John began collecting Bruce Lee memorabilia, at the age of thirteen, right after The Little Dragon’s premature death in 1973. At this pivotal time in his life, he was looking for a role-model to help him navigate the oppressive environment of bullying and drug abuse he saw all around him in New York City. Like many young boys of that era, John had grown up watching Bruce Lee in ‘The Green Hornet’ TV series during its 1966-1967 premiere run. Even though he was too young to understand the intricacies of ‘Gung Fu’ at that time, he was captivated by what he saw. This early exposure ignited a passion for Bruce Lee collectibles, which has endured for 47 years! Now, aged 60, John is still as passionate about his hobby as he ever was.
“When I began collecting, there was no Facebook or Twitter. We just had landlines – no cells – and, of course, the timeless option of writing to pen-pals who shared the same interest. This was our social media platform. Back then, I communicated with other collectors through “Fanzines”. These were basically fan-made magazines prepared on Xerox (copy) machines and then sent by mail to a defined subscriber-base. Most times, the publisher barely made back their mailing and printing costs, so it was mostly a labor of love. Despite the limitations, this fanzine-network was essentially our eBay, because we could easily find other collectors that way. We would then strike up friendships, call one another and write letters. I would routinely share stories with these “Pen-Pals”, and we would also swap and buy items from each other… The funny thing was one friend never knew what another friend looked like. We only knew each other’s voices and could recognise each other’s handwriting. I was like a kid in a candy store, when I was waiting for an item to come in the mail. It’s not like today, where you can track a consignment on eBay. Thanks to social-media, I am finally starting to meet the guys I would unwittingly rub shoulders with in New York City’s Chinatown. After all these years, technology has brought us back together.”