chops and rudy trip out.
Alright Rudy, so we’ve all seen Guy’s Epicly Later’d where Stacy Peralta comes clean about not wanting to initially include you on Powell. Did you have any idea that was the case? Have you had the chance to talk to Stacy about it?
No, I haven’t had a chance to talk to him and it’s funny because I didn’t know anything about that. I like that he was so honest about it, though, but it did make me go back and think about a few things from back then. It definitely tripped me out for a little bit but I came to the conclusion that if I had to choose between Stacy Peralta or Mark Gonzales thinking I was worthy to be put on a team, I’m beyond proud that it was Gonz who chose me. The Gonz overpowers Stacy in my book.
Agreed. But back to Stacy, was shooting Ban This as cumbersome of a process as it would seem? I know you guys filmed early in the project… what was that, a couple days? Did you guys have to wear the same clothes everyday in classic Powell-style?
We filmed all that in two weekends. That was it. And yeah, Stacy made us wear the same clothes for all four days.
It’s funny because I remember all of us worrying that our part was going to suck. We didn’t think that we had enough time to film everything. We had so much more stuff for the video but Stacy didn’t want us to outshine his more established pros. He told us that it wasn’t our time yet. But in the end, it didn’t even matter because people were stoked on our part anyway.
Were you guys allowed time to really try tricks or did you have to make them fairly quickly before Stacy would want to move on to something else?
He wasn’t really on it like that because, to be honest, we were all still first- or second-try back then. We were basically taking him to spots that we already knew and skated. We knew exactly how the flow was at each spot and what tricks we had there.
We’d actually get together and have hour-long conversations the Friday night before filming about what we wanted to do and basically plan it all out. Someone would want to do a trick at a certain spot so we’d have to plan out what the rest of us wanted to do there and how we wanted to do it… all-together or whatever. But we all skated together a lot and knew what each other could do.
At that point, we could all do basically everything.
Street skating was so young.
Exactly. There was only one trick that I had trouble with during filming: a no-comply to tail that I actually did rolling up to the spot without the cameras on. Stacy was like, “We gotta film that.”
You gotta remember that he was still using that crazy film camera back then, not a video camera. So after maybe 10 tries, he told me to just get up there with my board to tail and hop down.
Yeah, that was my first taste of what editing can do. It’s perfect in the final cut! (laughs)
We mentioned Stacy essentially throttling your guys’ footage in order to protect his big name pros. How were you guys treated by the rest of team back then as little kids?
We didn’t really get to travel with the big guys on the team. I remember thinking when I first got on Powell that we were going to start hanging out with Cab and Tommy Guerrero but it wasn’t like that.
We ended up going to the premiere of Ban This and they didn’t even want to let us in. Here it was, Powell has their own theater and it’s this really big deal and the people at the door won’t let us through… and we’re in the video! I couldn’t believe it. They didn’t even know who we were. It was after seeing Tony Hawk show up in a limo that day that I realized we still weren’t those dudes.
We were all cool with the next generation of Powell guys that came after, but of the Chin guys, the only one that really took us in was Lance. He was the most awesome Dad to us, man. He did a lot for us.
I know you famously hung up on Gonz the first time he called your house… what was the process like for you getting on Blind back then? Was it always a package deal with you and Guy?
It was weird how it worked out because I’m not sure if Gonz had even heard all that much about Guy back then. I know he really wanted me on but I’m not sure about Guy.
Mark and I had already been skating some by that point and I remember being at Mark’s house when it all went down. He called Rocco on three-way and was like, “Hey, watch this, dude. We’re going to do it.”
It’s crazy, though, because at the time, I wasn’t sure about going to Blind. I was getting $2,000 a month on Powell, which is a lot, especially for back then. And they were already working on turning us pro. I really didn’t know if I should leave or not.
Rocco always had a thing for putting young kids on the team. Like Chris Branaugh, he always believed in the little tiny rippers. So it was Rocco’s idea for Guy to get on Blind. Rocco is the one who made it a package deal and Guy was totally down to go.
