chrome ball interview #128: ed templeton

chops and ed sit down for smoothies. 

So what can you tell us about the upcoming New Deal relaunch? You’ve already reissued several old graphics via Toy, what can we expect from you with ND proper?

Gosh, I feel slightly guilty because I really don’t know much. Steve Douglas reached out with this big plan to relaunch New Deal for its 30-year anniversary. And I was actually a little leery about it at first, because, like you said, we had just reissued a few of my older boards on Toy Machine. I didn’t want Tum Yeto to get mad at me about it. But at the same time, I didn’t want there not to be an Ed Templeton board in the mix for a New Deal relaunch either, because my time there meant so much to me.

So I was actually in a bit of a pickle over it, because I didn’t want to have to say “no”, but it ended up getting worked out.

If I’ve read the emails right, it’s going to be releasing in waves, almost by year, with the original 1990 stuff coming out first. So I have the cat coming out along with some other stuff. I feel like Steve and Andy might’ve found all the original artwork… I’m hyped to see it all, I just don’t really know what it is. (laughs)

All I’ve done so far is redraw a goth version of my Insecurity graphic for a New Deal collab with Enjoi that’s in the works… even though, I’m not super clear on how that works. Honestly, I’m at a state now where I just receive emails from people about stuff and do it. I like all the people involved with New Deal and Enjoi so I just did it. (laughs)

But with having your own company since leaving in ‘92, does New Deal still hold a special place in your heart?

Oh, of course. I don’t know if “regret” is the right word, because everything ended up working out okay with Toy Machine, but I’ve always felt sad about how I left New Deal. Because they didn’t deserve that. Paul Schmitt has only been epic to me. I mean, he turned me pro! He sent me to Europe, I always got paid on time… just a complete gentleman.

There was no beef whatsoever, I just wanted to try something new. Mike Vallely had gotten on New Deal and we were good friends, but he was going through transitions in his life. I don’t think the New Deal money was as much as what he was getting before, with the Barnyard board. So I see some of that in his motivation towards wanting to start our own company and I believed that we could do something great.

The only reason “regret” even comes up is that I look back on that time period and the call I had to make to Paul when I quit. He was flabbergasted by it. Just totally shocked. Because there was no reason for me to quit. They didn’t do anything wrong, and I’ve always felt bad about that.

But the team had gotten pretty large, with several factions that all did eventually become new brands as well.

Yeah, maybe it was inevitable. That whole big pants/small wheels era in skateboarding was such a weird time. But I’ll always have a fond nostalgia for New Deal… because it really wasn’t easy for me after I left. There were a lot of ups and downs with trying to do our own company, but it eventually brought me to Toy Machine and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Sometimes you gotta go over the coals in order to finally land in a good spot.

So going back to the beginning, with street skating being so new when you started, did you always consider yourself a “street skater” from early on? What prompted you to take it more seriously than many others did at that time?

That’s interesting because I started in ’85, which, while still early for street skating, the idea of it had already been fairly established. At least for us here in Huntington Beach. Gonz, Natas and Mike V were already in the magazines doing their thing. So it was past the point of “Oh, we just skate.” Because I’ve always felt like a street skater, from the very beginning.

But that might’ve just been my generation. Because there really wasn’t a vert scene in Orange County, just a lot of mini-ramp situations. And a lot of the kids I grew up skating with were kinda poor, living in apartments. Having a backyard ramp was out of the question for numerous reasons. So we just cobbled boards together and hit the streets.

I actually freestyled for a bit, too. I had a freestyle board and everything.

You won a freestyle contest at one point, right?

Yeah, I actually won a few CASL freestyle contests back then!

There was quite a freestyle scene here in Huntington Beach specifically, with guys like Don Brown and Hans Lindgren. We’d always see those guys skating around, which was cool because it was access to pros. Don Brown was pro for our favorite company here in Orange County, Vision. He’s teammates with Gonz and just the coolest dude. So we were always excited to see him out. And being inspired by him, I got a freestyle board and tried to learn a little of that. I was never that good but I could do a couple little rail tricks. 

I never did a handstand in my life.

(laughs) That’s your definition of being a good freestyler?

(laughs) I guess. I always wanted to do one, I just never had that kind of skill.

But this freestyle background came into play later on with Jason Lee and myself. Because looking back on everything, we were basically just adapting freestyle tricks to street back then. At first, we were trying freestyle tricks on our street boards as a fun little thing to do, joking around. But then it really started to evolve.

Again, inspired by Don Brown and those guys, Jason Lee and I used to do flatground lines across the basketball court, trying to do 4 tricks in a row. 360 flip, an impossible, an airwalk… probably a 180 in there with a 360 shove-it thrown in, too. The idea was to do them really quick. Bam, bam, bam…

And then there’s the story where I called Don over to the school to watch me do an impossible down a little 4 stair. Because I thought freestyle tricks on street boards were funny. I remember doing one and Don made the joke, “Well, that’s the end of my career.”

Even though he was joking at the time, he’s a smart dude and I’m sure he instantly took note of this different direction.

Skating around Orange County with guys like J. Lee and Ray Barbee, was there a sense of either camaraderie and/or competition amongst you in pushing forward this new thing?

Honestly, it was more just dorking around in the beginning. Like I said, that impossible down the stairs was a joke. It’s not like I was trying to take skateboarding into some new realm. If anything, we were basically showing off, like, “Hey Mom, look what I can do.”

There was always a sense of competition between Jason Lee and I, that was a thing. Especially at that time, because we were both cocky little kids. I mean, we were friends and skated together every day, but neither of us wanted to be seen as the lesser one. So if he learned a trick, that was extra motivation for me to learn it as well. I had to get it, too.

But you’re always competitive at that age, in general. I remember us planning to go skate the famous Santa Ana Courthouse Rail and how we were both going to learn frontside boardslides down it. It was a thing. We seriously went to the Hell Curb here in Huntington Beach to practice them for an entire day beforehand. All so we could go to the Santa Ana Rail and knock it out.

So funny to think about, but I guess it was healthy, in a fun way.

Did you both get ‘em?

Yeah, we did… although I can’t remember who landed it first, which I’m sure was a big deal for a second there.

All of this came from a life-changing session we had at the Courthouse prior with Natas, Gonz and Mike V. This is how competitive I was: We were all trying stuff on the rails when I overheard Natas say to Gonz, “Oh, I’d never done a boardslide-to-fakie before.”

So, of course, that was my cue to do a boardslide-to-fakie in front of everyone. Total little twerp. Because while we’re blown away to be skating with those guys, we also wanted to show them how good we were. Unfortunately, we were going about it in that little kid way, with no tact or understanding of how to be cool. You just do it.

I actually brought that up to Natas a few years later and he straight-up told me, “Yeah, I remember that session. You guys were being little twerps” or something like that. He even said, “I’m sorry if I was an asshole to you. I was probably a little jealous of you guys being so good.”

But it was totally my fault.

Did he say anything to you at the time?

Yeah, he definitely made some comment to where I realized that I might’ve crossed a line.

But going back to those frontside boardslides, Jason and I had found out that Mike V was trying them down rails, and this was one of the first times we’d ever heard of this. The rumor prior to was that Gonz had done one but Jason was actually there with Mike as he was trying them.

