Although subtly acknowledged, the resonance between skateboarding and BMX culture is rarely discussed at length. With key overlaps between the media industries of both worlds, Anthony Pappalardo traces a through line from the BMX mags of yore to Chocolate Skateboards’ Bunny Hop. Covering magazines such as Freestylin, Homeboy and Big Brother alongside the rise of Spike Jonze, the former editor of Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal magazine and Crailtap’s go-to copywriter, Mark Lewman weaves together the dual narrative of BMX and skate publishing.
Mark Lewman redefining the term “Hatchet Job”. Introduction and interview by Anthony Pappalardo.
Like many Americans living in the Northeast, my entry to skateboarding wasn’t at a concrete park, the magazine rack of a 7-Eleven, or simply by osmosis. Sure, I was aware skateboarding existed in the mid-1980s. Occasionally it would stumble into my orbit but it wasn’t until I went to my local bike shop, to get a tube for a tire, that I saw a newly erected display of roughly twenty skateboard decks positioned in front of a row of BMX bicycles.
I had seen ads for skateboards in the BMX periodicals I’d previously bought at the shop but seeing their bright neon glory, in full scale, was powerful. As a young nerd with little to do, especially during snowy New England winters, I consumed every single page of BMX Action, a new title named Freestylin’ and any related mag the shop carried. Thrasher was still a golden goose.
Reading the mastheads of BMX mags and synthesising who wrote what and who took what photo, I became aware of the tone and the characters the editorial staff became, not realising that this was not how a “normal” magazine worked, at the time. Whoever wrote for Sports Illustrated didn’t matter to me but the names Andy Jenkins, gOrk, Spike Jonze, and Mark Lewman did.
They would grow in importance as I eschewed the expensive and, honestly, annoyingly difficult world of BMX. I wasn’t fast, I wasn’t strong, and I didn’t have the allowance money to own a top-tier bike. However, a “real” complete skateboard could be secured for about $99.99 via mail order to one of the skate shops advertising in said BMX magazines.
“For over 30 years, I and other “old heads” in skateboarding have accidentally been following the path and rise of these creatives, feeling connected to their success as if they were distant cousins.”
As my dive into skateboarding continued into the ‘90s: Andy Jenkins, Spike Jonze, Mark Lewman, and shortly thereafter, Jeff Tremaine kept popping up. Freestylin’ became Go – with a fan club and accompanying magazine, Club Homeboy and Homeboy in between – then they started a proto-VICE/mens mag called Dirt. This was followed by the formation of Girl Skateboards, which had loose ties to the Beastie Boys and was founded by Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Spike Jonze and Megan Baltimore, a former World Industries employee.
Come ’93, Spike is directing Beastie Boys videos and the group started Grand Royal Magazine that year. Mark Lewman becomes the editor, Girl starts its sister company, Chocolate (originally intended to be ‘Sister’ but Steve Rocco snaked the copyright beforehand). Meanwhile, there’s Big Brother Magazine and their videos – Shit, Number Two, boob and Crap – that inspire Jackass, leading to spin-offs such as Wildboyz. Jeff Tremaine of Big Brother, former art director of BMX title Go, later ends up directing a Motley Crue biopic titled The Dirt, amongst other things. We shouldn’t forget Dave Carnie who was also in the editorial mix as well, alongside artists Sean Cliver and Mark McKee.
Why the hell was this all happening in Torrance, California and why was I – a kid in New England – so obsessive to even know that? For over 30 years, I and other “old heads” in skateboarding have accidentally been following the path and rise of these creatives, feeling connected to their success as if they were distant cousins. Fuck, my first published piece of writing was a letter I wrote to Go in ‘89 or ’90, that Mark Lewman ran and printed a polite reply to my dorky “scene report”.
“What, you’re going for, like, the ’80s retro money?” Spike Jonze expressesing dismay at the name “Bunny Hop” in the video Mark Lewman had a hand in.
