chrome ball interview #112: ronnie creager

Chops and Ronnie sit down for conversation.

So going back, was all that footage from your What If intro really you? Pretty rad to have so much footage of yourself growing up, even down to skating the big ramp at McGill’s! 

(laughs) Nice eye on that being McGill’s.

Yeah, that was all stuff my Dad shot. He had a couple tapes laying around of me just being a kid. As I was always skating... I actually started skateboarding when I was 3 years-old, it just so happened that he ended up filming a lot of stuff on my skateboard growing up. But yeah, it really is cool to have all that.

It’s funny because you can see on those tapes that I’m basically forcing him to film me.

“Hey Dad, watch this! Wait, one more try! Film this one!”

So you’ve been filming clips from the very beginning. And all that would eventually lead to Foundation, right? Was that your first board sponsor?

Yeah, I was on a flow program through Powell prior to that. They’d send me a board or two every month and I also got to skate the Skate Zone for free, but that was about it. Foundation was my first real sponsor. 

Josh Beagle and I both rode for Hot Skates in Orange. We skated together a lot back then and Foundation kinda happened through that.

What was your take on Foundation at the time? Because while they’d just rebranded themselves with Beagle at this point, Glam Boys wasn’t that long ago and I remember that video being kind of a goof. Just vert stuff and partying.

I got on actually right after they'd just put out their second video...

The Magic F.

Right, and that was all street stuff. Totally different. That one was actually really good. Bobby Ferry was in that video, too. He rode for Hot Skates along with Josh and I. So I think knowing that those two guys were in the mix and getting their perspectives on everything, I was down. I thought Foundation was cool.

I remember Josh taking me down to meet Tod at the warehouse and I picked out a couple of boards… Tod kept on putting more and more stuff in my hands because I was nervous. I didn’t want to grab too much stuff and bum him out. But I ended up leaving that day with a stack of 10 boards and a ton of shirts and wheels. I was stoked.

Poot: Finally, Clothes Big Enough. Wasn’t that your first ad in a giant pair of pants with some girls?

It was also my last ad in a giant pair of pants with some girls.

(laughs) Good point.

(laughs) That was Tod’s idea. It seemed like everything he was doing back then was working out and Foundation was really on a roll, I guess he figured that he might as well start a clothing brand, too. That was Poot.

But yeah, we were all in there… just an enormous pair of specially-made pants with a big seam going up the back. Those were all Tod and Kendra’s friends in there with me, I had no idea who they were.

“Let’s just stick Ronnie inside a giant pair of pants with a bunch of chicks looking down at his whatever and call it a day.”

So good. You also had an ad in the short-lived Rocco-Swank battle. What were your thoughts on being thrown into that mix? Did you know your sequence was going to be used for that?

Yeah, it was a backside tail with a kickflip out on a curb that was 6 feet tall…. Wait, 6 centimeters.

(laughs) But you could get away with that in 1993.

Dude, I was stoked on that. That ledge is actually by my house so I still see it a lot. But it’s literally only 3 inches tall, pretty pathetic.

I think Chris Ortiz shot that. Josh was pretty big in the industry by that point so he always had photographers around. He was the dude in the spotlight, I was just a team rider out there with him, but I was able to get some photos, too.

But again, that ad was all Tod. I had no idea about what the photos were going to be used for but I was into whatever Tod wanted to do. I was pretty out-of-touch with all that industry stuff, but I didn’t care about the concept. I thought it was cool to get thrown into the mix like that. People probably paid a little more attention to it because of that.

There’s a theory that the Rocco-Swank beef was all a publicity stunt? Thoughts?

Planned? Probably. I never heard that but it wouldn’t surprise me.

If I had to guess, I imagine it being more of Swank’s idea, Rocco probably just told him to go for it. Rocco was so big at the time that I doubt he would’ve cared too much about what Tod did, as long as he went about it the right way. I mean, there have been ads where people have taken shots at Steve and he had them kicked out of skateboarding. But Swank and Rocco were always friends. They were probably laughing about it the whole time. Rocco knew enough that any attack ads on his companies would only make him stronger.

But they were on tour together for Barbarians and that wasn’t too long afterwards. Everything between those two seemed just fine to me.

I always loved how random Foundation ads felt back then. Everything felt like a series of one-offs from Tod’s imagination.

Yeah, an ad I always liked from back then was the satanic one Tod did about the Everlasting Church of Foundation. I thought that one was funny.

Backside double nollie heel, right?