The next day, Jason comes up to me and says, “It took Mike V. 27 tries to make a frontside boardslide down the Santa Ana Courthouse Rail.”

And that’s what inspired us to practice them all-day at the Hell Curb before going to Santa Ana. Because not only did we want to get the trick, we also wanted to get it under 27 tries, too. (laughs)

But that’s what 17-year-old kids who think they’re the shit at skateboarding do. We were cocky.

Your 50-50 down the Santa Ana rail was next level in 1988. Did you go out to shoot that specifically for an ad or how’d that work out? With that being one of the first photos of that trick, you must’ve had a plan for it, right?

For the longest time, I thought it was the first published 50-50 on a rail but I guess Danny Sargent had a Concrete Jungle ad at the same time? It might’ve even been the exact same month?

Nerd alert: Sargent was the month prior in Thrasher, but Transworld was still bi-monthly at the time. So it’s still kinda up in the air.

(laughs) Oh yeah? Well, I’m sure Sargent did it first. That’s okay.

But no, it’s funny because I actually didn’t have a plan for that photo. I just assumed it would be in a magazine. Photography was such a vague proposition in those days. Now skaters set up specific dates and times with photographers and have what they’re going to do all worked out. There was none of that back then. Photographers would just hear about sessions as they were happening and show up. That’s how things seemed to get shot, we’d all be out skating a spot and a photographer would just roll up. There was hardly ever any collusion, at least at my level.

That 50-50 was a little different because I was friends with Christian Kline, who shot that photo. We would go out and shoot stuff all the time.

Had you ever done it before?

I assume so. I’d probably done it and told Christian about it, which meant us going back to do it again.

But back then, it was all film. So it was a much dicier proposition.

“Can you do this within a try or two? Because I don’t have a lot of film.”

Everything was more of a negotiation, especially for sequences. Because you didn’t want to waste film. Film was expensive. Christian wouldn’t even pull his camera out to shoot until he saw you riding away from one…  and even then, it was still a maybe. Spike was the same way.

But I had no idea where that 50-50 photo was going. And to this day, I still don’t know how it became a Circle A ad. I don’t recall Christian ever telling me that he sent it over to Shmeltzer. I just opened up the mag one day and there it was. It didn’t even have my name in it.

We just lived in the shadow of Gonz back then. It’s like we needed him to do something in order to know it was possible. Because Mark was living in Huntington Beach at the time, we’d constantly hear of his exploits. The rumors would just spread like wildfire. Gonz did this, Gonz did that. I remember Skip Pronier trying to describe noseblunt slides to us one day at school after watching Gonz invent them the night before.

“He was nosesliding the inside of a curb last night! I don’t even know how!?!

“What? What does that even mean?”

It was all so new.

Skating with J. Lee, riding for Ghetto Wear with a cameo in Hokus Pokus… why Schmitt Six?

I just liked Schmitt Stix. As a kid, you don’t even really know why, you just like the graphics. I loved how Chris Miller skated and all his graphics, which I’m sure bled over to Schmitt Stix. Lucero was a local, too, and his graphics were always cool. And with Vision being huge and in Orange County, Schmitt Stix felt like a part of that but also kind of weird in its own way. I just attached myself to that for whatever reason.

Getting the offer for Schmitt Stix while I was on Circle A, that’s the only time I’ve ever been poached. And as I’m getting on, Paul tells me about how we’re going to be Schmitt Stix for another year or so and then change into this other thing. But I was game. I was happy to be considered for this new thing they’re trying to do.

So New Deal was laid out for you from the beginning?

There was already a plan in the works to leave the Brad Dorfman/Vision umbrella, for sure.

But one thing that I’ve always prided myself on throughout the years is never really belonging to any one crew or faction. I’ve always tried to be the same nice to everyone, which is an approach I’ve taken since early on. So yeah, I rode for Schmitt Stix and my allegiance was there, but I can still skate with Jeremy Klein and Ron Chatman every day. And I did skate for both Ghetto Wear and Gizmo Wheels. I hung out with Rocco, that was good enough for me.

Maybe if I would’ve pushed to ride for World, I might’ve been able to. I just never really thought about it. I was already riding for some of their stuff and hanging out with them every day. I was basically on World, I just rode different boards.

It never came up?

There might have been some weird conversations but nothing formal. Rocco might’ve implied it, if I wanted, but I loved being on Schmitt Stix. I felt more comfortable there. Paul was always super cool where Rocco always felt a little scary to me. Watching the dynamic between him and Jeremy didn’t seem as stable as I would’ve preferred. Schmitt Stix felt like a more legit operation… and I liked their boards better.

When was the last time you skated Huntington High? You were almost synonymous with that place for a while, even down to having Al the Janitor in your part.  

(laughs) Yeah, I literally spent all of my time there. Because I’d go to school there all day, come home and eat real fast before heading right back to skate.

But I haven’t skated there for a long time. It’s been a couple years, for sure. It’s funny because last time I rolled through, I noticed so many changes… the benches are gone and a lot of things are skatestopped. But at the same time, a lot of that stuff is still there and exactly the same. Skateboarding has just moved past it.

How did that kinked rail there become the go-to for you? Was that just due to proximity? Because that seemed like a pretty gnarly kink at the time.

It’s funny because the kinked rails around the school were harsh, just not that one. It had been backed into by a car, not even for skating purposes, but the last support bar had a dent in it which pulled the kink down, just enough to soften it a hair.

But yeah, skating that rail was more out of necessity. We were obsessed with rails in those days. It became our thing where we actually had a list going of all the skateable rails in Huntington Beach, like a checklist. It’s super nerdy, but we seriously wanted to boardslide every possible rail in the area, even the janky ones. That became a source of pride for us.

“We even did the two-stairs! We did everything!”

It’s only a 5 or 6-stair rail, but the kink made it cool because it would often scare people away from skating it. They thought it was too harsh… but the thing is, you could never even feel the kink. Unless it’s super harsh, you never do. So once we figured that out, we just skated it like a regular rail. It was our little secret.

Your frontboard TWS cover and that classic nosegrind centerfold, were those both negotiation-type scenarios like you talked about?

Yeah, those were O photos. But since that was our spot, we had it dialed and neither of those took very long.

The frontboard almost felt like an aside that day. We were skating at the Pay & Play courts across the street and it might’ve been another brag-type scenario.

“Hey O, check it out. I can frontboard the rail over there.”

We used to rattle off those more basic tricks all the time, so the frontboard wasn’t even a thing. The nosegrind might’ve taken a little longer but probably not by much.

Were you always pretty consistent with stuff back then? Like the impossible lipslides and even that impossible nosebluntslide sequence you had in ’91, that blew minds!

I was always really consistent with impossible lipslides but I feel like that sequence might’ve been the only noseblunt one I ever did. I mean, I’d do them on hips all the time but I don’t remember doing another one on a curb or ledge again. That was for a Beyond article with Tony Hawk. I definitely thought that it would be crazy if I could get it… and I’m still not sure how I pulled that off, to be honest. Definitely a one-and-done for me. (laughs)

Because it wasn’t until way later that I started doing impossibles into noseslides and crooked grinds. Like, I remember doing one to noseslide for the Emerica video and being so stoked about the old man being relevant again! I still got it! But that noseblunt slide was 10 years prior to that.

