The Life of Bobby Vaughn, Part II

posted by / Blogs / March 22, 2012

Bobby Martinez. Photo: DJ Struntz
Bobby Martinez. Photo: DJ Struntz

Missed part one? Click here.

After that things really started to happen. Everybody wanted Von Dutch and Bobby always had t-shirts and hats in his car. Pushing the product. It became red hot on the Hollywood scene. And then Brittany Spears got married wearing a Von Dutch hat. Red hot turned white. In a short time they sold 14 million hats at sixty dollars a pop. Rich. Beyond rich.

Things were not as great between Bobby and his partner. He wanted to keep the brand rooted in action sports, in surf, while his partner wanted to turn it into a version of Diesel. They divided the company and without lawyers Bobby signed himself into a horrible licensing deal. He lost his company.

He owed factories over a million dollars and he had no way of recouping. He lost one hundred and fifty million dollars. From everything to nothing. It was at this point that he felt, “fuck the world.” He had a child to support and no way to support him. Fuck the world. He got a lawyer, a real fear and loathing lawyer, but then f–k it. 9/11 had just happened and so Bobby Vaughn decided to go and be a Navy SEAL.

Navy SEALs are the elite of America’s military. They do the most difficult, dangerous, clandestine missions. They are the front line and the back line. And, thus, they go through the most intense training. There are regular episodes of SEALs drowning during training. Drowning is, in fact, part of the training. They must drown to know how it feels. Most kids who enlist and attempt the SEAL course are eighteen. When Bobby Vaughn walked into the recruiter office and signed up he was twenty-seven.

So he began his training. Up at four in the morning and into the freezing cold dive tanks. All day, every day. Part of why he chose the Navy, chose to take a crack at the SEALs is he knew a few of them who surfed. Always back around to surfing. And he didn’t mind the intensity. It was the first time in his life that he had had real discipline. He was told what to do and that was that. It was a different world and he was at peace with it. He trained. Sweated. Grunted. Mastered explosives, BUDs (Basic Underwater Demolition) and guns and worked out nonstop. One instructor was particularly harsh. He went after Bobby with zeal, making him do push-ups until his arms were jello. After a particularly mean session he told Bobby, “I’m doing this to you because you dinged my board out at Pipe one time.” Mean on top of harsh. Ocean swims, running for four miles in soft sand with wet trousers, rowing boats filled with heavy logs.

He kept excelling and then it was time for hell week. Hell week, for the SEALs, is 132 hours of continual physical activity. No sleep. No break. No rest. One hundred and thirty-two hours. And right before hell week his fear and loathing lawyer called him and tells Bobby that he has his case against his old business partner. That he will win his case but he has to drop out of the Navy because he will have to be in court every day in order to make it work.

Bobby was stuck. And he was out. He needed the money; he needed to follow his path. So he left early in the morning, checked into a hotel and slept for three days.

When he showed back up on base he was court marshaled. It is against the law to break an obligation to the military. Bobby met with sympathetic JAG (judge advocate general corps) lawyers and one told him, “Look, the only way out is if you disappear for 28 days and then come back we can get you out.” And so he disappeared. He went back up to Tommy Lee and climbed on a big one. Forty-seven days later he returned.

He slipped in at six in the morning, all f–ked up and climbed into bed. He closed his eyes and opened them, minutes later, to three large military police surrounding him. And soon he was shackled and in the brig, sent to X-Division. A military black hole. But his JAG lawyers lobbied for him. He had special circumstances. He was different. And so was given an OTH. An other than honorable discharge, joining the likes of Walt Disney. Geniuses who had been drummed out of the military dishonorably. Or other than honorably.

It was at this same time that he started FTW. As a concept, FTW had been around forever. Hell’s Angels used to sew it on their jackets but it resonated differently with Bobby and he wanted to do something big with it. Bigger than life. But first he had a lawsuit to win and he attacked it with vengeance. With purposeful drive.

After three days in front of a jury the other side collapsed and offered him a deal. It wasn’t exactly what he wanted but it was a sure thing. He had millions to pay to the factories, he had a child, so he took the sure thing and spent some of the money and bought the FTW mark. He wanted this to be a surf brand. An authentic surf brand. Of all the things he had seen and done, surfing was the hardest and that is where he wanted to be. He would rather take on the most notorious gang on the planet than macking Teahupo’o. That hardness inspired him.

He moved to Venice and started working on building the brand in the way he knew from his time at Bronze Age and Von Dutch. And then his friend, locked up for murder, got out of prison.

Bobby took him in. He was a great guy, his friend, but also had a crazy streak that had been exacerbated by his seven years of prison. It had mentally unhinged him and sometimes he would just flip. Go crazy. But Bobby made the living arrangement work because that is what friends do. There were episodes. Sometimes after nights of drinking the friend would say that he was going to kill his baby’s mama. Or threaten suicide. Once he slashed Bobby’s face with a broken beer bottle.

