there would be weapons. I didn’t know how many drugs I thought were a normal amount of drugs to put on a doll.
“I don’t know where even the crack pipe came from.”
Was there some kind of script written, or did it all go hand in hand?
Oh, he was out of fist. He says words that make no sense.
Like when he says a doll is a place where a child could “segregate” drugs, or when he refers to that backpack as a “popular backpack with many different places?”
Yes. Instead of just saying “backpack” (it will never say “backpack”), a word mixed with a bit of metaphor or something will appear. When he said “picture frame,” he could have said, like “a picture of your child that is a souvenir that is put in a box.” Do you know what I mean?
Is the “crack crack used” in the video real?
Like I said, I know he tried to get the crack pipe from Senate employees. And they came to talk to me, because I guess it’s so likely that I can get the source. I remember it looked like a crack pipe. But I don’t know where even the crack pipe came from. [Editor’s note: It is legal to possess such a pipe in New York, as long as it doesn’t contain drug residue.]
Were the bullets real?
The weapons were real, so the bullets were really real. I don’t know if the guns were loaded. But I know that because he was a police officer, he wears it.
So the guns and bullets were real, but the cocaine and the grass were not real.
He only had things to which he had legal access.
How was the editing process and how fast did it turn around?
I wanted the finished product, but him [didn’t] i want to be in the process of doing inserts and doing inserts, whatever we try to make it more vibrant or more effective. There is a cut with the revolver, for some reason, but otherwise I don’t think there is a cut. I made some really bad music on Soundtrack, which was an old app that Apple had to go along with Final Cut Pro. I probably did it all the same day.
Whenever I went out, it was probably really fast, because [Adams] it was like “I want to go out now,” I think it was on the cover of New York Post the following day. And Albany’s senior staff [where the State Senate convenes] they would say to me, “Matt, go upstairs.” They said, “What’s this?” And I’m like, “You know what that is. Ask Eric. What will I do? Do it you do you want to tell him no? And then the leader of the time said, “I liked it.” So the chief of staff, the communications director and the press secretary surrendered. They just accepted it.
The music you made for that is really weird. Why did you opt for sad violins with a strange beat accompaniment? Sounds like something out there Requiem for a dream.
Well, there are only so many options available. It wasn’t acoustic, it wasn’t hip-hop, it wasn’t electronic. I had a limited palette to work with, but I had to put something in there, because he took those long pauses to look around the place, trying to remember where he was hiding anything.
How did you react when you showed him the video?
He loved it. He sent it to as many people as he could. I wanted it everywhere. He told me, “It’s perfect.”
Knowing what you know about Eric Adams, would you vote for him for mayor of New York?
We disagree on a few things (maybe I’d stick a little further to the left), but he cares a lot and works hard. He cares about the people who live in New York. He’s from New York. He has a long history of working in New York. I would vote for him for Andrew Yang or the banker [Raymond McGuire]. But Eric Adams probably shouldn’t be mayor either. I do not know. I think you [New Yorkers] they have a real problem.
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