Actually, I almost had an impossible 50 down the Arco Rail in downtown L.A. I can’t remember if I was filming with Jamie for that but it was going to be my ender in Welcome to Hell. I did the impossible, landing in 50-50 on the rail, but shot it out at the end. And then we immediately got kicked out. I remember being more bummed about getting kicked out at that moment that I’d ever been in my entire life. Because I felt like would have had it on the next try. I was in the zone. (laughs)

…I honestly don’t know why I never went back for that.

Talk about your trick selection. Because style always seemed to weigh-in heavily there as I feel you gravitated towards doing tricks well versus learning every trick...  Or am I overthinking it?

(laughs) There might be some overthinking here, Eric.

But you’ve always had your Ed tricks, like one-foots, impossibles, noseblunts, front blunts, back heels…

But I never thought about style or even felt stylish, ever. To this day, I’ll see people comment on old Instagram stuff, like, “So stylish.”

“Are you crazy!?!”

In comparison to guys like Chris Miller and Jason Lee, I never had any style at all… but I’m appreciative of people who think I did.

A lot of things people attribute to conscious decisions on my part couldn’t be further from the truth. Like the tight high-water pants? I never wear those like that on purpose. I just bought the wrong size Dickies and said, “Fuck it.”

I’m not kidding! That’s why I wore those! And it’s so funny to see kids wearing them like that nowadays. I never conceived any of that as some masterminded fashion statement. I just didn’t want to buy a new pair of pants! (laughs)

The truth comes out.

As far as tricks go, “doing them well” is a charitable way of looking at it. I’m sure I tried to learn all those other tricks, I probably just couldn’t do them.

I did enjoy doing tricks well. Jason Lee and I both took pride in doing proper one-foots. Really kicking it out there. And there is something to be said about being able to stomp tricks, but learning 5 tricks well was never the idea… I remember spending hours in a parking lot by myself trying to learn hardflips. I just couldn’t do them.

What about the 1281 super tech era? Was there a sense of needing to learn all that stuff in order to stay relevant?

The zeitgeist of that time was to innovate and I wanted to be part of that… Truth be told, there probably was an element of wanting to keep up with the Joneses there. I didn’t want to be called a dinosaur but I also thought learning that stuff was fun, too.

That big pants/little wheels era was the worst time in skateboarding for cliques and things being “in” or “out’. Because if you didn’t have the right stuff, you were cut. That was a rough phase to go through. Everyone was so critical, like a bunch of junkyard dogs. And here we are, working on the new New Deal video and everybody’s doing this wild stuff. I figured I’d learn some of this stuff, too.

Not that I ever stopped doing normal tricks. I was still doing smith grinds and whatever, it’s just our obsession went to things like backfoot flips. This was essentially the end result of that impossible down the stairs and freestyle evolving into the streets. It was now triple flips down stairs. And a lot of it was because we hadn’t yet graduated to jumping down big stuff yet. I mean, Mike joked about my doing a pressure flip down three stairs being ad-worthy, but at the time, it really was.

Totally ad-worthy in ’92. You even had a nosebump 540 shove as your ender, too, which no one thought was strange at the time either.

It’s funny to look back on all that now, with so many of these tricks being hideous. You start to think about these guys torturing themselves in a parking lot for hours, trying to do this ugly trick… but at the time, we were stoked. We wanted to push boundaries. Any little twist was seen as taking things to the next level.

It was a necessary phase before grace, distance and height entered the equation. That’s when those tricks started to fall by the wayside. Because some of that stuff couldn’t be done down gaps… Like a backfoot varial flip down 10 probably wasn’t going to happen, especially when a kickflip looks and feels so much better.

But with all your early success, was there a point where you decided to start using your notoriety in speaking on more political matters?  

Well, the same year that I turned pro, 1990, I also started painting. So my skate and art careers, for lack of a better word, have been going simultaneously ever since. And you have to remember that this was an era in skating that wasn’t as time-consuming as it is now. Today’s pros have to get up and film every day or they’re blowing it. In 1990, there really weren’t any video demands. Some guys would come and film you for a week or so, one time. And whatever you got, that was your video part. That was it.

If you really wanted to do a good job, you could go out and shoot photos for the magazines every month, which was maybe one weekend out of the month… that was considered going the extra step. But the rest of the month was yours to do with whatever you wanted. So for me, I’d skate during the day and then paint all night.

There was some shyness in the beginning, but I feel like my Pro Spotlight in 1991 is when I really started to speak my mind on things. That came from being friends with guys like Mike Vallely, Christian Kline and Miki Vuckovich. They were all into cool stuff and had a huge influence on me as a young man, learning things as I went.

I had to get a little more comfortable with the reality of being a pro skateboarder… because what choice did I have? Socially-awkward weirdo who suddenly has to go on tour and meet people? I had to learn how to talk to kids like a normal human, without looking down or being shy. And after doing that for so long, you become more and more comfortable with yourself

But what about things like selecting “Homophobia” for your song in 1281? On a personal note, your choosing that song and hearing it at the age of 14 really made an impact on me and I want to thank you for that.

I’m glad to hear that… because that was my point.

A lot of that was Christian Kline’s influence, specifically. He’s actually the one who did my Transworld interview. The article is attributed to Josh Money, who was a friend of his. But Christian just used that name to trick the Transworld guys into letting a PowerEdge guy do my interview.

Christian was pretty adamant about me having an actual opinion in that interview. He really hated wishy-washy interviews where the guy waffles on every question, trying to be diplomatic. He implored me to really speak my mind, because I was so lucky to have such a platform. He put it in exactly those terms. Because growing up, I read every skate mag from cover to cover. Now I was in the position to speak to literally thousands of impressionable kids, that I should use it wisely and not waste it.

It’s weird because I was just a normal, suburban white teenager… straight, but I had a subscription to The Advocate magazine in 1988. A famous gay periodical. Because I was interested in all of these political issues. It might’ve been the hardcore punk scene, but I honestly don’t know what got me onto that anti-homophobia path.

But once the opportunity came up to do that interview, I wanted to talk about it. Because a lot of people see skateboarding as this progressive and open-minded thing, but it wasn’t. It was actually much worse back then.

I like to think that I was “walking the walk” with my beliefs. I’m sure it weirded out some people who didn’t quite understand what I was doing, but that’s what I wanted to say.

I feel like the New York skate crowd was leery of me as a person for a long time. After some of those Alleged shows with Aaron Rose, they weren’t really into what I was trying to do. Several of them were pretty machismo-type of guys, not into that “faggot shit”.

It was a mucho macho time.

But on my end, the homophobia thing was very real. Because for years, the rumor was that I was secretly gay and that Deanna was a beard. Just because I had all these views and was so open with nudity… that I was so cavalier with my dick being out. I never understand that reasoning. And it’s not like my dick is anything spectacular, either! I’m not flossing my big dick out there. If anything, it’s painfully average. It’s just the closest one I have handy for my photos. (laughs)

What was the story with Zero-Two shoes? Didn’t you guys end up finding meat in the guy’s refrigerator or something?

That’s a weird story, but yes.