And then one fateful night he lost his mind. The two, and a few girls, had just returned from a night on the town. When they arrived back to Bobby’s house, his friend’s belligerence had increased. He began popping off at the mouth, threatening, menacing. Bobby walked away, thinking of it as another episode that would work itself out with some space. But it didn’t. In his room, he heard his friend screaming, “Time to chalk it up!” “Chalk it up” is street parlance for killing someone, referencing the chalk lines drawn around dead bodies by the law. Bobby’s door began to shake as his friend slammed himself into it again and again. Bobby went to his safe and got a gun. His plan was to wait until his friend got through and then push around him and run into the night. Then the door snapped in half. Bobby tried to make his move but his friend caught his neck and started pulling at the gun. Bobby pushed with all his might and the two fell backward with Bobby shooting. “It all happened so fast that I didn’t even know if I was shot and dead and dreaming,” he said. But he wasn’t dead and he felt no more weight. No more struggle. He looked back and saw his friend slumped against the wall. Dead. He had been shot in the head. Instantaneous. Bobby began screaming for one of the girls to call the police but she was traumatized, so Bobby called himself and then went into his room, contemplating suicide. Somehow he knew that wasn’t his path.

Return tomorrow for the final installment of the Bobby Vaughn story: jail, freedom and NYC

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    “I’m doing this to you because you dinged my board out at Pipe one time.”

    This is the biggest load of shit i have ever read on here. Chas and Bobby, kill yourselves…would make a great part 3 if you did

  • Moke808

    If he never completed BUD/s and never received his Navy SEAL Trident, then he NEVER was a NAVY SEAL!!! Quit telling fucking lies!

  • unidentified

    so many comments have already been deleted ha ha… lets just say this guy seems like a positive role model. murder, drugs, stealing logo’s… yeah

  • mattman

    I only read the second installment to see if it could get worse. And it did.

    You want to write something worth reading? Go find the families of the people Bobby and his homies killed and talk to them about how losing their son/brother impacted their lives. That is a genuine story worthy of print.

    Also, people in SEAL training can quit whenever they want, the point of the training is to weed out the weak. So obviously this punk did more than just ring the bell and walk away.


    you can drop out of navy seals at any time but you can’t drop out of the military… so his leaving would get him court marshalled… Agreed that this seems to be a very poor Bobby story rather than an objective one.

  • richard verga

    well, it’s apparent that neither smith nor vaughn fear hyperbole.

  • Honey Badger

    Nice piece of fiction Chas.

  • reindeer

    i met him and tommy lee. we all got tattoos together and took a few pictures in front of a warm fire. after this, we toasted marshmellows off the end of tommy”s c@ck.

  • the king

    I’d much rather see video of this hoodrat surfing, instead of this hoodrat doing hoodrat things…

  • unidentified

    woohoo it gets better!!! pusses out of the military, then shoots his mentally unstable friend after a night of drinking!! such a great person

  • yeah guy

    Let me get this straight… the last 2 paragraphs about Bobby killing his boy, his boy that was in jail for murder and had psychotic ‘episodes’, and talks about killing the mother of his child and killing himself…. you start the paragraph with, ‘Bobby took him in. He was a great guy,’

    Unbelievable and pathetic.

    P.S. – The FTW logo looks like something made with Microsoft Windows 95

  • Ben Davidson

    Surfing Mag’s commentators are the lowest denominator of nitpicky angst. Why do they bother reading all of Chas’ stories if it makes them so upset — because they secretly love him.

    This is a fun lifestory to read, Mr. Smith. Thank you. Obviously took some effort, especially knowing your fan-base of web-haters would hurl rocks at you for it. I (and they) still look forward to Chapter III. Keep it up. Looking forward to your book as well.

  • reindeer

    Are you receiving it or taking it from Chas?
    Which end point are u?

    If he publishes a book, all of us on here will give it a 1 rating and write reviews that condemn his existence in literature.

  • Mike Anderson

    A new low way to push the bar down Surfing congrats….

  • Heathen

    FTW is the next RVCA.

  • chris

    Also about SEALs having to drown, here is a quote from a Navy Seal about training rumors:

    RUMOR CONTROL – You have to drown and they bring you back to life before you can graduate. FALSE

    Come on! This one is ridiculous. I do not even know how to answer this one when I get asked it without using profanity. Not sure where this one came from. There have been people who were saved from drowning, died from drowning in the past 50 years, but it is not a requirement for graduation.

  • WTF?

    Well, as with every stereotype – there lays a basis of truth. I doubt any of you bile spewing “web commentators”:
    A. Have moved out from your invalid mother’s basement (@ age 40)
    B. Can actually surf well
    C. Wouldnt be a Police Officer today, if you hadn’t gotten your ass kicked regular in High School…
    D. Friends, Girls, Dating, Marriage see #C
    E. Understand that these stories are censored, edited for content and legnth ie: Details/Circumstances of his friends death and/or Ditching the Navy
    F. Have led lives of the most trivial consequence. Wherebye projecting your own inadequate, self-loathing resentment on anyone who has done anything with their lives through your fork tongued, self-righteous judgements/cut-downs.
    ***I could go on but, my super hot fiance is making fun of me for defending someone/something of which I have no affiliation or vested interest. So, I will leave you to it. Haters will be haters – as the kids say. Besides, I have to get to work and help pay for all your now extended unemployement checks. Whaddya ya say you guys leave the (name your inland city of choice) trailer park and go job hunting, please?!

