After Lords of Dogtown came out in 2005, I was curious about a whole bunch of things. Allen Sarlo and I had been caught in the same massive traffic jam trying to get to the premiere of Lords of Dogtown at Mann’s Chinese Theater. I barely saw the movie, but I came out of there with a lot of questions. Sarlo lives in Malibu and surfs First Point as much as I do, and it wasn’t too hard to get him talking about the movie, and the documentary and the books, and the myths, legends, rumors and lies of· the Z Boys/Dogtown myths.
This is the long version of the interview, part of which appeared on www.surfermag.com in 2005. Sarlo has gotten his swimming pool very expensively fixed since then, and it’s a good place for a party –especially if you invite a harem of belly dancers to dance around it.
Ironically, Allen Sarlo is now the owner of an empty, skateable swimming pool. It is attached to his house, up in the Malibu hills, at his house overlooking the ocean. Doubly ironically, where the empty pools of Lords of Dogtown were from the drought, Sarlo’s pool was damaged and had to be emptied because of the monsoonal rains of the winter of 2004/2005, which turned his hillside to liquid mud and caved in half of his house.
Thirty years ago, Sarlo probably would have invited the whole team to his house for a pool party, blasting AC/DC and Ted Nugent until the neighbors complained. But that was then. Thirty years ago, Sarlo was a teenager at Venice High – in the same class as Nathan Pratt and Stacy Peralta – and a member of the Zephyr team, a young surfer sponsored by Skip Engblom and Jeff Ho. Where some of the Zephyr team were frustrated surf stars who turned to skating, Sarlo concentrated on the surf star bit and had a good run of it as a competitor, traveler and big-wave surfer.
Now, Sarlo is a hard-working, harder surfing father of two. He has a successful real estate business in that golden strip from Marina del Rey to Malibu, and he surfs more than humanly possible – flying to Tahiti or Indo or Hawaii or Mexico at the slightest wisp of swell. During the week of May 22, Sarlo took a limo with his daughter Sophie and Skip Engblom to see the Hollywood premiere of Lords of Dogtown and then the next night, he took his son Colton to the cast and crew showing of the movie in Westwood.
Sarlo is never short on words, and he had some stories to tell on how he saw Lords of Dogtown from someone who was there.
How is your pool?
We’re getting there. It’s coming.
Here is the million-dollar question: If a bunch of kids snuck up the road and tried to skate your pool, what would you do?
I’d chase them out. Vals go home!
Hey I don’t want to get sued. I got enough problems back there.
So you’ve seen the movie twice now. That’s your life up there, sort of. What did you think?
I thought it was really really good. I thought it was insane. I think my daughter Sophie summed it up best. What did you think of the movie, Sophie?
Sophie Sarlo: I thought the skateboarding stunts were incredible! I thought it was a lot better than Blue Crush! Hopefully all the people who got into surfing because of Blue Crush will get into skateboarding and this summer won’t be so crowded.
Allen Sarlo: That’s my girl.
Nathan Pratt was at the cast and crew show. He came out teary-eyed, but at some point I heard him say he thought the skateboarding was a little weak.
You’ve got to remember that the skateboarders that were skating were actors and you can’t compare them to Tony Alva and Jay Adams and Stacy. Those guys were magic.
Those were the actors going over the light in some of the pool scenes.
Yeah, they learned how to do it so that was pretty good, but they’re not Jay and Tony and Stacy.
You knew these guys very very well, so was that actor like Stacy and where those actors like Jay and Tony?
Yeah, I thought the actor did a really good job with Jay.
Because in the movie Jay kind of goes through a Darth Vader transformation from Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. Is that pretty accurate?
Yeah Jay got heavy into punk rock and going to Hollywood and partying but he was a hardcore surfer. We used to get up every morning and go over to his house and Philaine would take us to the beach or we would ride our bikes to the beach or we would walk to the beach.
Philaine is Jay’s mom…
Yeah, Philaine would drive us to Topanga…
So was Jay’s mom as whacked out as Rebecca de Mornay portrayed her to be?
Jay’s mom was the sweetest lady in the world. She wasn’t high like that all the time. She took us to the beach and fed us and laughed and she was like part of the boys.
Were they really that poor?
Yeah they rented the house for like 250 bucks and Jay’s stepdad Kent, he glassed for Dave Sweet and he had a big background in surfboard making and that’s how he came up with the fiberglass Zephyr skateboards you know – out of the mold.
Did Tony Alva really have a hot sister?
Yeah. She was definitely hot.
What about the actor who portrayed Tony Alva?
Tony… that is how Tony was. It was all about him all the time and he had a huge ego. It was fun being around him because you were on the Tony show.· Stacy was quiet and responsible and a nice guy.
What about Stacy’s family?
Stacy’s dad was a hard-working guy and his mom was a housewife. They lived in Venice – Mar Vista.
They owned the house?
Stacy’s mom still lives in the house and I believe Stacy’s dad passed away.
Did Stacy ever get in fights?
No he avoided that whole…
Was Stacy that good of a skateboarder?
In the beginning you know Stacy wasn’t that good but Nathan and I told Stacy he should be doing 360s. He was always practicing his 360s at lunchtime and after school he’d go, “Allen! Nathan! Come here! Let me how you how many 60s I can do!” Like he did like five 360s with his hair spinning around. And then we go, “Hey man we gotta get you in front of Skipper to do that,” and that is how he got on the skateboard team.
Did you all go to the same high school?
To Venice High School.
Same year in high school?
Stacy and Jay and Tony.
No, Stacy, me and Nathan were the same age. Tony was a year younger and I think Jay was like three or four years younger.
Alva’s dad wasn’t around much and they lived in sort of Santa Monica like on 26th Street and we all hung out at Jay’s house or we hung out at the shop. Jay lived in Ocean Park and it was all about surfing and skating and… having fun.
The Sid character was for real?
Sid was somebody that wanted to hang out with the Zephyr team and he had cancer so his dad let him drain the pool so the Zephyr team could come skate. In the movie Sid is the shop guy but back in the day I think the shop guy was Nathan. I think Sid was two characters, Nathan and the shop guy.
Was Sid that good friends with everyone?
I think he was friends with the pool skaters.
Sid is the rich kid in the movie, with a nice house and maids and a big pool. Where were they from?
They were north of Montana, in Santa Monica.
Do you see those guys often?
I see Jay all the time on the North Shore. I surf with him all the time. He just got married to a 24-year-old, beautiful girl who is a hot skateboarder.
So he’s still there and he still surfs?
He surfs so good. Still super-stoked.
So he is that good of a surfer?
He is a really good surfer. Always has been. Back then we would walk or ride our bikes to Santa Monica or Venice Jetty. Jay was always the inspirational surfer… we used to laugh because when he surfed he looked like BK and Larry Bertlemann, you know. He had the BK takeoff and bottom turn and then he would go right into the Larry Bertlemann cutback. And then he went to Hawaii with his mom, after the whole Dogtown thing and became really good on the North Shore.
Did Jay make that much money?
No, because you see his step-father Kent made the Zephyr skateboards. He made the molds and he was popping them out. So when Tony went to Sims first and Stacy went to G& S, Jay felt a lot of pressure to stay with Kent. Jay could have made a lot more money if he had left Zephyr, but his step-father was really cool. He helped Jay out when he was growing up, so he felt loyal and didn’t want to leave the whole stepfather, Zephyr thing.