Yeah, it was a little black-and-white ad with videograbs of me going down the three at the Santa Ana Courthouse but I always thought that one was cool… even though I have the most horrible landing in that thing. It’s like I landed in the grossest switch noseslide or something. It could’ve never been used in a video but it worked for the ad because we just cut out the frames where I slide a u-turn out of it. But whatever, it made for a good ad. (laughs)

How long did that even take?

(laughs) I don’t know, shit just happened back in the day. Even if it didn’t happen fast, I was at that age where I could try something for a month and it still only felt like 5 minutes.

As an early rider, did you have much say as the team started to expand? Some pretty high profile names came aboard, how much influence did you have with the different direction Foundation was starting to take?

I had no say in anything but I didn’t care. I don’t even think I knew to want a say in anything, I was just along for the ride. But I was liking everything they were doing. I was stoked to have Frank, Heath and Steve, as the mystery rider, getting on the team. It was fun, man. More people to go skate with!

The Super Conductor intro was reportedly done on ‘shrooms at Disneyland for Frank’s birthday. Was there a lot of that kinda stuff happening at Foundation back then?

I was actually on that Disneyland trip but I don’t remember there being ‘shrooms involved… most likely not that day. But drugs were a thing back then.

They actually might have something to do with how I was first able to get on Foundation. I remember we were all planning a trip out to Santa Barbara for a contest and I was asked to get some acid for the ride up there. I ended up getting some at school that day but I didn’t know that you’re not supposed to handle it.

Oh no!

Yeah, so after school, I head over to the skateshop where we’re all supposed to meet and I have no idea what is going on. I knew that we were going up to Powell for a contest but handling that acid with my bare hands had me tweaked! There I was, in the back of the shop, trying to take care of all my typical job duties… stacking rollerblades or whatever, and I am tripping out, man. It was intense. Luckily, the contest wasn’t until the next day so I had a chance to sleep it off. But it was really pretty scary, man… the not knowing of what all was going on with me. I wouldn’t recommend that to anybody. (laughs)

Talk a little about your Super Conductor part and what all went into the making of that one. I feel like that was kind of your breakthrough part, were you really trying to go for it there?

Jeez, I honestly don’t think that I’ve really ever tried to go for it in any video part. I wish I had! (laughs)

We were just skating and filming back then, man. That’s all we did and we loved it, too. It was fun! Because I don’t think you ever really feel pressure at that age. There were never any struggles... I don’t even think we knew that we were filming for a video at that point. Super Conductor basically came from the realization of everyone having all this footage. We’d all been filming so much that we had all this stuff, might as well throw it in an edit and put it out. 

If I remember correctly, Super Conductor was the first video that we actually made at Foundation, when Tod set up an editing bay and handled it. Cocktails, the video prior to that, we edited at Tony Hawk’s house on his machine.

That’s right! Because you had that weird little bit on his ramp in that one. Would you actually skate Tony’s ramp?

(laughs) It was more of a drop-in and kickturn situation... I don’t even know if I dropped in. But he had that bowl connected to it, that was fun. I could skate that. But the vert ramp was a different story. I’d just have fun skating down that roll-in on the side. That’s actually what I was doing in that clip when I saw Josh standing at the bottom of the ramp, trying to shove a fucking camera in my face. 

“Get outta my way, man! I’m going 100mph here!”

But that was awesome. It was just one day but that was such a cool experience to have.

For sure. But going back to Super Conductor, there are a few tricks in there at spots that had been done prior to your part, like the switch 360 flip at Beryl. What was your thinking behind having those in your part, too?

I definitely didn’t mean anything negative by it. I was just skating, man. I wasn’t really thinking about who did what. That wasn’t such a big deal back then. I don’t think I knew that it could even be taken that way. Rick definitely did the switch 360 flip there first, which probably inspired me on some level. He’s always been one of my favorite skaters ever but I didn’t mean anything by that at all.

For sure. Another thing I’ve always wondered, why the rap intro? And did you realize that was Justin Girard’s beat from 1281?

No! Really? Wow, I did not know that! That’s amazing! And I loved 1281! I guess I just never realized it. Both 1281 and Useless Wooden Toys rule!

Yeah, I forget who filmed that little intro but it was actually kind of a tense situation there. I’d completely messed up my room and my parents were really pissed off at me at the time. I was just being a shithead kid, writing my name on the wall. I can’t remember where I’d gotten that little Casio keyboard from, but I started messing around with it to try easing the tension. My buddy happened to have a camera with him so he started filming it. But by no means was I expecting that to become the intro to my part.