Zero-Two was ran by this guy named Dean, who was an inventor and businessman. He was always looking for a new marketing opportunity, that was kind of his schtick.

He had invented what was essentially a Velcro shoe for kids. It came with a sheet of Velcro artwork where you can stick whatever your mood was for that day onto your shoes.

“I’m happy today, I’ll put a happy face or a rainbow on my shoe.”

He ends up taking this invention to the Action Sports Tradeshow. Totally clueless about skateboarding, he’s basically there to sell his business venture.

Sean Sheffey comes walking through, who’s vegetarian at the time, and he picks up the shoe, which kinda looks like a Vision Street Wear.

“Dude, are these vegetarian?”

Dean immediately answers, “Yes, they are”.

That’s the kind of person Dean is. He saw the angle immediately.

“Are you guys sponsoring? These shoes are cool. They’d probably be good for skating.”

So Dean, on the spot, decides that it’s now a skate shoe and that he’s going to start sponsoring skaters. He actually had no stake in vegetarianism, veganism or skateboarding at all. But like I said, he’s quick. Him and Rocco actually got along really well, because he was such a huckster… like the Salvage brand he did? Buying thrift store clothes and ironing on a Salvage patch so he could resell them at a higher price? What a scam!

So Dean decided that a vegetarian skate shoe was going to be his thing. He starts doing ads, which are all super over-the-top with a skinned cow and bloody footprints. And, of course, Mike and I being vegans, we got sucked in.

I can’t remember if Mike reached out or what, but we somehow got sponsored by him. We start working so much together that the 2nd iteration of our company, Television, was actually distributed through Dean.

I didn’t know that.

Yeah, that was the difference. Our company TV was Brad Dorfman and when we left, we switched it to Television with Dean. But that’s when things started to get weird on the business side and we broke up. And it’s also around this time that we found out about Dean. I got a call from Mike V one night.

“Dude, I’m up in Santa Barbara at Dean’s house and when I go to look in his fridge, there’s a fucking turkey in there.”

Not that I was ever some super dogmatic vegan but Dean had been claiming to be this vegan crusader the whole time. And leading up to that night, Mike and I had both started to notice little things about him that didn’t add up.

“Dude, there’s a turkey in there. I asked him about it and he said it was for his employees but I don’t believe him. There’s no employees here. I think it’s his turkey!”

He’d totally pulled the wool over our eyes. Because all this stuff, I remember putting it all together with Mike after the fact. He was just some business guy who capitalized on us.

But going back, why go with Dorfman for TV and early Toy Machine after New Deal, which was started as a direct rebuke to him?

Desperation. Television had dissolved and I was essentially jobless for six months. Stressing out. Wondering if this was the end of my career. Nobody wanted to sponsor me… not that I wanted to ride for just anyone. I had a taste of my own company and didn’t exactly want to give that up either.

The six months after Television was literally spent calling people. I talked to Deluxe. I talked to NHS. I talked to everybody, trying to pitch a company. It was just such a small time in skating that the idea of starting a new company seemed pretty weird. So yeah, things were pretty bleak for me back then.

With TV, Mike was calling a lot of the shots. He was the one who had gone to Dorfman, because Brad was trying to expand his business. Because not only did he have TV, he also had Blue with Dune and Jason, too. So it was pretty cool. I just wasn’t all that assertive back then. I can’t even remember why we switched to Dean for Television, but after Television didn’t work out and Mike and I broke up, I basically didn’t have any choice but to be more assertive.

So I went back to Dorfman and asked for a meeting, as he was someone with money and knew how to make skateboards. I just made excuses and placed blame elsewhere. Like, “I’m innocent! Let’s do a company! I have an idea, a name and riders.”

And he was cool with it. To Dorfman’s credit, I think he gets a bad rep. He’s done some weird things over the years but he was really cool to start Toy Machine with me. And technically, he owned the copyright to the company after I left. When I went to Tum Yeto, he could’ve pursued it but never did.

Tod Swank actually ran into him at tradeshow. Dorfman said, “You know you owe me one.”

“Yeah, man. I do. Thanks.”

Basically if you don’t pursue a trademark after a certain time, you lose it. If you know that someone is using your trademark and you don’t do anything about it, after a while, you lose it. So Dorfman essentially gave us the Toy Machine name without any hassle. How cool is that? So no, I’m not going to throw him under the bus because that was a super nice thing he did for me.

How’d Ryan Fabry get in the Television mix? And Steve Berra?

I feel like Berra called me about getting on. He might’ve been in a similar desperate situation as mine. But yeah, it was a no-brainer for me. Everything was super loosey-goosey back then and I always liked his skating. But it didn’t last long… I’ll be honest, I’d completely forgotten he was on the team! It was so short! (laughs)

As for Fabry, I remember hearing about everything that had happened with him and Sheffey, which was obviously shocking. Sheffey focusing his face or whatever. He was basically seen as untouchable in the industry after that… but fuck that, this guy is incredible. He’s available? He lives in Vegas? Let’s go check him out and see if he wants to ride for us.

But he was still worried about things, probably for good reason. I remember trying to send him out to Houston for a contest and he was pretty scared about going.

“I’m kinda worried, man. I don’t think I can go to these contests because Sheffey will be there.”
“You’re fine, man. He already beat you up. It’s over.”

So I talked him down and he agreed to go. I bought him a ticket, but he ghosted the flight! He never showed up! And I remember being pretty pissed about that. I feel like that was ultimately why we parted ways.

In this same respect with post-SF Jamie Thomas, do you have a soft-spot for riders on shaky industry ground?

Toy Machine has always been a spot for misfits. I never wanted to be in any Cool Guy Club and maybe people are attracted to that? If all else fails, maybe I can get on Toy Machine. The company for misfit skaters. (laughs)

In your Epicly Later’d, it came out that you and Mike “broke up” essentially over a missing check. That he needed money, coming down from the Powell/World salad days in a shrinking skateboarding industry. Was there further fallout from that and is there anything you’d like to clarify here? How are you two now?

Oh, we’re great now.

Not to say that there haven’t been rocky periods over the years, and there was definitely one after that show came out. There was a misunderstanding with me telling that story. Because Mike and I were totally cool before that, to the point where maybe I was a bit too comfortable in telling it. Because to me, that was so long ago and water under the bridge, I didn’t think that story was a big deal. But I misunderstood the internet. Because he started getting a lot of hate over that, all these years later… which really sucks. That wasn’t my intention with that story and I regret telling it. It caused harm 20 plus years after it was completely forgotten about thanks to stupid internet trolls

But we’re good now. He was actually just over here, reconnecting. He’s in a good place these days, which is good to see.  

It’s been quite a journey for him.

For sure. We just have way too much history together to not be friends. So many road miles together, it’s incredible. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for Mike V. Musically, skate-wise, ethically… everything. He’s the one who actually got me into veganism. He’d ask me out to dinner and offer to pay if I ate vegetarian.

I’d be like, “Oh my God! What am I going to eat? But if it’s your treat, I guess I’ll eat some broccoli or something.” (laughs)

The tours we did together were just insane. 30 demos in 30 days. Approaching it like Fugazi with food drives at our demos. 2 cans of food for admission and giving that to the local shelter. Meeting kids and skating hard in these weird roller rinks and shitty parking lots.

