Past & Present (part 2 of 2)

 
Lance Mountain, by Gary Muller

Lance Mountain, by Gary Muller

Lance Mountain

How did you first get into skating?

I got my first board from an older friend who lived down the street in Alhambra, California. It had clay wheels, and it was just a toy to play on. Urethane wheels had just come out, and there was a boom: handstands, 360s, wheelies, flying of a curb. It was the start of the skateboard craze for kids in 1975.


What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living?

Someone who skates for transportation has the freedom of just the act of moving from one place to another. Someone who skates for a living has the responsibilities, rewards, and consequences of that job. They are both skating to work.


What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry?

Culture is the act of doing it & the personal interpretation of that.

The industry starts with doing it, but then its focus is influencing, directing, inspiring, producing & selling it. 


What are the roots of skateboarding?

I think the roots are kids playing on a toy trying to find out what they can do on it, adding to what they discover, and trying to find belonging, purpose & self-esteem. From kids in the 50s on 2x4s and rollerskates, to present time, I don’t think it has deviated from that. But every generation looks at the next & sees it isn’t what they experienced & thinks their time was more pure. 


Is there anything that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

Too many to list both ways. But skateboarders and other people making a living from it has been by far the biggest most impactful change I have seen.


Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices in skateboarding?

Skateboarding itself has always connected, and brought together, the most eclectic groups of people and given them a way to interact, learn, talk, and create together.


What’s someone/something that skating has forgotten about that you wish would come back?

Before griptape some barefoot skaters used carpet on top of their decks for grip & soft ride. wish that could make a comeback.


What do you love about skateboarding today?

That I am able to go do it today, and try something I haven’t tried before.

Name 3 skaters who changed skateboarding before 2000, and what made them special. 

Alva-Attitude behind the activity.

Blender-creative mind.

Gonz-reopend the idea that skateboarding can be done on any terrain. 


Name 3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture today, and what makes them special.

Grant Taylor has made his mark. I think Daan Van Der Linden & Yuto Horigome will be the new standard.

Dave Swift by Gary Muller

Dave Swift by Gary Muller

Dave Swift

How did you first get into skating?

I got into skateboarding in 1977, the beginning of the Skatepark Era and I was living in suburban San Diego, about 20 miles inland from the beach. It was my 7th grade year at school, and my Spanish teacher would take kids to the Carlsbad Skatepark once a month if they were doing well in class. In the beginning of the year I didn’t own a skateboard as my parents were totally against me riding one because skateboards were considered “dangerous” and I might get hurt and not be able to play baseball. That being said, my early adolescence tendency was to do just the opposite of what they wanted, and with my own my money I bought a used skateboard and hid it from them. There was a ditch behind my parents house that was super rough but also fun to ride and when my parents were away at work I’d ride my skateboard out there by myself, learning frontside and backside kickturns and wall carves. My secret was good until I took a slam to the head and wound up with a concussion, I wanted to lie to them and say I got hit with a baseball or something but I told them it happened to me while riding a skateboard. The secret was out, and the punishment was so minimal that I figured “why should I stop now?” Here we are 42 years later and I can’t stop.

I was originally exposed to skating from 1976 when everyone I knew rode a skateboard except me. They were sidewalk surfing their brains out while I was bored at home playing with army men or some shit. At some point, while riding my bike to the new shopping center I came across the RB Ditch and there about two dozen teenagers riding back and forth on the walls. To me it looked like so much fun, like they were surfing. For the next little while I’d ride my bike up there just to watch and I remember seeing the cops pull up and all the skaters scattering. I guess it was illegal to skate there and it was the first time I saw that riding a skateboard was for outlaws! Ha, I probably didn’t think that than but it was pretty cool watching all these long hairs running from the two policemen. Within a few months the ditch was buried under a new road and I never got to skate the thing. I’m pretty sure it was in Skateboarder magazine once or twice. 

What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living? 

The difference between them is like the difference between a person who drives a car to work and another who races cars for a living. In both instances, you need to have the basic functions down. In a car, knowing how to drive and the rules of the road are the basic requirements and with a skateboard, knowing how to push, turn, balance and stop are the basics. 

To do either for a living, you have to have talent and that only comes with years of hard work to learn all the skills necessary to stand out among the masses. Very few people become professional car racers or skateboarders. It’s obvious in both of these things you don’t have to love it to be great at it. Lots of examples of that in skateboarding. I prefer the ones who love it.

What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry?

I don’t think there is much left of skateboard culture, it’s quickly being washed away by ego-driven individuals and corporate greed! Sounds great, huh? 

Do you think skateboarding has deviated from its roots? 

Skateboarding roots–as far as I’m concerned–come from surfing. It was all about getting that feeling of surfing when there were no waves, or you didn’t live close to the beach. That wasn’t the roots for me, I mean, I did first see that as what skateboarding was but by the time I picked up a skateboard, it had progressed beyond surfing and had its own tricks and culture. I remember reading interviews with top professional skateboarders in 1977-78 who would often say they only really skated when the waves were flat. 

