|(Posted 7/30/2002) |
On April 11th, 2002 *, our representative M.E. Cooper attended an informal 'round table discussion' with Stacy Peralta * and Tony Alva *. According to the PR firm that arranged the interview, invited attendees included Randy Bedarnz,
Adrian Lopez *,
Elson Stanley Smith,
Corey Wade, and
The following interview ran over a wide gamut of topics including the Dogtown and Z-Boys * movie, pool skating, the influence of surfing on skateboarding, rock'n'roll, Tony Hawk *, Tommy Guerrero *, Sean Penn *, Mark "Gator *: Rogowski, staying pure, Mark Gonzales *, Christian Hosoi *, and Sean Penn.
Here we present to you the (nearly) complete transcript of the 24-minute interview. We hope you enjoy.
Stacy Peralta: So fire away, you guys.
?: Where have you guys been on this tour?
Tony Alva: San Diego *, LA, Seattle *, San Francisco *, Phoenix, we didnt do Chicago * because we had a film festival that covered that.
S: Same with Denver.
T: Dallas, Texas *, Boston *, New York *, and then we till are going to do Washington * DC and Philadelphia *. Then back to LA of course.
S: Yeah weve got to go back to San Francisco, weve got to come back to here to New York as well, and we have other gigs that havent been booked yet.
T: Were heavily targeting Phoenix, like doing the whole city, just hitting it big time, so Im going to be going back to Phoenix also, some skating as well as, you know, some PR (public relations) stuff.
?1: Are you guys skating at every spot?
T: Ive skated every other spot. They've had me skating at seven in the morning, believe it or not. For television. From parking lots to skateparks * to whatever, you know. To campuses that are strictly forbidden, with big cracks. You know, whatever it takes.
S: It's like old times. It's actually like old times. It's really weird, where they just said "Here, we got a camera, start the demo"
T: So were doing freestyle * in the parking lots and stuff.
S: Its pretty goofy.
T: Its fun though.
?1: Do you still skate a lot?
S: I have an 11 year old boy, we have a ramp at the house, we snowboard, skate, and surf together. Never stopped.
T: I brought him a board.
S: Yeah. I actually carved a pool for the first time in a long, long time in San Diego that Tony took me to (at) this park. And I've got tell you, I cant stop thinking about it.
T: Well, he told me "Im not going to bring a board cause its too much to carry" or whatever. Im like got a board (laughing).
S: Well I dont have board anyway.
I got a board bag for you, I brought the pieces as a matter of fact, and the first place we came to where we were going to have some skating, I was like dude, were going straight to the shop. We went to the shop, walked into the shop in Ocean Beach, this is a relevant story, Im not getting too far off track. We go in there, because were supposed to do this shoot for this skatepark, for the newspaper. Anyways, first thing I do is I walk in and I go "I need some riser pads," cause I gave him (Stacy) some big wheels *, I wasnt gonna give him some little chintzy little wheels, I want him to go fast. So Im putting this board together, and this guy, he gives me the little Indy riser pads, which is my sponsor so Im like "perfect, this is going to work" and were putting it all together and the guys starts talking and hes going, "arent you guys, you know, like..." and I go "Yeah, yeah, Im Tony Alva, this is Stacy Peralta. and the guy was like all "WHOA, dude." You know, its like eight in the morning, were in this shop putting our board together. So it was really cool. He ended up... he had us sign something?
S: Yeah, he comped us.
T: Yeah he comped us the riser pads, and said "All I ask is that you guys sign this thing for me." And that was it. We were in and out. And he (Stacy) had a brand new board, ready to rock.
S: Plus hes paying me if I get photos in the magazine. Hell pay me a hundred bucks a shot.
T: Im trying to get him on the cover of rolling stone, or vanity fair or something like that, but well see what happens.
S: We've had fun though. Its been a really good buzz, a good time.
T: But we get recognized quite a bit nowadays, you know, and a lot of people just pay us major compliments by just going "Thank you, thanks for just putting the fuel on the fire" so its been really nice, its been a good ride for us.
?1: Without the X-Games *, and all the publicity around skateboarding in the last five to seven years, what would the film be like that without that?