I remember sometimes we wouldn’t even talk on the road. Just listening to every Husker-Du album in a row on an 8-hour drive. Get to the hotel, go to sleep, wake up and go skating.

But what was your outlook towards Rocco and his going after your business partner like that? That “Out with the Old” ad and J.Lee eating the Whopper?

It was hard because I saw it from the other side. I had to spend time with my friend who was being ridiculed. That Chris Branagh ad was a rough one, man. I know for a fact that he was contemplating straight-up quitting at that point.

I just tried to be supportive. Mike V lives in my town, I’m going to try getting him out to skate as much as I can. That was my role. Because all that Rocco stuff affected him, for sure. How could it not? But there’s really nothing you can do about it. Sure, you’re bummed but you gotta move on. It is what it is.

When we started TV, there was an overall feeling that we weren’t in the Cool Guy Club anymore. Because that’s what Rocco and those guys were promoting: we’re cool and everything else sucks. And for Mike to leave all that automatically put him in the crosshairs. Both Mike and Jason Lee got pretty burned by all that in the end. Because the Big Brother-era was just so antagonistic. Making fun of everything and all that in-fighting within skateboarding. Rocco was essentially the ringleader of all that.  

Well, I always got a kick out of those tiny, almost-subliminal phrases that you’d put in the early Toy Machine ads. Would magazines or parents ever complain?

Oh man, I have a bunch of stories.

That stuff largely came from learning design. In the early days of Toy Machine, I didn’t really know how to use a computer but I was friends with guys like Ron Cameron, Thomas Campbell and Ted Newsome, who knew all stuff. So the first few Toy ads were actually those guys doing the button-pushing as I tried to look over their shoulders, learning. They’re making my little drawings into much cooler advertisements while I took mental notes of how to resize boxes in Quark Express.

Once I finally graduated to fumbling through things on my own, the ads were obviously super rudimentary but I was still having fun and I think the ads reflect that. Again, having a platform and knowing that 15-year-olds are scouring every inch of these magazines, let’s use that to our advantage and hide a bunch of stuff in there. Sure, it’s an eye sore, but you’ll linger on my ad longer.

A plain ad with a photo and a logo at the bottom just felt too serious. Let’s have some fun with it. After all, we’re kids, too. And as I developed my computer skills, things just got weirder and weirder.

I snuck boobs into a Transworld ad… and then wrote a little article about it for a Toy Machine zine we did afterwards. It was a Chad Muska ad and for the lettering of his name, I scanned in a bunch of old 60s Playboys and made them into the letters. So at first glance, it looks like a regular font until you get up close and notice the naked ladies in there. I’d actually do that kinda stuff a lot.

I’d always have ads come back with remarks from the magazine like, “You can’t have that word in there” or “There must be a box over that.” That would happen all the time.

And then I got investigated by the FBI, too. Did you ever hear that one?


Yeah, the FBI investigated me over a Toy Machine ad. They came to my house and everything.

My niece Sophia had just been born and my sister-in-law brought her over for a visit. We’re all sitting in the living room when we hear a knock on the door. I look through the peephole and see two guys standing there in suits.

“Oh, it’s Mormons. I’m not answering.”

So I stand there, watching them through the peephole. And they just keep knocking.

“Man, these are some pretty persistent Mormons!”

But then I see one of them go around and start trying to peek through our window.

“What the fuck!?! Are these guys casing my joint?”

So I open the door.

“Can I help you?”

“We’re from the FBI.”


I remember my sister-in-law immediately standing up with our newborn niece and leaving.

“We gotta go,” and just books it. (laughs)

So I start freaking out and immediately become super apologetic… I even tried making a joke at first.

“Sorry I didn’t answer earlier. I thought you guys were Mormons.”

No laughter. At all. And that’s when I knew I was in deep shit.

“We have a few questions to ask you.”

They sit me down on the couch and pull out a print-out of this Toy Machine ad.

“Did you make this advertisement?”

“Yes, sir. I did.”

“Are you the owner of Toy Machine skateboard company?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Can you explain the text on this advertisement?”

I’d gotten on this kick where every Toy Machine ad had a funny way in which I wanted kids to write us letters. Like, “Write to Toy Machine at I Poop In My Mouth” and whatever the address was. Just something funny to get sent through the mail that mail carriers would think was weird.

So this is right after the anthrax scare. As a joke, I put “Write to Toy Machine at ‘Anthrax Enclosed’”. Because in my head, no one would ever actually write that on an envelope and send it. But, of course, kids did. And somebody in the post office reported it to the FBI.

I figure that they’d already researched me by the time they came to my house and probably knew it was a joke, but they had to make sure. Because they kept on having me confirm things.

“Did you make this ad?”

“Yes, I can go upstairs and print you out a copy right now. It’s on my computer.”

“Do that.”

So I went upstairs and printed out a copy.

“Okay, this proves that you made this ad. We are confirming that you are who you say you are.”

“Am I in trouble?”

“We were a second away from mobilizing the hazmat squad to the place where you pick up your mail. If that would’ve happened, you would’ve been sent a bill for the entire operation because of your prank. You’re lucky we didn’t.”

So I’m apologizing up and down.

“I’m so sorry. I won’t do this again. This is totally stupid.”

But not only wouldn’t they accept my apology, they wouldn’t even acknowledge it. It was so weird. They just wanted to confirm these things.  

“You’re Ed Templeton. You did this. Alright, see you later.”

I still don’t know what happened with all that. I’m sure I’m still on a watchlist somewhere.

We got sued over an ad before, too.

Total mistake, I shot a street photo in Chicago of two girls on a bench. I’d asked for the photo and everything. They had matching haircuts and were both wearing shirts that said, “Mullet”. I just thought it was a funny photo, so I used it in a Toy Machine ad. Big no-no.

You can’t just use someone’s likeness in an advertisement like that. It’s different from a documentary or art show-setting. It’s like if someone took your photo on the street and put you on a Pepsi billboard, you’d sue the fuck out of them, which is kinda what happened here.

Turns out that one of the girls was a teacher. Some kid at her school ended up seeing the ad and recognized her. So what does he do? He scans it in and makes that ad the screensaver for the entire school. So it’s a big deal.

But the next layer is that she’s actually a closeted lesbian. And, of course, the ad reads, “Hey, we’re Toy Machine. We’re gay in a happy way, not the way you’re thinking.”

Well, she sues us. Saying that we purposefully outed her and that she’s going to lose her job. I had to fly out to Chicago in order to make a deposition over this. I had to get a lawyer and everything, trying to prove that I wasn’t trying to out her. That it was all a big coincidence. I even cited that interview in ’91, speaking out against homophobia. But ultimately, she ended up getting something like $50 grand.

So yeah, you could say some weird stuff has gone down.

With the early success of Toy Machine, why the willingness to yield so much control to Jamie Thomas? And did you always agree with his approach, especially with riders?

I never really saw it through the lens of having “control” or not. It’s always been more about collaborating with people. And there’s also a laziness aspect to all this as well… especially as I’m always out doing other things, too. Art stuff or whatever.