The next generation of skaters like Steve and Micke Alba, Duane Peters, Eddie Elguera, Eric Grisham and Alan Gelfand didn’t talk about surfing. They were all about skateboard trick progression and it started a shift in what people were doing on their skateboards. This era invented ollies, handplants, footplants, backside and frontside airs and so much more. The roots of skateboarding’s rise to driving “Action Sports” (I hate that word but it best explains what skateboarding, surfing, BMX freestyle and Snowboarding have in common) culture had begun and was already years ahead of the others. 

That being said, when the skatepark era came to an end in 1980, when all the parks closed I was fortunate enough to live close enough to a park where the culture of skateboarding was still thriving. From 1980 on, skateboarding progressed so quickly that it had outgrown its surfing roots and before long, surfers were trying to emulate the tricks (aerials and lip tricks) that skateboarders were doing. 

The deviation from those roots are endless and I couldn’t even start to explain it. And besides, how it deviated for me is probably different from the next person. I do believe that the essence of riding a skateboard will always remain the same—Fun!

What’s something that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

I think skateboarding has always been bizarre and uncouth and I hope it remains that way. 

Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices part of skateboard culture?

Of course there is. People all around the world ride skateboards so there is bound to be some hate. We’ve come a long way as a society but there is still so much further to go. I grew up at a time where racist words were common, and thankfully that is no longer the case. In skateboarding I never really saw much racism between skaters at all but I grew up in Coastal California in the late 70’s and early 80s, and if you were a skateboarder at that time you were pretty much hated by society, and we all looked out for each other with no thoughts of race or gender. My best friend in high school’s favorite skater was Carabeth Burnside.

I started working in the skateboard industry in 1989 and I’ve yet to encounter a brand that practices discrimination by race, gender, or religion. Actually, there is probably more intolerance to religion in the industry than anything else. 

What do you love about skateboarding today?

My love for skateboarding is a personal thing. I’m 54 years old and I think I skate about five days a week on average; if I don’t I’m usually grumpy at night. I ruptured my quad tendon in 2012 and had to have surgery to repair it. At the time, I was 47 and kind of figured I’d never be able to skate the way I wanted to ever again. About a year later, after re-habbing, new skateparks started opening up and I just had to get out there and regain my on-board confidence. Nowadays I’m strong and healthy and it’s all I want to do in my free time. Nerd shit.

The other side of skateboarding that I love is shooting photos and traveling. From 2004-2013 I spent most of my work time behind a desk dealing with the everyday editorial obligations of a monthly magazine. I barely traveled or shot photos during those years. Since 2013 I’ve gone back to my roots, gave up the management part of skateboard media and have been able to travel and work on projects on my own. It’s a love affair that I have, but it’s pretty one sided because it doesn’t seem like skateboarders of today appreciate the value of good legit editorial! I’ll keep doing my best, though. 

Name 3 skaters who changed skateboarding before 2000, and describe what made them special. 

Pretty hard to name only three but let me try.  The first would be Lance Mountain. He made skateboarding look fun and accessible for all of us. Next I’d say Mark Gonzales because he just nailed it on all levels and still does. I remember seeing him frontside boardslide this super long curb like it was nothing and that’s all I needed to see. And what would my list be without Heath Kirchart? I spent a good, ten-plus years out in the streets with Heath and he inspired me even when he failed. And he retired from professional skateboarding when he was still on top of his game, going out with a bang. The best.

Again, my list could be super extensive as there are plenty more that changed skateboarding over the five decades that I’ve been on a skateboard but those are my top three for sure.

Name 3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture today, and describe what they’re doing that makes them special.

Nora Vasconcellos and Lizzie Armanto are at the top of the list. In the 80s, 90s and 2000’s it was rare to see girl/woman skaters on the decks or in the streets and these two have shown that females can make it in skateboarding on their own terms. Now you look out there and you can’t go to the skatepark without seeing loads of female skaters and the numbers continue to grow in part because of Nora and Lizzie. Thanks ladies.

After that I’d say just those skaters who don’t give a fuck about what anyone else thinks, and just do their own thing on a skateboard. The freaks that just want to have fun and could care less about the latest hot skate fashion or trick trend. These are the skaters I want to be riding with in the coming years. Whatever happened to tune in, turn on, drop out? Thanks for listening.

Lance Dawes by Gary Muller

Lance Dawes by Gary Muller

Lance Dawes

How did you first get into skating?

Ah man, I got my first board for Christmas in '78- It was just a toy to me. It wasn't until '83ish that my friends started a BMX crew and I used to hold on to their seat posts while I skated next to them. My mom moved to Virginia Beach and I meet this kid there that skated. He could ollie and tic-tac, walk the dog and did bonelesses on flat- I was blown away. I didn't know there was a world outside of mine that skated. Didn't know there were magazine, pros or anything. He also introduced me to punk rock- Agent Orange, Dead Kennedys and the Bad Brains. He called it skating music. I was hooked for life.