  • WTF?

    Seriously?! You guys are the idiots who write comedians and correct their history/demographics/or interpretation of legislation. But then again, you are so well respected a surfer, successful a businessman, caring a philanthropist, and achieved writer that YOUR OPINION is why weve all been holding our breath; For you to map out the road to regaining AND RETAINING self worth through the deconstruction and (semi)public belittlement (God knows youre too big a pussy to do it in an open, physical forum) of others’ work/life/rhetoric etc … (sarcasm)

  • Matt O’Brien

    hey WTF? – your post time says : 11:27 – shouldn’t YOU be at work “paying for our extended unemployment checks”? My time says 10:50-ish because I WORK OUTTA MY HOME AS A FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER – whats your story? Only ask, because you felt sooooo compelled to “slam” those posting on here for being “unemployed”.
    p.s. – this IS the place where folks come to post “self righteous” rants/comments concerning a story they read on THIS site. IT IS CALLED DIALOG (even though I totally agree with you that some/most on these things rant without much thought or evidence of intelligence) SO what I got outta your RANT was that you are the only one who is employed, you have a “super hot” fiance, and you think THAT you are the only ONE entitled to comment on here because of previously stated “facts” about you. AND YOR FOLLOW UP – pretty much proves my points. CHEERS and have fun with your super hot fiance (you brought in to this – NOT ME!) being smart and employed.

  • Matt O’Brien

    well ok, my clock on my computer says 10:48 (guess i am kinda stupid – I said 10:50-ish) anyways, and surfing post time says 12:48 – I guess the offices of surfing are in central time zone (us)?

    by the way WTF? I kinda hope you were being a bit “sarcastic” cause otherwise I fail to see your points based on your points…

  • yeah guy

    @WTF? – This is funny because all of your A,B,C,D,E etc. points are quite rhetorical… so unless you plan on posting the following items; your real name, your current coastal address, several video clips of you getting wicked on your surfing shred stick, a paycheck stub, and a picture of your ‘smoking hot fiance’… and if you won’t you can just go WTF yourself and continue to hide in anonymity like the rest of us.

    P.S. I googled ‘matt obrien freelance graphic designer’, it gave me an address to a house a good 30+ miles from the coast in a town in England called Cockfield… true story.


    @yeah guy – I have always disliked any comment made by Matt O’Brien. His comments are by far the fruitiest and girly of them all. He is also one big Kook, or maybe he jerks big kooks? who knows…

  • Mike Anderson

    @ ya guy well said…

  • Mike Anderson

    @ ya guy well said…

  • East Coast

    @wtf HA.

    That post was awesome. lots of double negatives in there, though, especially the one where you “doubt any of us bile spewing idiots wouldn’t be cops…” Anyways I don’t mean to be harsh but you spoke with such conviction, I felt it was an injustice not to tell you of your mistake. I want you to be better at this kind of thing in the future. Its all about learning. Also do you actually represent the WTF label? If so how is this good business? Ok, great, so now you effectively attract only the angriest .01% of the country. Without doing an actual study, I bet 95% of that sliver of people are in jail. Not much commerce going on behind bars…

    Also I had my ass kicked in high school so I decided to use that as fuel to become a teacher and spread acceptance. But your way is good too…

  • boswell

    I started Von Dutch clothing and Mike Cassell and his buddy Bobby stole it from me, and claimed to be cool. Bobby was a nice guy at the time, and was not really responsible for what happened, but I am NEVER MENTIONED as the guy who invented Von Dutch as a clothing line. NEVER EVER……….. so “fashion genuises” can buzz off for all I care

  • Matt O’Brien

    hee hee hee hee hee hee hee thanks for taking the time to google me. IN case you are wondering IF that was me or not – could be – remember that Matt & O’Brien are Irish Catholic names; ie not very original so I have about 500,000 + “me’s” on google.

    “fruitiest & girly” was kinda funny…


    standing beside arts i painted last year, thats weird. dog damned, PANDASFORETERNITY.COM

  • Amanda Sanchez

    This WAS my ex of two years. His neck is covered by a dragon. His neck used to carry my name…. Very prematurely.
    He has no connection to love or life . He is a felon the minute you meet him.
    He is abusive and lost person that is very bad. He is let down by life and will make eveyone pay. Stay AWAY! I have moved on and have a beautiful husband and child. This is a tortured man. He will kill you in the process and try and rape you of all you have in the process. Trust me… This person belongs in a carnival.
    Nothing he does us for anyone else…. Even his kid, Elijah!

  • Amanda Sanchez

    I met him through Tommy Lee and trust me, Tommy never stuck to supporting him and his actions?
    Once he found out he was crazy, Tommy felt bad and wished he had never introduced him to me.