With Jamie, I had a person who was wanting to call the shots, especially with Welcome to Hell. He was completely obsessed with video and had all these opinions of how things should be. And it’s true, that video was 100% Jamie. I was just a skater in it. My only claim to its success is that I was smart enough to let him take the reins, because that’s how it was. He had very specific ideas on what makes a video great. What should be in, what should be out, what music to use… he knew better than I’ll ever know, because I was largely coming from a different era. So I just let Jamie do it, one less thing on my plate.

I thought that it was awesome to have a rider so engaged.

But does part of you look back on this era almost as a prequel to Zero?

No, it was still my company. Jamie still had to come to me with ideas and I was the one who ultimately made the decisions. And I did the artwork… which definitely went against Jamie’s wishes when I put myself on the cover. He thought that was weird. As the star of the video, I’m sure he thought he’d be on the cover. But as a designer, I just happened to like my photo better.  

We had back-and-forths on a few things but for the most part, I always liked his ideas. Even his team decisions, I felt like I was being helped, not hindered. Because he was out there more than I was. Him coming to me about guys like Josh Kalis, that was huge.

I realized early on that Zero was an inevitability. I saw that coming a mile away, because he just had so much energy and so many great ideas. So I’d always throw little jabs at him. Like that Toy Machine he had doing the 50-50 down a rail with a Zero shirt on? I drew ghost Jamie on the other rail with a Toy Machine shirt on… Like, come on, man. You know you should be wearing a Toy Machine shirt.

So when Jamie finally did leave, it was okay. I’ve always tried to avoid any bridge-burning scenario with people leaving over the years. We’re all in this together. When Jamie comes to me as a friend and tells me that he wants to do Zero, what are my choices here? If that’s what you want to do, do it! I don’t want someone on Toy Machine who doesn’t want to be there. If you’re not happy and want to ride for Habitat, go live your life! And that’s always been my approach. There’s never been any animosity with anyone quitting Toy Machine.

For the most part, people’s leaving had nothing really to do with me. Just super weird circumstances.

Even when the whole team quit? I can’t imagine you not taking that personally.

But it was never “Ed’s a dick” or “Toy Machine sucks”.

The whole Kerry/Bam/Mike thing was largely over Bam’s feud with Swank and the CKY videos. Bam and Tod essentially had a bad side deal over the distribution of that video. I feel like Bam had a warped sense of how successful those videos were at the time… that if Fairman’s sold 5 copies, every shop around the country must’ve sold 5 copies and therefore, he should be rich. Never mind that Fairman’s was Bam’s local shop. So there was a discrepancy over money and Swank tends to get combatant whenever he feels attacked, which is no good.

So as things escalated, Swank told everyone at Tum Yeto to cut off Bam’s packages, which ended up pissing off Maldonado. Mike actually called Tum Yeto pretending to be Bam, asking for a package. And whenever they said no, Mike quit in solidarity with Bam.

…Mike actually told me later that he regretted the decision. But again, that had nothing to do with me. I even remember talking to those guys.

“What? Don’t quit! Over Tod!?! I’ll figure this out!”

But those guys leave and Kerry just happens to get an offer from Habitat at that same time.

Brian, too.

With BA and Elissa quitting, I always felt like that was more of a sinking ship-kinda thing. That they thought the company was on the way out and they needed to save their careers. But even after all that, we still remained friends.

Elissa is obviously looked at as a pioneer now, but was that always the case? What was the thought behind putting her on and how did you see her initial reception in Welcome to Hell?

We saw Elissa’s part for what it was: groundbreaking skating from an awesome girl skater.

In Elissa, we have the best girl skater in the world, the best style. She skates differently from just about every other woman I’ve seen and parties just as hard, too. She was just “one of the guys” and we wanted to treat her that way. We were never going to force her into a dress or make her board pink. The whole concept was that we had a woman on our team who wasn’t being treated differently. All the ads and graphics would be equal, and we were happy with that. Unfortunately, the reception was a little mixed in the real world.

It’s those 15-year-old shitheads again.

(laughs) Yeah, kids thinking they were better than Elissa so therefore they should be on Toy Machine. If she’s pro, I should be pro. And we got letters to that extent. There was definitely some hate for her… some who even went as far to say that she was taking away the position from a man.

But it was only kids who felt that way, nobody in the actual industry. Just random kids who were missing the point, which was that she’s a woman and she’s holding her own. Sure, she’s not Brian Anderson on a skateboard but she is Elissa Steamer and that’s a milestone. That’s a groundbreaking thing.

Overall, it was a positive thing. I don’t want to give credit to those 15 kids out there who might’ve been bummed. It was 99.9% positive stoke with her.

She did put up with a lot of stuff but it’s funny, too, because she gets asked to speak a lot these days. In this #MeToo era, she’s told me that people always want her to recount horrible war stories of how bad it all was for her. But she’s just not built like that. She’s said that people almost get mad at her when she doesn’t have some insane tale of sexism to give. I just don’t think she saw her situation that way. I feel like her experience was totally about having fun. Because not only did everyone respect her, she could also take a joke and laugh about stuff, too. She obviously had to deal with a lot… the constant guy talk in the car, the porno mags lying all over the place and whatever else. She had to live through that. But I don’t think she perceived it the same way people might now.

Was Brian’s sexuality ever a topic of discussion?

No, he was completely closeted. None of us knew. Brian was best friends with Staba and he didn’t even know.

In retrospect, there are things we look back on now, like, “Oh… okay.” Like weird clothing choices. Brad and I would always make fun of him for buying these super weird designer-y Hawaiian shirts.

“Oh, he wants to spend $200 on this crazy shirt? He’s into fashion and design stuff now? Alright, whatever.”

Little stuff like that makes more sense now.

I think he had a boyfriend in Amsterdam for a while, too. Because he would just take-off suddenly.

“Hey, I’m going to Amsterdam for two weeks to hang-out.”

But it didn’t seem that strange. Maybe he just wants to get out of the U.S. and chill for a bit. But again, in retrospect, he obviously must’ve had a boyfriend there.

I remember once he came out, he invited me up to San Francisco to talk about it. And we had this huge, super interesting talk about things. Because honestly, I was almost hurt that he never told me. He knew my politics, I would’ve been so supportive. He just didn’t want to be that guy and thought that I’d immediately want to make him into a spokesperson.

He didn’t want to be “the gay skater”, he just wanted to be Brian Anderson. So he never brought it up and I totally respect that. Because he’s right, I probably would’ve gotten a bit overenthusiastic about it. His journey belongs to him, and he had to do things in his own way. I’m just so happy to see him such a good spot with everything.

Have you spoken to Senn since your tearful EL admission?

I think we had an exchange over Instagram, but I don’t really know how he feels about me. It sucks. And I totally acknowledge my part in it.

The problem is that I heard him talking about it and his take on it was incorrect. And that’s what really makes me sad. Not that the real truth paints me in any better of a light, but it’s at least what really happened.

I was presented with a shitty proposition. Tod Swank told me that Tum Yeto could no longer support a Toy Machine team at its current size and that I’d have to reduce it by one rider. But my regret is that I accepted it this proposition. Had I been thinking more on my feet, I could’ve figured out a way to still make it work with everyone.

It essentially came down to Kerry or Senn… which, I don’t know the reason for that but that’s how it was. Kerry felt like the obvious choice because he had such a promising future, if I had to choose. But I should’ve never accepted those terms.