What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living?

The fact that you call it a "longboard" and not a skateboard is all the difference in the world. One is transportation, the other is life altering. The similarity is they both have 4 wheels–then again so does a car.

What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry?

What is the skateboard industry? Companies that make skate product? Most are owned by skaters. Does LeBron own the team that he plays for? Thrasher, Spitfire, Girl, Real, Baker- that's the skateboard industry, and they all skate. The culture of skating other than the physical act, is the attitude, the images and videos, graphics, traveling and saying "Fuck You" to norms.

 

What are skateboarding’s roots?

Most will say skating's roots are in surfing–the way we move and carve, skating banks and transitions like a wave. But skating started in Chicago, (the first mass-produced board was made by Sears in Chicago), and other cities where kids nailed roller skate trucks to 2x4s with milk crates to hold onto. Once the crate ripped off you had a skateboard. But skating as we know it today all spawns from the Venice crew of the '70s: Alva, Adams and Peralta. Get low and dirty, fire in the eyes, skate everything and cause trouble. That attitude is all that is good and sacred in skateboarding today. There are deviations from it, but those guys are ingrained in our psyche.

 

What’s something that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

Layback airs are illegal unless you're Losi, Hosoi or Jeff Phillips- period. Baggy pants, skinny pants, short shorts, Jimmy'z chef hats, dayglo, Rip Grip, 40mm wheels- things come and go, who cares. We're all a bunch of weirdo outcasts to begin with. Inverts were out for the entire '90s but now every little Bobby at the skatepark is throwing up eggs. Everything comes full circle, it's all rad. Not into heel flips though.

 

Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices in skateboarding?

I feel this question might spawn from the recent inquisition of Jason Jesse. Look, there's dumbasses everywhere, skating's no exception. But as a whole the world of skating is the most inclusive group of people on earth. If you skate, you're one of us, and we don't care what shape, size or color you are. Jason's a great example of saying something that he now regrets–he's grown, loved, lost and now sees the world with nothing but love.

What’s someone/something that skating has forgotten about that you wish would come back?

I wish we could have all our lost friends back: Phelps, Keenan, Pepe, Harold, Reason, Fausto and the list goes on.

What do you love about skateboarding today?

Instagram. 

3 skaters who changed skateboarding before 2000?

Whoa, that's too broad of a question. Let's get the obvious ones out of the way first: Jay Adams, Steve Olson, Shogo, Lamar, Salba, Andrecht, Hawk, Cab, Hosoi, Blender, Mountain, Lucero, Phillips, Losi, Kasai ,Grosso, Blaze, Rodney Mullen, Dressen, Gonz, Tommy, Natas, Mike V, and Hensley. Next up is Way, Guy, Carroll, Sanchez, Sheffey, Salman, Duffy, Koston, Iannucci. I know I'm forgetting lots. Eric Koston has to be the gold standard since the early '90s–style, class, insane board control and he always looks like he's having fun. Salman Agah doesn't get the credit that he deserves for pioneering skating switch–most people know him as the pizza guy now.

Roger Bagley by Gary Muller

Roger Bagley by Gary Muller

Roger Bagley

How did you get into skating?

Honestly have no idea why I started skateboarding…I just knew I wanted a skateboard when I was a kid. The Space Shuttle Challenger had just blew up and someone in my family bought me a Valterra Ramp Champ set up from a department store. As soon as I got that board, I built a quarter pipe that looked just like the one on the board, and learned how to skate in my driveway.

What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living? 

The similarity is pretty simple they both enjoy rolling around on 4 wheels, and that’s all that should really matter.

What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry?

The culture is what skateboarders as a group make of it; that group determines their own beliefs, habits, customs and whatever…blah blah blah. The culture has multiple groups within itself, which is a good thing, we can’t repeat the early 90’s pressure flip era again.

The industry–if it’s smart–does what it can to nurture the culture/cultures (grow the pond). Hopefully, the industry guides skateboarding in the right direction, so skateboarding doesn’t end up dead for a third time. And of course the industry is there to profit off the culture. We can’t have one without the other.

Do you think skateboarding has deviated from those roots?

Skateboarding is the same as it was since day one…it’s fun to roll around on 4 wheels

What’s something that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

Nothing.

Do  you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices in skateboarding?

I’d like to think in 2019 none of that is happening in the skateboarding culture or industry. But, we lived in a fucked up world, with fucked up people, who think fucked up things. Hopefully those fucked up people–if they are in skateboarding–will eventually pull their heads out of their asses one day.

What’s someone/something that skating has forgotten about that you wish would come back?

Nothing.

What do you love about skateboarding today?

It's just as fun today as it was when I started.

Name 3 skaters who changed skateboarding before 2000.