So, when Chocolate Skateboards released their latest full-length video, Bunny Hop — both a BMX colloquial phrase for jumping in the air and bringing your bike with you and an ode to Keenan Milton — it shook a few things loose. I was reminded of someone telling me Mark Lewman – formerly of Freestylin’, Homeboy, Dirt, Grand Royal, and Big Brother, was the mind behind the snappy copy coming out of the Crailtap camp and that he worked, in some capacity, on the skits in Bunny Hop.
Mark is currently a partner and Creative Director of Nemo HQ in Portland, Oregon. He happily let me punish him about the deep connection between BMX, skateboarding, and a group of California transplants who transformed both subcultures and brought their spirit, energy, and irreverence to the mainstream.
Mark Lewman on a swivel chair tow-in from Craig Grasso
Can you start by explaining your entry point into BMX subculture?
BMX racing was part of the scene where I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the early ‘80s. I was 12/13 years old. The kid down the block found out there was a BMX track out in the field in Playmobil, Michigan so I got invited to go out and watch these races. I was given a loaned, crappy bike, a crappy helmet, and somebody paid my entry fee into a race. We would go to the track every weekend.
BMX evolved from motocross. “Bicycle motocross” was about who’s the fastest. Eight people start, a gate drops and the bullshit stops. You have to finish closer to the front. That’s how it runs and I just sucked at it. It took me four years until I started finishing in first, second or third but I loved the community. The fact that kids were doing it, that you put your own bike together and learned how to barter and swap and mow lawns to build your bike the way you wanted it.
Those races were the lifeline we had to BMX because all the energy felt like it was coming out of the West Coast, emanating from Bicycle Motocross Action. Which, by ’83, changed name to BMX Action magazine, published out of Torrance, California at a company called Wizard Publications.
Hot tip: anytime there’s a word like “wizard” in the title of something, it’s probably a little weird, a little fun and cool.
Jeff Kendall in Santa Cruz advert opposite the masthead of Freestylin Magazine #14, July 1986.
It’s worth noting that finding BMX or skate mags in the ‘80s itself was a challenge. How were you getting the mags?
You’d flip through them at BMX shops or someone would pass one around at the track. I subscribed to BMX Action quickly because it was a hassle to wait and subscribers would get the issue before it hit the newsstand.
My friends and I read every page, memorising passages the same way you watch the Bones Brigade videos. You’d emulate what was being written. A few months into my time racing, BMX Action started covering this new thing called “trick riding” — later “freestyle”. They eventually formed the BMX Action Trick Team, mostly a demo-based entity who would spread the gospel of freestyle; riding shitty, under-vert quarterpipes in parking lots as kids held up the back of the ramp.
Literally the next spread over, a freestyler gets inverted in an ad for Hutch BMX. We aren’t so different after all…
“Racing is cut-and-dry: you win or lose. Freestyle was all about how whatever you come with, that can be your path.”
Slowly, that began to take over what I was interested in, even though I was getting better at racing. Also, a lot of people I was racing against dropped out. They got into driving cars, playing sports or just burned out on BMX. Racing is cut-and-dry: you win or lose. Freestyle was all about how whatever you come with, that can be your path.
Fast forward to 1985. I’m a senior in high school. I’m a paperboy because I could ride my bike doing that job. BMX Action launched a new mag called Freestylin’ that was all about trick riding. It started as a quarterly publication and the editor was a 21-year-old guy from Cheyenne, Wyoming named Andy Jenkins [also known as ‘Wrench Pilot’ for his early ‘90s Transworld comic strip– ed.].
Andy won a giveaway contest in the magazine and wrote back to the editor, Bob Osborn, thanking him. Bob liked the style of the note and wanted to hire him. Pretty soon after their initial conversation, he was convinced Andy had the creativity to run this new title and he moved out to Torrance.
Skateboarding and BMX side by side in a story about “shows” – early iterations of what we now know as demos. Words by Mark Lewman, photography by Windy Osborn. Freestylin’ Magazine #15, August 1986.
Freestylin’s editorial tone felt like a real shift from the sort of “trade journal” style of writing found in BMX mags at the time. In a way, it became the blueprint for a lot of media to follow.