It’s funny because Rocco had been already reeling us in little-by-little…
“Hey, come on down to World and check things out!”
or “Hey, take some Ghetto Wear!”
We were stoked!
I think Powell was just too big for us at the time. It’s like they lost control and couldn’t maintain us. They even had this crazy rule book for everybody on the team.
I was wondering if you ever had to deal with that.
Yeah, we went to Powell once and actually got reprimanded for what we wore! Being a fan of H-Street, I wanted to wear a Matt Hensley shirt and I totally got in trouble for it.
“What are you guys doing!? George is walking around! You can’t be wearing that stuff!”
I’d never even met George before and now I’m getting reprimanded for wearing a shirt? Stuff like that is why I decided to leave.
Did you expect such a backlash from Powell? I mean, you just said that George hadn’t even met you before. Do you think it was more about you guys leaving specifically or Rocco in general?
Probably both. They were already bummed on Rocco after what happened with Rodney and Mike V. But with us, it was something different. I think when we left, it hurt Powell in a different kind of way because we were the new generation. We were the younger street skating kids and here we are quitting Powell back when nobody quit Powell.
So yeah, they were mad. They ended up making those shirts about us.
The Brainwashed Victim ones?
No, we actually made those. We made those because Powell had already made ones that they passed out to a bunch of people at the NSA Am Finals in Reno. It was Guy and I from that wheel ad we had. They cropped us out and wrote “Little Boys Who Play With Themselves Go Blind.”
Yeah, that shirt was floating around and at first, I was kinda pissed about it. I thought it was so lame and I couldn’t believe that’s how they came back at us. It was so stupid, man. Have some balls. Mark thought it was funny, though.
But, of course, Rocco didn’t play around with that and just clobbered it. Making it so ridiculous.
I take it those Powell graphics were his idea?
Oh, that was totally Rocco. That’s when I knew it was going to get crazy. But those graphics turned out so good, man, and they just killed those guys. I think it was Mark McKee who did those… He chose whatever graphics he thought he could make funny and they turned out so rad.
Classic shit. So let’s get into it: how’d you go about filming for Video Days? Just organically trying shit in sessions or were there specific filming missions? Were you nervous at all with not only filming for your first solo part, but now with two gnarly legends involved like that?
There were a few filming missions but so much of it came from just skating with those dudes in a regular session. When you’re skating with amazing guys like that, you want to skate well anyway. With there being the extra pressure of the video, that made you want to skate that much better.
The way it worked was just going out and filming for a while. When it came time to finally wrap it up, we each got to go out with Spike individually for anything we still had left to get. It was such a rad time.
One thing I do appreciate Mark doing back then is that he never showed us his footage while we were filming. We were always looking at each other’s clips but he was the one who’d never really let the rest of us know where he was at. The most he’d do is just walk in all excited and say, “I got something today!”
“Dude, let’s see it!”
He kept his whole thing from us until those last few days. But when we finally saw it, we couldn’t believe it.
It’s funny because I remember thinking since Mark had a bit of a different style and the rest of us were already a bit more technical that maybe his part might not end up being all that great. So many people from his era were already past their prime by that point and the parts they were putting out weren’t as good as their ones before. I was actually worried that maybe Mark’s part was going to be like that, too.
I used to look at Mark back then like he was so old. He was only 22 or so but I looked at him as a grown man. (laughs)
He had a house. He had a car. He did his own shopping at the market… we were street kids. This dude’s not out there skating like us.
But he showed me his part and I was completely blown away. So rad.
Best part ever. So when did the drunk driving concept get into the mix?
That came later. At first, Gonz just wanted the car in it. Just to have that vibe, you know. But as things went on, they figured they had to crash the thing. Gonz wanted everyone to die in the video and crashing it would be cool so we decided one night to go to Mexico and crash it... because there was really no other place to do that but TJ. That’s how the whole drunk driving thing came into it. We were just having fun, man.
