30 Years of Professional Skateboarding

5/30/17

Selfie Documentation, on the street outside my hotel in Toronto, on the night that I turned Pro.

Thirty years ago today, I turned Pro at a Vert Contest in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I was a month shy of 17 years old. I had been sponsored by Powell Peralta for less than a year, and I had only been Skating for two years and nine months. Stacy Peralta called me in early April of 1987, informing me that I’d be turning Pro at a Street Contest in Eugene, Oregon on June 20th. Between that call and the contest in Oregon, Steve Rocco called and said that he would be passing through New Jersey on the Hell Tour II, and that he wanted me to join him. He said that we’d be heading up to Toronto for a Pro Vert Skate Event called Skatewave, where we’d be doing Street and Freestyle Demos, and then back across the USA to California visiting Skate Shops. I told him that I was in school and that I couldn’t go with him. He told me, “drop out” and so I did.

Rocco picked me up in my hometown of Edison, NJ and after driving for a few hours he insisted that I drive. I told him that I had never driven a car, that I didn’t have a driver’s license and that I hadn’t even ever gotten a driver’s permit — that I had no plan to ever drive a car. He just laughed at me and told me to drive. And that was how I learned to drive, on tour w/ Rocco, Trial by Fire.

When we got to Toronto, I decided to enter the Vert Contest. This went against the wishes of my sponsor. They didn’t want me riding Vert, I was a “Street Skater” and they didn’t want me ruining the image they had been creating for me. I didn’t care. I was a Skateboarder, and I didn’t strategize such things… I just Skated. Well, I ended up getting last place in the contest, my “Pro Debut” and this caused a lot of bad feelings about me and my choices back at the home office, but the Skaters that I shared the Ramp with that weekend were stoked that I Skated with them. It showed that I wasn’t out to change anything, that I wasn’t a part of some agenda to put one style of Skating over another, that to me, it was all Skateboarding. The Smiles, Handshakes and Good Vibes on the deck of that ramp were more meaningful to me than someone else’s idea of what My Skateboarding should be.

Back in the van, zigzagging across the USA with Steve Rocco and Johnee Kop, I skated jump ramps and slider rails in strip mall parking lots from New York to California. I had been doing a lot of demos on weekends for Powell Peralta, flying out to Skate Shops all over the USA, but this was my first Tour, and it would inform the rest of my days as a Pro Skater. The Immediacy of a Demo, the Exchange of Energy, the Connection with an Audience. It all found a Home in me, and I Embraced Each Moment. Touring became my vehicle to present My Skating outside of the skate media. 

On June 20th, 1987, I Skated my first Pro Street Style Contest and placed 3rd behind Tommy Guerrero in 1st, and Natas Kaupas in 2nd. I was told again that weekend by my sponsor that I could only Skate in Street Contests going forward. Of course, I ended up Skating in many more Vert Contests anyway.