BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT- PART 1
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?
As you'll see - some ignored them completely, some answered with one word answers and others wrote essays for each one.
Missing it... I totally miss it. There are a lot of people from my generation of skating that stayed around and still work in the warehouse somewhere making a bit of loot but still stay connected. I'm glad that I didn't do that route. It would be really hard on my family for me to be making that kind of dough, and I don't know how long my talent would have kept me in "the game". Skating has gotten so crazy over the past 10 years.
Post skating life... It's crazy to think of it like this, but my life outside of skating has been longer than my skating life (professional) was. I have a civil engineering degree and am a licensed PE in 5 states but it's had some serious ups and downs. I've survived two lay offs and supported a wife and two kids for the past 10 years. Rewarding but totally different level of responsibility than when I was riding skateboards.
Comeback.... Extremely doubtful that I will have a "comeback". My body says impossible. I did just move a couple blocks from the Erie skatepark here in Colorado, and that place is sick, so we will see what happens this summer when I can get some legs. I still dork around with flatground stuff and love the feeling of a clean tre flip, so I suppose that part will never go away. My son turns 10 this June so maybe he will get more into it and push me to get more into it. Thanks for asking, and keep up the good work. I love reading your stuff. Respect.
I guess I inadvertently hit the self destruct button.
I miss certain people. Life is good today.
Not as much time on my skateboard as I would like. Mid-life crisis comeback is not in the cards.
It's just the same as it ever was? I've been skateboarding since about 1983. Got sponsored in 87 And have been hooked up ever since, still get indys, Nike, boards from girl or anti hero, diamond, spitfires from dlx. I never threw in the towel, I was pro from 89 to 94 but skated better after I was pro fosho. Still got my moments and skate with Raney Beres Grant Taylor all the homies. Did doubles with Raney last month, he stalefished over my bs crail tap. Ride on skater for life.
Skateboarding to me hasn't really changed as far as that's what I've been doing every day for the last 30 years. I knew I loved skateboarding since I started in 83/84 and would write stuff like skate til fate, skate or die type shit. My brother and all the kids I started skating with quit within a few years cuz it wasn't cool in high school. But I never stopped. It's like some of my peers and I are an experiment, ha. I remember talking to Gonz and Julian that we were the first generation kickflipping into our 30's, now 14 years later at 44 not much has changed besides the fact is I don't feel like jumping around as much. You said are you thinking of a comeback, ha? I never left still ride with the crew and am down with all the greats - I don't really think about it but most of my friends are pro or sponsored or suck haha, but that's what's up with our crew it doesn't matter how good you are at skateboarding you can't kick it with us if you don't mesh as a person/homie. You can suck and be down, if you ain't cool we don't care you switch double dolphin back nose blunt slid that one rail. I've never been a skate jock or into competition so no you probably won't see me in future contests. I never could skate like Caballero or Lance Mountain or those guys in the master's division in big bowls. But that would be my division. Fuck I wish I was an OG vert pro, ha not really but I looked up to them as a kid I still do. Had pictures of Lance and Gonz ripped out of magazines on my wall at 14 and 44. And X games, dew tour, street league would never cross my mind. Those are for young rippers n vans combie pool masters for old rippers - I'm in neither category. Think about like Julian or gonz if they didn't do krooked n anti hero would you think they threw in the towel and didn't do what they have always been doing this whole time anyways? Hard to comeback if you never left and just did it the way you always did. People in the know know and others have a strange perception that I can't relate to. Believe it or not I've had the most unbelievable question asked of me on a few occasions. They asked." Do you still skate" I couldn't take them seriously I mean I had my board with me like always. It would be like asking someone at a restaurant if they still eat? I don't understand. Anyways I just got a interview on the chrome ball incident on line check it. Peace love and OUR LIFE/ HELL RIDE CREW...RIDE ON.
I didn't want to deal with the skateboarding industry anymore
Yea I miss being on the deck talking shit with my friends but not all industry drama
I don't skate much and don't think if i did i would do contests not my thing, but i have had the itch to skate lately.
