BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT PART 9
Most kids dreams of being sponsored start about twenty minutes after discovering their first skateboard. When you have found something that is so much fun that it's all you can think about, what could be better than getting free stuff to skate on? Maybe even getting your name on a board, fuck - imagine if skateboarding was your job! That must be the best thing in the world, right?
The reality is though, however good you are, there is always some little bastard coming up that is better than you, has a better image or simply played the game better and sucked up to/sucked off the right team manager... Regardless of how long your time in the sun is, most people don't ever get there, so sponsored skaters are put on a pedestal for all the kids to look up to. Some thrive on this, others crumble under the pressure and some just start to fucking hate the thing they once loved. We hit up some skaters that were a staple fixture in the skate world not so long ago to see exactly where they disappeared to and what they are up to now. We have had such an overwhelming response that we've had to split this article into a few parts or it'd end up being longer than the bible.
We asked everyone the same simple three questions:
1. When and why did you decide to throw in the towel on being sponsored, or did someone throw it in for you?
2. Do you miss it at all? How is post-skating / real life treating you?
3. How much are you skating these days? Any chance of a comeback?
I never threw in the towel. I'm still skating for ATM skateboards, Independent, and Acid chemical company. Acid is quality wheels and bushings. They are awesome! I work as a shipper and do skate lessons to make extra money. ATM takes care of me. They have since 1996! I get some photos in lowcard mag here and there. I'm pretty low key in the skateboarding media. I've been using my Instagram to get publicity and Facebook also. l'm from San Jose, California. I live in Vista now. I stay on my board on a weekly basis.
I basically skate all the parks around here like Bishop, Prince, and the new one in Carlsbad. Thanks again, later!
In 2005, I believe is when Judah Skateboards ended. About a year before this Imperial Distribution had closed up shop to focus on VOX footwear (called 88 at the time) and Brad Dorfman creeped in to try and salvage Judah. I knew in my heart it would never last with Dorfman but I did not really have any other options, so I went for it. Once it finally ended with Vision I was also busy with my skate travel guide show for Fuel TV called Streets, so I continued to travel and skate but was more focused on the TV production than trying to make it as a sponsored skateboarder.
Of course I miss it, who could not miss traveling around the world and getting paid to skate. Just the freedom in it; wake up, meet up with the crew and just go. I always knew that being pro has a short life span and I have always been into video production so it was an easy transition into the video production world after skateboarding. Currently I am the lead editor at a busy video production company called Evolve Media Production here in SF. I also shoot freelance on the side, you can check out my work here: http://satvaleung.com/recent-videos/
On the family side of things, I have a lovely wife and 2 kids, Myla (2.5) and Maeceo (10months).
I try and get out a couple times a month and do some flat ground in GG park next to my house, I still got my flat ground skills! No comeback planned, Jamie Hustle is always hounding me to put a board out on Hustle Skateboards but I keep telling him no - sorry Jamie.
It's weird because i never really quit, I just got into other shit and faded away - but in a good way cause I still skate for fun and I still get mad love from the skateboard industry.
I miss it like crazy. I wish I could tour still. It's still fun and keeps me in shape, but i just broke my wrist, hahaha 38 yrs old and still psyched.
I skate a lot just for the love and to chill with my friends and keep me on top of the game.
I never really quit skating, but in 1993 I went back to school, and spent more time on school than skating.
Today I work as a kindergarten teacher and social worker full time, and have a son Axel who is almost 3 years old. I spend a lot of my free time skating the new local concrete skatepark in Copenhagen whenever I can get some time of from the family life.
Don't call it a comeback I've been here for years. Ha ha. I'm skating in the Masters and Legends contests in Australia and Vans pool party in California every year for the last five years. My sponsors are Vans, Alis, Type-S 187 pads, Klas shorts and Indy take good care of me and still send me all over. I'm also a record collector and DJ.
It’s difficult to say what happened. Like many others in early 90s skateboarding, I felt old at 24, like it was time to think about life post-skateboarding. It didn’t help that I enjoyed the party life almost as much as I enjoyed the skateboarding. I wasn’t skating (and filming) as much as I needed to be and Planet Earth kicked me off. I was bitter for a while but of course now it makes total sense. Most adults I know would rather not pay kids to drink and have sex – or at least not without proper board sales. I had boards for a couple of companies after PE, but to be honest I hardly even remember it. Also, I like mini ramps way more than handrails.