Andy had a fun way of writing. I could tell in the way the magazine was put together, we liked some of the same things. He would write an intro and start it by saying. “Hey Spuds” and “spuds” was a word related to Devo. I was super into punk rock and new wave so my antenna went up immediately. I’d tune into every word and description and really felt a connection.
I graduated from high school in June of 1985 and really had no plan. I hadn’t taken the SATs. My high school was a big military recruiter. They’d have people from the Armed Forces or Coast Guard in the lunchroom telling you to sign up and get a fresh new uniform and path. I was 17 thinking, “What the hell am I going to do? Am I staring into this void for the rest of my life?”
I liked riding my bike, I liked skating. I’d do my paper route every day and ride my bike out to Plainwell, Michigan. My best friends ran an independent bike shop called Burn’s Sport and Cycle and I was a shop rat there. I’d help them close up, then we’d make a dinner run and head into Kalamazoo to ride or skate all over town, up on the Western Michigan University campus.
“I’m sitting there one night – two or three in the morning having come home from riding bikes, drinking Mountain Dew and cranking Minor Threat. I’m all amped up and I go, “I’m going to write Andy Jenkins a letter!”
What happened after graduation?
When I graduated, I got this kit from my Mom — stamps, stationery, envelopes, that sort of thing — to write “thank you” notes to family members who came to my graduation. I had never written a letter before and really didn’t know.
I let it sit unopened for about a month and my Mom nudged me to finally write the notes. I’m sitting there one night – two or three in the morning having come home from riding bikes, drinking Mountain Dew and cranking Minor Threat. I’m all amped up and I go, “I’m going to write Andy Jenkins a letter!”
From the closet, I pulled out my Mom’s Smith-Corona typewriter and started typing him a letter. And another one the next day, and the next. The gist was, “We’re the crew from Kalamazoo, we’re into this type of music and I’m going to make you a mixtape. We steal wood from this construction site to build ramps and this is our world.”
A fateful letter from Freestylin’
I did that for a month. One day, a Freestylin’ envelope showed up – one smaller than the ones they used to mail the mag – filled with stickers and a letter from Andy. The response was basically, “You’re a freak but you’re funny and we see some potential. We need new writers and voices, so would you like to write a freelance article for us?” Of course, I send a flurry of letters back saying “yes”.
They had two ideas for me to write and these would be a test. In the end, they’d evaluate my style and abilities. One was called ‘Project Vert Search’ – it was a call to everyone with backyard ramps. The second thing… Just like BMX Action was covering this new trick riding thing, Freestylin’ was interested in covering skateboarding. We rode the same street spots, pools or ramps so why not? The bike shops carried skateboards, so maybe this would be an entry point.
They wanted me to write — this is so corny sounding — a test of the new Vision Mark Gonzales pro model. And by test, I mean, the way they tested bikes. They would weigh them, take them apart, measure the angles, weigh the components. It was like a Car and Driver or Road and Track type of valuation. They needed it in a rush. They called and said, “We have this technology from the future called a fax machine but it’s broken. Just read us your article over the phone.”
That’s intense [laughs].
Yeah, but it might have been a good thing. How I typed back then looked like a crazy person in his basement. I typed all over the page to use the most space —top to bottom, no returns. If I made a mistake, I just typed Xs over the words. No spell check. Just drink a two-liter of Mountain Dew, blast Naked Raygun or Black Flag, and go for it. I’m convinced that if I mailed that in, things would have had a different outcome.
That phone call allowed my voice to come through and we met the deadline. They saw how I could deliver things and liked it so they offered me a job. That was a big move for me because I had never traveled and was really isolated and sheltered in Kalamazoo. I bought a one-way ticket to California and that was the beginning of my career as a journalist.
“The passion was going to come with people who believed in and lived it”
Freestylin’ and Wizard Publications ran things in a way that was not dissimilar to a lot of skate mags. In that the people doing it were the people shaping the narrative as opposed to traditional journalism. Was that a product of those people being cheaper or a point-of-view, in your opinion?