Why did people leave Zephyr?
There weren’t that many skateboarders in LA. It was more of a San Diego, San Clemente thing and those were the… I mean, LA? Who was skateboarding in LA? Not that many people. There were way more surfers in Huntington and San Clemente and San Diego and that is where all the big skateboard companies were.
It was really weird. That summer… the summer of ’75 when all this went down I was really focused on surfing the WSA contests and winning the Malibu AAAA contest. I used to skateboard Bicknell but when those guys got into the pools they would come back hurt, with broken ankles and broken wrists… I was into surfing.
You didn’t want to get hurt.
I didn’t want to get hurt. It’s hard to surf after you have a big raspberry, you know? Your heat is starting and you’re trying to put on your Body Glove jacket with a broken wrist.
Those 70s wetsuits were hard enough to get on.
Did you win the Malibu AAAA?
I did. Youngest ever.
And that was pretty hotly contested, no?
Oh my god yeah. It was Mike Purpus, Kevin Reed, Mark Levy, Chris O’Rourke.
Tom Stone was the only Hawaiian who came over for it, but who was the guy on the G&S team? Tony Staples. They all showed up at Malibu and the waves were perfect, like four or five feet.
First or Third Point?
Third Point and it was really good. Nathan Pratt got a wave that was so long from Third to First, they stopped judging him while he was still going. I guess if they could have judged the wave they would have scored him higher. As it was Nathan and I were like… and Jay Adams and Tony was a really good surfer who dominated…
Was Stacy a good surfer?
Stacy was a really good surfer, he was a goofyfoot, he was really smooth. Like we had the surf contest against the ET Surf Team. Stacy was up against Derek Levy· and did some backside radical upside down off the lip on like a 7’ 4” Zephyr single fin and we were like “Oh my God!”
Is that movie pretty much one summer?
It was one summer. Everything happened in one summer. I mean the skateboard team was an idea of Jeff Ho’s and Skipper, because they were going to have the contest at Del Mar and so that is why we started the skateboard team. So they had the contest at Del Mar and everything just blew up because by the next summer the shop was gone.
Why did the shop only last a year?
They were really good at making surfboards and skateboards but they weren’t that good at business. And back then surfing wasn’t… there weren’t that many surfers so you couldn’t sell that many surfboards and there wasn’t that many skaters. We had the product and it was ahead of its time but there wasn’t a big market. Jeff was definitely ahead with the surfboards and Kent and Skipper and CR were ahead of the time with skateboards. We had a product that was light-years ahead… but it wasn’t really catching on. They could have paced themselves a little bit more but everyone wanted to do things right away.
That was the summer the urethane wheels came in?
Kids these days don’t realize what a big deal that was. Cadillac wheels. Gregg Weaver.
I know before that you were getting stubbed on every pebble. Your skateboard was doing big Brodie’s on every pebble, with clay wheels.
They were horrible. You know Herbie Fletcher has a photo of himself skating a pool on clay wheels.
I skated pools a little bit but I was so heavy into surfing and all the surf contests were in the summer and we had a summer drought. Everyone was skating pools but Malibu was going off and so I ended up surfing Malibu more than I skated, you know. It was like, are you going to surf Malibu or are you going to skate pools?
Couldn’t do both.
Were you working in the summer?
No but I also was playing football.
You didn’t want to get hurt so you played football?
Hey, I saw a lot more people get hurt skateboarding than playing football. This was before wrist guards and kneepads and all that. People were just learning how to fall.
What else grabbed you from the movie where you thought, “They got that right.”
Like skating down the streets in Dogtown – that brought back a lot of memories. The Zephyr parties, the parties we had. The greatest thing about those parties is that back in the 70s there was basically no cops. There was a handful of police officers on the force.
Your dad was one of them?
No my dad worked for the Culver City police force and we lived in Venice but the cops didn’t show up to the parties. They would show up at like 1:00 in the morning. They wouldn’t show up at 10:00 so the parties didn’t get busted like they do now.
In the movie the guy Topher Burke, he’s walking out of the party where Skip Engblom is up on the roof destroying surfboards and he says, “Zephyr has the best parties!” Was that a real guy, Topher Burke?
I didn’t really remember him. I think he’s the guy who owns Sims skateboards or something.
So it’s a play on that. Like Sims Skateboards or something.
Sophie Sarlo: I thought that was Kid Rock at first, but it was that Johnny Knoxville guy. And I thought Heath Ledger was Val Kilmer, at first. I thought Heath Ledger really nailed Skipper.
Yeah, he did a really really good job with Skip. He must have watched movies of him or something. Well he hung out with Skip before he made it, yeah But Skip now is not Skip then.
Well they had those pictures and stuff, because the way he talked and… Skipper ate more burritos back then. He liked Mexican food. He didn’t like hamburgers as much, like in the movie he is eating a hamburger in every scene. Back then it was more Mexican food.
Was Jeff Ho a part of Zephyr, or a different deal?
Jeff Ho and Skipper were Zephyr Surf Shop. It was Jeff Ho surfboards and Zephyr Surf Shop. It was really… there were two surfboards, there were Jeff Ho surfboards and Zephyr surfboards. Zephyr was like a B surfboard and a Jeff Ho as like an A surfboard but it was the same thing. It was two models, basically. It was Jeff Ho and Zephyr. Jeff Ho/Zephyr, Zephyr/Jeff Ho.
Did someone really punch Tony Alva in the eye at a contest?
I don’t think that was accurate. If anyone had punched Tony Alva the whole Zephyr team would have jumped on and gang-banged the guy, so no one punched… if anybody touched anybody on the Zephyr team the whole Zephyr team would have ganged up and beat them up.
Did that happen?
Well what would happen is those guys would get in a lot of trouble and then call me in and go “Sarlo! Come and straighten this situation out.” I was like the backup guy. I was on the football team and I was bigger than these guys so they’d call me and you know… If I was around everything went pretty smooth.
How often did they call you?
We got in more mischief than we got in fights. We’d throw rocks at the bus and pull people’s wigs off. Old lady’s wigs, we used to pull them off. And like Muir broke a window outside the Zephyr shop and almost got kicked off the Zephyr team.
That was in the movie, breaking a window.
So, we were just mischiefy.
Who was the enemy? Vato guys? Valley guys?
Oh definitely Vals and the north of Wilshire guys. I think they thought we were the enemy – the north of Wilshire guys. We used to go up and invade on Malibu and start taking over. Terry Lucoff was the owner of Natural Progression shop. Lucoff and Jay Riddle would go, “Oh my God! It’s the Zephyr team! And the Mad Chinaman!”
Jeff Ho was the mad Chinaman?
Of the people who aren’t really included in the movie – there is no Nathan Pratt, no Jeff Ho and no Allen Sarlo.
They just gave Peggy a little spot, right? Wentzle, Biniak got a little spot. Paul Constantineau, um…
But you aren’t even represented there, at all.
Nope. Lords of Dogtown is a movie about skateboarding. If they do another movie about surfing, and how radical the surf team was, I’ll be in that one.