My reason is that I was afraid of Toy Machine going out of business, which probably wasn’t a real concern but that’s how I felt.

So I kicked off Chris, super tearfully. And the killer was when he told me that he would’ve ridden for Toy Machine for free.

To be fair, he told me that part of him saying that was to stab you in the heart.

(laughs) And it worked! I felt like the biggest asshole ever. Because I felt like we were good friends and I loved his skating. There was no reason to kick him off. It was just a financial ultimatum handed down from above.

It sucks but I also feel like I heard him say that it was all about money on my end? That I wanted to be sure I had my money first? That’s just not the case. Never in my life have I cared about money. And never would I have chosen money over a friend or rider. So for Chris to perceive it that way, as a money thing, kills me. Because it’s not. And I hate that misperception.

While we’re at it, I hate how Mike Frazier was treated on Toy Machine, too. Because, again, we ran into money issues. Things just got shittier and shittier until he finally quit. I regret not being more upfront with him. It would’ve been more honorable to tell him that we just didn’t have the money instead of letting it peter out. Looking back, that one feels shitty, too.

With Turtle Boy being based on Reynolds, are there any other characters in the Toy Machine universe based on notable pros?

Turtle Boy Reynolds is the only one that lasted.

Again, not being part of a clique, Geoff Rowley and I basically did a skate tour by ourselves in the late 90s. It was me, Geoff and Reynolds on a U.S. tour in a van. Because none of our companies were going to tour that year, we just decided to do it ourselves.

This was before cell phones so passing the time on those long drives was way different than it is now. Usually, I’d end up drawing comics where I tried to include everyone in the van. Just for fun.

So yeah, on this tour, I assigned everyone an animal for whatever reason. Geoff is super into ferrets and weasels, so he became “Weasel Boy”… even though he ended up looking more like a bear because I suck at drawing. Reynolds has that famous soft chin, which is what inspired me to make him Turtle Boy. And I had this nerd character with a bowl haircut. That was me.

These comics were terrible. Drawn super quickly, just to pass the time for a momentary diversion. And they were dirty and not very politically correct, to be honest. An early one was Reynolds as Turtle Boy trying to pick up some girls. He’s in a jacuzzi and says, “Have you ever heard of the Reynolds Wrap?” And this huge snakey dick comes out of the water and wraps around the girl’s neck.

But for whatever reason, I really liked this Turtle Boy character and wanted to make a graphic with it.

Reynolds probably thought I was joking but I was serious.

“Yeah, sure.”

So as soon as I got home, I did a Turtle Boy graphic for Toy Machine… the first one even said, “Turtle Boy Reynolds”. And it’s been going ever since.

What about that early “Insecurity” graphic you’ve revisited over the years? What does it mean?

(laughs) I’m not even sure.

I think it was just a sketchbook thing. Because at that point, my drawings were still super simple. People with a circle for a head or something weird, just really basic stuff. That girl was just a drawing I had in one of my books that I liked it.

“Insecurity” was an afterthought. I wanted that drawing to be a graphic but it needed a little more. It looked kinda plain by itself so I put that little decorative box around it, but it was the “Insecurity” that brought it all together. I just happened to throw in that random cut-out word as I was photocopying.

This was all pre-computer, back when my method was going into Kinko’s and blowing up drawings on the copier. Usually I’d blow them up to actual board size and just hand them over to Paul Schmitt as a graphic. Sometimes I’d re-ink the copy a little, in case it got a little bit static-y from photocopier. But that was it.

There’s really no rhyme or reason to it. There wasn’t a lot of thought in those early graphics.

Didn’t you do the cat graphic in 30 minutes or something?

The cat had a little more thought to it than that… even though it’s still pretty simple. That cat is actually pretty famous, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I just happened to have the Met catalog and saw it in there. And the design inside of the cat came from a book of woodcuts… I can’t remember the artist’s name but I saw that “end of days” street scene in there with skeletons and naked girls. It was really dark and dense, to where you had to look really close to see the different elements, which is probably why I liked it. The secret debauchery.

Again, that was all done on a copy machine. I copied the cat and cut out the inside, then I blew up the woodcut and collaged that into the back of it before copying the whole thing again. A lot of generational copies but that was basically it.

All that just for the cat to say “woof”. So stupid.

Do you feel Bam and Muska could’ve attained the same level of success at Toy Machine that they experienced afterwards? Could you have pumped out a million heartagram graphics without losing your mind?

I tend to think about this stuff with a joking chagrin. Because it’s so typical that these guys would leave Toy Machine right before turning into superstars. From a business perspective, it’s super fucked it worked out that way. But culture-wise, I’m not really sure.

In Muska’s case, and we’ve talked about this, kicking Chad off is probably what he needed. He was in a co-dependent relationship. He was drunk all the time, and a bad drunk at that. Bumming everybody out to the point where it blew up at the premiere. Wasted Muska starts chewing me out in front of a crowd of people. Yelling in my face with spit flying everywhere, that’s not why I got into skateboarding.I kicked him off on principle, which is what he needed. He was a burgeoning superstar but everyone was being a yes man to him. To have someone say to his face, “You’re being a dick. Fuck you.” Was eye-opening.

3 months later, he calls me on the phone.

“Yo! What’s up, Ed? I got a computer. I’m learning how to do layouts. I’m making stuff!”

“That’s awesome, Chad!”

And we stayed friends! I’d help him out with stuff, showing him how to do things on the computer. He was growing up… because on Toy, perfect example, I remember taking him to get his passport. I filled out all his paperwork for him and at the end, I just needed him to sign his name.

He actually tagged his passport paperwork with “The Muska”.

He needed a wake-up call to become an adult and I feel like that forced him to do so.

It’s actually even more depressing because I do think we could’ve had a mega-successful Muska on Toy Machine. That was actually about to happen had Welcome to Hell come out in its original form. I’m sad about that.

In Bam’s situation, there’s a bit of jealousy that I missed out on the sales side of it. But culturally, I’m kinda glad. I’m not sure if I was into the idea of a million teenage girls being into Toy Machine for that one reason. Because he was such a phenomenon.

It’s the same thing with Sheckler back then. I remember asking Don Brown, “You guys must be making a killing with all this Sheckler stuff.”

“We are, but it’s teenage girls. It’s not the market we’re actually making shoes for. And once that show goes away, those teenage girls buying Sheckler shoes will be gone, too.”

It’s a flash-in-the-pan situation. Hindsight is 20/20, but I’m glad that Toy Machine wasn’t a part of that… but who knows? Part of me wonders that if it had happened on Toy Machine, could we have made it cool? Because you can be a big company and not be lame. It is possible.

But yeah, heartagrams and stuff… I don’t know if I was that into that.

What about Tyshawn Jones?

That’s a sad one but I kinda feel like that was inevitable. It just felt too good to be true. Because he was just too cool for us, you know? We’ve always had that misfit thing going. This kid’s from New York, he’s on Supreme… Toy Machine doesn’t fit into that equation. I was stoked he was into it but I just knew, at some point, he was going to come to the realization that it was weird. So I don’t blame him at all… and, of course, he leaves and immediately becomes a superstar. I think he was only flow for us but still…

Same thing with Alex Olson. We were flowing him for a while, he was an am for us. We even took him on tour… again, way too cool for Toy Machine.