S: I think the fact that there is the X-Games, it has brought the awareness of skateboarding to, you know, the general, mass audience. Also you see a lot of television commercials now with skateboarding incorporated, so its becoming as accepted as, you know, almost like baseball was forty, fifty years ago. People just go "thats part of the rites of passage as being kid". So because of all that awareness, one the reasons it seems to me that people are accepting the film, is because theyre going "We knew there was this sport, we knew there was Tony Hawk, but we didnt know where it came from, or why it came from. We didnt know it was truly American, we didnt know it came from surfing." And it seems like everyones going "Wow, this is a viable piece of culture". Thats at least the word were getting. And it started at Sundance * (film festival 2001 *), with all these non-skateboarding people saying "God, you know we didnt know what to expect, and we look at your film, and we just loved it. What a rich culture it is. And why these kids do what they do, we can understand it." We met a journalist in San Francisco, a fifty year old man, and he writes for the cultural column in the San Jose Mercury, and he was saying "Look, Im on the board of my neighborhood, and for the past 10 years all Ive been doing is kicking skateboarders out of my neighborhood because they scratch up the place". And he goes, "I cant do that anymore. Now I realize. They woke me up, yet again, Saturday morning with their loud wheels, and my wife started flipping out and I go, no, we cant kick them out. Theres a reason these kids are doing this. And he said it changed his whole idea--
T: So basically I think he lectured his wife on like "Dear, this is how it is." And his wifes probably looking at him like "are you fucking out of your mind? Youve been chasing these guys around for years and now you love them?"
S: So Tony gave the guy some Dogtown stickers and said "give these to them" (the skaters). Theyre little mini-posters, you know of the movie poster, and theyre stickers, and was going "Give these to them, see what happens". Its gonna be funny man. Cause theyre probably just gonna like... theyre gonna run from him in the beginning, and hell be like "no, no, no, no, no, no", and theyre gonna give them the stickers, and theyre just gonna look at him like "whoa".
S: Thats kind of a microcosm of whats been happening with the film.
?: Do you guys miss the exclusiveness of skateboarding? Ive been skateboarding for 13 years, and what I used to like, is the fact that (if) you saw a kid walking down the road, with a skateboard, I knew that I was pretty much like this person. I knew that there was a better chance of me getting laid with a chessboard in my hand, going to high school, than with a skateboard. Where I grew up it was so unpopular. You could not have done something more unpopular than that. There were like three of us in the school.
T: Well its like being a punk rocker.
? Exactly. There were certain political aspects. You knew the person was... You knew they didnt go to church every Sunday. You just knew certain things. And now, its so changed where youve got soccer dads out on ramps saying "Im not gonna have a kid not drop into a ramp, blah blah blah, youre a wimp." That to me just seemed like a sort of death of half of what I did skateboarding for. Do you guys feel that at all, are you just happy that it came up?
T: Theres a fine line between--
S: Theres two things going on.
T: You know what? Theres a fine line between, even being a professional skateboarder like myself, between being totally corporate, and being totally gangster. Hard core. And what you do is, especially when youre a professional skateboarder, you walk on the edge of that razor. And you learn to just not to lean to one side too much. At this point. But as far as the media exposure and everything, I think its good. Because the kids, you know, at least they have this Michael Jordan now, like Tony Hawk, and a lot of the kids that Stacy and I have sponsored have gone on to own their own companies, and they make a decent living off of it, so thats the good thing. But then the other side, you got these kids like Chad Muska *, Tony Trujillo *, the hard core kids who are making bucks, but at the same time, theyre doing it on their own terms. And they still got that really gnarly kind of image, as well as that attitude, you know? So, theres always going to be--
S: Theres room for both.
T: Yeah, theres always going to be the pros and the cons.
S: But also, another thing too, theres something thats so true about this sport: it attracts disenfranchised kids and it gives them an identity.
T: And ethnic minorities as well.
S: It really gives them an identity.
?: I think it used to. I work in the skateshop, right now, and I see that the little league has fallen to skateboarding.
S: Let me throw something else at you. You do have the little league approach right now, you do have skateboard parks, and you do have what seems to be counter-culture to skateboarding, like enclosed areas to skate, but you gotta, and youll know this is true: if youre at a skateboard park, and theres Dads there screaming at kids, if a backyard pool opens up a mile away, half the kids are going to drain out of that park and go sneak into that pool. Because of the adventure. Like in Los Angeles *, in all the inner cities in California *, the kids are sneaking into to ride the railings and the whole thing like that. Theyre never going to stop doing this stuff. So youre going to have the skateboard parks, but theres always going to be the kids sneaking into the places that theyre not supposed to be. So its really a bit of both. And weve seen this all over. Weve been involved in this sport for so damn long, weve seen this coming.