Why the running theme of Trix in your graphics? What was the thinking there? Just a big fan of Trix?

Actually, no! But we were trying to figure out something to do for my first pro board… which, Josh Beagle is the one who actually turned me pro. Tod asked me if I wanted to turn pro and I didn’t even know what to say so Josh said yes for me. (laughs)

But yeah, we were trying to figure out what to do for my board and those Trix commercials were on TV all the time back then.

“Why don’t we just have the Trix rabbit killing all the kids so he can finally eat the cereal? He’ll be happy for once.”

So that’s how it came about. And, of course, I ended up facing the same problem after I’d switched over to Blind. Returning to the Trix theme felt like the best option.

“Let’s just cut the feet off the rabbit.”

I’m sure Rocco and McKee had something to do with that as well. McKee was the reason for pretty much all of my Blind graphics.

So what was your experience like with Barbarians at the Gate? How was that project pitched to you and what was it that ultimately made you leave? Because you do look pretty miserable in that thing.

(laughs) Well, I kinda was miserable.

I’d just got kicked off Foundation prior to that trip.

Oh… you got kicked off Foundation!?! I thought you quit for Blind!

No, I got kicked off Foundation, got on Blind and then was forced to go back on a tour with Foundation again!

That’s gotta be awkward.

Yeah, it was like hanging out with your ex-girlfriend right after she dumped you. It was a bad situation. Getting kicked off Foundation was very painful for me. It really did feel like a first love-kinda thing. And now I was stuck on the road with them.

Not that everything was bad on that trip. Some parts were kinda cool, but there was this cameraman following us around, 24/7. They were constantly trying to get us to do all this stupid stuff, putting us in the “craziest” situations. It was miserable, man. I had to get outta there. Bring Heath in. 

If I could go back in time, I’d tough it out and do the whole thing. But I was just so bummed that they’d kicked me off Foundation. I didn’t understand why. 

But why did you get kicked off?

I still don’t really know for sure. Tod just kicked me off one day, out of the blue. I called him up to get some boards and he tells me that he doesn’t want me to ride for Foundation anymore.

Just like that? Not even a warning? But they’d just turned you pro! And you were killing it!

Yeah, just like that. No warning or anything.

He didn’t give you a reason?

Not really. I’ve actually had some opportunities to ask Tod about it over the years but I never have. We usually just end up joking around about other stuff.

But I do have a theory about all of this… wanna hear it?

Of course!

(laughs) So I think Tod bought Foundation from Rocco for some kind of deal early on... I may be wrong about that, but I have a theory that somewhere in the deal, Steve made the stipulation that if Foundation ever had a rider he wanted, Tod had to let him go.

I say this because while I was still riding for Foundation, Rodney contacted me.

“Hey, if you ever need anything, we’re here for you.”

This is completely out of left field. I don’t think there were any rumors about me leaving Foundation for the World camp... not that I know of, anyway. But at the time, I didn’t really think too much about it. I just thought it was cool that Rodney reached out to me like that.

But a little bit after that is when I got kicked off. I can’t help but think that maybe Steve contacted Tod, saying that it was time to let me go because Rocco wanted me instead.

It was either that or unbeknownst to me, I was acting like an obnoxious idiot. Maybe I just didn’t realize that Tod thought I sucked, but I truly don’t think that was the case.

This is shocking, man!

(laughs) Yeah, it was kinda weird. But all of a sudden, I had no idea what was going on with me. I had a board out and was making some money, that came to a grinding halt. I was living on my own! I still had to pay rent! What am I going to do? It was scary!

I’d still be riding for Foundation to this day if Tod had never kicked me off. Maybe… who knows.

Did you look around at all or did you just call Rodney?

No, I called Rodney the same day.

“Uh… I just got kicked off. I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, who do you want to ride for at World?”



Obviously, he had to run it by the riders first but he was going to make it happen.

So yeah, after all that, I’m back on the road with not only my new boss, but my old boss and Beagle as well. That’s why I left. It’s funny, though, because I’ll watch that video now and think it’s pretty awesome. I just wanted nothing to do with it at the time.

I can’t help but think of what it said on your first Blind ad… “Easily Manipulated”.

Yeah, I don’t know, man… Ronnie’s easily manipulated because we just stole him from Foundation? I tried not to read too much into it. That was just Rocco being Rocco… or whoever it was in charge of the ads back then. But I thought it was cool.

You were brought in as part of the Blind rebuild, post-Girl, with Paulo, Keenan and Lavar. What was the feeling like there? And did you know a few of those guys were about to bounce as well? 