No one changed skateboarding.

Name 3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture today.

Anyone who rides a skateboard down the street with a smile on their face is making skateboarding a better place.

Tom Mull by Gary Muller

Tom Mull by Gary Muller

Tom Mull

How did you first get into skateboarding?

It was around 1999. I was ten. There were jokes about the Y2K bug. I remember hoping the world would end so I wouldn’t have to play baseball the following year. I was terrified of older kids pitching the ball super fast. So skateboarding came into my life around that time. My oldest brother Charley brought home a board, and my brothers Dave and Steve were super stoked on it. They got me stoked on it. Seemed a lot less scary than baseball. 

What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living? 

A longboard commuter contributes to urban infrastructure, and a skateboarder destroys it. No similarities.

What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry?

I watch Baker 3, or any WKND video, and I wonder if there is any difference. When companies are skater-owned and honest, when they’re built on the personalities of the skateboarders, culture and industry seem to be one and the same. Big corporations are another story. Random people come in, make significant decisions, and leave six months later. No thanks.

Do you think skateboarding has deviated from its roots? 

The roots of skateboarding are in surfing, in indigenous polynesians experimenting with their landscape (early 1800s). That’s what skateboarding is to me: experimenting with the landscape, urban or rural. A set of stairs, a crack in the sidewalk, a piece of trash, a puddle, a tree—so many things to play with. I think that’s still a big draw for kids and I think that’s still in the hearts of all my favorite skateboarders. Deviation is competition, from art to sport.

What’s something that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

Freestyle is pretty uncouth. 

Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices in skateboarding?

Of course. Discrimination is thoroughly ingrained in culture–even in skateboarding, unfortunately. Skateboarding learned so much from hardcore punk in the 80s, but I’m afraid its losing its counter-culture, it’s controversy, it’s edge, it’s point. But there are companies like Unity and Skate Witches that are actively fighting gender discrimination. Props!!!

What’s someone/something that skating has forgotten about that you wish would come back?

When parts seemed like they were filmed in a day. Ray Barbee in Ban This, for example. He  just skates down the street and hits curbs and banks and walls and stairs. So simple and so fun. I’d like to see more parts like that. Less bangers, more improv!

What do you love about skateboarding today?

Curb sessions with friends and family. So much fun.

3 skaters who changed skateboarding before 2000?

Gonz, Barbee, Templeton, Steamer. Creative, genuine, experimental, progressive. That’s 4. Sorry (not sorry).

3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture today?

Evan Smith has no ego and no script. Unbelievably positive and spontaneous. MAGIC.

Nora Vasconcellos inspires so many girls to be whatever they want (funny, pretty, gnarly, etc).

Kader is a kid being a kid—the spirit of skateboarding incarnate; immature and out of control. :)

Dan Mancina by Gary Muller

Dan Mancina by Gary Muller

Dan Mancina

How did you first get into skating?

I started skating seriously around 1999. I pushed around a bit before that, but would not consider myself a skater. I used to snowboard a lot, and I read an article that said skating during the summer months can help. It pretty much just took over from there.

What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living? What are the similarities?

I think they are both skaters, someone who does it for living is just more involved. I think they can both think about skating all day everyday, just in different ways. 

What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry?

I have no idea, the industry has a strong influence on where the culture goes, but the culture really decides in the end. 

Do you think skateboarding has deviated from its roots? 

It is different for everyone whatever the era you were introduced to is your own roots. Nowadays, kids have different roots, they were raised on different skaters than I was, and it just continues on, slowly building off of the previous generations.

What’s something that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

I have no idea.

Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices part of skateboard culture?

Not from the companies I ride for, but it still exists in our society, and that just blows my mind. 


What’s someone/something that skating has forgotten about that you wish would come back?

Just hope videos will not become a thing of the past, also filming with a VX is becoming more rare.

What do you love about skateboarding today?

Same thing as when I started, just going out skating.

Name 3 skaters who changed skateboarding before 2000, and describe what made them special.

The Bird Man, because he is still doing it. Cardiel, he has such a huge presence and respect. There are just so many legends.

Name 3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture today, and describe what they’re doing that makes them special.

I am not sure I do not really follow the culture it is hard to follow as is, but being blind makes it even harder I just keep skating. 

Roll Forever. 

Chandler Burton by Gary Muller

Chandler Burton by Gary Muller

Chandler Burton

How did you first get into skating?

When I was 15 or so, 2009 I think, a movie came out called “the lords of dog dog town.” In the movie they had smaller boards with polyurethane wheels that were new to the skate scene in at the time. This sparked my interest because I always saw skateboards with popsicle shapes, tight ass trucks, and small hard wheels. The way they skated in that movie became extremely influential to my skating. In the beginning of my skateboarding journey I skated only flat ground doing carves and power slides on concrete and “freestyle” type tricks that were portrayed in the movie. You could find me every morning at about 6-7 am in front of Costa Mesa high school thrashing around the concrete on a mini board I stole from kmart, fitted with my old carrera roller skate wheels from when I roller skated at the local skate rink in Fountain Valley. I was heavily influenced by Jay Adams, and his attitude and style of skating that was more raw and aggressive, and I wanted to be like him. 