I think the thing for me in regards to throwing in the towel started when skateboarding became a job instead of a way to escape reality. So in way I pulled back but getting the boot from Maple for privately talking to a friend about trying to get another board sponsor sealed the deal. Friendship and business rarely mix..
Yeah I missed it at first. Cuz when you loose that easy money and podium that people put you on, normal life seems impossible because your ego has been inflated making you think you're someone special. Not that i ever did that much but still it's a takes time to re insert yourself into normal society. Besides all that post industry skate life is treating me just fine. I can never be bitter, I lived it.
I still skate every chance I can get, probably even more die hard now then ever before, my life will always revolve around it. As far as a comeback though I doubt it cuz I don't have the same desires to skate the world as I did back then, Now id just rather skate local and create spots.
I don't miss anything
After getting kicked off Arcade in 2002 I never stopped skating. I skated everyday for the next 5 years rain, sleet, snow, sunny until I got on World in 2007. After g riding for them for 5 months the team manager that originally wanted me on the team switched positions in the company thus a new team manager was hired and brand manager. As time went on I could see they didn't want me on the team. To make a long story short once my contract was up I was off along with everyone that got on the team under my original team manager. The skate game does have an industry and when the powers that be don't want to support your vision you cease to exist in their industry.
I never stopped skateboarding for a second. In today's world you don't need the industry's support to make a living off skateboarding. Company support only helps you get coverage in magazines by paying for ad space but the internet is running the landscape these days. Ton's of DIY brands thriving and turning a profit by not having high overheads. Skateboarding is in my blood, it's what i think about doing when i'm not and what keeps me sane. I'll never let a group of guys that can't even ollie up a curb dictate my future in skateboarding. When I started out it wasn't about being sponsored or fitting in or having a bunch of people around me that are only around because of that stickers on my board or what they think they can get from me. It was about one thing and that was the freedom of skateboarding.
The only thing I miss is the freedom of not having to work a standard 9 to 5 job. Just being able to wake up whenever I wanted and skating as long as i felt like it. Other than that i'm good. Most of my trips even while I was sponsored where solo missions anyway. I'd pay to go to contest like Slam City Jam, Tampa Pro, and even Manny Mania all while sponsored. Skateboarding is in a weird space right now. At some point it went from skate shops looking like skate shops to everything looking like Boutiques that hide their boards and place the Dunks at the front for the world to see. The game went from skateboarding to skaters standing around looking at art all day. To each his own but that shits for the birds. I don't care about what someone drew or took a photo of. I'd rather watch Keenan, Koston, or Guy's MOUSE video part than go to another art show. Skateboarding is on life support right now. Damn near every shop makes their own boards and sells them for half the price of any pro board, thats why shops boards sell 8 to 1 for every company board and everyone is distracted standing around looking at pictures on the wall. Transworld Magazine use to take 2 full days to look through and that was an era when shops didn't make their own boards. Now a days you can flip through a skate mag in 5 minutes flat. Companies are dying and people that never even touched a skateboard are getting rich off the real art.. At some point soon the game has to change. Skateboarders have to support skateboarders and skateboarding. If your skate shop owner can't ollie up a curb or grip a board you need to find a new shop…
Now a days I work grave yard shift making more than I did riding for companies but at a price. I only get to skate about 4 days out the week. Which is more than most people favorite pro's that get paid to skate. I'm still active on youtube. As for a comeback I never left. I have support from Jim T at DLX a brand you can trust and my guys at Lakai Mark and Bird keep me laced. Other than that i'm good. Thanks for the interview and i'll be around until the wheels fall off...
It was a series of events that lead to me to throw in the towel on the pro/sponsored thing. first, a bank took the house that i grew up in. Same house that had my ramp for all those years. Now, you can find anything to skate in any town. It was slim pickings back then. The closest ramp was an hour away and then they tore that down and I had no choices for skating vert. Jeremy Klein and I would go street skating, and he was always fun to hang out with but my heart was with vert. On my last 'official skate trip' to Europe things just came to a head. It was like a severe mid-life crisis at the age of 19. I wasn't skating for Liberty anymore and got paired up with a dude that was stealing from me. A whole new set of whiny brats made up the freshmen of the pro circuit. The shit I would overhear was just plain horrible. About how they only make $19,000 a month from their sponsors. I would tell them that my biggest check form Liberty was $900 and they would shit. I didn't care cos I was SKATEBOARDING FOR IT!! So I kinda had a mini meltdown in Paris, told my partner that I was going to get some ice cream and just jumped on a train blindly, not knowing where it was going and missed all my contests and demos that I was supposed to do. That was pretty much how I quit. It was fun though. Ended up just skating places without the official commitments and came back and I was done.