Yeah, I heard Blind was almost done after those guys went to Girl. Rodney was very clear that I was being brought on to help revive the brand, but I was hyped. It was a bit of a change coming from Foundation, my first sponsor that I’d grown up with, but Blind was just so awesome.

I had no idea those guys were about to leave for Chocolate. That was hard, too. I remember being pulled aside at the World Park and asked if I wanted to ride for one of the other brands that seemed a little stronger.

“Nope, I’m fine. I’ll stay here.”

I mean, Blind has almost died a few times over the years, but that time was hard. Suddenly, it was just down to Lavar and I. That was the whole team, with nobody left from those earlier years. But I wanted to make it work. I wanted to go down with it.

You always killed the World Park. What are some of the more memorable events, either on or off-board, that you saw go down there?

I wasn’t there for any of the wilder stuff you always hear about, but it was a fun place to skate. It always felt like a big deal to be there, even when I was on Blind. Just walking into that place and being around all these guys that I looked up to, it was insane. There was always something some going down there. You could easily see these windows of opportunity opening up, in terms of progression. Someone would do something to prove that it was possible and then everyone else would jump in, taking it further. Everyone just fed off each other. Like, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have gotten the tricks I filmed there if it wasn’t for all who I was skating with at the session.

It was such an amazing park, too. A little hip, a manual, some little ledges and a bump. That stuff was fun! It’s probably more of a little kid park by today’s standards but who cares? That place was great.

Another one from this time, what would you say is your all-time favorite Courthouse line?

Hopefully the next line I do there will be my favorite. (laughs)

I actually went there recently. Es Footwear was promoting a shoe and I got to skate with Tom Asta for something a few months ago. We filmed a little thing but I was super under the weather and kinda hurt. I had a day-and-a-half for it but nothing was really working for me. I got a few things but I had much higher expectations for what I wanted to do. So yeah, hopefully next time.

A favorite line there from back in the day is probably the backside flip - switch back heel down in the fountain. That was fun. And to be honest, the blue jeans and white shirt I have on there always reminds me of Ronnie Bertino, which is awesome. He was always so good.

I also remember doing a nollie tre flip into the fountain there one time. I still have no idea how that happened… totally pulled that one out of my ass at the time. But yeah, that place was always fun.

So would you post up there for weeks at a time to film all that stuff?

Not really, it was always kinda tough for me to get out there actually. It was hard driving all the way there, skating all day and then having to come back home. So no, I wasn’t able to get over there very often, I just tried to make the most of it every time I did.

Another knit-picky one but the stuff of legend, what about all that benihana fingerflip stuff you were doing at Slam City that year?

I honestly have no idea how that all came about. I was just fucking around on the course.

But you had variations!

I remember cutting out this little thing from a magazine that talked about Christian Hosoi and Lester Kasai…

I’ll be honest, I actually think Benihanas are a pretty cool trick, especially if you do them the right way. I know they’re kind of illegal, like rollerblading or something. Razor scooters. That you’re supposed to stay away from them. But I always thought they were awesome whenever someone did it right, down something big.

I don’t know where the fingerflip came in. I was screwing around with the regular ones on the course that day when I got the idea to add that in and it worked out. They were fun to do so I started seeing what else I could come up with… varial flips, backside flips. I liked them but I don’t think people really knew what to think of them.

Trilogy remains one of skating’s most beloved videos, but wasn’t that more of a footage dump than actual filming missions at the time?

Which one is Trilogy?

That’s where you skate to the Eurythmics.

Yeah, both of the ones with everybody in there were like that, 20-Shot and Trilogy. Those came together pretty quickly. You’d hear that there was gonna be a video so you’d go check what footage you had to work with and go from there. Typically, most of the main riders would already be sitting on a bit whenever the video decisions were made, everything else just kinda figured itself out.

Socrates was always so easy to work with, too. He always just did his thing. Whenever I gave him footage, he’d listen to whatever I had to say and come up with something that always pretty spot-on. Everything he did, I was always hyped on and whatever changes I did want, he’d make real quick. It was always super easy.

Was “Sweet Dreams” your choice?

Yeah, I’ve only not picked a couple of my songs for parts. There’s the TSA Life in the Fast Lane video where I didn’t pick the song and didn’t really like it. And then there’s a Dandy Warhols song in one of my Blind parts, too. Nothing bad against them, I just didn’t want to skate to that song.

But I was hyped on “Sweet Dreams”. I always liked that song and it made me think about what all was going on in my life at the time. I was traveling a lot back then.

