Kevin Marino is probably the only guy in the world with more diamond-plate steel in his ranch home than in his motor home--a good thing when your living room doubles as your garage/burnout pad. To think that 100-mph wheelies--and an awful lot of bestseller Starboyz DVDs--paid for all of this...
Blinged-out SUVs, tail-dragging choppers, chromed bathroom fixtures--Marino rolls like a rock star nowadays.
Marino and his ever-present posse max and relax in the livin' room--dig the Gixxer wall art.
Bed Bath & Beyond, not coming to a shopping center near you!
The noise along Zeller Avenue in downtown Akron, Ohio, sounds like a test at a car-alarm factory. Above and beyond the various sirens, horns and electronic voices yelling, "Warning! Warning! Step away from the vehicle!" roar two unmuffled Harley choppers--the sources of the vibrations that set off the car alarms in the first place. Scott Caraboolad and Kevin Marino, founding members of the Starboyz street freestyle team, are showing off their new custom choppers, but to residents of Caraboolad's Zeller Avenue neighborhood it must sound like a suicide bombing in downtown Baghdad.
An elderly neighbor rushes out in the street. Summoning the bravery and indignation only possible in advanced years, she steps directly in front of Marino's 130-horsepower chopper and curses him out. Loudly. In Italian. "See, that's why I don't live around here," Marino explains later, after the oldsters have gone back to bed. "I'm all about doing it country-style."
Marino, unlike Caraboolad, prefers to live far away from noise-fearing seniors and touchy car alarms and makes his home out where the proverbial deer and antelope roam--in the boonies, that is. From his slouchy gangsta walk to his flossed-out collection of motorcycles and trucks, you'd never guess that Marino, one of the maddest men in street freestyle, lives in the sticks, a.k.a. Marshallville, Ohio. Even though Marino actually grew up around inner-city Akron, he now lives in straight-up Green Acres territory, with a side of Walton's Mountain thrown in for extra flavor.
"I appreciate my space," Marino says by way of explanation. "Most people out here are totally cool and mind their own business. If I come home from the clubs at 4 a.m. and want to ride my quads across my property, nobody bothers me." But don't let the location fool you; Marino's homestead is no set piece from Country Living all dolled up with gingham curtains and a hand-stitched toaster cozy. Postindustrial porn-star chic is a better description, with a bit of Marlin Perkins' Wild Kingdom rounding things out. Or, as one of Marino's boys refers to it: modern pimp. The house sports more chrome and flame paint than a Harley-Davidson catalog, contrasting with walls that switch room by room from leopard print to seven-foot flames to bold zebra stripes.
The master bedroom, for instance, looks like the sort of place where Dracula might get intimate with the village virgin. Black sheer curtains drape a sprawling four-poster bed, with black satin sheets and thick carpet everywhere. Lie back on the bed (hey, we only did it for the pictures) and dig the black-painted ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars. Just the place, in other words, for a recently divorced mack such as Marino.
A motorcycle theme dominates the house, especially in the living room, where a massive, chopper-shaped coat rack holds an ever-expanding collection of flashy Mylar leathers by Vanson, one of the Starboyz's first sponsors. When we enter the room, our boots make a distinct clinking noise against the floor. That's $5000's worth of chromed diamond-plate, Marino says, explaining why the floors resembled Kenworth big-rig bumpers. All this heavy metal is softened by a set of bookshelves filled with pictures of Marino's friends, family and his daughter, Ellie. A wide-screen projection television sits in front of a--what else fur covered sofa bookended by shelves full of DVDs. What does the king of high-speed wheelies watch to relax? Blow (starring Johnny Depp, not Dominique Simone), Eminem's 8 Mile, Jackass: The Movie, and his all-time favorite, Gladiator. "People are always putting stunt videos in my hands, but only a few stand out enough for me to watch more than once," Marino says, gesturing to Stunnin S.F. and the back-busting dirt-bike video Huevos II.
The kitchen is as spotless and clean as the set of a television cooking show, and the fridge is mostly empty, containing little more than a 12-pack of MGD and a few cold slices of pizza. "What can I say?" Marino shrugs. "I eat out a lot." Marino's home office is a stark contrast from the party-hearty atmosphere that dominates the rest of the house--the serious business goes down here. The walls are plain except for some neon FTP lights and a few select pieces of Starboyz memorabilia designed by fans around the world. The desk is piled high with orders for the team's expanding merchandise line, and a fax machine hums out even more orders. In the middle of the desk sits a computer with a DSL hookup that allows Marino to update the Starboyz's Web site, book appearances and schedule dates for the team's Make Wheelies stunt school, all without ever leaving the comfort of his own home.
Marino's house is still in the throes of a deep-cleaning session when we visit, a much-needed scrubdown following his annual block party that went off a few days before we arrived. The throwdown attracted almost 2000 friends to this humble hamlet, and Marino says plenty of his neighbors--if you can call folks living several acres away "neighbors"--stopped by to chase a good time. Party action usually centers on the 35-foot in-ground heated pool ringed with a wooden deck holding a top-flight gas unit for grillin' up grub. There's even a full-sized Jacuzzi for relaxing after a long day on one wheel. "Or getting to know the ladies who follow me home," Marino jokes.
Marino's crew of loyal hangers-on--I swear, this guy rolls with a posse deeper than Mike Tyson's--does a fine job of straightening up the place. The only evidence left from the weekend-long blast is a couple of Porta-Johns still parked strategically around the yard. Oh, yeah, and a 20-foot-tall launch ramp built from seven tons of earth that Marino had delivered to his place for a little live entertainment.
"[X-Games competitor] Dan Pastor is a good friend of mine, and he brought some of the guys by this year to fly jumps over my house during the party," Marino says, as if he's describing nothing more interesting than a barbecue recipe. "People were trippin'--guys were doing nac-nacs, Superman seat grabs and Indian airs over their heads while these girls were running around the pool. It was live." The party was one for the books, with so many people showing up that Marino, who throws a similar bash before each year's Starboyz Stunt Fest, shuttled guests back and forth to their cars in his custom, flame-painted golf cart.
Time for this self-described eligible and available bachelor to hit the clubs. One of his buds suggests he put away his new GSX-R1000 stunt bike for the night, and before we can step toward the attached garage, Marino is inside the living room on the bike, a raspy race canister drowning out the television. Wicking the throttle and squeezing the front brake, he spins the Suzuki's rear tire, throwing up a smokescreen of burnt rubber. In the living room.
"This," Marino shouts, pointing down at the floor, "is why I put diamond-plate flooring in here!"
True enough. I can't imagine Caraboolad ripping burnouts in his downtown Akron flat. Mama Mia next door would never go for that.