What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living? What are the similarities?

Just go watch “Rant and rave” with Jeff Grosso. 

 

What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry?

The culture is a plant. The industry is the water and sun that help the culture grow.

Without the skate industry I believe that skate culture would not have grown into what it is today. 

Do you think skateboarding has deviated from its roots? 

I believe the “roots” of skateboarding, or where it evolved from, started with the Dogtown Z-Boys or the Bones Brigade. Has this culture changed? Yes and no. Everything was based off creativity back then, just as much as it is now. Styles of skating have changed drastically from where it came from, yes, but the creativity of skateboarders has lead us to where skateboarding is today.

What’s something that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

Honestly no idea.... everything about skating is weird and bizarre.

Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices part of skateboard culture? 

Skateboarders are not known for being the most politically correct people, but our whole community is like “the island of misfit toys”–we’re all broken and insane. Our community can also be very ignorant or dated at times. However, I’ve noticed a huge change in present day skateboarders with more of a PC mindset, which is cool to see, but there is still some ignorant exclusivity in skateboarding out there.    

What’s someone/something that skating has forgotten about that you wish would come back?

World Industries!!!!

What do you love about skateboarding today?

“Style and Aggression.”- Dwayne Peters 

3 skaters who changed skateboarding before 2000? 

Jay Adams was just a beast legend from the Dogtown Z-Boys era.

Rodney Mullen is a genius who created a lot of the tricks used in skateboarding today, and he’s a freestyle flat ground GOD.

Julien Stranger.... “ANTI HERO”

3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture today?

Andrew Reynolds (The Boss) and his frontside flips and his ability to maintain his skill as he gets older. 

Grant Taylor probably one of the best skateboarders alive.... sorry everyone else.

Pedro Delfino honestly came out of nowhere with a thrasher cover... probably one of my favorite skateboarders too. 

Tyler Poolos by Gary Muller

Tyler Poolos by Gary Muller

Tyler Poolos

How did you first get into skateboarding?

Man, the first REAL memory of skating was when I was about 3 or so. I was living in Iowa City at the time, and I remember driving passed the skatepark and staring out the car in my little booster seat. Shit was crazy: dudes flying through the air–I had never seen anyone doing that. That Christmas my older brother got a board, and I got a football or something. I immediately “traded” him for it (he wasn't into the idea of skating anyway), and the rest followed. I think my dad was always the one to expose me the most. I lived in New Zealand for a few years when I was pretty young, and he was always my biggest supporter, always saying he’d take me to the park or watch me tool around in the driveway. I’m super privileged and lucky to have such a supportive pops. My first deck I remember getting was a Black Label board, with a pink Jimi Hendrix on it. That shit was wild! I have not been able to find another one or even a pic to this day. My Pops bought me that one, and I can’t thank him enough. 

 Skateboarding was always something I did by myself until I moved back to the Bay in middle school. Then I found a group of friends, but as a kid I wasn’t the best, nor did I really want to be. To me, skating was a way to get away from a lot of the shit at home that wasn’t going well, and a way for me to get creative in the streets.

What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living? What are the similarities?

I sure do see a lot of those longboarders on the way to their salesforce job or some techie situation in the Bay. I get bummed out by it, but then I get bummed out for feeling bummed on it? It’s a weird cycle. I think everyone should try riding a board that has four wheels and you have to push on your own, none of this electric shit. It’s good for the soul. But for real, the people I know who skate for a living, and make fun of people trying to scoot by on whatever they’re on, need to take a step back. At one point we were all trying to find something we liked to do, or a new way to get around. I don’t know, everyone is on their own vibe and we should all learn to listen more.

What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry?

The way I look at it, is kinda like a venn diagram. You got these two bubbles, and somewhere in the middle they overlap a little. I think it starts to get dicey when you got these huge companies that are contributing millions of dollars to political campaigns that are trying to restrict people’s freedoms and abilities to sustain life in this country. Just saying “Who cares,” or “They’re just another company,” isn’t cutting it anymore. We, as the skate community, need to take charge and ownership of our actions more. Choosing to not be political is a privilege. Recognize.

What are skateboarding’s roots?

Ooof this is a good question, and over the years hearing people’s answers to this type of question has made me realize that it’s all about perspective; who you grew up with, where you’re from, and all the skating experiences in between. What really woke me the fuck up about skating was Fully Flared. I remember running to my neighbor’s house after school one day–his mom always drove us to the park, shoutout Denise–and he had JUST copped the dvd the day before. DAMN! That shit was legit mind-blowing, I think those exploding stairs behind Mike Mo blew us all away.Then I just dove deeper, and deeper into the skate archive. Finding Video Days and the Menace Trilogy video really opened up some doors too. Honestly skating for me was just for me, I hadn’t spent much time on the computer or in the shops growing up like a lot of other groms.