Have to ask about that rumor of you being on ‘shrooms for those switch frontside tailslides. Any truth to that?

I wasn’t tripping out on ‘shrooms but we had taken some. We were just having some fun that day and I ate a little bit. You can’t really eat much of that kinda stuff and expect to go jumping down things. It’s not like I was flying high or anything.

But four switch talislides in a row down that thing is insane.

It’s just real long. If you skate from the top where we were at, it’s not that tall. Anyone with some pretty decent pop would have no trouble getting on there. And it slides really well. A lot of people bring that spot up to me and I’m always a little confused as to why. It’s nothing gnarly. Maybe doing a few in a row, yeah, but I just got lucky. I don’t think it’s that gnarly of a trick or anything.

Well, Kareem seemed impressed.

(laughs) That was just a fun day, man. Everybody was out skating together, having a good time, rolling joints. Those guys were always loud and flamboyant like that anyway.

What were your impression of Josh Kaspermania and the rise of the Kasperholics?

Shit… that’s a good one because it’s tough to say. Josh is awesome and I actually like what he did. I think everyone does, on some level. He just got so wild at times. Being on the road with him all those years, I learned to get a kick out of watching different people deal with his shenanigans.

Josh just had his own thing going, man. He had fun with it. I never got to see him fly in on a helicopter or any of that stuff, but he was funny like that. It’s hard to explain.

For instance, I’ve been going through old footage recently and I found a clip of Josh walking out of a shitty-ass motel… somehow, he managed to have someone who worked there push his bags out for him on one of those carts, with Josh walking two feet behind him. It’s so funny to see because this is literally at a Motel 6. Not to mention that Josh is a pretty fit dude anyway. It’s not like he’s some 90-year-old man. He could’ve easily gotten his own bags, the rest of us did. But not Josh, only he would’ve done that sort of thing.

I also remember him telling me once that what he was doing weren’t “Benihanas”, those were “Kasparhanas” instead. (laughs)

But he was sick, man. He definitely shredded on a skateboard. All he’d do back then was skate, drink and play ping-pong. He could just be a lot. Being in the van with that dude for long periods of time, he’d be doing his thing. It was almost unbelievable at times. We’d all be looking at him like he was nuts. So funny, man.

The kickflip into the bank for your Round 2 ender, how hurt were you and how did the driver react?

(laughs) Those were the old Green Burrito banks in Orange, off Chapman Avenue. No longer there.

I didn’t get hurt but I definitely put a few dents in her car. After I fell, I knew right away that I was okay, that it wasn’t that bad. But the lady rolled down her back window and she was freaked out. I’m pretty sure that I just popped out of nowhere on her and she’d obviously heard the hit.

But even though I’m okay, I start acting like I’m hurt a little. Nothing major, just a little bit out of it and for her to give me a second. So she goes to park the car, wanting to make sure everything is okay… and we take off. Because I saw the dents I put in her car, I didn’t want to have to pay for that! That was a Mercedes! I know while she’s genuinely concerned now, like, “Oh, my god! I hope you’re okay?” I know that as soon as she sees her car, that will quickly turn to, “That shithead! Look at my car! Where’d he go!?!”

I lived down the street so I skated home real quick.

I just wanted to get the trick. I saw the car coming but I didn’t care. Fuck it. I’m gonna do this and whatever happens, happens.

Another classic, talk about that TSA ad in the van with you, Muska, Penny and the rest of the dudes.

(laughs) That was such an unbelievable time, man.

We were at some demo and evidently, it was time to get high. I remember everyone being in there, I figured I’d just climb in and hang out for a bit, too. I don’t even really smoke but I probably did a little that day. It was more of just wanting to get in the van with those dudes. Every time I see that ad, I can’t help but feel that it was a little weird that I was even in there.

How was filming Menikmati for you? Looking at it now, your part only seems like a handful of sessions.

I basically gave them footage for Menikmati that I already had. I really didn’t go out filming for it all that much. I went out a couple times with Fred but he was always so busy with the other guys. And at the time, I really didn’t have too many other filmers around at my disposal.

Was that intro message real or staged?

It was staged. Things were coming down to the end and all of the other intros were pretty crazy. It’s so different from the rest of them that it stands out. I mean, everybody’s intros are so amazing, obviously, but while mine is definitely the extreme opposite of that, you still remember it. Those guys traveled around the world… I just stayed in Orange. (laughs)

But yeah, I think I ended up having to call back 4 or 5 times before I got it right. I kept getting halfway through it all and messing up.