Were you a skater at all?
I skated in the Del Mar contest and I got like sixth place or fourth place in the slalom. I beat Ty Page in the slalom. I actually ran over the cone. I was so determined to beat him and a he was a little bit ahead of me so like the last cone I had to run over like skiing.
It didn’t stop me and made it and everyone was laughing, “Sarlo ran the cone over.” But you know the great thing about the Del Mar contest is we all went down in my van, and the surf was six foot and perfect at Seaside Reef and… Cardiff by the Sea. It was six foot and perfect so we surfed that morning – the whole Zephyr Team – and then we showed up at the contest at like 9:30.
Think that made a difference?
Aw we were all so high – aw man the surf was so good – and then we ended up like surfing on the piece of plywood they had there.
Did Skip really punch someone out at the Del Mar Contest?
Aw, no, there was like a heated conversation because Jay wasn’t getting scored like he should have been getting scored and Tony… They never saw what we were doing before you know so it was obviously not getting scored.
Where did that kind of skateboarding coming from?
Well it came from surfing and… the summer before that, Larry Bertlemann was in the magazines and he and Ben Aipa came over to the Zephyr shop and a lot of the boards had a serious Ben Aipa influence: Stingers and swallowtails. We were like idolizing Larry Bertlemann, Terry Fitzgerald and Gerry Lopez. So the surf skate thing came from that along with the drought and the pools being available and skating down Bicknell Hill.
Would Tony Alva really shoot it like he did in the movie – time the light so it turned green just in time so he didn’t get squished.
Yeah there’s a lot of hills at Ocean Park area the Marina Hill and the Navy Hill. We skated all those hills and missed cars.
Anyone ever get killed?
Nope. Close though. Like here’s a great story. I had this old Chevy surfer van that we took to the Del Mar contest. You know the off ramps how they go around and they have ramps on it? We did an off the lip on the ramp with everybody in the car because everyone is in the car screaming “Do an off the lip! Do an off the lip!” So I did an off the lip in my van on the ramp and we kept driving and we got to the Del Mar contest and the wheel fell off. I had my dad’s credit card so I had it towed to the gas station.
You must have hit a pebble.
The wheel came off my van. They left that part out.
Story By Ben Marcus from The Good, The Rad, and The Gnarly
Photos by Lucia Griggi
Jeff Ho was the first person I interviewed and Lucia Griggi photographed for this book. This was way back in the spring of 2009, when I was working on a couple of other books and was too frazzled to be doing anything right.
I started skating first.
In the Fifties. I was a metal wheel guy. And that one board you have a photo of was for the mid-sixties. I used to skate Revere with that. So when they talk about skating the banks, and surf/skate emulation, you know, we were doing that back in the Sixties. But we didn’t have the urethane wheels. Now when the urethane wheel came out, that gave you so much grip and made the ride so much smoother you could run over stuff easier and faster.
A lot more fun.
Well yeah it was like the grip. You still had the same loose ball bearings but that wheel gave you the extra grip that you needed to start turning quicker and do maneuvers and not slide out. With clay, chunks of the wheel would fall off, or you would hit like a little pebble and stop. But with the urethane wheels you could roll over that stuff and it gave you an advantage.
World of difference.
A World of difference.
Okay I started to write a long caption for you but it sucks and sounds like Wikipedia. Let me read that to you and you can breathe some life into it.
See the part I have problems with is Skip Engblom and Craig Stecyk. Stecyk is cool but Skip should have no credit.
In 1975 the young surf team members asked Ho and Engblom to start a skate team separate from the surf team. Cahill, Pratt, Adams, Sarlo, Peralta and Alva were the founding members.
They didn’t ask me to start the skate team, I just started it. I have to give you some backstory.
That is what I need.
Okay this is the real story. I bought the shop. It was my money. I financed it. Those guys want to take credit for it. That’s not right. And they’ve done it and all the articles, all the movies, all that crap. Everybody is taking credit for stuff that I did, and it doesn’t sit right with me. It was my money. I started the shop. I actually bought the shop from – what’s his name – Phil Castagnola. Because it was Select Surf Shop and I used to sell his boards out of the shop. Before I met Craig, before I met Skip, before I met any of those guys I used to work out of this shop and sell boards to Select. I bought the shop from Castagnola. I was on my way out… to Hawaii.
When was this, what year?
I can’t remember, but it was early 70s – ’71 or 72.
Why were you headed for Hawaii? For better waves?
No I was going to buy a piece of land. I had money to buy land and it was like five grand for an acre. And I was just going to go over there…
Either Oahu or the Big Island, it didn’t matter. I was just going to get myself some land.
Are you from Hawaii originally?
No I’m from California. From the Santa Monica, LA, Venice, Culver City area = West LA. I’ve surfed on and off at these beaches since I was a kid. A very very young kid.
So it was you that started Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions and it was you that started the skateboard team.· Then it reads: “Cahill, Pratt, Adams, Sarlo, Peralta and Alva were the founding members. Soon after, the team grew with the addition of local skaters Bob Biniak, Paul Constantineau, Jim Muir, Peggy Oki, Shogo Kubo and Wentzle Ruml.
Yeah but, you know… before those guys we had John Baum. We had the Tavares brothers, we had Craig Freebairn. On and on and on and on.· There’s so many names that they just left out of this whole deal, and it’s kind of disgusting. The way that the played it. The way they used stuff that I did and put a spin on it.
You say “They.”
I mean “they,” dude. There’s some crap in these magazines… interviews that these other people have done, talking about boards and who did what and who did this and how they named that or whatever. Craig Stecyk was the artist, the journalist, the photographer, the intellectual. What have you.
He was the media brains of the operation.
You’ve got to give him credit, because Dogtown was his name. He made the Dogtown. There are some other people trying to take credit for coming up with that name. It was all Craig Stecyk.
Do you still get along with Stecyk?
You know what? I don’t know what Stacy does. Stacy… God bless him he is in his own world. But you know what I am trying to do it is correct some of the things that have been mistaken in the media.
That’s what this is for. That’s great.
There are so many rumors and so many stories that aren’t true. Whatever. I mean, you go “whatever” and you want to move on. Just move on, but some of it is….
It gnaws at you.
No it’s repulsive, is what it is.
And it does a disservice to the people who are really fans. They deserve to know what the real truth is. They don’t need to know some… some fantasy. That is why they called that one movie a “docudrama.” And the other was a fiction.
Okay… what happens is.. Skip used to sit inside the shop. I used to bring these guys out here in this parking lot, right here, and we used to have team meetings. I’d ask them to practice and show me their new trick. Anybody who runs a skate team knows the guys you have on the team have to practice. They have to learn new tricks, otherwise what’s the point? They’re supposed to be promoting the brand. Even today team managers are asking their guys: “Well are you learning new tricks?” And their job is to learn new tricks, and to become better and to win.
We used to practice here in the parking lot behind the old surf shop and also in the parking lot of Star Liquors. They had more pavement across the street. We also practiced in the middle of Bay Street. And the downhill slalom courses· we used to run at Bicknell.
At night? Can’t see you putting slalom cones on Bicknell in the modern world. You’d have the SWAT team on you.