Bob Osborn understood that the passion was going to come with people who believed in and lived it. It was better to have this kind of raw or fun tone, rather than trained journalists.
Bob started out in motocross, organising races and promoting it. As he saw BMX racing happen, he saw the need for a magazine to promote it in the same way. His son, R.L. was a racer and he wanted something for his daughter, Windy, to do so handed her his camera and showed her how to shoot.
Fast forward a few years and Windy became the lead photographer for the mag and was really good. Bob found the right mix of people including, gOrk [Craig Barrette], and that let him be hands-off. He could go off in his van and take art photos in nature, sometimes for six weeks or something.
Freestylin’ Magazine #15, August 1986 featuring a Christian Hosoi interview by Mark Lewman. photo: Windy Osbourne / design: Andy Jenkins
All of you being so young, transplanted to the mecca of your interests, and running a mag, what was that like?
There’s a lot of freedom. It’s a Lord of the Flies type environment where you just figure it out too.
Early on, I was more excited about the unlimited amount of bicycle parts at the warehouse from the tests, evaluations and all the free products companies would send. I was less concerned with eating. I’d skip a few meals towards the end of the month, waiting for my check. You’d learn to load up at the Wendy’s salad bar and fill your entire tray as a plate to sustain yourself for a few days. I could go into work and put together a new Hutch Trickstar or a complete. That was living the dream.
Everybody went home at the end of the day, the office staff that sold ads and so forth. We were usually late publishing the magazine so Andy, gOrk, and I would be there at night. And you know, things get weird when the lights go out.
We would start to skate the curbs out front. We’d go around this warehouse complex and find interesting stuff in the trash. One night we found a 20-foot section of a steel girder, a slidable rebar. It had to be 500 pounds. We put it on a few skateboards and rolled it over to the office and boom! Now we had a new object to skate. Andy was in a band called Factory and they would come in, play and rehearse at night at the warehouse.
Homeboy Magazine #1 (’87), #3 (’98) and #5 (’88/’89) co-created by Mark Lewman, Andy Jenkins and Spike Jonze.
“At first, it was like, “I’m going to Xerox the company cat. What does that look like?””
[Laughs] That’s true industrial music.
When you ride bikes or skate, you look for opportunities. Every obstacle is something you can use Aside from that magical fax machine that I never really gravitated towards, one of the progressive pieces of equipment was a Xerox machine. At first, it was like, “I’m going to Xerox the company cat. What does that look like?” Just pressing it on the glass on the top, nothing dangerous [laughs]. We had the idea to make a zine, while we were making an actual magazine, to send to readers who wrote in to the magazine. So along with stickers they’d get even more of a window into what we were about.
One day, I got to work and Bob’s already in there. He’s got a spread from this zine I was working on the table. He’s like, “What’s this?” I had to explain what a zine was, first of all. Then there’s a little fake ad I put on the back of the zine for a thing called “Club Homeboy” inspired by the Devo Fan Club. It said to send in two dollars for stickers and stuff. I thought I was going to get fired but he was like, “Let me get this straight. Your job is to make a magazine. But at night, you make a zine for the people most stoked on the magazine? What if we made a real fan club for those people?”
That’s how Club Homeboy and Homeboy Magazine started.
So you have two publications going, skating and freestyle are growing, the magazine is getting thicker. What happens next?
That’s about the time we realised we needed to add some people to the staff. We knew different people around the US who would throw us ideas, stories or photos. There’s this legendary bike shop in Rockville, Maryland called Rockville BMX. Everyone who worked or hung out there had a nickname so they became more exaggerated – a character.
We had our eye on this small kid with spiky hair and a squeaky voice named Adam Spiegel. Who they called “Spike”. Spike Jonze. I think I met him when he was 16 at a trade show in California. He was a good storyteller and would talk about how wild his crew back home was.
“We had our eye on this small kid with spiky hair and a squeaky voice named Adam Spiegel. Who they called “Spike”.
Other than the hair and the nickname, what stood out to you about Spike Jonze?
His energy and mystique. He had a sense of… This prankish style and he worked for this cool place, one of the best shops in the country. They had a reputation for having demos that drew 3,000 people.