Why the 1-900 number for your death date?
That was actually my phone number! Except for the area code, that was my phone number back then. They said they did that because they couldn’t get a hold of me the night they were editing and they didn’t know my exact birthdate. (laughs)
But looking back on it, I think they just wanted to throw one random in there. That was kind of our thing, just to trip people out. Like, what is that? People thought that number meant I was the one that lived.
That definitely was not planned. I was kinda tripping out on it… like, “Dude, that’s my real phone number!”
I actually had a few people call me, too. They figured out what it was and what my area code was… I was getting calls for days because of that.
How did that whole Gulf War rally part go down? Was that just you guys lurking around?
That whole thing came about from us wanting to skate that handrail. That’s the Federal Building handrail that Mark frontside boardslides at the end of his part. You can see those guys standing by it there. We went to skate that rail but they were having that rally so we couldn’t skate it. It was barricaded off. Skating there was going to be impossible and we were all pissed about it so we started fucking around. Jason started getting all into it… super funny, man.
Mark ended up going back there on his own to skate it. We weren’t around.
How well do you think those parts served to really capture Gonz and Jason’s skating? What was the gnarliest thing you ever saw them do that was never filmed?
The thing you have to keep in mind that is those parts were basically both of those guys’ first parts. I mean, Gonz had his part in Psycho Skate and a few of those contest videos but you basically knew he was “the Gonz” through print. So this was the Gonz part that everybody had been waiting for since his Vision days.
Pretty much the same thing for Jason, too. You saw him in ads but you didn’t really see him skate. But those parts came out and made those guys that much bigger. It was very significant for them.
But something that always stuck out in my head about both those guys was how well they skated vert. They were real vert skaters to us. They were doing real airs, inverts and all that. I’m not sure if that really came across in the video.
As far as what I saw them do outside of filming, there’s so many things. Mark was always out skating and doing weird stuff. One time in particular was at this market close to his house that had these different levels of parking. He goes, “Watch this, dudes.”
He starts pushing, does a kickflip on flat, a tre flip and then ollies into the open divider between the levels into a noseslide and tailslide on each side all the way to the end. It was so rad; total Gonz-style. He totally should’ve filmed that.
How tight was Jordan with the team? Somebody must’ve kept him on, right?
He was never really around, to be honest. It sucks because he was a good guy and I used to totally admire his vert skating. But I’m really not sure how it all worked for him. I know he was in contact with Mark a lot but Mark used to always make fun of him a lot, too.
I have a feeling that he came along with Danny Way but after Danny left, he stayed behind and just went with it. The problem for him was that we were all street skaters.
At that point, Blind was really coming into its own. It was becoming what it was always supposed to be. The team had been there before with Jovontae and everyone but it had finally worked through everything to be what it was meant to be. Jordan was one of those elements left over from things that had already gone down to get it there.
We always hear rumors of people “almost” getting on Blind back then. Anybody stand out? Wasn’t Jason Jessee in the mix at one point?
Now that I think about it, I think so! I know Mark was always a big admirer of Jason Jessee’s skating.
I do remember Mark really wanting Randy Colvin on the team. He was always trying to get Randy on the team but with him already on World, Rocco didn’t want to do it.
What was the connection with Blind and Toyota?
(laughs) That’s a good one.
It comes from when I got my first car. I was getting pretty good checks as an amateur and when it came time to buy a car, I went out and unknowingly bought Mark’s favorite, a Toyota Corolla. It was a simple car but he was so stoked that I got one. He’s actually driving a Corolla in Psycho Skate when he throws the glasses. He was so hyped.
“Dude, Toyota Carollas are so cool, man! They go really fast!”