No, we would just do it during the day. Wednesday was our team meeting day. Team practice. There’s a lot of misconceptions about the team, you know.
The Zephyr team.
The team was a surf team in the beginning. Nobody was doing any skate contests. Skateboards were used as transportation.
There was no organization.
There were no organized functions. You asked who should be included in this book. You’ve gotta go to Bill Bahne, you know. He did fin boxes and he did fins. I used to go down there and buy fins and boxes from him.
We took portraits of him in Encinitas and I think he has been in that one spot all along.
Down to Encinitas. He’s got a factory down there. He’s still down there. Still doing fins. He came up TO LA? and got a bunch of material and he came up with the fiberglass skateboard. And so they started using the extruded glass and the Chicago trucks and they got the wheels from Frank Nasworthy and that’s really how the whole situation started.
I’m giving Bill Bahne the credit. He’s the guy who kind of major league started this – the distribution of the urethane wheel to more of a mainstream thing.
One day I go down there to pick up some fins. Bill shows me a skateboard and says “Hey you know check this thing out.” So I rode one and I said “Well give me a couple of those and I’ll take them up to the shop and see how you go.”
What year do you think this is?
I can’t remember. It was in the Seventies, you know. He was using the Cadillac Wheels. We brought the wheels up here, and then it was on. They started having skateboard contests, and Jay Adams was the first to go to some of the skateboard contests because his folks took him. He was on the surf team.
Yeah, the Zephyr/Jeff Ho Surf Team. He was riding for me. I’ve known Jay since he was a little grom. One of the first times I met him he paddled up to me in the water and he goes “Are you Jeff Ho?”· And I go “Yeah, who are you?” And he says, “I’m Jay Adams.” And he’s riding this really little board and he goes, “Yeah my dad works for Dave Sweet.” I said, “Dude, all right.”
So as the years went by I got to know him and put him on the surf team. And you’ve gotta give it to Jay Adams. He was one of the first guys to go skate contests. So we started sponsoring some of the guys that surfed and getting them to the skate contests.
When I talk to others about the Bahne-Cadillac contest in 1975, you will hear some rather loud raspberries about the way that contest was painted – and the Z Boys influence there.
Well it was a pinnacle deal. During that time period in ’74 and ’75 when the transition was taking place more skateboard contests started showing up at these fairgrounds: Orange County, Ventura and then they did Del Mar. Again, Bill Bahne was responsible for that. Sponsoring that contest. He put that contest up. The Bahne/Cadillac.
A lot of people don’t give Bill credit. He was responsible for a lot.
Tony Hawk’s first board was a Bahne. He’s one of those guys who has an engineering background and he has always been an innovator and trying to innovate something for the surfboard.
Okay we were talking about the Del Mar Nationals. This is what I wrote:· “This was the first major skateboard contest since the original skateboard heydays of the mid 1960’s. Jay Adams was the first and the youngest to compete and then the rest of the Dirty Dozen backed him up. At the end of the competition, half of the finalists were members of the Z-BOY crew. The results were: Women’s: Oki 1st, Junior Freestyle: Adams 3rd, Alva 4th, Junior Slalom: Harney 2nd, Pratt 4th. The older skateboard establishment was not ready for the aggressive surf style and free spirited approach that the Z-Boys exhibited and could not comprehend that they had just witnessed a revolution. The popularity of the Z-Boy style with vertical and airborne moves would sweep around the world.”
Okay what’s also wrong is we’re leaving Tony Alva out of this. Tony Alva was an integral part of the surf/skate movement. He was a little bit older than Jay and he had the drive. He had the edge and he was really highly self-motivated.
He was just motivated and I don’t know whether it was money or pride or what, you know? He was just self-motivated. He wanted to be good at something and I guess skateboarding was it – one of his tickets. He was a good surfer back then and he did win contests and stuff.
Jay flowed. Jay could flow and he had some natural ability but Tony took it up a notch because he had that edge – the motivation or drive to become better or the best in the world.
Yes I read that a lot about Tony and when you read the results in all the skateboard contests in the 1970s, he was up there like Kobe. Always at or near #1.
He was always doing stuff and getting his board to go faster and doing big big maneuvers. So it was no question that he was going to be one of the best in the world, whether it be speed-skating downhill, going the fastest or launching the biggest air. Tony’s just got this mad dog… Tony the mad dog. That is how he gets his nickname.
He was just so explosive when he skated. It wasn’t like he did some tricky move or whatever, a little pirouette. Whenever Tony did something it was always bigger and faster than everybody else.
Let’s see here. Baloney baloney baloney. But then it goes: “Jeff Ho still shapes surfboards and makes skateboards from his warehouse in Santa Monica.”
I’m inland, but call it like Venice.
I thought this was Venice?
I’m not doing them here. I have another place. Well kind of Venice/Marina Del Rey. Right in that unincorporated area.
Okay so now it gets into the bad interview we did before. I ask: “Why Zephyr?” And you say, “Why Zephyr? Zephyr is the god of the west wind. It comes from Greek mythology, ya know? Greek mythology and the symbol of the waxing crescent moon.”
Waxing crescent moon.
I asked: “What is the oldest board here?” and you said, “This is that one, the Revere one.· This skated Paul Revere Junior High, back in the day, in the sixties, when I was a kid. I was a skater before I was a surfer.” But that is not your first skateboard?
No. My first was custom made and had Metal wheels.
A little flat piece of two by four or one by six. Some of the boards back then were a little wider. I had that with Chicago skate metal wheels. When I was a kid I was small, and I used to bomb a hill at Hauser and Pico. When I look at it now, it’s a little bump. But when I was a kid, on metal wheels, that was the fastest, biggest hill I knew of. We also used to bomb Tuller Hill in Culver City.
And then I say, “I want to know what genius put that perfect terrain at a junior high school in Los Angeles.” And you say: “I don’t know dude. Paul Revere has been around for decades. It was there before we found it and it was virgin, ya know?” So what about Paul Revere. People were there before you, do you think?
I don’t really know who was the first person to skate it. The Hiltons and that group used to skate it, and we found it in the 1960s. But we called it Ranch Road, because old Ranch Road comes right down from Benedict Canyon right into where the baseball field used to be. It’s like a wave. I just know that I skated with a bunch of guys and we used to go up there and climb the fence on Saturdays and we’d go.
Was this the 50s?
It had to be the 60s. The early to mid-60s.· With Chris Dawson. You see, here’s another thing they don’t talk about: Chris Dawson.
Chris Dawson taught Stacy Peralta how to do these 360s and the moves that made Stacy famous! The nose 360 and the tail 360. Those were all moves that Chris Dawson did when he was on the Hobie team, back in the 60s. We brought some of that 60s influence into the 70s. But there’s no mention of Chris Dawson anywhere.
Well he gets some credit in this book. I interview him during what I call The Dark Ages, between 1965 to urethane.
Well that’s good.
So this wood board was your Paul Revere Special?
These are the Hobie Super Surfer wheels. I put these on in about 1968. I got them from Jay Stone and he must have got them from Hobie Vita-Pakt. This was probably the last set of wheels I had on this. There’s probably been about five sets of wheels on this board.
Now what about this board? I remember these boards from the 1970s. If the material polypropylene?