We waited until he graduated high school and offered him a job. The next day he drove his Plymouth Colt across the country with his friend. gOrk and I leased a townhouse next to Wizard. We went to the thrift store and found a fold-out couch and put that in one of the bedrooms for Spike. The thing was, we quickly found out his writing was good but undisciplined.
Spike had great ideas but it took a lot to get him out. But he always had his camera with him and had taken darkroom classes so he knew how to shoot. Again, his character, his personality, his likability made anytime you’re out riding or skating, it was more fun. He started to bring his camera everywhere, shooting photos and documenting what was going on. Especially at night after business hours. That’s when all the fun stuff was happening. He captured a whole different side of the sport.
The sanctioned races and contests was one thing. But so much of it felt like it happened in some drainage ditch on the edge of town. Or out on the strand, just riding down the beach or something. It was hard to capture. Spike was the master of finding those moments between all the organised presentations of BMX and skateboarding.
Left: Spike Jonze by Windy Osborn for Freestylin’, 1988. Right: pictured in a photo collage from the book Freestylin’ Generation F, 2008
Whose idea was it to cover BMX and skateboarding in Freestylin’?
By this time, skateboarding had defined itself and BMX had defined itself. But we didn’t really like the organisation of BMX. It started to feel corny.
If you go back to the 1970s, you had skaters and bikers riding the same pools. The energy of unsupervised young people excited to define themselves, whether on a bike or a skateboard… To us, they were kind of the same idea. We rode bikes, we wrote skateboards. We thought they were both cool. So that’s why they were in the magazine.
Do you remember interviewing Christian Hosoi for the mag in 1986?
Sort of. We wanted to do a skate and BMX jam on the halfpipe in the parking lot so Wizard did an invitational and asked our favourite BMXers and skaters. Powell were reached out to and they were pretty sure they only wanted to participate in skateboarding media, so it wasn’t the best platform for them.
Hosoi was there though and it was awesome. I don’t remember much about the interview and was probably fanning out. Putting on a skate and bike jam in 1986 was really progressive. Especially when you think of what would come later with the Tony Hawk Boom Boom Huck Jam Tour.
Opening spread of Sal Rocco Jr’s interview by Mark Lewman in Big Brother #2, 1992. portrait: Spike Jonze
This is a lot to unpack but let’s go into you interviewing Sal Rocco Jr. for Big Brother. In what could be one of the most insane interviews ever done, in a mag known for insane interviews…
I’ll tell you how that happened. They were publishing Big Brother out of World Industries. I had talked to Steve [Rocco] about getting a per-word rate for writing and submitting to the mag.
Rocco said, “Okay, what does a writer get per word?” and I told him a dollar per word. To my surprise, he said “sure” and asked me what I wanted to write. I don’t think Jeff Tremaine was there yet but Natas Kaupas definitely was.
“We’d go to World in that early era there would be some semblance of sanity in the front where Megan sat. You’d go into the warehouse and see Mark Gonzales wearing slippers.”
Sal’s the weirdest guy, he’s got the most to say. Anytime we’d go to World in that early era there would be some semblance of sanity in the front, where Megan sat. You’d go into the warehouse and see Mark Gonzales wearing slippers. He’s gonna run and jump over a stack of two board pallets, clear the whole thing without touching them and land in the loading dock. Or there’s a fierce ping-pong game going on and whoever loses is getting their head wrapped in shipping tape. Maybe Sal is back there listening to these mixtapes of Rush drum solos – just the solos for 90 minutes.
I knew Sal would be worth talking to. He talked a lot and, at a dollar a word, I could write this piece and get a new Macbook which was expensive at the time. I ended up turning in 36,000 words. [laughs] It was definitely a money-making ploy. World was going nuts at the time, he had just launched apparel, he had plenty of money.
He had to move his stuff out of the bedroom I moved into. He’d bought a Vietnamese potbelly pig that was living on the porch of the house that we moved to and left the pig there for us to take care of for a bit. One time, I went over and he came out holding this big pile of something in his sweatshirt looking a little paranoid. As we got closer, it was $20,000 of cash in rubber bands. That seemed like a lot of money to wander around with at the time.