T: Wait till kids see this film and they realize, you know, where the roots are of skateboarding. And then all of a sudden youve got this new generation of kids that want to skate backyard pools? Whoa.
S: When we were growing up skateboarding, aside from the little diversity we had in our team, which was quite diverse for the time, when you went outside the Dogtown area, the only people you saw skating were white kids, white surfers. You go into the inner cities now, you see black kids, Mexican kids, Salvadorian, Vietnamese... skateboarding. You go into some of the areas, and these were the kids... the kids that are skateboarding in some of these areas would have been the kids that were kicking our asses twenty years ago, in gangs. But, you know, its changed. It really is an urban sport.
T: And the Zephyr team, the team that we were on, was one of the first multi-diverse teams as far as ethnicity. We got Asian, Mexican-American, we got black kids, Polish, whatever, you know, every walk of life. So our team was pretty far ahead of the whole deal, not only just as getting along, the brotherhood that we shared, and the style, and the aggression and everything... cause we were Rock n Roll all the way, thats what fueled our fire was like Led Zeppelin * and Black Sabbath * and Iggy Pop, and Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. That was like our theme. It was like Yeah!, were rock n roll, and this is how we express ourselves, instead of playing guitars we play skateboards.
S: But its so weird to think that there are Dads that are behind kids skateboarding now, man. Thats not what we had.
T: Tony Hawks dad was behind him 100% the whole time. When he passed away, that was a major deal for Tony to have to deal, to keep on going, and still be focused on something that was so dear to not only him but his father, and to keep going and stuff. Ive never read his book but I know Tony personally, and Stacy was the one that channeled him into his competitive career, and helped him become what he is today. And Ive done the same thing for Christian Hosoi, for Mark Gonzales, for kids like this, and for Tommy Guerrero, for all these different talents. Stacy and I, after we decided to kick back and be more a part of the entrepreneurial part of the thing, and just skate for our own enjoyment, we had other guys to back up and promote our products and our images, through competition, and we just shared our experience and our wisdom with these kids.
S: So you guys are doing a company, is that correct?
?: Yeah. He's actually the company end of it. I was running a store that sold boards.
T: That's rad, where's your retail outlet?
?: Glassenberg, Central Connecticut *. I work in Avon now. We've got Satori Sisters stores in the state. (Ed note: we have no idea what they're talking about here).
S: See what happens is, if you get really successful, and then the cycle starts to go down, it becomes a challenge when you have to make payroll, and thats when you start going, "How pure am I?" And you have got to really watch--
T: Here's my card guys, Eastern Skate Supply covers my stuff, but it you ever need any information or anything. All the Van's skateparks carry my stuff too now. There's that corporate side I was telling you guys about!
?: Yeah, because I didn't see your guys boards, for like, I'd say like seven years.
T: Yeah, we've always manufactured them, but what I do is, Im really selective about who I go to, dealer direct. I have a few different distributors. Like Reggie Barnes, whos a real good friend of mine. And I dont sell to every other distributor and every dealer. Im pretty selective about who I sell to. I dont want my stuff to end up in discount dumps or sporting good shops. I want them to be in the specialty shop, and especially the ones who have been around for 10 or 20 years.
?: Skate shops.
T: Not the fly-by-night ones. Theres a lot of them. Ive had bad checks written from every channel you could even ever think of. So now a lot of my distribution now does go through guys like Reggie Barnes at Eastern, and different distributors in all the different countries. Ive always tried to keep my company kind of grassroots. I dont want them to be in six different shops in one area. Ill pick the two, the ones that have been around the longest. Like Rip City, like Sidewalk Surfer *, the old school shops that kind of cater to the hard core element * of skateboarding, and thats where I try to get my product into.
?: Youre not the only brand that came out of this doing a lot better. Like, SMA wasn't around five years ago, either, was it?
T: That's Skip's thing.
S: Oh. No, Skip had that in the eighties.
?: Yeah, but didn't it fall out?
S: Yeah, he doesn't have it any more. What happened is skateboarding cycled down in the early nineties, it has an ebb and flow. The strong companies made it, and the weak companies didnt. And that was one of the weaker companies. So he kind of put it away, and he might bring it back again.
?: Oh it's not
Because I saw him wearing an SMA shirt.
S: Well he still wears the shirt.
T: He'll always design and make like custom boards and stuff. Skip's like that, he's a craftsman. And the same thing with Alva. It's like, Ive never stopped since the inception of my company, making boards, but sometimes we just take it a little farther underground. Just to keep things real, you know.