This board here was put together and made in this shop and I screened it in the shop down at the end of the street. And there’s probably about twenty of these made. This one had the um, color coat on top of it.
It’s fruity. Makes me want to lick it like that Willy Wonka wallpaper. This is like an old crap one I had laying around. The big long one is an old one. They’re all old. Oh, that one is a template from the seventies.
That one, the blue one is like the competition team logo, and all that. That’s a team board. This board has a 70s outline as well. I had many surfboards that had that outline.That was like…and these are templates back from the late seventies when boards were starting to evolve.
Now, these are like…I found these when I was just looking around but these are some of my templates… this is from seventy-eight. And then these are, I don’t know…ones a narrow tail, this one’s a wide tail. Ya know, they’re kinda…this ones a thirty-two, ten-and-a half. This one was six-nine, seventy-eight. Yeah, so these are some old templates and stuff.
…These ones are likes classics from the period. This is like a hand-painted one. This one has been in storage since eighty-five or eight-six. What year is it? Over twenty years.· And this one, so that’s how mint condition that one is, in the original wrapper and stuff. I did that one when I was up in West LA. This one here is something. This is an original board from seventy-five and this was a different process from some of the other ones. This is one of the boards that we hand-screened. Ya know? So there’s probably only like twenty of these.
Story By Ben Marcus from The Good The Rad and the Gnarly
Photos by Lucia Griggi
The writer John Smythe wrote about Nathan Pratt in the June, 1977 issue of Skateboarder Magazine: Keeping the low profile in his speed profile, Nathan Pratt remains unknown by choice rather than chance.
In dealing with this individual, the visibility factor cannot be ignored. For instance, Pratt shows up at the opening day of a new skate park. He is here to investigate rather than ride. Out of a crowd of 300 very star-conscious people, no one recognizes him. Nathan likes it that way, and he keeps it that way. During an early interview session at a posh Ocean Park, California, eatery, a young woman, who appeared to be on rather intimate terms with Pratt (she was sitting on his lap), exclaimed incredulously, “Nathan, I never knew you rode a skateboard!”
The interesting thing about him is while he is virtually invisible within the sport, he’s highly visible outside of it. Nathan Pratt frequently demonstrates his stunt skating expertise in assorted television and motion picture productions. His prominence in this area is such that he was recently the subject of a German public television broadcast. (Characteristically, Nathan conducted his entire TV dialogue from within the confines of one of his speed shells, never once revealing his face to the camera.)
Through his appearances, Pratt presents skateboarding to millions who would otherwise have no contact with it. Nathan possesses an inquisitive mind, and he continually offers unconventional solutions to conventional situations. In skating, he was the first to engage in jumping substantial heights.
Pratt’s sophisticated equipment and stylish jumping endeavors offered a dramatic counterpoint to the apish gripping of the low-”flying” aerial B.F. gang. He was also the first to build wind-foil fairing devices, an approach that has generated numerous imitations. Pratt doesn’t fit the mold of the skate star, because he doesn’t recognize such boundaries. His perspective is always unusual. Perhaps this interview is best defined as the views of someone looking from the outside in… or is it someone looking from the inside out?” – John Smythe [“Skateboarder Magazine” – June 1977]
Never met Wes Humpston. I wasn’t there when Lucia took his portrait, and our only communication was by email. Reading up on Humpston online and in the Concrete Wave book Bulldog’s Art by Wes Humpston, I began to understand that Humpston was a part of the Dogtown skateboard crew beginning in the early 1970s. He wasn’t an official Z-Boy, but he was skating banks and pools with all of them and was friends with Alva, Adams, Muir and that crew.
When the Zephyr team began to break up in 1976, Humpston teamed up with Jim Muir to start making Dogtown Skates. Humpston had done hand-drawn art for the Z-Boys and other members of the Santa Monica/Venice skateboard crew through the 1970s. But when Humpston began recreating his art on the Dogtown decks, he became one of the pioneers – if not the pioneer – and a foundation influence for all the thousands of deck graphics to come in the 1980s, 1990s and 21st Century.
And it’s also possible Wes’ big feet were inspirational in skateboards evolving from 7” and 8” to as wide as 12” toward the end of the 1970s. Humpston lives in north San Diego County. He is very creative in his use of punctuation and capital letters in his emails. Some of that creativity is left below.
Dogtown is credited with being the first to get really creative with graphics on decks. Do you believe that is true?
Well I don’t remember anyone drawing on skateboards or companies doing art on them for each model – different art for each rider. I know Craig painted some for the shots in his Skate Mag articles. I’m not sure when but I never saw anyone drawing on them like I did.
What came before you as far as deck graphics?
From what I remember they were flat, one-color logos – simple graphics with type. There were some fiberglass boards with the photo/patterns type of thing laminated onto them.
If you had to list the most important heads on the “Mount Rushmore” of skateboarding – the riders, designers, marketers who changed the sport the most – who would those heads belong to?
For me first would be Craig Stecyk who was a big inspiration to me and so many others for his art, writing and photography that made so many want to make at & go surf and skate. Second, Tony Alva for being the first world champ and inspiration for so many to skate. Third, Natas Kaupas for giving skateboarding a new direction when it had all pretty much died. Fourth is Tony Hawk for taking skateboarding to such high levels as a professional skateboarder, being good in business & being a role model for kids.
You and Jim Muir started Dogtown Skates but if I have this correct, he was on the Zephyr team and you weren’t? Or is that wrong?
I wasn’t on the Zephyr Skate team but mid-70s I skated with most of them on the banks, then the pool. I knew some from school, and other from the beach before DT Skates. I worked at Jeff Ho’s shop in the early 70’s fixing surfboards, doing “leash loops” and even a little art for the shop ad in Surfer. Working at Jeff Ho’s was my first job & first year of high school, then skating started up a few years later…
When and where and how did you start skateboarding?
I did some late 60’s with Kevin Keiser, Craig & Dean Hollingsworth after school on their driveway making marks by doing cutbacks with the old chalk wheels. Then I started full-on in the mid-70s when the wheels got better. We would hit a little bank that wrapped around a corner like a wave with local guys after school…
Do you remember what your first skateboards were? Were you drawn to graphics then, so to speak?
One of my first boards was a 26” or 27” I cut out of plywood then put on a shaping stand and tied a cinder block to the middle and fiberglassed it so it would have rocker, like the old Makaha rocker. I had a Z-Flex or two & I made some from cutting down Muir’s Sims longboards. For the art, in fifth grade I remember cool art in books and Indian head-dresses from way back then. We would draw them instead of school work. Hahahaha.
An early Dogtown skate, made around 1975 in the backyard: 6.5” wide by 30” long. Board courtesy Wes Humpston.
Who influenced, inspired, mentored you into skateboarding?
Surfing. It was always about surfing on the street, then banks. Tony Alva took me to my first pool and Jay Adams lived two houses over so pretty much all the DT guys. We would spend the weekends riding banks at the schools then pools started & it went underground ‘cuz you wanted to keep the pool. I hung with and skated with most the DT guys at one time or another.
What schools did you got to and were any of the Z-Boys or DT guys in your grade?