That’s how it turned into being on my first board. I remember him asking me what I wanted for a graphic but I really didn’t know. The only thing that stood out for me came from back before I was even on Powell when I’d always see Tommy and them riding those “Experimental” boards. It was like you knew you couldn’t have one, even if you tried. Shops didn’t carry those; you had to be on the team. So I told Mark about that and he started putting a graphic together. Once he got it finished, he shows me my graphic and it’s this drawing with “Experimental” really big on it.
“That’s cool, Mark. But what’s up with the Toyota?”
“Toyotas are sick cars, dude!”
He was so happy I bought a Toyota that he wanted it on my board, too. (laughs)
That confused so many people, though. Even Jovontae was like, “Yo man, your board… people keep asking me who Toyota Johnson is. That’s wack.”
I realize it’s hard to trump the Fucked Up Blind Kids but what’s your favorite Rocco-era graphic?
My favorite one, for sure, is the Jason Lee one with the flag, the gun and the Bible. That’s my favorite. I wanted to ride that board just because I was so hyped on the graphic.
Did your family ever see “Rear End Rudy”?
Yeah, but way later. I had to hide that one from my Mom. She would’ve flipped out. (laughs)
Yeah, but way later. I had to hide that one from my Mom. She would’ve flipped out. (laughs)
So did you know that Gonz was about to leave Blind when he did? What was it like there without him?
I did know Gonz was going to leave. Mark and Jason just weren’t happy. We were at a contest in Munster and you could tell things were going on. Mark was talking shit on the whole deal, saying it was fucking lame and everything. And Jason made it clear that he wasn’t going to hang out if Mark left. So Guy and I were definitely bummed but we were still so young, we really didn’t know what to do. It seemed safer to stay.
After that, Blind just seemed like another rad company under World. Whatever Blind was had died, at least to me. It was all Mark and Jason.
Not to say we were treated bad or that it wasn’t a good time. It just wasn’t the same.
Was there really going to be a 2nd Blind video before Girl started?
We actually did want to do another Blind video. I was planning on one. At the time, we had Lotti and Bertino and they all really wanted to put something out. Those dudes especially had a bunch of footage to introduce them to the team.
I didn’t know about Girl back then. I wasn’t in on those first official meetings. Guy was and he’s the one who first told me about it. It’s funny because he first brought it up to me hypothetically, like “Imagine if Rick started a company with just us. Wouldn’t that be sick?”
“Dude, what? What are you even talking about?”
I had no idea. But yeah, Rick was hanging out a lot with us at the time and we were all super close. We were basically all living together at Guy’s house. So yeah, it sounded rad but I still didn’t fully get what he was talking about. He ended up having to break it down for me and telling me who was going to be on it. But I was down, man. Let’s do it.
So there wasn’t any hesitation this time?
We just needed something new and I was also hearing things about Rocco that didn’t really make much sense. I mean, I remember Gabriel showing me his boardsale checks on 101 and they were almost $6,000 a month… which was a little weird. I was selling so many of those 40 Olde English boards but I never really seemed to be getting paid like I should’ve.
On Blind, after Mark left, World put us on minimums. It didn’t really make much sense to us what was going on but they told us not to worry. Looking back on it now, I definitely didn’t make what I was probably supposed to in board royalties.
The thing is that we really didn’t know any better. We were just young kids, stoned out of our heads. But these weird things kept on happening and were starting to add up. With Girl, it was going to be our thing. It was our friends and it was going to be sick.
There was no hesitation about leaving.
How was filming for Goldfish? The Plan B guys were used to the Ternasky pressure cooker but coming from Blind, could you really tell any difference in how it was made?
Yeah, Blind was far more mellow than Plan B. We actually used to hear these gnarly Ternasky stories and trip out; him paying off his riders for a clip. That even goes back to before Plan B during H-Street. That’s why Jason said all that stuff in Video Days about paying you $5,000 to slide that handrail. The Plan B guys got that stuff, too.
