At some point we outgrow the TV shows we loved as kids. The urge to keep up with them fades and we fill the brain space they once occupied with new crap. But we never forget them entirely. The characters and catch phrases don’t stop existing. In fact, they live and grow much like us, we just don’t notice.
So when we heard Otto Rocket, the only true skateboarding TV star, was still kicking around, we had to get in touch with him. His journey post-Rocket Power was more extreme than you’d expect, and definitely not safe for kids.
Check out the first minute of our call for a taste of present-day Rocket Boy. And then read the full interview below, unless, of course, you’re a shoobie.
Rocket Power went off the air thirteen years ago. What’s Rocket Boy been up to?
Man, I had a lot going for me. After Tony Hawk came on the show he wanted me to ride for Birdhouse. A couple hockey teams wanted me to play for them professionally. I just think when you’re that young and you have skate companies, surf companies, hockey teams, and whatever else being offered to you, you kinda lose your mind.
I remember once I was skating a contest with Nyjah and Ryan Sheckler. We were warming up and we made this pact to skate together for the rest of our lives. I haven’t seen Sheckler in years and Nyjah probably wouldn’t recognize me. But hey, when I was making the kind of money he is now, I was just as much of a shit.
With all those offers, which one did you take?
That’s the thing, I couldn’t make up my mind. I had nobody to go to. Tito, the cook at the Shore Shack, moved back to Hawaii. That was after my dad, Raymundo, died. My step-mom, Noelani, didn’t take his death well. She went off to do her own thing for a while. Tito couldn’t deal with Raymundo’s death either. Turns out he’d battled depression for years and it kicked in after Raymundo died. Tito started drinking all the time, like showing up to work at four in the afternoon shit faced, trying to fucking cook burgers. One day this kid asked him for extra fries so Tito grabbed the kid’s hand, put it in the deep frier, and held that shit down for like twenty seconds. He had to get out of there after that. It was such a mess.
Once all the adults in my life were gone my sister Reggie went away to college. Sam and Twister, my best friends, were off being normal kids so I started hanging with Twister’s brother, Lars. With the little deals I had at the time I was buying all the weed and booze for Lars and his crew, so they just pushed me to do whatever was gonna make the most money, which was hockey.
“I got into a stupid fight with this fucking shoobie and tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus. Fucked up my whole shit-mundo…”
I tried to do both hockey and skating. I was 16 and I felt like all these eyes were on me. I would play hockey during the winter then tour and film as much as possible for Birdhouse in the off-season. But in my second season in the American Hockey League I got into a stupid fight with this fucking shoobie and tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus. Fucked up my whole shit-mundo and I never played hockey again.
Did you go back to skating after the hockey injury?
Not really. I had 6-9 months of recovery, which basically meant I’d sit on the couch and get loaded on pain meds every day. I was still getting paid by Birdhouse and the San Diego Gulls, the hockey team I’d been on, but when it came time to start physical therapy I didn’t want to do it. Just more pills and piña coladas, like Tito used to drink. I came to a Gulls’ team meeting wasted and coach told me I was done.
I wasn’t too bitter because I still had Birdhouse, but I couldn’t really skate because of my injuries. I was scared. Any time I rolled up to something I thought about hurting my knee again. So instead of skating I’d show up at the spots, pop a pill, and smoke weed with Riley. Afterward I’d go to the bar with Jaws and D-Loy and get hammered. I would still get recognized on the street and I hated it. I was 18 and 19 years old having people tell me I’m washed up. That really fucked with me.
“If you’re going to boof a beer make it a lager.”
So why did you get kicked off Birdhouse?
Tony had a viewing party for this tour video and I was getting pretty litty. Then Jaws shows up, this was way before he was pro by the way, and he asked if I wanted to butt chug a beer. He handed me a Bud Light and I thought that was wack. If you’re going to boof a beer make it a lager. So I boofed a Budweiser and 20 minutes later took a nasty dump in Tony’s foam pit. He kicked me off instantly.
Did you have any other sponsors?
Reggie was running Rocket Boards, Shore Shack, and still printing her zine at that point, so I went back home to help her and ride for Rocket Boards. That didn’t last. Reggie got an offer to expand the restaurant as a chain so she took it, the shop, and the board brand with her. Everything fell apart and I didn’t give enough of a shit to try keeping it going. Pile out or burn out.
What about Twister?
Twister became a director. He made a sick documentary about his brother Lars, who while he was trying to get off heroin, won the lottery and threw a huge drug party. He had like silver platters stacked with weed, pills, coke, meth. It was insane. He had this model walking around handing out syringes filled with dope like they were motherfucking appetizers. Nuts! Anyways, within the first hour of his party, Lars OD’d. His so-called friends, myself included, danced around his body not even knowing he was dead. No one realized until like 5 p.m. the next day. But Twister’s film, Brotherly Drug, won an award. He and Reggie ended up getting married a few years later, but I wasn’t invited to the wedding.
Damn. That is truly insane.
Hey, my life’s no Disney story. It’s Nickelodeon, dude. Fucking streets. But since then I’ve reconnected with Reggie and Twister. I’m actually living on their couch now, trying to get sober.
“…my life’s no Disney story. It’s Nickelodeon, dude. Fucking streets.”
What about Sam?
Squid! I seriously don’t know. The last time I saw him was maybe five years ago, I stole his iPhone [laughs]. I owe him, but he developed an app that tells you where the nearest weed dispensary is and he’s making a shit ton from it. The app company has a skate team, but there’s no way he’d let me on.
Does anyone still call you Rocket Boy?
No, but I have it tattooed on my back. I’ll keep that shit for life.
There were rumors that Tito is your actual dad and Raymundo was technically your step-dad. Is that true?
I don’t know, man. One of the last times I saw Tito he started telling me about the time he and Raymundo had a threesome with my birth mom. I didn’t want to hear that. The way I see it, those dudes both raised me and I don’t care which one’s my real dad. They also both ended up ditching me, but it’s cool-a-roonie [laughs].
A lot of people claim you never technically landed the Super McVarial 900 because you only completed the rotation when that tennis ball hit you. Anything you want to say that?
You had to bring that shit up. OK. Yes, the tennis ball did help, but I was trying that trick for so long and was seriously getting so fucking close. Then that little fucker Tom Schaar came along, did that shit for the ‘Gram. I still hate that kid. He may have landed it without the tennis ball, but I bet he wasn’t tripping acid when he tried it like I was.
Do you keep up with skateboarding?
I went to the Birdhouse premiere because I wanted to apologize to Tony for everything. He was really cool about it. To tell you the truth I’m not really thinking about any kind of sports right now. I’ve been taking a break and it’s been great. I don’t drink or do hard drugs anymore, but I still smoke, so I’m starting a rolling paper business called “Rocket Papers.” I grow weed too. Once I start making money with that I can move off Twister and Reggie’s couch and figure out the next steps.
“I’ve even been talking with people at Netflix about possibly rebooting the show.”
So things are looking up for the Rocket Power crew?
Yeah, not to jinx myself but I’m feeling optimistic for the first time in a while. When I wake up in the morning I actually feel like getting off the couch and doing something. I was so used to having a trick or a video part or a contest be my motivation, but now I can find that same stoke in running a company or jamming out on some personal project. I’ve even been talking with people at Netflix about possibly rebooting the show. No deals inked yet, but keep an eye out. Rocket Boy isn’t burnt out yet.
Woogity woogity woogity?
Woogity woogity woogity!