I’m two years & two grades ahead of all them. TA, Muir & Bob Biniak were next then Jay & Wenzel & Shogo are the same age. Baby Paul was the youngest… I went to John Adams for Junior High in the late 60s but I hung with two guys my age then: Kevin Keiser & Craig Hollingsworth. Not sure about the others ‘cuz there were three Junior Highs I think in SM & only one High School – Santa Monica High aka SAMO.
I started High School in 1970. I saw TA and Muir in High school ‘cuz of Surfing Class but they were Scrubs 1st year & I was a senior in High School & they were two years behind me in 1974.
I would see them at the beach the next year & then when skating started we would hit the some of the same places….
What was your progression in boards and skills?
At first it was making a board just to have one to ride cuz it was cheaper. Then as I made more boards I met Jim and we were getting into these ultralights for pool riding that were like gliders cuz they were about a pound. But they would split as soon as they were hit on the nose, they were a ½” solid piece of hard wood at that time. Then as we made a new board from our favorite last broken boards, we would use the broken board as the template for the new so the new boards got slightly wider each time. They were working better & better so after 8”, 8.5” I made jumps to 10, 11 & 12″ wide boards. As far as skate skills it always seem the better the board, the better I would skate…. Hahahaaa
At what point did you become a competitor and/or a professional?
I was never a competitor and really never thought I was good e-nuff but I did get money for my board designs & art & had a really good time with it all in the mid and later 70s!
Where do your art skills come from? Family thing? Did you attend Art School at any point?
Well my dad doodles a mean “Poppy The Sailor” with 1 line… I never could no matter how many times I tried? Hahahaha I majored in Art in high school & had a great teacher named Lamont Westmorland. I did some City College classes but that was it… I would just really like some art in a book or on an LP & draw it over & over. I would draw on everything from my schoolbooks, pants and boards – even on the wallpaper in the back bathroom at my folks’ house growing up! Hahahaa…
What was the original inspiration for the Dogtown Skates logo?
Craig Stecyk. I think I saw it in his photo – spray painted on a wall – not sure if Craig had paint on his fingers? Jim & I were making boards for us & our friends, as things were blowing up. We were driving out to a Val pool with Craig and we told him we were doing Dog Town boards for Dog Town skaters & asked if we could put the cross on ‘em & he said, ‘Yea!’ It was a DTS at first, then I added the skates banner at the bottom & have done 10,000 variations over the years! Hahahaha
And can you define “Dog Town” for what it means to you? Is it a distinct area? Does it have street borders?
It was pretty much take no prisoners; we just took over your pool or park now sit down & take notes! Hahahaha. Dog Town 70’s I ‘usta say it was Santa Monica between the Piers or where POP was & from the beach to Lincoln cuz Muir, Keiser & a few others lived on the other side so… just to piss them off! Hahahaaa
Where did “Dog Town” come from as a name?
Craig & Skipper talking out front of the Zephyr Shop in the 70’s & Craig called Santa Monica a “Dog Town” is the way I heard it… Hahahaaaa
Was there ever any problem with Stecyk or Ho or any of the Z-Boys about using the Dogtown name?
Not that I know of, they all have their own things going.. In the beginning Jim & I asked if we could use the cross & he was OK with it, but I doubt any one could have known what was coming in the next few years? I always felt the Zephyr Team was one thing & Dog Town was the hardcore pool & park skaters…
At what point did Jim Muir leave the Z Boys and when did you and Jim start Dogtown?
Not sure the year or month but Jim, Paul Constantineau & Bob Biniak rode for Sims for a while after leaving Z-Team. Some of the bigger/longer boards Jim got we cut off the tail, glued it back on & grinded it into a wedge to make it a 30″ to 31″ board. That was what we liked in pools at that time. It seemed like we were always making skateboards when we weren’t surfing.
Why did you start Dogtown Skateboards? Was it to make tons of money, or just to do a local project you wanted to do.
It was all about making a better board to ride. The boards really sucked back then & were flat out dangerous to ride. There wasn’t money in it at the start but as the boards got better people wanted them & we were turning out a few to 10 or 15 on good weeks depending on how hard we wanted to work & if there was waves or not? We were selling or trading them for a nice profit so it worked out nice.
When was this, around?
We started late ‘75 or ’76 I think? It’s hard to go by the old photos that show boards in mags ‘cuz they were months behind what was really going o
Was it just you and Jim doing Dogtown? Who did what job?
Yea at first Jim & I both made the boards in my folks’ back yard, then we cut a cross into a hunk of cardboard for a template so Jim could do the lines of the cross & sun then I would do the lettering…
In the introduction to your book by Jesus Sanchez, he wrote: “Jim and Wes would make regular trips to the House of Hardwoods and buy enough wood to make fifteen to twenty boards. Soon they would look for wider planks. The boards, which started at about seven inches wide, were now being made intentionally wider. Nine and ten inch boards were now common. Because of Wes’ big feet, he just felt more comfortable on wider boards.”
He’s funny & I can be a bit braggadocious. Hahahahaa Yeah I have big feet but ya have more foot contact so then more leverage over a wider board…
Where were your production facilities?
They started in my folk’s back yard till one day we made a bunch & there was so much dust it looked like it snowed. When my dad got home from work he wasn’t having it, so I started making them at Kevin Kaisers. Kev & I had made bellyboards there for years cuz I also got kicked out of the garage for making a mess glassing bellyboards, kneeboards & fixing surfboards. Hahahaaa As for the art it was just where ever I could find a place to do the work, pretty much.
Do you remember what your first product was? The deck?
The DTS 10″ x 30″ Bulldog Design. Yeah baby! Hahahaaa When DTS started, Paul Constantineau already had his 8 1/4” x 30″ model & Jim wanted a 9” x 30″.
What wheels and trucks did you use, and did that evolve?
Kind of what ever we could get. We never had much money, at first: Cadillac wheels and Chicago trucks with loose bearings & wood screws. Talk about taking your life in your hands. Hahahahaa The wheels & trucks were evolving bigger & wider along with the boards then the trucks got wider for the wider boards. Sims made good wheels then Tunnel Rocks & there were Bennetts, Tracker, Lazers. We would try anything & it was always cool getting something new cuz what we were riding was beat to crap! Hahahahahaa. DTS made the “Rock n Rolls & K-9’s” at the end of the 70’s…
How did Dogtown do business wise?
Pretty good for a few years there. When Bob Biniak got his model he had a $3,000 guarantee every month & was driving a silver BMW – not bad for a Kid in the 70’s? Mutt & Jeff had twin Black BMW 633’s. I had a little 1600 BMW. I squeaked out some extra money to do the art ‘cuz they would need to pay someone to do it & I already was nailing it so I told them they could pay me. Hahahaaaa
Okay I’m sorry I’m a little lost here. You and Jim Muir started Dogtown Skates, but Paul Constantineau and Bob Biniak were your riders? Mutt and Jeff? Maybe Mutt and Jeff are Greg Clappert and Jeff Cooper. The intro to your book by Jesus Sanchez says: “Jim and Wes were able to expand Dogtown Skates with the financial backing from Greg Clappert and Jeff Cooper. They also found a board maker that could reproduce their handmade, solid wood boards into production-laminated boards. The board makers would strive to make the production models every bit as pure as the hand made boards with close attention paid to every detail.”