“Aw, this sucks! Fuck you!” and hanging up.

Shit, let me call back and try it again. Don’t answer, Fred.

How did the idea for mirror lines come about?

Just being a skate nerd, I guess. Trying to come up with ideas for different lines, you know? I thought that it could be something new and different to see.

Basically, if you can’t come up with a really hard technical line, you have to come up with other ways in order to make it interesting. I’m sure that played into it a little. If I wasn’t doing some super gnarly trick then maybe something like this will make it cool. And switching those tricks around was a lot of fun to do.

So what happened with eS and you? I heard they just didn’t renew your contract?

No, I quit eS. They were going to renew my contract but I was going to take a pay cut.

Things just got strange for me there. You have to remember that I was with that brand from the beginning. They chose me and I always felt like they did because they liked the way I skated. But the brand marketing and the ad campaigns were heading in a different direction and I didn’t exactly fit where they were wanting to go… but I wasn’t going to change the way I skated, either. I didn’t want to suddenly start jumping on handrails, I don’t like skating handrails and hubbas. Unfortunately for me, all of the other riders were murdering that type of stuff. I guess eS felt that handrails were what really sold shoes at the time.

I was feeling a lot of pressure to start skating differently, which bummed me out. I wanted them to use me for what I’ve always done. So I started getting more and more scared and ended up sitting down with Don Brown to talk about everything. That was the decision I came to.

I’m just bringing it up because when I interviewed Koston, he seemed to think that your contract wasn’t renewed and he actually cited that as a big reason for his leaving to Lakai a few years later.

Wow… that’s amazing. I never knew that.

But no, they wanted me to stay with the brand. They were still going to pay me but there was no talk of a Creager 2… not that this was a deal breaker but you obviously would like to have a shoe.

What about the short-lived Nadia project? How’d that come about and what ultimately happened there?

I was hit up to start a shoe company. There were some people in place that had a factory to get the shoes made and there was some money to get it going. Nadia was my first venture into being more than just a skateboarder-for-hire, I was actually going to have 10% of the company. I’d gotten to the point where I knew that I had to start looking out for my future. I needed to have a piece in something for whenever I can’t skate anymore and Nadia just happened to come along at the right time.

I honestly never cared for the name but was willing to go with it. We did have a couple of meetings about it and I think I got talked into Nadia a little.

It turned out to be a huge mistake. Not that it was all bad; I got to live in China for a while and learn how to make shoes. But ultimately, it failed.

What happened?

It’s a bit tough to say what all went down. Basically, the guy who was in charge of the factory turned out to be sketchy. I had paid for the production of shoes to be made and he ended up taking off. He completely disappeared. So we all just split after that. It sucked.

Terrible, man. Well, moving from shoes back to more video stuff, what would you say are your personal favorite and least favorite Ronnie Creager parts?

I’d say my least favorite video part has to be Barbarians at the Gate. (laughs)

It’s not really a skate video, though, but I am glad to have a tiny role in there. But that’s definitely my least favorite. I don’t really consider my TSA part a “real” one either. That was just some thrown together footage.

As far as a favorite goes, my next one! If I can get it done, I’ll be hyped. (laughs)

That’s a tough one but I’ll go with What If... even though I didn’t pick the song. I actually hated using that for a skate part, just the original song I chose was denied. But I am happy with the skating in that one and I like the “Happy Skateboarding” at the end. I was pretty happy about the intro, too. I liked having that footage from my parents in there. They were stoked on that, for sure.

Your parts have always seemed to stack on top of each other, further progressing on riffs from the previous. How much planning is there, with mirror lines and all that? Do you write this stuff out or just wing while you’re out there? 

I do have trick lists a lot of times. Because your brain is always going with things you want to film… but sometimes you’ll get to a spot and forget everything.

So yeah, I’ll write down tricks or whatever I want to do at different spots. I feel like whenever it moves to me actually wanting to set something up with a filmer, that must mean that I really want to do it. But it kinda works both ways, actually. Sometimes I’ll got out for something specific and then other times, I just go out skating and see what happens. Maybe I’ll get lucky. (laughs)

My lines are definitely planned, for sure. I’ll go to a spot and my brain just gets going. What’s the hardest trick I can do here, here and here? Well, let’s do it. Give it a few tries and if something isn’t working, bump that out for another trick that might be working better that day. Nothing too simple because then there’s no point to any of it, but you also gotta be able to get it all, too.

What’s the longest you’ve ever spent on a manual clip? And what’s your overall process when it comes to that stuff?