Overall, Goldfish was really mellow and cool, but for me, I was bummed on how my part came out. I honestly thought my Goldfish part was going to be way better than my Blind part. I feel like my skating was at its peak then. But I ended up breaking my arm while arm wrestling my friend Matt Schnurr. It was a really bad break and I had to miss several months, which my part suffered for. I’ve always felt like that part wasn’t justified.
So what happened after Goldfish? Everything you were putting out was top-shelf and you even got your own shoe for a while but you were kinda underground at that point. What was going on?
Yeah, I started getting injured a lot while also starting to get more into music. I joined a band and got more into the traditional-skinhead ska scene. But honestly, I just slacked off on it. I mean I’d still be out skating and put out an ad here and there but I was definitely slacking. It was different then compared to how it is now where you can film some tricks and put them out via a bunch of different websites. The stuff will come out. Back then, it was just for the big video. That was it.
What about those crazy DC Supertours? It had to be pretty surreal with everyone riding around in those jerseys. What were those like?
The first one was actually pretty good. The jerseys on that one were kinda cool, way better than the ones for the second tour. Those were ridiculous. But the first tour was a really well-organized tour. We were hooked up with the nicest places and the tour bus was actually a real gnarly tour bus. It wasn’t everyone piling into three cars.
But yeah, every demo was packed and all the kids were super hyped. You could drop in and do a 5-0 and people would be screaming like they were at a concert. It was insane. They were so happy to be there, it was really cool.
The second one just wasn’t as good. It was still cool, just kinda played out. The jerseys were wack and the overall feeling among everybody was like, “Again? We’re doing this again?”
Did you go into Yeah Right knowing that it would be your swan song?
Yeah, I totally knew that was going to be it. I had to tell Rick that I didn’t want a retirement part, just to let this be it.
But I knew it was time. I still had a board out but I was usually just included in the one-off series. I started noticing that I wasn’t in the main series of boards. I finally ended up going to Rick to tell him this was it. It was probably overdue but I didn’t want the day to come where he would have to tell me to go… I wanted it to be me telling him that I was done.
You were talking about Gonz being “old” in the Blind days, did this same feeling eventually get turned on you as you got further into your career?
I guess so, but it was later on. It’s funny because when I reached my early-twenties, I thought I was still a kid. It wasn’t until I got my own place for the first time around ’97 that it started to come up. It’s funny because I remember thinking to myself, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to cook my own rice tonight.” (laughs)
So good. How did Royal come about? And what is your role there?
I always knew I wanted to do something with Girl, even after I was done being pro. That’s the life I wanted. At first, I thought about possibly doing a board company with them but I figured they didn’t really need that. Trucks were something that could still be cool and they weren’t doing that. And it only made sense for Girl to have their own. That’s how Guy and I started Royal with them.
It’s honestly a weird job because I don’t actually have a title but it’s rad, dude. I just try to do as much as I can. Working with graphic designers on ideas and answering emails… honestly, it’s always a little difficult to talk to people about it. They’ll ask me what I do and I won’t know what to say. There’s really no name for it.
I think another thing that helped me over the years was realizing how important the social part of riding for Girl and Chocolate was, too. Obviously we were all friends just to be involved with those companies but I feel like some of the guys I came up with saw riding for them on a different wavelength than I did. It became like an “out of sight, out of mind” type of thing… which probably didn’t help them either.
Starting Royal with Guy, would it be safe to say that as “the LA Boys”, you still share a type of special bond with those dudes after all these years?
I would say that we definitely share a bond because of that part. I mean we had no idea what an impact it was going to have. No idea. Then, all of a sudden, people were really checking for us. It was crazy.
Our entire skate careers came 100% from the “LA Boys” and we’ll always have that. Guy and I were talking about that the other day actually… That over 20 years later, it all started from that part.
It must’ve been difficult for you to watch some of those guys go down such dark paths over the years in terms of addiction. How did you deal with seeing your friends go through gnarly shit like that? Did you ever try to step in or intervene?
It was hard, for sure. I tried to help where I could but it was all so sad to see. It really was.
