Five Favorite Parts with Eric Koston + Bonus Sheffey Story

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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.


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.

Previously: Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams


  1. that was a good one, sean mullendore or andy stone would be rad ones to do, or reese forbes

  2. get ethan fowler. he had the style and tricks the supreme kids are into now in ´94, should get the credit he deserves…too sad he may not have anything to do with skateboarding anymore. by the way, very beautiful unnecessary turn in his tincan part at 1:05

  3. Does every dude over 30 have to say “Video Days”? I mean yeah it was cool but on a scale with shackle Me Not and all the videos of that era andetc… Video days was fucking lame. Gonz is cool or whatever but his skating never got anybody I know that hype. Niggas a comedy skater. Gonz is like the fucking Iggy Pop of skating, you know you don’t really think he’s that dope but if you don’t say”he raw” you might look like a poser.

  4. First of all, this is pretty much the same list as Watsons. Which is sick, and speaks to those skater and that era.

    I would like to see Quim or Uncle Freddie’s top 5

  5. You guys should write about the best skate parts to remix’s.
    Also, what if you named a child First name Za. Middle name Cha. Last name Ry. Pronounced Zachary

  6. Well shit y’all. If we’re talmbout back in the day, what’s good with Billy Waldman? And if you tryin to diversify your portfolio, maybe get ahold of Upson, BA, Donny Barley, and some other CT alumni. Additional to that Snack, I’d be interested to see the Favorite 5’s of the Q.S crew. I know EST and all that, but y’all got any secret pleasures? Personally, I even like californialookinass videos like Tiltmode stuff, old Thrasher videos, and whatnot. Well, goodnight, have a good weekend all.

  7. westgate would be cool, but he’d probably say donny barley and other wholesome boring safe shit. any late 90s SF six newell dudes would be titie – especially nate jones. j cassanova would be fascinating because he’d choose four of his own parts and PJ from wonderful horrible life. kyle james is my top vote tho

  8. Tough to argue with a quality list like that, i know Koston used to skate vert though so it would have been funny to hear which vert parts had him rewinding the VCR in his mini frost days.

    My top 5, Five Favorite requests:
    Steven Cales
    Bobby Puleo
    Jeff Pang
    Jake Johnson
    Yaje Popson

  9. My Top 5, Five Favorite Requests:
    Donald Sterling
    Solange Knowles
    Lupita N’yongo
    Ian Bradley

  10. CEEZ: “Video days aint shit”. Innovators don’t seem too innovative after every one else adapts to the reality that they created. Also, video days needs to be seen as one piece. Gonz being the lead singer of the band. But it is a total package. Do your homework. Your statement is original and bold, but erroneous. Along your reasoning, Rakim sounds like everyone else, whats the big deal. Why listen to Led Zeppelin, when there is pear jam? Doing things first matters.

  11. I feel what you saying Poser and I don’t say Video Days aint shit but the hype on it in 2014 and it’s “influence on skating” is waaaay bigger than when it came it out. Gonz’s part is not groundbreaking other than the fact he skates around like a young sketchy Robin Williams. The list is for VIDEO PARTS not “total packages” anyway. Led Zep sucks and steals songs Pearl jam sucks too and Rakim is dope but he not the best ever. You’re reasoning is kind of off but I get the point. I still say that Gonz and this part in particular is over rated and romanticized over a lil too much, to the point where it sounds almost cliche. If anything Gonz’s art work and style were bigger influences on skating on a whole than his actual skating.

  12. “j cassanova would be fascinating because he’d choose four of his own parts”. This would be pretty amazing.

  13. Nice to see Lee’s Video Days part called out. When you feel like you should only be choosing one representative part from a huge vid, it’s gonna have to be The Holy Gonz, but Lee’s part, especially when I was a much younger skater, got me equally stoked. I’d replay one of their parts ’til it got tired, then switch to the other. Frankly, feel that Mr. Frosty’s own part in (–don’t shoot me Snack!–) Mouse has suffered a similar fate, overshadowed by the necessity of singling out one part from the legendary vid.

  14. RE Video Days;

    Im going to sort of, surprisingly, agree with CEEZ to an extent. As someone who was skating at that time, I dont think Video Days had quite the impact then as many say it does now. I think what mad it significant is that it was Mark Gonzalez first real video part. Up until then, there were glimpses in other videos (Savannah Slamma and so forth), but mostly what you got were photos and mentions in the mags. Everyone new he was responsible for early street skating but this was his first part, which made it significant.

    In my opinion the video that really shook up the world at that time was Questionable (one year after video days). The skating was light years ahead of everything else at its time (Duffy invented modern handrail skating and Carroll, basically, created the fluid tech skating we now watch). If anything, I think that was the big video of the time, and it created the idea of big-time skate videos as the defining means of documenting skating.

  15. If we’re still in the business of making requests:

    Pappalardo, Kalis, Aaron Herrington, Scott Johnston, Gino.

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