I think we are all constantly changing, and this answer kinda goes with the question above, how the skateboarding culture and the industry differ….that’s just it. They do differ, where I believe there should be a healthier overlap. There will always be ingenuine bros out here tryna profit off of something a community loves to do, for us that’s skating. Someone will always wanna make money, someone will own the company that makes the shoes you wear–just pay attention to who does, and what they are doing to benefit the culture, and community they’re profiting from.

What’s something that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

This whole streetwear hype. I heavily remember the Corey Duffel grime; boardsliding the gnarliest looking rails; or the old Baker Boys squad, Jim Greco, Dustin, Spanky, Reynolds. Just real fucking gnarly dudes throwing it down, drinking, and just being wild. Growing up that was the time I was in, and then it seemed like all of a sudden Nike took over, and the Janoski was on every person’s foot within a mile radius. Fuckin wild. People spending hundreds of dollars on a jacket to skate in. That shit’s normal now? I don’t even know what is normal or which side would be, everyone’s got their thing.

Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices in skateboard culture? What about in the past? And how about in the skate industry itself?

Y.E.S. and anyone who says differently is just lying to themselves. Educate yourself, and take time to learn about others experiences. Straight up, how many female owned skate companies can you list? Any POC run? If you’re reading this and getting mad or defensive, think about that too. Seriously there are all kinds of people on these wooden toys we ride for absolutely no logical reason. The sooner we can recognize and stop the hate, the sooner we can grow and do cool shit together. UNITY is the most productive and beautiful space creator for Queer bodied skaters, specifically Trans youth and Queer POC. Creating space for people to feel comfortable should not be met with such aggression and wack reactions. People really still comment “Why is this girl sponsored?? I could do that!!”. Fuck that mentality!! Visibility is important, especially for young people growing up. Seeing someone who looks like you or thinks like you out there doing whatever they want can CHANGE A PERON’S LIFE. If you’re heated cause you’re not sponsored or getting mentioned on someone’s IG, re-evaluate your priorities. And dont hate on other people for wanting the same as you….plus, there is obviously something special about their skating.

What’s someone/something that skating has forgotten about that you wish would come back?

Damn well Bam made a return last year, Hoopla stopped making boards, that was a sad day on the gram. Peggy Oki, friggin legend, would love to hear what she’s up to now.

What do you love about skateboarding today?

That groups like UNITY exist. And that I can see the slow change in a lot of these white bros’ minds. It’s the little wins that hype me on the community, and makes me believe and respect in us again.

3 skaters who changed skateboarding before 2000?

Rodney Mullen, I read his biography when I was in highschool, shit changed me. Seriously religiously watched his videos from his contests back when he was my age at that time. Video Days, of course. I mean Jazz and skating, plus just the flow of living in SF and doing your own thing back in the EMB days. Mark you’re the man! Put a non cis dude on the Krooked team though! I dare ya. Lastly, Jason Lee or Mike McGill. I love both of their styles, And I cant choose. Jason Lee’s style is amazing, his imposibles made my jaw drop, not to mention his handrail game.

 

3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture today?

Cher who rides for Mudd Guts and UNITY. She’s a powerhouse, not only on her rolliflex of tricks, but being Trans in the skate community (and anywhere right now) is SCARY. She’s really out here being herself and crushing it. Shout OUTSSS to my girl, I love her and am lucky to call her a friend. Lacey Baker for sure. Their My World edit was just so tight. Their manuals are insane. Plus, as a queer bodied skater myself, seeing someone who doesn’t fit into the gender binary crushing it and having huge sponsors like Nike, is super inspiring. Last is Ryan Maddox. He is living through his passion. Skating to live, living to skate. Really really motivates me to get out and do it every fucking day. That man hustles and respects anyone who has a board. He really doesn’t spit hate, and he’s in his 40’s still rippin!! Fuck yea, hope to meet him one day. Also a huge photo inspiration. He really makes skating look so cool.

Tomi Allison by Gary Muller

Tomi Allison by Gary Muller

Tomi Allison

How did you first get into skating?

I first got into skateboarding as a kid in the 90s, mainly just cruising around my neighborhood. I didn’t know any skaters growing up so eventually my old skateboard just sat in the closet collecting dust. Fast forward to 2018, I had come out as transgender and had been transitioning for over a year at that point. That spring I discovered the #queerskateboarding hashtag on Instagram, and that’s what really got me into skateboarding. Seeing so many queer and trans-identifying people skateboarding, and having fun doing it, was what really motivated me to buy a new board. Like regardless of the shitty insults hurled at us online and at skateparks, we were doing our thing out in the streets and parks. 

Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices part of skateboard culture?