Yea “Mutt and Jeff” were/are Jeff Cooper & Greg Clappert – they were named by Craig I think. They had signed Paul Constantineau & wanted to sign with Jim – but Jim wanted to do DTS with them so I kind of had to go too or, “they were going without me” as Jim said… They had a skate shop called “Skate City.” They had the money and found the board makers got them screened & had a lot of good ideas. They tried to get production boards made as close to my hand-done boards & were always interested in the new technology & to what was going on in the industry – down to the ad’s…
So I am wondering, how were things when Dogtown really got rolling? Do you know how many boards you were selling a month? Were you two getting rich?
It was pretty good & we would bitch a lot about how tight they were but it wasn’t too hard to squeak money out of Mutt & Jeff. One time they were giving me some attitude about something that DTS was going to do – like it didn’t matter what I thought. So the next day I was hanging with Jay’s dad [step-father Ken Sherwood] sketching up some ideas I had for the 10” x 30” Z-Pig Wood Board with a full Santa Monica cross. When that hit the mags with my art Mutt and Jeff flipped out & threatened a lawsuit if Z-Flex used it! Kent was laughing & did it anyway – without the Cross. We were pretty cool with the checks after that… Hahahaaa
The boards seemed to be all over the parks & the mags. We had a pretty good-sized warehouse that had pallets of each model, boxes of shirt’s & wheels. It was like Christmas a few times – just grabbing boards & wheels, weather Mutt & Jeff knew it or Not! Hahahaaa. Then we’d stop by the skate park at Marina Del Rey & hook up some kids that had beat to crap boards.
You guys started up at the end of the 1970s, when the Second Boom was busting. How long did the business last?
Yeah two years max until mid- to maybe late-1979, then the wheels started coming off. It was pretty sad. I would hear stories from the guys at Skate City about stacks of our boards at Swap Meets for $5.00 & under a board…Ouch! The checks stopped and ‘ya couldn’t find Mutt & Jeff. They were long gone back to NY was the word.
Has Dogtown been producing boards since the late 1970s or has the business come and gone and come again?
Jim has kept Dog Town Skates through the years. By ‘79/80 it was done so I got a good job in the printing trade (thanks to a girlfriend at the time that was tired of paying for sushi – hahahaa) & did art on the side for a few people. Jim started it back up early 80’s & I did art for him as side work through the mid 80’s & would sign it as “BDA/Bulldogs Art.” I still made boards at home but was always kind of bitter toward the skate biz. I moved from DT late 80’s & missed making boards so I started making them at home again mid-90’s. I started Bulldog Skates later 90’s on the side.
This interview is going into a chapter about the 1970s, so we have to stay within 1981. Later in the book we can show some Bulldog Skates. But for the record, you were involved with the Zephyr team and the Z-Boys and Dogtown during the times that have been immortalized in books and documentaries and feature films. Is there anything about how Dogtown has been media sensationalized that bothers you? Time to get it off your chest.
Yeah for sure. I dug “Z-Boys & DT” & loved the old photos & footage. The Z-Boys were cool but I felt that Dog Town was really the pool riding & only ½ the Z-Boys really rode pools. So I felt there were things left out that were way more rad than the “Little Hair Spinner from Charlie’s Angels” IMO… First is John Palfreyman – the first to ride a BMX bike in a pool & not just ride it: ripping it! I would love to have seen more Craig & the older guys that were really the framework for Dog Town/Santa Monica with their art and surfing, and also the other skaters that ripped pools & was all left out…..
Here’s and interview with Peggy Oki Straight out of· ‘The Skateboard: The Good The Bad And The Gnarly’ Written By Ben Marcus.
When and where did you start skateboarding?
That was a long time ago! I would say at the age of around ten, when my father bought my brother and I our own “Black Knight” skateboards from FedCo, fully equipped with Fred Flintstone (stone-age) rock wheels. We skated around the neighborhood which later was named the Territory of Dogtown.
Can you define what “Dogtown” means? The definitions seem to vary from person to person.
“Dogtown” was bordered by Boxer Blvd, Labrador Lane, Beagle Drive, and Poodle Place. And of course, “no outsiders!” OK, just kidding.
Who influenced/inspired/mentored you as a beginner and then as you progressed?
I knew of no influences as a beginner. As I progressed, it was my Zephyr team mates.
How did your boards change as you progressed?
After the Black Knight, a few years later, my brother made a skateboard for me in his woodshop class at Venice High. It was a small swallowtail, set up with Bennett trucks and Cadillac Wheels. So great to be rolling on urethane! And then I got on the Zephyr team and rode the Zephyr skates, eventually Z-Flex.
Describe the circumstances that lead to you becoming a skater for the Zephyr team.
I had begun surfing at Bay St., and was into practicing down Bicknell Hill on the days without surf. While there, I think it was Jay (Adams) who started talking with me and asked if I would be interested in being on a skateboard team. So I went to the Jeff Ho/Zephyr shop up the road, and “the rest is history.”
When did you join and what was it like being a lady among rogues?
I joined as the team was being formed. Being into motocross racing at the time – also a “tomboy” through my girlhood – it was just another fun thing to have skating adventures with the rogues.
You are kind of the Gidget of skateboard world, in a sense?
Hmmm, I’m not old enough to really know a lot about Gidg, other than Sally Field. Were her parents supportive, or not?
Kathy Kohner’s parents weren’t sure about their teenage daughter coming back from the beach with stories of Moondoggie and the Great Kahoona. But then her dad wrote a popular book that became a popular movie, so I think they were down with it. What about your parents and these rascals you were running around with? Could you bring Tony or Jay home for dinner to meet mom and dad?
My father seemed pretty cool, but my mother never approved of the many tomboy activities. Tony or Jay home for dinner?
What was your specialty as a skateboarder and during the 1970s, were there a lot of other women skateboarding?
The hills were fun for downhill and slalom. I loved skating the banks at the schools. I think that like most of the guys on the team: “tricks are for kids.” I didn’t see any other women skateboarding wherever we went.
When did you start to fade away from skateboarding and hanging out with the Z Boyz/Dogtown crew?
I faded from the scene after the first few contests. From the first, the Del Mar, I didn’t like the politics. It wasn’t always about the best skater, and it wasn’t fun for me to hang around all day, hardly actually skating.
Are you surprised by all the media attention that you all got then and now?
In all the documentaries/movies/stories that have been written and produced, do you see anything that is untrue or that has been left out?
In the documentary, it wasn’t shared that for some unexplained reason, I was not “qualified” for the slalom competition at Del Mar. I was the only girl who made it down the ramp both times in the trials. In the movie, much of the story was fictionalized. Jay’s mother was not as she was portrayed.
Just for the heck of it, let’s play a word association game. I’ll name all these Z Boyz/Dogtowners and you sum them up in a word or a sentence
It’s hard for me to play this, but will do what I can. Everyone is a unique individual. And our focus was to skate when together. We didn’t have much discussion to get to know each other personally.
Jay Adams: remarkable and not repeated since
Chris Cahill: hardly actually
Paul Constantineau: PC
Paul Cullen: BPC
Skip Engblom: colorful, intellectual, humorous, caring
Jeff Ho: Jeff
Wes Humpston: hardly recall
Shogo Kubo: A lot of people thought we were siblings.