No I don't miss being Pro at all. I was already doing music and that's been life changing. For me, Punk Rock and skating went hand and hand. I feel like touring with the band felt the same as touring as a skateboarder. So there was no lull or any sorta depressing "what do I do now" type shit. I kept skating but without the pressures of trying to keep up with anyone or thing or whatever fashionable embarrassing style that came with it. I don't care what anyone says, skating is much more fun when your not getting paid for it. Some people might have a hard time believing that but it's true. And i'm definitely grateful for the money I made from skating cos I used it to start Recess Records, which is still in business today, 20 plus years later. It's great that people make money for being talented on a board but that really has absolutely nothing to do with the feeling of riding. If anything it just tarnishes it cos you are learning a trick, or run, only to impress Monster energy executives at the X games.
Nowadays I try to skate at least once a week, unless i'm super busy with the label. There's no need for a comeback cos I get to skate and play music whenever I want.
I never threw in the towel I just skate and live my life how I want to. From H-street to Life to fun to Invisible to Dynasty to Vision to Finesse to now Bodega I have always had a board sponsor and a pro model somewhere you just have to look for it. Right now my sponsors are Bodega Skateboards, Tracker Trucks, and I get stuff from Nike SB and Bones bearings
Life is a series of come ups and come downs. But it really is a mirror of what an individual puts into it whether its good or bad and no I don't miss it because I will always do it on my terms. I skate when I want, mostly like 2-3 times a week I also teach and mentor people who want to skate. Get at me! @johnthemanreeves and my new project @arssia
I've had a pro model in some shop somewhere since 1991. I didn't change, the industry did. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1XCNU4od2-k get at me on instagram @bodegaskateboards @johnthemanreeves @arssia #JTMR
Also you should check out and like my books page
I don’t even remember when I stopped putting out footage. But the company that I was riding for at the time went out of business.
I miss positive energy that is generated during a really good session of filming. Not much has changed for me. I’ve always had a full time job outside of skating. Skateboarding has always been something that I like to do for fun.
Three to four days a week. Comeback, one thing that skateboarding has taught me over the years is "That anything is possible if you continue to work at it long and hard enough."
Well it was kind of a slow process, Menace was the highpoint and it went kind of downhill from there, there were a few factors that I think led to the demise of my 'career'. One being my attitude which turned pretty sour and negative over time (Which had a lot to do with certain issues I had growing up) Another was my ability, I had a good style from what people tell me, but I didn't have the natural ability and raw talent that a lot of my friends have. I had to really focus and skate all the time to maintain at a progressive level, but unfortunately skating took a back burner to partying and girls a lot of the time. And lastly I think there was just bad timing and bad influences. In the late 90's Menace was one of the hottest companies around and after the two Menace sections in "20 Shot Sequence" and "Trilogy" a full length Menace video was one of the most anticipated videos of the time. I was still living in SF and filming a lot at that time, filming a lot with Brad Johnson. I was actually getting pretty good footage and unbeknownst to us the whole world was watching us at Pier 7 and waiting to see everything we put out. But the Menace video never came together, my footage got old, got lost and time moved on. Then my mom moved out of state and it was pretty much a struggle from there, I was 17 and frankly just wasn't mature enough to take care of myself and be out in the real world from one day to the next. Things got shitty, I slept on a lot of couches and I eventually ended up living in LA somehow. Fast forward 4 years later "Menace" changed to "MNC" to "All City" and eventually to "City Stars". Billy Valdes, Steven Cales and Fabian Alomar were no longer on the team, I was struggling to survive in LA on the salary of a sponsored am and really didn't skate much, drank a lot and was surrounded by the best skaters in the world who were capable of partying a lot and switch flipping tables the next day, but I wasn't, I sucked at skating at the time oh and that Menace video obviously never came out. By the time P-Rod, Mikey Taylor, Ryan Denman, Spanky, Devine Calloway & Roger Mancha became the new crew of "CityStars", Javier Nunez, Kareem and myself were the only people left from the