It’s an incredible thing to travel the world with your friends and get free clothing, shoes and skateboards. I’m totally grateful to have had the chance to do it and I miss it in the same way I miss being young with few cares in the world. I was living in Europe for a bit after I stopped being pro - to clear my head and decide what to do next. I ran into my good friends Reda, Kenny Anderson, Chany, Felix and Jerry Fowler on a Converse tour and ended up going around Europe with them. So I never really could get away from skateboarding. A couple of years after that I decided to study architecture and that’s where I am now. I ran The Berrics with Steve Berra for a couple of years and designed a few iterations of that park, as well as The Berrics Westchester park, and Stevie Williams’ Da Playground. So, like I said, I never really could get away from skateboarding. I have my own design firm called Somewhere Something in Los Angeles and I teach architecture at a couple of universities. Oh, and I can still do eggplants on vert and switch tres on street at 40. Life is good.
As much as I can which usually isn’t enough. Maybe I’ll call Joey Bast and we can put together a team of pudgy old mini ramp skaters.
Well first off I was a sponsored am for Brand X (Bernie Tosenson's company. RIP) and Kryptonics in the mid through to late eighties, so a world away from how things are now days. Back then there were no sponsor me tapes or, on my part at least trying to get on a team as a goal. Then you maybe got a photo in a mag or went to some comps and just skated. Then maybe some dodgy bloke came up to you and asked you to join a team, in my case that was Jeremy Fox. Haha. Anyway back then you were just stoked to get a free deck every once in a while and used your own cash to get to comps and slept on someone's floor. Just like going skating with your mates really. When Brand X went due to those Toxic skates bastards, it all sort of stopped, no one said anything to me or any of the team, so I wasn't even really kicked off - and then I didn't really bother to find anyone else. Someimes someone would bung me a deck, it was always just about going skating with my friends and if other people thought what I was doing was worth anything then maybe someone would get involved and flow some product my way. For which I was grateful.
I don't miss it because it wasn't really important to me then. Sure getting some stuff now and again was good, but that's not why I skated. It was because when I first got a board back in 1976 from my Gran I'd never seen a board, every trick that you saw in a mag or heard about was new. You had to use your imagination, sometimes you'd combine tricks or even make up stuff you'd never seen and that was the excitement of it, not what you may get out of it. Also making your own places to skate. Now stuff is provided or tricks are known, not a lot is new. I still like seeing the DVDs and seeing demos but thats it, the rest is completely alien to me now. I mean I'm still in contact with the skate/bmx industry through my real life job of my screenprint business, but with all the bullshit you hear of with 'other' company's getting involved in the skate world is a bit of a downer really. I'm glad I don't have to deal with that. Haha.
A few years back, as well as the self employed screenprinting, I was for about three years a carer for my Mum which took a lot of time and made finding any time for anything but those two things really hard. Now it's still hard to go skating because I've lost contact with people and of course their lives have changed too, you can't just go skate when you want. The body also isn't kind to me after all these years, and finding the right people to skate shit spots just for a laugh is tough. But I'm lucky and can still get a roll around with a few mates for a couple of hours, not get hurt, maybe even make a trick or two that's what counts. Just like when I started.. I just go skate with my friends. I think the comeback maybe left a bit late now, haha. Anyhow I know so many good people through skating that if I need a deck or shoes then it's not a problem. The guy's at Flip, Jeremy, Ian and Geoff help me out still which I'm really thankful for. Also if I really wanted to get into some skate event I'm sure I know a man somewhere who can make it happen. Finally, I still like skating, it's just skating doesn't like me. Haha.
Well it kinda happened slowly. In 1998 I started skating for DNA skateboards. They needed help with that, FKD bearings and lots of other things. As I started helping out with that a lot, I realized I could skate for fun with no pressure and make more money. My girl got pregnant that summer so by 2000 I was basically a full time employee. Pro board was selling till about 2003 but I was just skating for fun the last 2 years.
I don't miss being pro at all. I still work in the industry so I'm around all of it all the time. It's a great life, stressful and demanding but shit man, people I know are on lobster boats or swing hammers. I got it easy compared to that. Yes life is great, I am married with 3 kids so I'm a very busy guy.
I skate around our warehouse every day. As far as skating hard and doing tricks and all that, the last 2 years I really slowed down on all that. I'll still do what I can when I'm fired up, but for me it's more fun to watch these crazy talented kids now. And a come back.... Haha zero chance.