Jim Muir: Muir
Allen Sarlo: Big Hugs
You didn’t include Tony Alva
And Wentzle Ruml A pleasure to learn nowadays that Wentzle cares about the environment also.
You came to the shoot with origami whales and now you are in Dominica with those whales. What is it you are doing there?
Dominica, the only East Caribbean IWC member nation that does not support Japan’s whaling interests, has recently renewed its commitment to whales. So the Origami Whales Project is currently working with children and conservation groups to create a special Curtain of Origami Whales to remain on exhibit there to symbolize (and hopefully galvanize!) the country’s position of protecting whales. We are planning to coincide this effort with a premier screening in Dominica of “The Cove” (which to date has received 24 awards and is on the Academy Awards nominations “shortlist” for 2009 Best Documentary film) in early 2010. Charles Hambleton, Head of Clandestine Operations for “The Cove”, who I worked with this summer, plans to be here as well. Here is the link to my soon-to-be-posted “blog” page: http://www.peggyoki.com/
How long have you been doing this?
Since 2004, so now six years.
What kind of whales pass through Dominica?
Sometimes Humpbacks and Pilot Whales. The very special thing about Dominica is that there are about five families of sperm whales that spend a lot of time around the waters of Dominica. They are a pelagic species, usually found far from shore in deep ocean environments. So to have them so close to any land is unique. I just so happen to be a “Sperm Whale Groupie”.
I like whales. They go past my house in Malibu sometimes.
My guess is that you see the Gray Whales on their migrations to and from Baja where they are calving and nursing. There are actually lots of other species off the California coast, but generally not seen as close to shore.
Can’t imagine how people can kill them.
Whaling is cruel and unnecessary. If people knew what happens, it would be shocking. There are laws in many “civilized” nations regulating the “humane slaughter” of farm animals. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has NO regulations on this issue. Sometimes whales may take OVER AN HOUR to die. Due to their highly adapted physiology, it’s actually hard to know when a whale is actually dead.
Zephyr, Z Boys, Dogtown. You could write a book. Make a documentary! In 1994, Craig Stecyk III wrote the intro to F%@#% You Heroes, a collection of Glen Friedman’s rap, punk and skate photos from 1976 – 1991.
That book included a lot of photos of Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Bob Biniak, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, Stacy Peralta and a lot of other 70s, LA-area skaters, along with Darby Crash, Ted Nugent, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, and other skaters, punks and rappers from the LA scene.
F%@#% You Heroes gave a taste of another Friedman/Stecyk collaboration, Dogtown – The Legend of the Z-Boys published in 2000 which Amazon describes like this:
In the early 1970s, the sport of skateboarding had so waned from its popularity in the 1960s that it was virtually non-existent. In the Dogtown area of west Los Angeles, a group of young surfers known as the Zephyr Team (Z-Boys) was experimenting with new and radical moves and styles in the water which they translated to the street. When competition skateboarding returned in 1975, the Z-Boys turned the skating world on its head. . Dogtown The Legend of the Z-Boys is a truly fascinating case study of just how an underground sport ascended on the world. These are the stories and images of a time that not only inspired a generation but changed the face of sport forever. The Legend of the Z-Boys has been described as “The Dogtown text book” and an insightful companion piece to the movie: “DogTown and Z-Boys”. . Spanning 1975 – 1985, the first section of the 240 page book includes the best of the “DogTown” articles written by C.R. Stecyk III as they originally appeared in SkateBoarder Magazine. The second half compiles 100’s of never before seen skate images from the archive of Glen E. Friedman – many of which appear in the movie.
There have been books, but there also have been documentaries on the impact of these young LA-area skateboarders in the 1970s. Most famously, Stacy Peralta’s Dogtown and Z=Boys in 2001 was the darling of the Sundance Film Festival and might have been partially responsible – along with Michael Moore – for launching the tsunami of documentaries that have come sense. In 2008, Peralta admitted to Steve Olson in Juice Magazine that Dogtown had sold over one million DVD and over 700,000 VHS.
Those kind of numbers attract Hollywood and that lead to the movie version of the documentary, Legends of Dogtown, which was released in Dogtown did well enough to inspire the feature film Lords of Dogtown, written by Stacy Peralta, and featuring Emile Hirsch, Heath Ledger and Rebecca de Mornay. Roger Ebert loved the doco but the movie, not so much:
Now we have “Lords of Dogtown,” a fiction film based on the very same material and indeed written by Peralta. Not only is there no need for this movie, but its weaknesses underline the strength of the doc. How and why Peralta found so much old footage of skateboarding in 1975 is a mystery, but he was able to give us a good sense of those kids at that time. Although Catherine Hardwicke, the director of “Lords of Dogtown,” has a good sense for the period and does what she can with her actors, we’ve seen the originals, and these aren’t the originals. Nobody in the fiction film pulls off stunts as spectacular as those we see for real in the documentary.
Several books, a very successful documentary and a movie that Roger Ebert didn’t like so much because the skateboarding wasn’t so great, but still featured Heath Ledger doing a scary-good impersonation of Skip Engblom.
Much has been written, re-written, filmed and re-filmed about the time in the 1970s, when the Zephyr Surf Shop in Santa Monica sponsored a surf and skate team who came to be known as the Z Boys.
It all began with these three chaps, Craig Stecyk, Skip Engblom and Jeff Ho and the short version goes like this: In 1971, Ho, Stecyk and Engblom opened Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions in the Venice Beach area of Santa Monica. These guys were all surfers who were skateboarding out of the 1960s but at first it was all about surfing. Ho and Engblom formed the Zephyr Surf Team, made up of local surfers who had established themselves at the defunct Pacific Ocean Park. As the urethane revolution hit, the Zephyr Skate Team evolved and they became known as the Z-Boys. The original members were Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Bob Biniak, Chris Cahill, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, Peggy Oki, Stacy Peralta, Nathan Pratt, Wentzle Ruml IV and Allen Sarlo.
Later members included Paul Cullen, Cris Dawson, Jose Galan, Dennis Harney, Paul Hoffman, Donnie Ohem and Tommy Waller.
The team practiced around Jeff Ho’s surf shop and on the streets of Santa Monica and Venice, including the banked walls at Paul Revere and Kenter schools in the Santa Monica mountains and Bicknell Hill, which ran down to the ocean. Moving away from the nose wheelies and 360s and other freestyle moves of the 1960s, the Z-Boys found that urethane wheels and improved equipment allowed them to replicate the “anything is possible” surfing of Hawaiian surfers Larry Bertlemann and Buttons Kaluhiokalani.
The Z-Boys skated the banks at Paul Revere, Kenter and the geography-blessed schools of the Santa Monica mountains, they raided swimming pools all over Los Angeles during the drought years of the mid-1970s, and they ran wild in the streets of Venice and Santa Monica – an area dubbed Dogtown by Craig Stecyk.
They were just having fun and not trying to cause a big sensation, but the photography and journalism of Craig Stecyk, combined with their first public appearance at the 1975 Bahne-Cadillac National Championships at Del Mar – launched the Z-Boys into legend.
From: The Skateboard, The Good The Rad And The Gnarly
Written by Ben Marcus Photos by Lucia Griggi