I don’t really know. I’m sure I’ve tried to battle a manual trick for hours but it’s one of those things where once you get it, all that struggle washes away. It’s safe to say that every manual clip I’ve ever had in a video probably came from sitting there, trying something over and over again for hours on end. Full days probably. But that’s skating. It’s still fun… not that I ever did anything so technical that I had to go back for three days to get it.

But even in Trilogy, that line with the switch flip nose manual and then switch tre nose manual. You don’t see too many manual lines, especially with something like that.

The switch flip nose manual has always been there for me somehow. I’ve always been able to jump on the nose and hold it. The switch tre nose manual was kinda lucky for me. I knew that I could switch tre up that little curb, hopefully I’ll land on the nose and can hold it… It just worked out. And my friend John Sirmon even made it into the background, too, which is my favorite thing about that clip actually.

But I was hyped on that one. I love switch tres and thought I had the skills to do it, I’d just never done it before. So I threw it out there. Honestly, if I hadn’t made that one, I doubt I would’ve kept trying it.

Favorite ledge trick? And which one gives you trouble? 

Trouble for me would be the frontside crooked grind because I can’t stand on them. I can’t do that “das pinch” thing people talk about. Never. I’m more of a slide, blunt, tailslide guy. Never too many grinds.

As far as a favorite goes, I’ll probably just say flipping out of stuff. That’s what feels the best.

But, to be honest, my brain is automatically set to look for ledges and I kind of hate it. It sucks. My brain never fails to pick up on ledges over things and bumps over hydrants. Always. Every time I go to the skatepark, I always have to force myself away from the ledge and skate something else. It’s like I’m drawn to it, like a curse.

So what happened between you and Blind after almost 20 years? 

(laughs) I was kinda hoping you weren’t going to ask that.

It’s whatever you can get into but I have to ask.

No, it’s fine.

I mean, there’s a part of me that wants to put the blame on other people. It’s tough but it kinda boils down to the fact that after 20 years… well, really the last 10 years, the decade prior with Rodney and Steve was awesome. But I had to come to the realization that with the new owners and management, there was no future for me there.

I don’t know exactly what my future was supposed to be there, but I was told several times that when I was done skateboarding, I would have a place to do things. I wanted to believe that I had a home there. But in the end, all they wanted from me was the physical activity of skateboarding. And I’m not going to be able to skate forever.

There was a span of about 4 years where new guys were coming in and the company was changing. We were all getting pay cuts and that’s fine. Skateboarding is definitely slowing down for me. But I would’ve liked to have done stuff within Dwindle. Maybe a company of my own or possibly a bigger part of Blind… a team manager or something else along those lines.

At one point, I tried running my company Etcetera out of Dwindle as an attempt to get something going but it ended up lingering for about a year or so. I was really serious about it but they didn’t seem to be too interested.

It’s obviously hard to talk about. There’s so much shit in all of this, all balled into one. I know that I can’t keep up with these younger guys, I just can’t. But they weren’t allowing me to pursue anything else there. So I had to look out for myself and leave.

Realistically, it was getting increasingly difficult to be part of the operation. I almost quit three times before, but I stuck with it. I knew that I was getting phased out, but at the same time, I was told I had a home there. So I stayed, until it became obvious that this wasn’t going to be the case. I mean, hell, make me a janitor. That’s fine. Let me learn something and work my way up. Just give me a chance.

It hurt, man. I spent 20 years riding for a company and all of a sudden, I’m worthless. Hopefully I can figure something out.

Looking back on it, do you think you stayed on Blind for too long? Did you ever have any other offers to ride elsewhere?

No, I don’t think I stayed at Blind too long. It was a good ride, I just wish it would’ve lasted longer… but who knows what the future holds. Strange things happen and cycles repeat… don’t they? (laughs)

Back in the day when skate times were low and riders had left, I had some opportunities to do other things but Blind flat-out told me that they needed my help, that they needed me to stay. I have no idea what they expected of me but I was told that if I left, they were going to ditch the company. That they weren’t going to do it anymore. I didn’t want the brand to die.

Where did you almost go?

I never had any full-on offers on the table from anybody because I’d never let it get that far. I got hit up all the time by people who “wanted to talk” but I always tried to be loyal. I wanted Blind to work. It was always my #1 priority, even though they weren’t always my highest-paying sponsor. I don’t like bringing up the money because Blind was always more of a family and a home for me. The money didn’t matter.

So what’s going on with you now? You brought up Etcetera and I know you had High School Dropout going…

Honestly, I’m trying to figure all that out right now.