? How about Dogtown itself?
S: Thats Jim Muir *s company.
T: He owns registration of the Dogtown logo. So anything that comes out, hard goods especially, from Dogtown thats his project.
S: He runs that out of his house, small business.
T: Him and Wes Humpton started the company together. Wes was like one of the original graphic artists for actually putting graphics on skateboards.
S: Elaborate graphics, like multi-colored graphics.
?: These old Dogtown boards, like, I mean
S: Theyre worth a lot of money. They sell for a lot of money now.
T: Theyre like old cars, like old 57 Chevys and stuff if you can find one in good shape. Some of my old Alva boards like the leopard skin and the paint splatter, like a lot of the old school, ten-inch wide... those are worth thousands of dollars now. Hold on to them if you have any old ones.
? On the skateboarding documentary or film front, theres obviously your film, and then I guess you guys probably know about the Gator documentary thats coming out.
T: Yeah, the girl (Helen Stickler) tried to contact me, I heard something about it.
S: I did an interview for that.
?: I was just curious what you guys think of that, and if there were any other skateboarding documentaries coming down the line. Cause it seems like theres a huge hunger for history for skateboarding history now, all of a sudden, and you guys are fueling it, but...
S: You mean, do we know of any other projects?
?: Im just curious what you think of the Gator documentary.
S: I havent seen that Gator documentary. I know Helen, but I havent seen it, and Im not aware of any other projects. But Im assuming this will probably open the door. If the film succeeds, its probably going to open the door for a multitude of surf, motocross, surfboard documentaries.
T: And some of those stories really need to be told. Im sure Gators does, Im sure theres some angles, some intricacies that havent been exposed before. And maybe it could help his case, I dont know.
S: Have you seen it?
?: Yeah, I've seen it.
S: Is it good?
?: I think its amazing. Its really good. Its sort of like the hangover after your film. Yours leaves you kind of amped on the beginning of skating and that kind of stuff, and that one is just, like, the polar opposite, of how wrong it can possibly go.
S: So is it about a person? Is it about skateboarding, or...?
?: Its just about Gator. Thats it. It just shows his rise to fame in the eighties and then his downfall after the murder.
T: Gator was a good guy. He was a great skater, just amazing, and I think just something went awry with him. It could have been a chemical imbalance, who knows. Or just getting involved with drugs and alcohol, maybe just pornographic weird shit that went on inside of his head, you know, when it came to the way that he dealt with women. Theres a lot of different factors. I didnt do an interview for her, only because we were doing so many things with the Dogtown thing that I wasnt available. Other than that, theres another documentary thats coming out, that's just on pool skating thats coming out just on pool skating thats pretty cool called "Chlorine," that some people are doing, an English * gal and some people that are stationed out in California in the Palm Springs area. I did some footage with them, and theyve done a bunch of stuff with Salba, a bunch of other really hard core pool skaters. I heard thats going to be pretty neat. And there was one that came out, a video, in between Dogtown thing and these other projects called "Fruit of the Vine",
?3: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that as well.
T: Thats a really cool tape. I have a really quick part in there, too, but its not just about my deal, its more about the undercurrent of pool skating, and how it even kind of relates now, too... In the end it gets kind of slow because it gets into how these pool skaters now are just (using) wheelbarrow, shovel, whatever it takes, building skateboard parks, especially all over Oregon *. So it all relates. Like I said, the thing with pool skating is, there wouldnt be any half-pipes, there wouldnt be any skateparks, there wouldnt be any of that shit if it wasnt for the Dogtown boys and other guys in their little different sects going in and skating pools. Because that was where actually riding transitions *, and riding these concrete waves, took it to different a level. It basically took it to a level. It basically took it to a level where, "hey, we can control gravity, man". And not only that we can smack the lip and do floaters and then change the way trucks * and wheels and boards and everything were designed. And so it was the beginning of the revolution that became an evolution. Its just a really cool thing to look back at, man. And now you see look where pool skatings at, you see where vert skatings at. You see these beautiful skateparks being built, you see kids doing these crazy stunts on the streets and stuff. So, you know, its kind of where they started. Somebody had to lay down a foundation. And where it was going with sixties style skateboarding, it wasnt going anywhere, man. It was going to figure skating, it was compulsory moves that were completely boring. One of my favorite parts of our film is where they show Russ Howell do his little fairy-ass moves and he jumps off and does these little handsprings and comes up and goes like "yup, yup." Im just like, everybody in the theatre just went "oh my god", you know. Just laughing, and just gassing on this guy. If you want to know the truth, Russ is a really nice guy too, he was cool, when we competed against those guys, our job was to just smash all the guidelines, and all the rules, and all the regulations that went along with their approach to the whole deal. Like Ty Page, and Bruce Logan. Even though I respected Bruce Logan big time, because he was a world champion. Torger Johnson was one of the guys who rode for his team, was one of the best over-all skaters in the history of skateboarding *. Loved that guy.
