All those guys going big in the late ’90s and early ’00s were always exciting to watch because it felt like they could really get hurt. And they did. I’m not trying to take away from what people are doing now, but it just looks so much more athletic and calculated – everyone is just too good – they’re lacking the stupidity and recklessness that made skateboarding feel so raw and unpredictable during that time. Corey’s tricks weren’t always on lock, but even if he didn’t have the board control or consistency needed to land the trick on flat, he’d go for it down a massive gap anyways, which is why it’s always so thrilling to watch a part of his.
After 16 years of going for broke on his skateboard, Corey Duffel is in pain – a lot of it. But that doesn’t stop him from skateboarding. He’s still at it, constantly damaging his body and finding new ways to heal it. But while he’s had some truly groundbreaking parts over the last decade, we haven’t heard much from Corey over the last few years, so I felt like it was time to call him up and find out what this notorious weirdo’s been up to…
You’ve worn a lot of black and leather over the years. What’s your deal in the bedroom? Do you ever get weird with BDSM or anything ?
Nah, not that strange. I’m kind of a prude when it comes to the bedroom. Lots of leather, lot of whips, handcuffs, no gags on me, but I think the old lady likes to be gagged, likes to be choked out. Lots of black eyes, good times.
Black eyes?! That’s heavy.
Yeah, why not. Gotta get weird out there, not enough time to be normal. Missionary, so overrated.
But you gotta start with it, it’s like the ollie of sex.
Two pump chump, just on top… that’s teenage sex, gets boring real fast.
What’s the best way to spice up your sex life?
Just put a good record on and go to town! Like right now, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are playing. I’m a lot more into shoegaze and indie pop music right now, but also I love punk cause that’s where my heart lies. But I’m not gonna play Slayer and plow down my wife tonight. Although I’m sure that’d be awesome. But it’s gonna be a little different now. Probably going to be putting on Chapterhouse.
”I love punk cause that’s where my heart lies. But I’m not gonna play Slayer and plow down my wife tonight”
Did you lose your virginity young?
Not too young, 15. Making out with girls, copping titties, getting to third base with girls, you dream of that shit, but I never was as interested in actually doing it. I was a square, all I cared about was skateboarding, hanging out with a chick instead seemed like a waste of time.
Is it true that you sacked on a rail so many times you can’t produce sperm anymore?
[Laughs] I’d say that would probably be more from the tight pants. 20 years of wearing of tight black jeans probably isn’t helping them out. I have no clue if I’m sterile or not, but I’ve heard that rumor. It’s just natural birth control hopefully. If that’s the case, it’s fine by me. It beats a vasectomy.
Do you like pain ?
Well I think we all put pain on ourselves. If you’re a skater you have to be a bit masochistic. I don’t think on a skateboard I’m natural at all. I can’t come home from a session without a bloody elbow or swellbow. When i skate with friends or other pros who are naturally good, I can see the difference, they have a gift. They can go slow, they have quick pop… I don’t think i’ve ever been natural on my skateboard it’s more a mindset and a lot of determination and never wanting to give it up. Life is a struggle for everything, but it’s enjoyable to work hard at things. The chase is better than the catch sometimes.
Hows your body feeling? I heard you’re in a lot of pain from skating such big shit over the years?
I’m 31 and I’m almost always in pain, even as I talk to you. I have nerve damage in my foot and a couple torn tendons, so anytime I step or jump I get electric shooting pain, and now I think I cracked a rib skating a ditch a couple days ago. Skateboarding just hurts.
Sounds like you’re killing yourself…
I wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s what I love to do. You can’t be a pussy, can’t be a wimp if you want to ride a skateboard. That’s why so many people get out of it at a young age.
So what happens when you go to the doctor, what do they say?
They think it’s a miracle I’m walking. Doctors have said I’m not going to skate again. I’ve lost 60% of movement in my ankle, but why not skate? The mind and the body the most amazing things on this planet. I had a lot of injuries, and that’s been my biggest downfall. In ten years I’ve had ten different surgeries, 5 or 6 that were in the last five years. I can’t get a break, as soon as I feel good for three months something else will happen, like, are you kidding me? I’m not sure what I did to the world, what bad juju I’m paying back somehow.
It is terrible, but I brought it all upon myself. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Skateboarding does that. I have to pick and choose my battles these days. I can’t just jump out of my car and attack this spot. I have to think, ok, is this 12 stair really worth jumping down right now? Sitting on the couch bitching ain’t gonna make me feel better.
What are you doing to make a living, do you get paid by your sponsors?
Skateboarding is taking care of me, but it’s not like I’m living a plush life. I’m alive, I’m riding a skateboard, I still have sponsors that take care of me. They’re doing the best they can to help me out. I haven’t worked a real job my whole life. I can’t imagine me clocking in at a certain time, thats not who I am, it’s not who I’ve ever been. I’ve been very spoiled my whole life. I make some money on the side being a DJ at night spinning records at shows and things, but it has to be something I’m passionate about or else I’m not living, I’m just existing, and I can’t be that way.
