Habitat: Josh Hoyer
House Of Hoyer
As photographer Steve Sherman and I entered the quiet neighborhood, I hardly expected to witness the horror I was about to see. Were the stories we’d heard true?
Did a resident of this seemingly peaceful suburb really dwell in a realm of death and terror?
Josh Hoyer’s known as a quiet air-extraordinaire from Newport Beach, California. He’s mellow and seems really normal-except for the occasional spikes emerging from the shoulders of his wetsuits and skull-and-blood drawings on his boards.After becoming fans of Josh’s technical skill, we began hearing stories about his persona-tales of Josh collecting carcasses of dead animals and displaying them in his crypt-like lair. Upon entering his domain (which is an upstairs bedroom in a large family home), the spine-chilling reality stared us directly in the face-we had to find out why.-C.C.
How would you describe the decor of your habitat?
Considering we’re all headed toward an end, I just surround myself with death. That way when I know it’s comin’, I’ll know where I’m goin’.
Tell us a little bit about how you started your collection. What exactly’s in it?
Within my collection, I’ve got my dead cat I dug up, a couple opossums I found dead on the road, raccoon roadkill, and there’s a dog I found somewhere in a field. My mom bought me a sheep’s head from the butcher, and I cleaned that up. My friend found me a horse skull-it’s pretty big. My other friend brought me home a howler monkey skull from the Amazon. I also have some teeth that somebody got pulled out, and my fingernail that fell off. I’ve got a horned goat skull, a cow skull, some seal vertebrae, some little bird skulls, and a pelican skull in the backyard.
When did you start your collection?
The first thing was a dead oppossum. I just picked it up and brought it home. I kinda forgot about it in the backyard. About a year later, I found it again. I decided to clean it up and put it in my room. Ever since then, every time I see something that’s dead, I try to collect it-I clean it up and put it in my room.
Why do you like skulls?
Because they look cool. Some of ’em have horns, big teeth-I try to go for variety, you know. Bird skulls with big, hooked bills look cool. I don’t know-they’re dead, and they look cool.
[IMAGE 2]Tell us how you go about getting things for your collection.I’ll see a dead animal on the beach, roadkill, or whatever. I usually have a hatchet in the trunk of my car, so I’ll take it out and cut the animal’s head off. This way I only have to carry it around instead of the whole animal.Then I’ll take the head home, put it in a corner in my backyard, and put some big stones over it so no animals drag it off and take away my little prize. After a few months of bugs or whatever chewin’ on it, I’ll take what’s left and put it in a bucket filled with water and a little bit of bleach. I’ll leave it in there for a few months-it softens up whatever meat’s left on it and kills all the germs. After that process, I’ll take the skull out of the bleach, grab a little knife, and cut the rest of the skin off it. I’ll put it back in the bleach bucket for another month to get it completely clean.Finally, I’ll take it out, rinse off the bleach, scrub it with hydrogen peroxide to whiten it up a little, and then let it dry. Most of the teeth usually fall out, or some of the bone fragments break off, so I’ll glue those back in. Then I’ll put it on my shelf and add it to my collection.
What are people’s first reaction when they see your collection?
When most people come into my room for the first time, they just kinda stand in the middle of it and look at the walls for a while. They don’t really say much-they just look around and cringe.
What do your parents think?
My parents are pretty supportive of it. My mom got me a sheep’s head from the butcher. They don’t really mind.
The soundtrack right now is Cannibal Corpse, The Misfits, Six Feet Under, and some old-school stuff like Iron Maiden.
What’s next for your collection?
What do you have in mind?
I want to get some more skulls-some different stuff, maybe bring more things home from some of my trips. I’m actually getting some more knives and swords.
Do skulls and weapons go hand in hand?
I think they go pretty well together. Kinda like some of the old Bolt Thrower album covers-there’re barbarian guys swinging bloody swords around with skulls impaled on posts and stuff. I’m into that kind of thing.
When you’re on a surf trip, does it get frustrating when you see a skull and you can’t bring it back?
Yeah. I’ve been on a few trips and seen some pretty good skulls go by. I didn’t know if I’d be able to bring them home, you know, bring them back through customs. I think I might’ve found a way around that, so we’ll see. Hopefully, I’ll get some new skulls for my collection.
“I’ve got a horned goat skull, a cow skull, some seal vertebrae, some little bird skulls, and a pelican skull in the backyard.”
“From then on, every time I see something that’s dead, I try to collect it-I clean it up and put it in my room.”
“Bird skulls with big, hooked bills look cool. I don’t know-they’re dead, and they look cool.”
“The soundtrack right now is Cannibal Corpse, The Misfits, Six Feet Under, and some old-school stuff like Iron Maiden.”