I have been skating for Santa Cruz and Independent again since 2003, with a pro model out. I skate every day. I still travel and film tons of skate footage. Just Google search my name.
I never really threw in the towel. I didn't enter contests for about 3-4 years. I was still skating a lot. I had been traveling non stop since I turned pro in 94. Skating wasn't paying like it did and I needed a couple surgeries. I had my left knee scoped and bone spurs removed from both ankles. 4 out of one and 5 from the other. The largest one was about 2 inches long. There used to be contests that I could depend on going to and making a decent amount if I did well, and my sponsors would pay to send me. When the economy tanked the contests started to dry up and the sponsorship money as well. It made it difficult to make it to what was left out there to do. Plus there were a lot of new young guys that were finally taking over. I was in a new relationship and was working odd jobs or construction to make money. I didn't want to commit to a full time job because that would close the door on any possibility of doing any touring. I had several factors pulling me away from skating for a living and I was also riding a lot of motocross. I wasn't bitter, I just knew that I wasn't enjoying it the way I used to. I was enjoying just skating with my friends with no pressure to place well or please sponsors. I had been taking skating for granted and I need to fall in love with it all over again. When it becomes your living it's easy to get caught up in the politics and drama. I've always fought that! I value and appreciate skating now more than i ever have! It's never been about the money for me but if you can't afford to live you can't afford to travel to skate comps. I've gone to events and lost money just to keep skating these fun things and see the friends I've made in other parts of the world.
I missed it so much that I returned.
About a year ago I decided that I would give it another go. I decided to enter Combi in 2013 and I hadn't been skating that much. I was put into the Masters as well. I hadn't been skating enough and felt out of shape. I didn't have my 'vert legs' and was winded after a long run. I won qualifying. I was shocked! I ended up in 11th, one spot out of finals. I took this as a wake up call. I knew if I wanted to really do it, I needed to do it full on. I got myself into a situation that I could make skating a priority. I made it to San Jose for the Tim Brauch Memorial contest where I placed 2nd. That helped me get some sponsors that have been helping me get back on the scene. I had the opportunity to travel to Palestine to build a mini ramp with Dave Duncan, for kids that aren't allowed to leave their town because of Israeli suppression. They made a documentary about it. It was a life changing experience. I was invited to go on the New Zealand/Australian 4 contest tour ending with Bondi. I end up winning New Zealand and then NewCastle, the first 2 comps on the tour, and then the next one got rained out! I was feeling on top of the world! I placed 5th in Bondi and returned home and took the position of Team Manager at Theeve Trucks. Then this year, I just got 2nd in Combi. I don't consider it a comeback, I'm just thankful that I can still skate and travel at this stage in my life. Thank you for including me in this and I've enjoyed reading some of the other guys' responses. I'd like to thank Imperial Skateboards, Etnies, Bones, Theeve Trucks, Lost, 187 knee pads and S1.
I never quit, It has always been fun for me. When vert and pools died in the early 90s, I kept building ramps and skateparks and judging and announcing events for World Cup Skateboarding all over the world - like the Munster Masterships, Prague, Barcelona, UK, etc. Then from 93-96 I was a partner and running Focus skateboards with Christian Hosoi, Ed Reategui and Chicken. In 1996 I started building and designing the ramps and street courses for the XGames, Vans Triple Crown and Gravity games. Then I designed and built the Combi Pool, and designed 9 Vans skateparks all over the US. I have been riding in the Masters division for 15 years now!
I'm still doing it! Traveling and skating! Vans pool party was 10 days ago, and last Wednesday I was in the pit while watching Mike Vallely sing for Black Flag! Friday we drove to Las Vegas for the SkateRock show with the Faction, Drunk Injuns, etc. Sunday was the Descendents, Adicts, Face to Face, Dwarves, etc! We also rode a new 5 million dollar skatepark there! I am flying to Texas in 2 days, Dallas for WCS vert comp, and Austin for XGames. The next weekend is Las Vegas street comp, then east coast for Dew tour, then Prague! Summer is in full swing! I feel like I have been on Summer vacation since I was a traveling sponsored Am for the Alva team in 1985!
Tons! A few days a week if my body is feeling good. Any chance of a comeback? I never left!
CLICK HERE FOR PART TEN