After being injured for five years, skateboarding is all I want to do. I just want to put out another great video part again or put out cool covers, just want to stay relevant and let people know I still exist out there. People think I’m gone because I live in a small town. I never lived in LA, never wanted to be in a place where it would make skateboarding feel like a job. For me it never felt like a job, it’s just natural.
I put out who I am. I’m just a weird guy with anxiety. Like many other people I ride a skateboard to escape reality. I think people relate to me, and I think that’s why I continue to sell boards. I know I’m not at the same standard as what you’ll see on Hellaclips, but hell, I could probably never do any of those moves anyways.
”I put out who I am. I’m just a weird guy with anxiety. Like many other people I ride a skateboard to escape reality.”
Do you take any medicine for the anxiety like Xanax?
No, no, no. I’m totally against any kind of prescriptions, any pharmaceuticals. Depression pills, that shit is embarrassing. As human beings we all suffer from anxiety or depression, and we just have to fight it. The drug companies sleep in the same bed as the doctors – it’s terrible. I’m a straight edge dude, so I stay away from that stuff. If you even read about what the alternatives are you’d see there is natural good stuff for you out there. I take a lot of natural remedies, Bromelain, tumeric, willow bark, some hippie shit. I removed a lot of sugar from my diet. I was at the point where I was in so much pain I was ready to try anything. If cutting soda, fast food, pizza, and all that out of my diet could help even 1% its worth a try. Acupuncture helps out quite a bit too.
Do you get bummed when people bring up the racist remarks from your Big Brother interview?
Oh, absolutely! I hate everything about that interview. I’m sure it’s ruined a lot of career opportunities for me, and you can’t change the past, you can only move forward and try to make things better. I was trying to be funny as a 15 year old kid. The whole interview – it’s not even just that section of the interview – the whole interview sucks. I say homophobic stuff, and it’s horrible for anyone in this day and age to even think that way.
You were how old, 15?
I can’t make up excuses. I said stuff, but when people do bring it up, it’s usually someone that didn’t even skateboard when it came out. They saw it like 10 years after it came out. Or it’s some random kid that started skating last year that’s talking all this trash to me on Instagram. It’s like, really? You’re sitting here telling me “fuck you, you faggot ass piece of shit” on some picture? And I’m like “uh okay, you’re a 14 year old kid, you just said 10 racist things to me and that’s acceptable? I just laugh at it. That’s just the mentality of people now, that’s what they do.
If people wanna believe something about me that happened 16 years ago, if they want to think that I can’t improve or be better, then I don’t know what to say. I’m not the same little kid I was back then, and I wasn’t even that person then, which is the funny thing about it. It was just me getting on the phone with somebody and going, oh this is Big Brother Magazine, these guys love shit talking… I’m just gonna talk a whole bunch of shit and have the best interview ever. And instead of them acting as adults and being like, hey, let’s not put out this interview, he’s just a kid, he has no clue what he’s saying, they went ahead and just destroyed this kid. Now that stuff doesn’t really happen. They’re gonna pull him aside and be like, hey, lets start this over. They’re not leading people into harm anymore.
I’ve said and done a lot of dumb things, but I can’t sit there and regret it. All I can do is learn from it. There’s an Oscar Wilde quote about that, that I like. I feel like I’ve grown a lot, and I’m not the same kid I was. Some of my best friends are gay. My best friend is black. I’m married to an Asian woman. To hate someone just because of who they are, that’s lame. The stuff I was saying was nothing I was about.
Many people don’t know that your brother, Kevin, also skates and is the editor of The Berrics. Are you close with him?
I see Kevin like 2 or 3 times a year, and he’s so busy with his job, doing what he’s doing. He gets one or two days off a week, he’s a slave at the website he works at. When I hit him up he usually wants to do what he wants to do. There isn’t relationship really anymore, it kind of sucks.
I first started skating when I was 10, I was the first out of three boys to get a skateboard. We all skated together back then, my older brother, Steven, who is two years older than me, and my younger brother, Kevin who is two years younger.
But as time went on and I started getting a little better, my younger brother Kevin put down the board for a few years and I started skating with my older brother’s friends. By time Kevin started skating again a few years later, Steven and I weren’t wanting to hang out with our little brother. It’s just the age gap. My older brother and his friends took me under their wing. I was 13 and hanging out with 16 to 18 year olds kids – that’s how I got good at skating. But I didn’t wanna ask, “Can I bring my eleven year old brother too?” I wanted to impress the older guys.
It was fucked up when I think about it now. It sucks that we kind of hotdogged our own brother because of the age gap. When you’re 17, and a senior in high school, you’re not trying to hang with you’re little brother. I never really thought about it until recently, but now I wish I had let him hang out with me and my friends more often.
”I was so jaded. I had such jock mentality. I alienated myself from people unless they were 100% skateboarder.”