It’s unfortunate the way skateboarding works sometimes. It starts out as something you do and then you can become so big in it, all of a sudden. You’re really hot one minute and then you’re spit out. But you’re so busy while you’re in it that you can’t really prepare for when it’s over. And once you add in all the other stuff that people can get into, it gets that much gnarlier.
I tried to help those guys as much as I could by trying to be there for them physically and emotionally but when it comes to stuff like that, you can only do so much.
Do you think it might have had something to do with being “child stars” in a sense? Or is it not that simple? I mean, the World Park couldn’t have been the most positive way to grow up… on top of the normal pressures skaters experience with a bit of success, right?
It’s probably a mix of all the above. Being a child star with essentially no responsibilities was definitely part of it. At the time with skating, the thought was to let you create on your own. There was really no one there to push you. You were allowed to do it all yourself. But if you started to slack off, it was still all on you. I assume it has to be so easy to go the other way. Everybody takes their own path.
Honestly, I was blessed. I know 100% that I was able to stay grounded because I was with my now-wife the whole time. Straight up, she’s what saved me.
She’ll like that I said that, too.
Yeah, I was about to get to that because it always seemed like you largely dodged all that stuff.
Yeah, it was because of her.
I was hyped seeing Paulo’s recent Cherry part, though. Gotta say that I was a little surprised when it came out but it was so good seeing some new footage.
Exactly, it’s really good to see him on his board again. I’m hyped that he got to do it in his own style, too. Really cool.
Biggest life lesson learned from Mark Gonzales.
The biggest lesson Mark taught me about life came from the fact that he called me. I didn’t even believe it was actually him at first, but once I did, I realized that wishes can come true.
Is it strange to see Blind still going today?
I’m happy it is for the skaters that it’s supporting. Blind still supports skateboarding. And I also thought it was cool when they secretly put our video hidden on their video. It’s cool how much they still respect us and what we did for the company, even if it has changed over the years.
But one thing I always thought would’ve been cool, if they were to keep the name going, was to not use that same drawn logo. I wish they would’ve changed that up a little. I always thought using the same logo was a little weird. That was Mark’s logo. He drew that.
Who is one guy you always wanted on Girl but who never quite made it onto the team? I know Henry Sanchez is kind of the go-to answer here…
Henry actually had the chance but he didn’t want to.
I really wanted Gonz to get on Girl. It actually almost happened once…
Gonz on Girl!?!
Yeah, I was really pushing for it to happen. I believe it almost happened at one point but it didn’t work out and that’s when he got on Fourstar.
Yeah, man. It was crazy. I know Rick wanted it, too. It actually came down to a vote with the team and unfortunately, that’s how the company works. He didn’t get the vote. But yeah, that’s how the idea of getting him on Fourstar came up. We had to get that guy associated with the Crailtap family, for sure.
Did it have to be a unanimous vote?
I think it had to be unanimous, yeah. It’s always been like that with us.
Care to divulge who voted against it?
I don’t really know. I know our generation of dudes were all totally about it happening; we always had the highest praise for the Gonz. There were probably some younger dudes at the time who may not have gotten what the Gonz was all about at the time.
Jesus… should’ve kicked those kids off instead. So is Video Days the best skate video of all-time?
I thought it was really good but I can’t believe it is the best of all-time. I understand it a little better now that I’m older than I did at the time. When it came out, I just thought of it as the next Rubbish Heap. Really good but with that same style of filming and everything.
I’m blown away by how many people are still so stoked on it though. I am really thankful to have been blessed to be part of that. I thank Powell for getting people initially into us but the Blind video is really the legacy. That’s the first thing that comes out of people’s mouth when they see me somewhere: Video Days. They still get super stoked.
What’s your favorite skate video of all-time?
Future Primitive, for sure. It was the first skate video I ever saw and I still watch that one to this day. That’s the one that made me fall in love with skateboarding… the rest is history.
special thanks once again to rudy for taking the time.