A Club Homeboy ad designed by Andy Jenkins featuring ‘Dork In The Yard’, a story by Mark Lewman
Was this around the same time you were in Milk, the band?
That house is where Milk formed and practiced. There was a front office. R.L. Osborn played drums, I played guitar, Andy Jenkins played bass. Robert Bridges – who worked at Poweredge and Transworld, occasionally played guitar too. He lived out of his van so he was hard to nail down on a schedule. Andy’s wife, Kelly played saxophone but she was a real musician. She made the demo sound much better.
We all learned to play for the first time together, aside from Andy who had already been in Factory. Jeff Tremaine was our singer. He rode for Rockville BMX. He came out to visit Spike so that’s how we got to know him. He’d gone to art school in St. Louis. He was going to be a painter. By senior year he switched over to graphic design, so we hired him as art director.
Skating was booming and BMX/freestyle was starting to wane. The industry was fragmented and our publisher made a hard choice to merge the two titles into one. They titled it GO. Jeff was the art director before he moved to Big Brother. Between that we started Homeboy which was tabloid-sized and covered BMX, skating, music and anything we thought was interesting. That’s when we met Kevin Wilkins, a zine guy from Lincoln, Nebraska. We brought Kevin out as the editor of Homeboy.
Right idea at the wrong time. Six issues later, the skate industry we had hoped would support us weren’t taking out ads and the bike industry… Freestyle had exploded so there were too many competing mags and we were too small or niche to be an international publication.
Mark Lewman shot by his Homeboy, Spike Jonze for Freestylin’, 1998. scan: Snakebite BMX
Was there anything else about making Homeboy Magazine or Club Homeboy that ties into this larger connection of BMX and skateboarding?
Totally. Once Club Homeboy got going, we needed somebody to help run it. We met Megan Baltimore because her sister, Molly, was married to R.L. Osborn. It was one of her first jobs. She was down to help us create this new fan club.
R.L. needed to get some roommates at his place. At the time, his roommates were Steve Rocco and Rodney Mullen. Rocco started out selling World out the back of his car or apartment. As World picked up steam, he needed someone to help run sales. He hired Megan to help him out over there. Eventually, I ended up moving into Rocco’s old room and another editor named Mike Daily took Rodney’s room. Steve quickly amassed enough money to build a house and moved up the street.
To go back, around ’89 – ’91, Spike was working on his first video for World Industries which would become Rubbish Heap and, later, Video Days. They used a Milk song for Mike Vallely in Rubbish Heap and Jason Lee’s part in Video Days. Mark Gonzales shares Video Days with Sonic Youth and Sonic Youth wants something like that for a music video. They asked Tamara Davis, who was married to Mike D of Beastie Boys at the time, to direct the video. Tamara had done punk and alternative music documentaries and videos. She brought in Spike to mentor him. Spike and Jason Lee were the on-camera talent for the video for ‘100%’.
Dirt #1 featuring the Beastie Boys on the cover.
“I wrote a letter and sent my driver’s license in the envelope. “Hey, we want this interview with the Beastie Boys and you’ve got to reply because I need my license back.” It worked.”
Around that time, we’re publishing our first issue of Dirt and we put the Beastie Boys on the cover. They were culturally relevant, interesting, and people we were inspired by. We had never done any kind of “real” interview at that level before. We found out their management company was Gold Mountain and had no idea how to get in touch.
I wrote a letter and sent my driver’s license in the envelope. “Hey, we want this interview with the Beastie Boys so you’ve got to reply because I need my license back” and it worked.
We interviewed them, shot photos, got to hang out and that was around the same time the Sonic Youth video was happening for Spike. Over the years, we got to do more with the Beastie Boys and even did the first issue of Grand Royal Magazine out of Dirt’s office. Dirt’s publisher ended up selling the title and the new publisher decided to shut it down so I ended up becoming the editor of Grand Royal.
