(Photos: Daniel Maurer)

(Photos: Daniel Maurer)

If you’re hitting the Brooklyn Flea’s ice cream social or doing anything else in Williamsburg this weekend, you might just run into Juan Nisvis, Jr., a freelance photographer who, since the beginning of summer, has been selling bottled beverages out of his roving “Caribean [sic] Gremlins From Brooklyn” cart.

The 51-year-old Bed-Stuy native, who’s lived in Williamsburg for almost 30 years, knows that the sight of his “art cart” strikes wonder in passersby: “The first expression that comes to your mind: what in the fuck is that?” he said yesterday as his wife, who was helping him, burst out laughing. “Your curiosity, it compels you. You’re saying to yourself, ‘I gotta go to my destination, but I gotta know what this guy got.'” We, too, needed to know what this guy got. So we chatted him up while pedestrians gaped in awe.


BB_Q(1) How’d you come up with idea for the cart?

BB_A(1) When I first saw Gremlins I enjoyed it, back in the early ’80s. Then they discontinued it, and so I decided I wanted to come up with something unique. I want to bring the Gremlins back, and I hope the original producer and director of the Gremlins sees this picture and he brings it back, or do a new movie of it.

BB_Q(1) Why the evil one instead of Gizmo?

BB_A(1) This is like a prototype right now. I was going to bring Gizmo into it. But the female is not evil, to me she’s a succubus. She’s not that evil. The only thing is the spider, which is there to steal her drink. She grabs a drink, he spreads his web and tries to take the drink off of her.

BB_Q(1) This is Instagram bait. How many people take photos of you every day?

BB_A(1) I can’t even count. When I go to Bedford Avenue, especially when I hit the [Kara Walker] art exhibit where the line was 3 or 4 blocks long, everybody took pictures. They flooded me. I did more photos than my work.


BB_Q(1) How much business do you do?

BB_A(1) Usually I make close to about 1, 2, 3ish [hundred dollars a day].

BB_Q(1) Where’d you score the doll?

BB_A(1) I ordered it online. I had to get something original, because the cart’s supposed to be Caribbean. The original cart was supposed to be time pieces [points to clocks affixed to the cart]. And people asked me, “What’s with the clocks?” and I said, “Time for you to get yourself a soft drink.” And that worked out a little bit but I think I needed more attention. People were still taking photos and so on, but I said, “I need more.” So I got this girl, this female Gremlin. And I think she’s the main attraction. I figured, get the female Gremlin because first of all you gotta think about summer, heat, bathing suit, Caribbean color. I think she’s sexy, she’s attractive (my opinion) and I think she’s mind-blowing. She’s the bee’s knees.

BB_Q(1) Are you Caribbean? Where are you from?

BB_A(1)I’m Caribbean, yes. Venezuela. Jamaican, also. I’m Jamaican-Venezuelan.

BB_Q(1) Is this what you wear on a normal day? Are those real dreads?

BB_A(1) It’s a costume, it’s a uniform. [Takes off the fake dreads]

BB_Q(1) Where can we see your photography?

BB_A(1) I haven’t found anybody who really considers my art but if they do appreciate it, like I said I’m willing to go to the next mile on it. I went to the Tribeca Film Festival, and I did a couple of things there as a photographer. But this is something that I just want to blow steam, interact with people — and I think the Gremlins, it’s also to catch kids’ imaginations. Because I don’t do this for myself, I do this for the public. This is the people’s cart and people have the right to know art does exist. And people have a right to enjoy the artwork.

BB_Q(1) What’s the best reaction you’ve gotten?

BB_A(1) The kids. I get their smiles, they love the music, they love the whole scenario. And this is what makes me inspired — it’s to catch the people’s expression, that’s my main goal. Catch your expression, get your opinion about it, and you just tell ’em what’s in your heart. This little kid just came out of nowhere and said, “Mom, that’s cool!” When he said that, it blew my mind.

BB_Q(1) Have people hassled you?

BB_A(1) No, they tried to but then again you gotta use your wits. So people say, “Oh, it’s against the law.” What’s against the law? To advertise my artwork? “It’s against the law to have beverages…” Where in the (excuse my French) where in the fuck in the history of mankind do you see a man that goes into a ballpark, NFL game, or a fishing or camping trip without a cooler with beverages? So you’re trying to tell me it’s against the law to carry a cooler full of beverages? You know what I could tell you, you can take your book and your laws and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

I’m an artist, this is an art cart. Take my cart and guess what’s going to happen. I don’t have to argue with you, I don’t have to fight with you. What I’m going to do is, I’m going to contact my attorney and he’s going to go up to you and slap you across the face with a subpoena and I’m going to sue you for everything you have. Also, I’m fundraising for my artwork and also to buy new photography equipment, more camera equipment, stuff to keep my business going. I’m also a licensed martial arts teacher, so I’m fundraising for the kids’ fighting equipment. Like I say, this is not my cart, it’s the people’s cart.

BB_Q(1) Do you do this only in Williamsburg?

BB_A(1) I want to take a risk, go to Manhattan and go off to Chinatown. Because first of all, the Gremlins is originally from China. You ever see the first movie? Where did the Mogwai come from? From the old man’s antiques store. Where did Gizmo come from? The old man. Where did Gremlins come from? The Mogwai. So that makes a Gremlin Asian. So, “What’s with the Caribbean?” Oh, why not? Gremlins go anywhere. Gremlins are Gremlins, they choose to go wherever they want to. New York, Caribbean, Chinatown. Gremlins are Gremlins, period.