We got this guy to weigh in on some of his biggest inspirations for our ongoing “Favorite Parts” series. Though there are the standard Hensley and Gonz inclusions that pop up among people in Koston’s age group, there’s an added bonus that makes this entry particularly special. The person who set this interview up said “Make sure you ask him about the Sheffey and DiCaprio story,” and I almost forgot until Sheffey’s Soldier’s Story part came up as the final inclusion. Good thing it did…
Also if anyone has any [realistic] subject requests for this series, feel free to post them in the comments. We’ll see if we can work some magic and track them down.
Have a good weekend everyone ;)
Matt Hensley — H-Street: Shackle Me Not (1988)
Hensley was a shift from when skateboarding was still pretty simple. There was the stuff Rodney did, which was crazy, but it was freestyle. Hensley was a street skateboarder getting technical for the first time. This is when people started ollieing into grabs; we were still early grabbing before this part. I went out and learned how to ollie melon grab immediately after seeing it.
He’s skating rails, he’s doing no comply tricks, he front board fakies a handrail. Everyone thought, “Holy shit, there’s a whole new way to look at skating.” H-Street got vibed super hard for all of that, since vert skating was pretty dominant at the time. Hardcore vert and tranny skaters would make fun of you for trying to learn technical tricks. H-Street made a shirt called “Vibe Me, I Ride for H-Street” with bullet holes on the side of it because of all the technical skaters they’d put on the team.
Everyone bit Hensley after this part. He would skate with puffed up cheeks, and I remember seeing kids skating around looking like a blowfish, with a chain wallet, shorts and shaved head.
Ray Barbee et al. — Powell-Peralta: Public Domain (1988)
I feel like this and Hensley go hand-in-hand for most eye-opening parts from that time. He slappies this huge ledge, and I remember thinking “There’s no way that’s real.” He does a kickflip pivot on a bench and kickflip 5050s the bottom of a picnic table, at a time when nobody was doing flip-to-grinds on ledges. That part got me hyped to learn as many tricks as I possibly could.
Mark Gonzales — Blind: Video Days (1991)
Video Days was his first real part. He’d only have stuff in smaller videos or contest videos. He’s cruising around throughout the whole part, but would splice it in with something you’ve never seen before. He’d creep around, do a few tricks, then board slide a double-kink rail in the next clip.
I remember looking at him skating switch and thinking, “What happened just now?” Switch didn’t even have a name at that point. No one skated “the wrong way” at that time. He was in an old contest video — maybe Savannah Slamma — and does a switch method off a jump ramp while everyone else around him was early grabbing. I remember rewinding it over and over like, “Wait, he’s going backwards.”
Jason Lee – Blind: Video Days (1991)
Jason Lee made everything look amazing. He was one of the first guys that did absolutely everything with an incredible style. We wouldn’t think about style to the same extent that people do now. This was one of the first times when people really started paying attention to it. He had these lanky arms, and would get really low for everything. The part has a timeless quality to it; people could run the outfits he’s wearing in this part and look perfectly normal today.
I could pretty much throw the whole video on here. Stuff got weird after Video Days. Wheels got small, everyone skated slow, style went out the window…
Sean Sheffey – Life Skateboards: Soldier’s Story (1991)
I heard about Sheffey before he got on Life. He originally rode for Shut. A friend of mine had moved from Maryland to San Bernadino, where I grew up. I started skating with him and he told me about all the Shut dudes. He’d talk about Sheffey like he was a superhuman; he could backside tailslide stuff that was waist high. This was still the late-eighties. There was no footage of him except some short clips from demos, and Soldier’s Story was his first part.
All the stuff he did was insanely powerful. Sheffey showed me the power side of street skating for the first time. A few years later, he would live under my dining room table for six or seven months while everyone was filming for Goldfish.
BONUS SHEFFEY STORY
It must’ve been Leonardo DiCaprio’s 21st birthday. If it wasn’t 21, it was definitely a big one. I originally met Leo through our friend Jerry, who is an actor, but also skated. I got passes to Leo’s birthday party, and Tribe was supposed to perform. Nobody wanted to be responsible for taking the dirtbag dude there to ruin everything. It was at Hollywood Athletic Club or some other club-like venue, and the crowd was as random as it gets: Hugh Hefner with a bunch of playmates, James Woods, Tyra Banks…
It was a lanyard pass. I remember handing it to Sheffey but not letting go of it, saying “Dude, we’re going to have fun. Keep it mellow.” He was all, “I’ll keep it mellow, don’t worry, I got you.” So we go in, and first thing I see, Tyra Banks is on the dance floor — we knew who she was since this is when she was first coming up — and Sheffey is trying to grind on her. She was trying her best to avoid him and eventually the security guards got him away. Sheffey starts telling me, “I didn’t know who she was dude!” I’m telling him to chill and not get kicked out.
Tribe performs, and Sheffey gets right below the stage. Phife is rapping and Sheffey is down there trying to hand him a twenty-dollar bill. I don’t exactly know what he was trying to accomplish with that. He was so out of it.
After they’re done, they bring Leo onstage, give him a shout out, everyone says happy birthday. Towards the end of it, Sheffey somehow makes it onstage. Leo is up there with his boys, Tribe and Sheffey. All his boys are giving him pounds, and I see Sheffy at the end of the line. He gets up to him, gives him a hug, and then a full open kiss on the mouth. I remember shrieking inside. Leo just has a look on his face like “What the fuck just happened?” and then played it off like it was nothing.
I saw Leo a few weeks later, and he asks me, “That was your boy who kissed me huh? Jerry told me that guy was nuts.” He had his whole party filmed, and told me when they get to the clip of him getting kissed, there was like a full string a spit once Sheffey pulled away. All I could really say is “Dude, I’m so sorry.” All things considered, Sheffey kept it pretty mellow. He didn’t fight anybody.