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