Foundation kicks off Brad Staba with an ad calling him a dickhead… how does he end up on Toy Machine?

That’s the thing, we’re completely separate from Foundation. I make the decisions for Toy Machine. And that’s to Swank’s credit, that’s why we’ve been able to work together for so long. Because that was the problem with Dorfman, he kept on wanting to do things with TV and Toy Machine that we didn’t necessarily want. And that created tension.

Swank has never told me how to do an ad or what graphics to make. He’s always said, since day one, “This is your company, do it.”

Even down to putting on a rider that he just kicked off. Because Brian and Brad were so close, it made sense. He’s obviously a good skateboarder and just a psycho hilarious person to be around. So it really wasn’t a big deal, even though I’m sure it probably looked weird from the outside. I definitely remember the ad. But from Brad’s perspective, I’m sure he thought that he was sticking it to Tod even more after that, still getting a check from the guy who kicked him off.

Didn’t Diego’s Toy switch from Think get him banned from Thrasher?    

Maybe for a little bit. I’m pretty sure I got a threatening phone call from Greg Carroll over it. It definitely didn’t go over well with the Think guys and I was worried about showing up at contests for a little bit afterwards. Honestly, I’m not even sure I’ve seen him since. I’m sure I have, I guess nothing happened… which is good because I have no fighting skills. (laughs)

I remember we’d all gone on a trip to Argentina together and I was just blown away by how good Diego was. He was just insane. And it’s funny because before that, I always equated him with those Brazilian contest dudes… he’s not even Brazilian.

I think he brought it up me first, saying that he was looking to leave Think and hopefully ride for Toy Machine. But he was upfront about everything, too. He let me know right off the bat that the Think dudes weren’t going to be thrilled.

I don’t remember his ban lasting long. And I’m not sure how I was seen by that circle either. But I have to think that since we’re all good friends with Mike Burnett, it was inevitable that we’d get back in the magazine. With him going on all our tours, the idea of not running the editor’s photos probably wasn’t going to last very long.

What about Swank’s “Sorry For Being A Dick” ad? Wasn’t that Leo-related with getting him back on the team?

Yeah, I’d heard that Leo didn’t want to ride for Baker anymore and had been seeing him around a lot. I thought he was great so I kinda went at him, like, “Hey, you should ride for Toy Machine.”

“Dude, there’s no way. I fucking hate Swank.”

I just had to get creative with it. I sensed in Leo a mischievous strain, and I could feel that he wanted to ride for Toy Machine. He just wouldn’t out of principle.

“What if I place an ad with Tod publicly apologizing to you?”

Just as a prank. I hadn’t even ran the idea past Tod yet, but Leo loved it.  

Luckily, Tod was into it.  He understood the situation, that we could get this amazing new rider and all we had to do was this ad… that it would be funny. Tod was game and we got Leo on Toy Machine. Next thing you know, he’s Skater of the Year. We finally won one! (laughs)

What keeps you doing Toy Machine these days? I heard you say in an interview about possibly letting someone else do it at some point? Could you honestly do that?

I don’t know. I juggle a lot of things and there have definitely been points where it all felt like a bit too much. But I also don’t like the idea of Toy Machine dying just because I can’t do it anymore. That doesn’t seem right.

Maybe in the spirit of how Toy Machine has always been, I could pass it on to someone? But when it comes down to it, I honestly don’t know if I could actually do that. If it was the right person, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style, who I felt could do it in the right spirit… that’s a really good idea, actually. Maybe do a golden ticket thing and actually give the company away to somebody? That would be amazing.

At this point, I’m just going to continue doing what I’ve always done until someone tells me otherwise. If the people suddenly stop buying Toy Machine, that’ll be the sign I’m done.

One thing that keeps me going is that I feel a responsibility to the riders. And obviously, being creative and drawing skateboard graphics is the best job in the world. Trying to figure out what we’re doing as a team with all these epic skaters, that’s awesome. It definitely beats flipping burgers any day. 

What’s going on with the new video, Programming Injection? Is there a date for the premiere yet?

Well, we’re supposed to have a premiere August 15th. I don’t know if that’s public knowledge yet but that’s what we’re shooting for. The guys are all out there as we speak, trying to get some last-minute stuff with Don Luong. And we’ll start editing soon.

Don has made a bunch of great videos for Foundation so in the spirit of collaboration, I’m going to be pretty hands-off with it. There’s always a learning curve and I’ll have to stop by and sit over his shoulder from time to time, just to make sure the overall direction and music is as Toy Machine as we can afford. But that’s how it goes. I’m sure I’ll throw a few monkey wrenches into Don’s program by the end… Apologies in advance, Don. (laughs)

As we wrap this up, what would you say is the proudest accomplishment and biggest regret of your skateboarding career?

I’ve had so many fortunate things happen in skateboarding that my answer would constantly change, depending on my mood. So to give you a definitive one is hard.

Something early on that kinda put me on a trajectory was winning the Munster Monster Championships in 1990. That put me out into the skate world in a way where there was no looking back. But at the same time, you could say Welcome to Hell or This is Skateboarding videos were huge accomplishments. Then later being inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame. That’s insane! It’s something your average Joe can understand. Not that I care what the outside world thinks, but sitting next to someone on a plane and they ask what I do, I can mention that and they’ll get it.

As far as regrets go, I’m fortunate in that I don’t really have too many. To me, a regret is a decision I made which was wrong… not like when I broke my leg. That wasn’t by choice. So in that context, I still come back to Chris Senn. It’s a small regret overall but it’s something that I truly feel shitty about. I regret hurting anyone through the business of skateboarding, which is what I’ve always tried to avoid. The idea of mixing business with the thing you love has always been fraught with disaster. So to have made it through a lifetime of doing business in skateboarding without having a bunch of enemies, I’m pretty proud of that.

special thanks to steve douglas, thomas campbell, and ed. 


Rubbish Rubbish said...

One of my favorites.
Thanks for this one!

Anonymous said...

I love you both.

Unknown said...

I feel I've always slept on Toy. Looking back the ads and artwork and direct are so damn good! Thank you for another amazing interview. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do a book.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this.
Pretty impressive that I feel like I got some fresh insights when Ed has already had a few thorough and lengthy interviews.
Keep giving us the good shit you do Ed and Chops from a loyal pawn and chromeball fan!

Anonymous said...

Excellent read. Would have been great to touch on Johnny Layton and current riders.

Anonymous said...

Great one, thanks for this.

JDB said...

Wonderful. Thank you for this

Unknown said...

Surprisingly new stuff in this interview. Yes Im the old fart who loved his useless part, even bought airwalk disasters because of him, well girard too. hope senn is over it with his mea culpa

Anonymous said...

Best Ed interview after many Ed interviews. Impressive.

Watson said...

After seeing the original Muska edit that would have been in Welcome To Hell, I really can't imagine that section being in there now. The song choice would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

yusron musta'in said...

nice b'd

isidro said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for asking about Tyshawn. And also providing context to some of those crazy ads. Good job as usual chops! *Anthrax enclosed in this digital comment*

You to view said...

Thank you for asking about Tyshawn.
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