original Menace squad, Pupecki and Joey Suriel were on for a while but eventually they parted ways. I hated filming for "Street Cinema", I sucked and was super insecure having to skate with a baby P-Rod and those guys, they were so good and all of a sudden I was the older guy, I've always hated that video part. Kareem turned me pro for some reason, then about nine months later "City Stars" went out of business. When that happened, I started skating with Mike Carroll and the Girl guys more often, this was around the time they were filming "Yeah Right" everyday we would hit the streets and if not we would skate the Girl Skatepark, I got psyched on skating again and actually started learning new stuff and progressing again. I was living the life of a starving skater, but I was skating a lot. But honestly I think it was just too late by that time, I had a bad attitude and my peers didn't take me seriously as a good skater, cause frankly during the All City/City Stars years we just barely skated. I remember going on tours to Europe and street skating and doing demos but the footage would never get used and neither would the photos, things would get lost and so on, it was a mess. On top of that Kareem was mostly interested in partying, because he had that natural ability I'm talking about. He could stay out till 5 in the morning then do a 5 foot hardflip revert over the hip in the contest, I wasn't capable of that but I was out every night of course. Around 2004 I went to Barcelona for the second time and stayed there for about 6 months, I was getting paid from this board company that never came out so that's how I was able to stay. I filmed a part that would later become my FTC video part in "Fine Line between Love n Haight". In 2005 I came home and went to SF to work at HUF. In my mind I had thrown in the towel at that time, I filmed what I thought was my last hurrah in skateboarding, I had a job and that was it. Then the FTC video came out and Jake Jones was psyched so he put me on Santa Cruz, so instead of continuing to work at HUF and skate professionally for Santa Cruz I quit my job and went back to Barcelona, I wanted to live there and party with Paul Shier and Kenny Hughes and take advantage of the fact that Santa Cruz was paying me to skate again. I didn't really make the best decisions back then. Obviously that didn't last long, a couple years later Santa Cruz called me and told me I was off the team, I had already mentally checked out a while ago though, I saw it coming but didn't prepare myself at all, I was deep in the booze. So long story short I guess life threw in the towel on me a long time ago, when Menace changed, but then I drug it through the mud for another 8 years or so, I never thought about being anything else besides a pro skater. And I also never thought it would end so soon. But I do think things might of been a bit different had the Menace video come out, at least I would of had something to possibly build a career around.
The only thing I miss is that now when I go on a trip I actually have to come back on the day that I'm supposed to! But besides that I don't really miss anything because it was such a struggle the whole time, I mean it just sucked! There were some awesome moments and lots of stories but I never made good money, and whatever I did make I spent just as fast. I didn't have a good 10 year run riding for a solid team, in fact it was quite the opposite. Real life is great, I love the stability. I actually regret not entering the real world sooner, I would be a lot further in my life than I am now but it's fine. I let go of my European fantasy and enjoy living in New York. I miss my friends in LA quite often but I see them a lot, and can move back whenever I feel like it.
Like I said I live in NY so winter sucks, but we have the "House of Vans" which is fun but I didn't make it that often this winter. In summer I try to skate at least once a week. I work for DQM so I've had footage in a few of our clips. I enjoy skating more now than back in the day, I have a better grasp of what I'm capable of doing and a more mature look at skateboarding. One of the things that I see that I did wrong back in the day was that I didn't focus enough on what I was actually capable of, I focused on always trying new things instead mastering what I could do and taking those tricks to different spots. It got sloppy at times. But of course my body doesn't work the way it used to so there is only so much I can do these days. I have a board out on a French company called "Metropolitan" it's just for fun you know, with some guys my age out of Paris, Vincent Bressol, JJ Rousseau, Yann Garin, David Couliau and a few other guys. As far as a major comeback I don't think that's in the cards, I just turned 36 and have you seen Nyjah Hustons winning run at Tampa? Thanks for your time!
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