S: We respected all these guys. They were all great skaters.
T: We had more respect, if you want to know the truth, for the guys before us, though we thought their style kind of sucked, than skaters have for us, if you want to know the truth. Because kids nowadays, they have that attitude like, "fuck that, that guy cant even do a kickflip" or whatever, you know. But the bottom line is, man, when we grew up as kids, we had a lot of respect for not only these old surfers like Mickey Dora and stuff, and Torger Johnson. Thats got to come back to skateboarding.
MC: The question I have, having watched the movie, is are (the boards you were riding then) much more difficult than the boards they ride with these days?
S: The kids today could never ride a pool with those boards. Barney Rubble was on our team.
T: Yeah. We started out as the Flintstones, and then turned into the Jetsons.
?: Can I ask you guys a surf question? What was the influence of the formation of (surfing's) Tri-fin and thruster... did that have any affect on what you guys were doing on the street?
T: Of course it did. We were living in Hawaii *, or I was-- Jay and I were after graduating high school. And we were right in the middle of that evolution as far as surfing goes. Simon Anderson came over with thrusters and stuff, and Mark Richards was riding a twin fin, Larry Bertlemann was riding a stinger single-fin with a long, raked fin... I used to live with a guy named Bumper Spreckels, who was like light years ahead too. He rode all these weird experimental vehicles, where he would start out, like, on his knees, do a bottom turn, come into the tube you know like standing up, then come out of the wave at the end like lying down. He would do like a knee-board, body-board, and stand-up surf on one wave, he would do it all on one wave, on some crazy, strange vehicle and stuff. Anything that kind of went with surfing correlated to skateboarding, not only because of the design, and the influence and from all the weed and the LSD, and all that stuff kind of turned into an experimental, like the fantastic plastic, you know, all of that stuff. It all had an influence because as young kids, we looked at Surfer Magazine * and all this stuff, and saw Terry Fitzgerald, Nat Young, Midget Farley, then Gerry Lopez, Barry Kanaiaupuni, Pooney Reno Abalera (SP?), all these guys were influencing us in a subtle way. But then, boom, here comes Larry Bertlemann. And then we were like, "Thats our boy."
?: Suddenly he was hitting the lip.
T: Well, then we realized that what we really wanted to do was to emulate what Larry Bertlemann was doing on waves on our concrete waves. And in the water, we tried in the water, but we werent good enough, we werent as good as Larry Bertlemann. I mean, Jay is a very adept surfer to this day, probably the closest thing to Larry Bertlemann that was on our team, but still, Larry Bertlemann was Larry Bertlemann, and Jay Adams * is Jay Adams, and Jay Adams is truly, even though he was born and bred on surfing and skateboarding, he was a natural when it came to skateboarding. Total natural. See, Jays going to get mad at me now, too cause hes going to say, "Man, Im a surfer, dude". Even when I was talking to him on the phone today, he was all "I just want to surf". He goes "skating, its all good, but I need to just get back to my roots, and just surf." And I was like, "More power to you, man". But I think hes going to, hell get back to the swing of things with skating, he just needs to establish himself on a new program, he needs to live a sober life, and then eventually hell regain his freedom, and with that I think skateboarding will step back into his life.
MC: Josh wanted to know if you were going to do another project, if you had another project lined up.
S: Another skateboarding project?
MC: Well, he just said, if you were going to have a follow-up movie or project planned.
S: Theres a couple of things right now. Were talking about doing a documentary on the enigmatic surfer from the sixties, Mickey Dora, but we also, Agi Orsi, who produced Dogtown, optioned the rights to a book that involves surfing called "In Search of Captain Zero *." She and Sean Penn are producing it, Im set to direct it, the three of us have a deal at Radar Pictures. So if we can get the book turned into a terrific screenplay, theyll back it, and (we'll) go into production. So thats whats happening right now. Just gelling. Thanks you guys.
T: Tell Josh I said hello.
MC: OK, I will.
* If we made any spelling, grammatical or factual errors, then feel free to email us! Peace.
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