Hello, and welcome to another jam-packed edition of The Hot Seat. In case you missed last month's story, each month we take a person who has been a vital part, a mentor, or made some significant impact in the scene, and expose him or her and make them blush for your reading enjoyment.
So sit back, light a match, do a courtesy flush, and enjoy this month's installment.
* If you have an idea for someone you want to see in The Hot Seat, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions, questions, or comments, and maybe your favorite person will be our next victim!
This month, we bring you Eric Saliba from The Little Shop of Horrors. If you don't know him yet, you're about to know it all!
Full Name: Eric Saliba
Place of Birth: Lawrenceburg, TN
Current Residence: Lawrenceburg, TN
Occupation: Professionally evading a real job since 2003
Daily Driver: The Grey Goose
Who are you?: Egotist, vagabond, and the owner of The Little Shop of Horrors
Q: What is in your toilet tower/lavatory library? Be honest, not the obvious ones like Mini Truckin', we want to know about the US Weekly, the Better Homes & Gardens and the Luscious Large Woman mags.
A: Some of Max's recommended books have been hanging out on the porcelain for a while now. Then there's the occasional Playboy. You know, for the articles right?
Q: Tell us one thing people either don't know about you or would be very surprised to hear?
A: I graduated college a couple of weeks after my 20th birthday and started working on minitrucks. Let's face it; I'm a dumb smart kid.
Q. Do you have any tattoos?
A: I had a couple one time, but I didn't really like them on my forehead anymore. That's the best part about the ones that come in cereal boxes! No real deal Holyfields. But if I ever got one, I think I'd tattoo a tape measure on my index finger to save me some time.
Q. Do you consider yourself "regular"?
A: Man I just don't do poo jokes, so I'm going to have to assume this is a question about being a regular guy. Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself and start to get the big head, or get mad at my work, but then I'll stop and think to myself "Come on Eric, you're working on compact pickups, that's about as rockstar as riding a scooter." I try not to take myself too seriously.
Q. What is your favorite show of all time?
A: Showfest for sure. I miss seeing people lined up 15-feet deep on both sides of the strip. I'm excited it's coming back, I'll just have to quit calling it "Greenville."
Q. What got you into the scene?
A: Someone gave me an issue of MT my last year in high school and I got interested enough to buy a beater on eBay and bodydrop it in time for the 2002 Mini Nats show about a year later. That thing was rough as a cob. At the Shular Inn that weekend I parked next to this guy Jerry with another older Toyota. I thought his was just the coolest truck ever, so I came back home and dug in a little deeper. I've always been a tinkerer; I eventually just graduated from playing with LEGOs and taking apart VCRs to this stuff.
Q. Who do you look up to in the scene?
Bob Grant is super talented and just so damn good-looking. Max Fish is a pretty sharp cookie. I don't know them, but guys like Cole Foster, Russell Mitchell, Troy Trepanier all have a no-nonsense style I can really get into.
Q. Where did you get all of your crazy-awesome skills?
Crazy-awesome? Right... I guess I'm mostly self-taught. There isn't anyone in my family that does metal work or is into stuff like this, so I just learn things the hard way out in the shop. I am a notorious question-asker though. When I find somebody that I think knows their shiz I'll pester them until they tell me to go away.
Q. How big of an operation is Little Shop of Horrors? You must have dozens of people helping.
A: Two employees, and 52.5 helpers.
Q. Have you ever been given an ultimatum? How did you handle it?
A: Whoa, let's keep it above the belt mmm-kay? For those that don't know, this is a reference to how hard it is to keep a girlfriend when you work 14 hours a day. Answer: single.
Q. We have heard many different versions of the story so let's just set it all straight now...What exactly happened to the spike truck S-10?
A: I figured this one was coming. So yeah, I grabbed a cordless drill to put a tiny hole in a gas tank to tap it for a plug. Sure I could have dropped the tank down to drain it but that would've taken all of like, 15 minutes. So the fuel mixed with the spark inside the Makita and then I watched five years of work cook in the middle of the shop. Remember what I said earlier? Dumb smart kid.
Q. Have you ever channeled your inner Steven Tyler? I mean, we love Aerosmith just as much as the next guy so don't be shy.
A: Have you seen this mouth? It's a dead ringer. Truth is though, I don't even like Aerosmith.
Q. What is the absolute girliest drink you can order at a bar?
A: I'd say anything that gets sent your way from two giggling dudes.
Q. We were one of the lucky ones that got your Christmas card last year, but for those that didn't, can you describe it and tell us the inspiration behind it?
A: Everybody thinks I look a little Amish anyway, with the hair and all. So I ran with it and did Halloween as an Amish flasher along with an Amish-girl-gone-wild counterpart. I couldn't keep people off that fro bomb. When December rolled around I used the evidence to make cards reading "Your Christmas tree isn't the only bush in season this year."
Q. So, tell us about your Grandpa's farm? We hear there is a catfish pond and a cow pasture-sounds romantic! Ever take any dates there?
A: Oh man, this one is going to blow my cover! There's a standard late night tour I give the ladies: show them the shop, take them to the farm and show them the highest point in Lawrence County, then it's down to the little shack on the lake to um, feed the catfish. That combination is a real panty dropper. And now I'll have to make sure my grandparents don't read this.
Q. What is the story behind that couch you guys haul around with you to every show? Where did it come from?
A: The couch is rad. It hits more shows than a Metallica cover band. A buddy of mine found that thing on the side of the road and brought it to me. I never thought back then we would be toting it around the country 6 years later. Drop 'Em John and Harvey hijacked it in Bowling Green a couple years back and demanded a case of PBR for ransom. If those cushions could talk...
Q. So what's the deal with no one wanting to share a hotel room with you?
A: I've got a little sleepwalking problem. I'll have these crazy dreams where the walls are starting to fall in, or some killer is hiding in the bathroom, but nobody else knows it but me. So I'll start screaming at everyone to wake up and get out of the room. It just seems so REAL, you know? Funny thing is a couple of the guys that know about it will just go along with me. A few years ago at Blood Drag I was freaking out and yelling at everyone saying that my bed was about to slip into a giant hole in the floor. Mikey reached over and grabbed the mattress saying "I got it, dude. Go back to sleep."
Q. How often do you shower?
A: I'm a twice a week kind of guy. It's really not that gross I promise. I mean, I don't sweat all that much. And hey, it may be infrequent but I'm a very thorough showerer.
Q. We hear you don't ever run the heat or AC at home. What's the deal with that?
A: I spend so little time at home that I don't front much money on the creature comforts. My utility bill has been the exact same minimum payment for 3 years straight.
Q. Finally, the plugs and thank yous.
A: It's my boy Bradley and all the lackeys that have allowed the Little Shop to continue on the way it has. If this place is ever just ballin' out of control I'm going to personally give a fat rebate back to everyone that has ever had work done here or helped out with the projects. Sometimes I turn the shop lights on early in the morning and it's hard to believe I've had the opportunity to work on such rad stuff and meet so many cool people. If you don't already know about us then check out the website at FriendlyChopShop.com and hell, if you're feeling froggy, get yourself a T-shirt.