I started Etcetera with a buddy of mine, which is a brand aimed at the well-being of skaters. Cool products, like insoles and ankle braces, that actually work. That’s been going for well over 5 years now. I decided to start my own board company, too. I haven’t had any real offers to ride for anybody since I left Blind… a few smaller companies hit me up but they just didn’t quite feel right, so I started my own called High School Dropout.

I’ve reached out to a few friends to help with distribution... I want to keep everything going. But the thing I’ve found is that making quality boards and shapes is actually the easy part. My problem is that I suck at sales. I mean, if anyone out there reading this would be interested in helping me out with this stuff or possibly distribution, hit me up. 

I just don’t know how to market myself or my brand. I’ve always had other companies in the past helping me in that regard. It’s scary. And it’s changed so much from when I first started skateboarding, I haven’t been able to morph into this new role of whatever I’m supposed to be. All I really want to be doing is skating, filming tricks and having fun. Time to grow up, right?

You mentioned a new video part earlier, is that happening? I know we’d all love to see something new from you.

I’m always filming. That never stops.

I do have some footage, I'm just figuring out the best way to put something out so I can get a little more mileage out of everything. We'll see how it goes. 

Well, I wish you the best of luck, Ronnie. I know it’s a gnarly situation and you definitely deserve better than this.

Thanks, Eric. Don’t get me wrong, the entire experience that skateboarding has brought to my life has been incredible. The people I’ve got to meet and the trips I’ve got to go on. The places I’ve been able to see. I couldn’t be more thankful. I just wish that it could last forever. I probably should’ve been a little smarter with finances in the past, I guess.

But I always try to have a positive attitude about things, that's something I've always tried to represent. And most of all, I still have an awesome time riding my skateboard. I don't skate for anybody but myself right now, which is pretty awesome in a way. I can literally do whatever I want and enjoy it. Just sit back, enjoy cruising down the sidewalk, hit a crack and land on my face. It's all mine. (laughs)

special thanks to Ronnie for taking the time. 


Unknown said...

Absolute ledgend!

Anonymous said...

Blind currently has a sick team.. but the way Sean Sheffey didnt have a model, they disrespected Ronnie Creager, these guys are legends and STILL kill it...
definitely deserving of having their names on a skateboard.
Fuck those Globe guys then if this is what Dwindle business is like..
Looking forward to that footage Ronnie, everytime I see you skate its super inspiring and smooth like a butter yes.
Like a butter yes.

skateRGQ said...

You should do a board brand with chris haslam. Seems like you both got screwed by the same corp.

stephen said...

i'm not sure creager realizes how good he is/was. it doesn't seem like he's just being humble or something, but like he just doesn't know. dude is creme de la creme.

Anonymous said...

Hell yeah Ronnie youre a legend!

Unknown said...

Ronnie is ridiculously good on a skate By far my fave chromeball. Dig his smooth skating more than back to back handrails,zzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

Amazing interview. Thank you, both!

FUN ! fanzine said...

Great reading ! Thank you so much for your skating Ronnie, and good luck for your next move.

Keith said...

The caption on that behi hana finger flip is way too good. Sucks that he got led on by dwindle like that. Verbal promises are basically meaningless in many circumstances. The older I get, the more I lean toward getting shit in writing.

Anonymous said...

Creager, Daewon, and Ishod are the only people I’ve ever seen in person whose lines end when they feel like taking a break.

Cris Klimek said...

Ronnie is a pioneer in street skateboarding. The time period between '93-'98 were such formative years in this arena, and Ronnie was one of the dudes who lead the charge. It's saddening to see the top pros from, in my opinion, the best, most influential era of skateboarding get done so dirty by companies that they were so loyal to for so long. Had it not been for Ronnie, Blind would've been gone in '94. Truly sorry that you were treated in manner that you were treated by Blind. Very low class on their part.

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Unknown said...

What is this dating advice company crap???

Unknown said...

Ronnie is one of the best in the world. I would place him in the top five to have ever skateboarded in history. He does deserve the world! I hope his company works out. He’s one of those guys that deserves his name on a board forever even after he can’t even skate.

Timmz32 said...

Creager, penny, koston, danny way, mariano, daewon, and mullen are the greatest street skaters of all time!

Unknown said...

I've been a fan of dude ever since his nose Manny around the corners of the c block at E.M.B in super collider. And his switch tre to steezy avoidance of the pole in Trilogy solidified my admiration for Ronnie. Hell even his fashion sense is on point.