I think there is a ton of homophobia, transphobia, and sexism in skateboarding. There is nowhere near the same amount of representation of women in our sport. Let alone queer people. Go to a skatepark and count how many times you hear the ugly word “faggot” get thrown around casually. Go read the shitty comments online whenever a popular outlet shares content coming from trans skaters. 

3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture today?

Jeff Cheung:Jeff runs Unity Skateboards and is an overall amazing human being. Unity Skateboards started in the Bay, and now it’s coast to coast. There are Unity Queer Skate sessions popping up all over the country, providing a safe space for skaters like us to make new friends and have fun skating. Cher Strauberry: Cher is probably one of the most visible transgender skaters out there right now. Even with the constant hate she gets from the vast majority of the skateboarding community she rips and does her thing. She def let’s her skating do the talking for her. Not only is she a rad skater but also a rad human being! Lacey Baker: Besides being such a shredder, Lacey is helping create safe spaces for our community. With the help of a few others they have started skate workshops in NYC where trans, queer, and gender-non-conforming people can learn to skate, and session in a safe and welcoming space. The fact that this exists means everything to us since skateparks tend to be an overwhelming, hyper masculine environment. 

Yash Preswalla by Gary Muller

Yash Preswalla by Gary Muller

Yash Preswalla


How did you first get into skating?

 I started skateboarding around 1999. I was in grade 7 and a buddy of mine happened to come across a board. I thought it was rad and somehow got one for myself. I think it was given to me. At this time there were no skateparks in our city, and we weren’t yet ripping around town, so the spot was a freshly paved side street, right at the corner, with a nice new curb ready to be abused with wax. There were 3 or 4 of us that started together, so we all sucked, but it was cool learning along with friends—striking a balance between supporting each other and being in constant competition. I don’t remember learning to ollie (except that it took a while) or dropping in, but after a while we hooked up with some older skaters. One dude had a flat bar that he kept on his porch, so we would haul it out. I think that’s where I learned to boardslide. These older guys were kind of jerks, but they were down with us and I guess I took any attention as affection. Hanging with them was cool—skating downtown spots, travelling to different parks out of town, and eventually out of the country. But they also modelled a lot that I needed to unlearn later in life: casual misogyny, drug and alcohol abuse, and that classic, cliquey, us-versus-them mentality. 

The skating was awesome and it’s all I did through my teens, but I also learned how to “party”, and that became a significant part of my identity. I now realize that I was only seeing approval and using those people and behaviors to cover up the deep-down shame and guilt we all carry until it’s confronted. But the skating was a kind of pure joy—I wasn’t great and I never got really great, but it’s one part of my old life that I still carry with me today, and now I’m finding out that not everyone’s experience has to be like mine. Skateboarding is inherently positive, but skaters are people, and people tend to fuck up anything good, eventually. I’m stoked to be diving into the flip side of all that I grew up with, because skateboarding is such a unique and powerful path for personal development, and everyone should do it. 

What’s the difference between someone with no knowledge of skateboard culture who rides a longboard from a train station to their job, and someone who skateboards for a living? What are the similarities?

I can’t speak to skateboarding for a living, but street skating isn’t just a way of getting around. I think what makes it such a dynamic tool for learning about life is the fact that it’s hard and there’s no way to succeed without feeling the pain of repeated failure. That pain is what makes it worth doing, and what makes us resilient. There is always going to be something enjoyable about movement and speed, but you can get that from riding a bike. The difference between a casual, point-A-to-point-B skater and someone who skates for real is that the latter costs us something. It takes a long time to develop the control needed to throw yourself down some stairs or get up onto a handrail. And with skateboarding, there is no real attainment; we can always push through to the next thing—next trick, next obstacle, next line, next body movement. Some people are okay just cruising, and that’s cool too. But just like with music, can go as deep as you want and never find a bottom. 

What’s the difference between skateboard culture and the skateboard industry? 

Again, I don’t have much of a background to speak on this, but in my experience the industry is mostly garbage. Being so niche and with an emphasis on being “core” there’s historically been little room for diversity. And as a culture, we like to think we’re inclusive and tolerant, but that’s BS. Like a lot of male-centric cultures, there’s a toxic cloud over skating. Maybe that’s due to the fact that it’s evolved under the radar, and to call someone out meant to risk being ostracised, but a lot of gross attitudes and behavior are not only tolerated, but encouraged. I’m glad that’s changing now, but at the higher levels, both in culture and industry, it seems like everyone is trying to pull the rug out from everyone else. However, all that being said, I’m encouraged and so stoked to see that more diverse communities are embracing skateboarding and taking ownership of it. It’s not about being the best or getting sponsored, but just enjoying the challenge and bonding with others over the victories and defeats alike. That’s what it’s always been about, I think, and everything else is just fleeting noise. The crusty old men of skateboarding are fading away, and though they’ll kick and scream on the way out, their ilk is less relevant than ever. These are the dudes who would be shaking their fists and yelling at skateboarders, if they didn’t happen to skate themselves. Kids these days are smart and aware of the world around them, and I’m optimistic about where they will take skating in the years to come. 