Skateboarding is all I’ve ever cared about, and all I cared about growing up so if you weren’t into skateboarding 110%…. It’s like back when I was in school, the jocks and everyone at school hated me and I hated school but it turns out I probably hated all of them because they didn’t care about skateboarding and punk rock. I had it backwards. I’m sure a lot of the people there wanted to be my friend but I would be like, “Fuck you, you guys don’t skate”. I was one of three kids at my school that really skated, there were a few kids who skated in middle school but eventually stopped and I was just like, “fucking losers, how do you not want to skate after school? You want to do other stuff? Fucking lame?” I was so jaded. I had such jock mentality. I alienated myself from people unless they were 100% skateboarder.
Did you hook him up with the jobs he’s had in the industry?
He’s my brother, our last name will help out a little bit. But the fact is Kevin is a great skateboarder, a valedictorian from UCLA, top of his class, 4.0 golden child.
I never got any love from Kevin through Transworld though. I thought, he’s at Transworld and he’s at The Berrics, I’m gonna be hooked up! But he knows I’m a Bay Area dude and I love Thrasher. Thrasher has always been where my heart is. He didn’t want to play favorites. When he worked as the editor at Transworld, I don’t think I had a single photo or article of any sort.
Now I’m like, motherfucker, that’s what I get for not taking him to go skate when we were kids. That’s absurd to think about, but sometimes it’s like he’s getting back at me for all those times. But I’m nothing but proud for him and what he’s doing, I’m stoked.
Sounds like you guys just gotta talk. You sound like you miss him…
Probably, communication ain’t much of a Duffel thing.
Since you skated with mostly older people growing up, did you get introduced to drugs and alcohol at an early age?
Yeah, but I was never interested in any of it. My dad was an addict and alcoholic – we’d find vials, crack pipes around the house… I’m just not into it, such a turn off, when that stuff is around it destroys families and fucks up lives. Even when I went on tour for the first time with Think at 13, seeing guys I looked up to doing cocaine on skate trips as a kid, it wasn’t for me, I wanted nothing to do with that because I grew up around it. It was heartbreaking, like, this is what the guys I look up to are doing? I don’t care about this, I just went out and skated.
”That’s the problem now, the pussification of America, a bunch of weak babies”
Was your dad abusive?
No, not towards us. We saw some shit. We’d get hit, sometimes when you’re a kid and you do dumb shit your parent has every right to hit you. And that’s the problem now, the pussification of America, a bunch of weak babies. I‘m standing on line at the grocery store and I’ve got kids poking me and grabbing my chain wallet. My parents would have slapped me. I was fucking up the most out of my brothers, but it was never a coming-home-drunk-and-beat-everyone-up rage or anything.
On a lighter note, have you ever seen a ghost before?
No, it sucks, there is nothing I want more than to experience some haunted ass shit. I was a Gothic kid. I’ve gone to slaughterhouses, so called haunted houses, hay rides, and never experienced any of it.
I did have one weird encounter. There was an old porcelain bathtub on Craigslist my wife Rachel saw and wanted, so I go to pick it up from this guy, Tom, who takes me into his warehouse. He starts telling me all these cool stories about robbing graves and he’s showing me skulls and we’re having some laughs. He takes me to his garage and shows me hot rods, some Harley’s, a lot of cool stuff, medical lockers… He tells me to open a locker and there’s a full skeleton hanging in it. He’s like, you like skulls? I got more skulls to show you. He shows me a skull of a black plague victim from Europe, then he pulls out a polar bear skull which he sells me. He just showed me more and more skeletons, full bodies, over a dozen.
So I buy the Craigslist bathtub and bring it inside the house, and my old lady is like, I don’t know how I feel about this tub, I’m getting weird vibes from it, that place it came from was so fucked up. Well that night, the first night with the tub in the house, a big mirror in the back of the house just came crashing down, no earthquake or wind or anything. Something else happened, like the TV flickered, something strange, and Rachel was like, “It’s the fucking tub.” So she suggested going to the hippie store to get sage – sage is suppose to get rid of evil spirits and we’re kind of hippies like that – so we’re saging around and I shrug it off like whatever.
Then a couple of months later Bobby Worrest comes over and goes like, “Oh, that’s the tub! I met that guy Tom, Tom is fucking insane!” I was like, yeah, he’s a fucking crazy but a really cool guy. Then he goes, “What a trip, someone committed suicide in that tub.” I’m like, what?! And Bobby tells me Tom told him someone offed themselves in that tub. It was funny to find out 6 months later. Now the bathtub sits outside next to the flowers.
Have you ever tried to summon spirits or Satan before?
No, never tried, my mom is going to hate this if she reads this, but I think religion is all a joke. If someone wants to believe something, good for them, but to me it’s just a big giant cult. The church is cool looking, I like the symbolism, but I don’t believe in any of it. Religion has ruined everything if you ask me. If someone could finally come out and say, look, there’s no evidence that proves any of this, then maybe we could actually love each other. It’s fucked up, I’m not trying to bash religion, it’s just what I think. The real demons are the U.S. government. Religion and politics should be separate… Something will happen in the next ten years maybe an economic crash, something will happen. It is what it is. That’s why I got chickens in the backyard, a vegetable garden, saving up water. Shit could hit the fan, the world could go Mad Max on us. We gotta be prepared.