Andy [Jenkins] had joined Girl Skateboards as their first creative director – Spike had transitioned from shooting photos to working on videos. That led to him working with Weezer, doing the ‘Sabotage’ video… He was defining a new career path.
Girl Skateboards X Beastie Boys decks featuring photography and stills from music videos directed by Spike Jonze
Do you feel vindicated that the mags you were working on, specifically Dirt with Andy and Spike, set the tone for where men’s media would go in the coming years? Even if it only lasted a few issues.
We were gutted that Homeboy was a financial disaster but everyone we shared it with thought it was cool. We were so satisfied with every issue. It was large-format and had a cool character that was missing from what was out on the newsstand.
When it tanked, Andy, Spike and I were brainstorming what to do next. We were getting a bunch of different magazines sent to the office because a disgruntled reader signed us up for a ton of subscriptions. Back then, you could check off “bill me later”. So his “fuck you” was to send us all these different magazines, charged to Wizard. Everything from National Geographic to Farmer’s Weekly.
One was Sassy, a magazine for teenage girls. It stood out because the writing was good and they had good taste in music. They weren’t about beauty tips. It was published by journalists who were living the scene how we were living it in California. Just in New York City.
Jason Lee on the cover of Dirt #2
“We were totally dejected and started thinking of potential rich people we knew who could publish it. Rocco was on that shortlist.”
I wrote to someone off the masthead telling them we liked what they were doing and sent some of our mags. Through that, we were able to pitch the idea of a guy’s version of what they were doing. Details had just launched but it was very fashion-oriented. There was nothing young or edgy about it. Spike, Andy, and I went out to New York with a presentation of what we wanted to do. The publisher basically said they weren’t interested. But if we could get it off the ground, maybe they’d buy it off us.
We were totally dejected and thinking of potential rich people who could publish it. Rocco was on that shortlist. As fate would have it, a few days after our pitch, the publisher was interviewed by The New York Times. Asked why they didn’t have a magazine for guys, like Sassy, the publisher said, “I just interviewed some staff. We have a sample issue ready to launch in the spring and we’re ready to enter this market. It’s hot.”
Jane Pratt, the editor of Sassy, called us back, set up a timeline, and off we were.
A half page Girl Skateboards ad from issue 1 of the Beastie Boys’ publication, Grand Royal featuring Rick Howard, 1993. photo: Spike Jonze. Below: full page Chocolate ad for Las Nueve Vidas De Paco from Grand Royal #2.
We have the seeds of Girl and later Chocolate established and The Beastie Boys crossover. What can you tell me about working with Girl?
From the beginning, Megan, Rick, Spike or Andy would ask me to help out with the skits, writing dialog or ideas.
When the Crailtap site started, they’d occasionally ask me to write little slogans or quips. They would end up on a shower curtain or coffee mug. Or the title of a post or some copy that ends up on a billboard. I’ve done thousands for them. It’s a fun way to stay involved with a cool company and set of friends. That’s how I’ve been in the mix.
For Bunny Hop, a few months ago I got a call from Sam Smyth telling me they wanted to do a skit for the new Chocolate video. Something fun in the up-front that tied back to the original Chocolate Tour.
I thought about who to involve to give a legacy nod. Like anything, you want to leave a lot of room for improvisation and let people not do what you wrote. [laughs]
It’s amazing that they gave you that much space before the skating. To tell a story and have fun.
I’m not really in the weeds in skateboarding anymore. Course, I know Chocolate has a lot of new riders and talent on the team and I know the impact their legacy stuff has on people.
I think Girl’s always done stuff that’s fun to them – fun to us. No one approaches it worrying what the world is going to think. They’ve always been great at putting out this feeling of camaraderie and love into everything. It’s great to be connected to that.
Bunny Hop by Chocolate Skateboards featuring an introduction scripted by Mark Lewman.
More magazine-related reading material: Michael Burnett Interview, Lightbox: Jake Johnson by Jonathan Mehring, Lightbox: Gino Iannucci by Ben Colen , Tobin Yelland Interview, Pete Thompson Interview, Steve Kane Interview