What are the roots of skateboarding?

When I started skating a lot of my friends were into reading the magazines, watching the videos, knowing every pro, every part, every song in every part. While I enjoyed seeing what people were doing, I was more interested in just skating myself. In starting Impact and digging into my thoughts on what makes skateboarding such a potentially positive force for young people, I’ve come to believe that the ethos of skateboarding is inherently right and good. It’s a completely level playing field, so to speak, and because there’s no one really telling you what you must do—no rules, as such—every single person who picks up a board is forced to figure it out. Even these days with trick tips and skate schools, there’s still no substitute for spending the hours and slamming until you get the results you want. An activity like that is fertile ground for building community, for nurturing empathy, for embracing diversity. Everything outside that is stuff we’ve attached to it. In that way, skateboarding has not really deviated—there are waves of cool clothes, cool music, cool tricks, but it all boils down to that same thing: our body and a skateboard. The trends will come and go as they always have—what stays unchanged is the fascination and determination that practices standing ollies on the sidewalk over and over, persisting even though it seems like no progress in being made. And I love that about skateboarding. The rest is of no real consequence. 

What’s something that was bizarre or uncouth in past eras of skateboarding, but is normal for skaters today, or vice-a-versa?

When I started skating, it was all white dudes. Except for Kareem Campbell, Stevie Williams, and that one black guy in my neighbourhood that could heelflip, there weren’t any visible minorities that I saw in skating (I know there were a handful of others, but not really on my 13-year-old Canadian radar). It’s funny that as a culture, we were once so anti-corporate and all about keeping our (perceived) identity as a scene, whereas now skate culture has fully embraced big corporations stepping into skating, and there isn’t much room for skater-owned brands. This isn’t really my area of interest or expertise, so I don’t have much to say about it, but it seems like we get the culture we deserve. If enough people care about making the industry representative of the culture, it’ll happen. I just know skater-owned doesn’t always equal integrity of care for actual skateboarders. 

Do you think there is racism, sexism, or any other kind of discriminatory thinking/practices in skateboard culture? What about in the past? And how about in the skate industry itself? 

Sweet Lord! Yeah man, for as brilliant and life-giving as skateboarding is and can be, it’s also full of people, and people can be terrible. We’re all susceptible to the influences of family and friends and our surroundings, so it is not surprising that many people—skaters included—are racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic jerks. I think this is something that is shifting, but as we all know, white men (#notallwhitemen) will seldom step aside quietly when being called on their grossness, especially when they feel they have ownership over something (read: everything). As I mentioned earlier, skate culture evolved in spurts and pockets that were pretty insulated, and lacked a diversity of people and thought, so slurs and discrimination of all kinds abound unchecked. I can’t really speak to the industry, although the lack of representation is obvious even to the outside observer. But even though it’s slowing down now, the skate industry has positioned women as objects, much like most of male society has done for the entirety of modern capitalism. Black and other non-white skaters have too often been pushed as ‘edgy’ to appeal to white kids who think it’s cool to be a gangster. 

What’s someone/something that skating has forgotten about that you wish would come 

back? 

JNCO Jeans. Going faster instead of using wax. Standing up for what you believe in. 

What do you love about skateboarding today?

I’m stoked on the kids. As far as the talent goes, it’s awesome to see skateboarding evolving and being carried along. But what gives me hope is that kids today are down to swim a little bit outside of the mainstream. And in working with children, I’m really happy to see that so many of them are falling in love with skateboarding without knowing the names of any pros, without giving a crap about the ‘image’, and without attaching some kind of social capital to their skating. Maybe they’ll fall into all that same stuff, but at least there are more avenues to model what skaters are and can be. Most kids don’t even know what a 40 is, and I think that’s rad. 

3 skaters who are making a unique contribution to skateboard culture 

today?

I just want to shout out two of my favorite hometown pros: Lee Yankou and Morgan Smith. These dudes are both incredibly gnarly skaters, but what I appreciate is that they are genuinely good guys. I’m often viewing things through the lens of kids, and whether given aspects of skateboarding are positive or negative to them, and both Lee and Morgan are consistently down with the kids. They take the time to say hello, cheer them on, answer their questions. I’ve seen a lot of dudes who get some sponsors and start believing their own hype. But if your skateboarding isn’t inclusive and community-oriented, you’re no role model. And that’s really what kids need: people they can look up to and learn from. I get that not every pro wants that responsibility, but in my opinion, that’s part of what they’re signing up for. Kids (and others) are watching, so why wouldn’t you want to be the best version of yourself? For my third, I gotta say Zach Ferguson (no social media, so don’t even bother). Can’t really speak to his role-model-worthiness, but he just rips so, so damn hard. 

















































 
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