Written by: Alex Green
Otis Barthoulameu, the legendary San Diego singer/guitarist/photographer/producer/skater, has died.
Khown affectionately in southern California circles as O, the renaissance-man was a widely respected skateboard photographer. He also played in bands like Fluf, Makeup Sex, Systems Officer, Olivelawn, Harshmellow, Octagrape, Reeve Oliver, and Woofer. Not only did he get Blink-182 their first record deal, he produced for them as well.
O lived a life of rock and roll shapeshifting, acting as a roadie for The Muffs, being the stagehand for Ministry’s Psalm 69 Tour, photographing bands, managing bands and being the frontman of his own.
Thrasher Magazine’s Michael Burnett remembers his friend in this moving tribute: “O was one of my skateboard heroes. I studied the photos he shot in the mags, bought his albums with Olivelawn and Fluf, laughed at his over-the-top Foundation ads, Big Brother articles and performance in Ban This, and even got to interview him (twice!) for my shitty skate ‘zines when I was just starting out. I knew who O was since I was 15 years old, but did not truly become friends with him until 2020 when COVID put the brakes on his relentless tour schedule, most recently with Dinosaur Jr. He was just as friendly, funny and highly quotable as I’d imagined ––always “barging” on something, his lingo was as lively as his non-stop conversation. What I learned after getting to know O is that EVERYONE knows O! Music, skateboarding, photography, art ––he had 50-year connections that pulled in practically anyone interesting you’ve ever met or heard of. One of O’s greatest qualities was his ability to live in the present and always look forward, a rare thing for skaters and rockers past 50. No “back-in-the-day” talk, boasting or lecturing, he loved what he was doing RIGHT NOW. He’d show up at three sessions a day, even just to snap a few photos and bullshit, then make it to the Casbah at night to support his friends’ bands and laugh some more. He had a new band, Harshmellow, and was constantly churning out boards for Dogtown, Foundation and whoever else wanted a custom wide-riding design. “I don’t drink or smoke, so I’m the dude who gets up early and drives around and finds stuff to do!” he told me in his Thrasher interview earlier this year. “There’s not a day that I wake up where I don’t want to skateboard.” O did it all, with fun and fury. The world is a smaller, quieter, more boring place without him.”