Don’t do drugs or you’ll never amount to anything. Unless you’re a skateboarder, then you’ll probably be surrounded by enablers with opportunities of every type to misbehave and dabble in altered states of perception and self discovery. I’m not one to condone or encourage drug use, but I’m also not one to tell you what to do with your body unless it’s affecting people I care about.
Skateboarders navigate life much like they’ve learned to navigate the streets on their skateboards, largely by trial and error. You have to test your limits to know exactly what they are, and every now and then, you have to overstep them again to make sure you can’t be pushed a little further. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. You may end up in the hospital, dead, or with no explanation as to why all the stoves burners were turned on and who pissed the couch from a standing position. Life’s a gamble, sometimes you gotta roll the dice.
Here are ten such heroes who rolled the dice and rolled away clean.
1. Dustin Dollin – Baker 3
Yes, alcohol is a drug. A montage in Dustin’s Baker 3 part makes it look as if he takes a shot of Jagermeister at a bar, walks outside, and 5050s the handrail right outside the door. That sequence of events was rearranged in editing. In a commentary Dustin reveals that he had to briefly battle with the rail, drinking six shots of Jager with a Jack and Coke first, and attracting the ire of bar security after many attempts. By the time he makes the grind and takes his reward Jager shot, he is 86’d and seemingly can longer remember what a ‘rail’ is called.
2. Tom Penny – Etnies Hi-5
Intoxicant: Psilocybin Mushrooms
It is widely rumored that Penny’s tricks on the defunct San Dieguito rail were performed whilst his brain was frying on psilocybin like a strip steak with caramelized onions. While calling shrooms a “performance enhancing drug” in an athletic sense is a bit of a stretch, the relationship between psychedelics and creativity has been extensively demonstrated. Perhaps mushrooms enhance Penny’s ability, or at least help him see what he is capable of with a new perspective? Or maybe he was just a naturally gifted absolute shroomhead? IS THIS REAL OR IS THIS REALLY REAL?
3. Lizard King – The Megaramp
Intoxicant: MDMA / Alcohol / “Passion”
Lizard “Mike Plumb” King stated in his Epicly Later’d that he had been up all night doing ecstasy and drinking at Matt Hensley’s bar, and began claiming a MegaAir™ to Pierre Luc Gagnon. PLG promptly arranged the session at Bob Burnquist’s Dreamland. Upon waking, Lizard King had to stay true to his promise, still on an ecstasy rollover and drinking hair-of-the-dog beers just to stay functional. After a vomiting some bile, the shaky and pallid passion enthusiast proceeded to frontside grab the fuck out of the 25’ gap and chug a celebratory Mickey’s on the flatbottom.
4. Jeff Phillips – Vision Jam Contest Run
Skate legend maintains that at the Vision Rock’n’Roll Jam contest in 1986, Jeff Phillips got 1st place while tripping on acid and without doing a McTwist, which was an anomaly at the time (McGill did two back to back). The Anaheim contest also featured epileptic stage lighting, a full stadium crowd, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers played on a stage to the side of the ramp. Not exactly the most chill vert session. He triumphed that day over 80’s vert luminaries such as Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi, Steve Cab, and Lance Mountain. Tony was on angel dust. Just kidding, Tony! The contest aired on ESPN and is funny to watch for a lot of reasons.
RIP to a true legend, Jeff Phillips.
5. Jake Brown – The Loop
Intoxicant: Alcohol / Australian Exuberance
Tampa Pro 2001: Jake Brown climbed the ladder of the loop roll-in having no business being up there, wearing a shirt that boasted “Avoid Hangovers, Stay Drunk”. Jake was wasted. As Dave Carnie wrote in Jake’s interview intro in Big Brother #95:
“…Jake was completely fucked up when he successfully piloted himself around the loop. He had a lot of shit in his system, but he’s all “I’m gonna try it.”
After eating brutal shit on a few attempts, Jake did the sign of the cross and became one of a scant dozen skaters to make it ever. Minutes later Peter Hewitt, then Brian Schafer got straight clobbered on the edge of the curl, a reminder of what’s really at stake when stepping to the loop.
6. Andy Roy – Tampa Pro 1997
Intoxicant: Opiate Withdrawals
At Tampa Pro 1997, Andy Roy showed up just beginning to slip into the gaping maw of an extended heroin addiction. He skated qualifiers having just run out of dope and qualified 7th, but dope-sickness was looming only hours away. Shivering and nauseous, fried from the aching withdrawals and on no sleep, Andy skated the semis and finals in the grips of sickness. Expecting to get dead last, he made a bunch of wild transfers and airs, and ultimately pulled 5th place. Then he went home and eventually bought more heroin. He good now though.
7. James Kelch – The Real Video part
The smoking of crack and weed at EMB was so widespread that they had a specific area to go imbibe called the ‘Hubba Hideout’. James “The Mayor” Kelch was no exception, and, as a prodigious smoker, he filmed much of his part for The Real Video while cracked out. As James explains in his Epicly Later’d, ‘hubba’ is just hood jargon for crack cocaine, but has now become a crux of skateboard vernacular. James even relates that the first railslide on the ledge at Hubba Hideout was done by Mike Carroll (who admitted he used to smoke it from time to time) when they were on the way back down the steps from the Hideout.
8. Jake Johnson – Slappy On Clipper / Wallride
One could venture a safe guess that 80% of the skate photos or footage you’ve seen was executed under the influence of marijuana. (This figure would be higher, but Jaime Thomas accounts for 17% of all footage in history.) These facts do not diminish the efficacy of marijuana at reducing skateboard skill: This is to say, it is harder for most people to perform while blazed as fuck. Jake tried the slappy on Clipper stoned, but came back another day for the make, perhaps stoned once more? According to Slap lore, regarding his attempts of his double-set wallride from Mindfield: he did a wallride down the first set a few times, smoked a bowl, and made the next one down both sets immediately thereafter. “Thanks weed!”
9. Dylan Rieder – Mindfield Part
Intoxicant: Pharmaceutical Pills
Dylan’s run in with prescription drugs was discussed at great length in his Epicly Later’d, with many of the interviewees suggesting that much of his Mindfield part was filmed while caught up on pills. Which drugs are never specifically clarified, but it’s not really important. Say what you will about skateboarding fashion model libertine Dylan Rieder, but he has since proved himself to be exceptionally gifted. To make up for his “lost year” Dylan buckled down and put out one of the best parts ever shortly thereafter, had great footage in Cherry, and went on to direct critically-acclaimed German skätbord érotique. The American Dream can be achieved if you work hard as hell (and you’re nice to look at).
10. Andrew Reynolds – Frontside Flip LOVE Gap
I could probably write this entire list just about Baker professionals of yesteryear and today landing tricks while fucked up – but for brevity’s sake let’s keep it to just two exemplary examples. I had always heard the story that Reynolds flew to Philly from LA just to land his trademark frontside flip down the Love Park fountain gap and caught the next plane home, but Reynolds dispelled that legend in a recent ChromeBall Incident interview:
“I was in Philly but had gone to the airport to fly home and fallen asleep. We’d been drinking that morning and I ended up missing my flight. So I had to go back to Philly and somewhere within that whole mix, I ended up doing it. There was no process or practicing, we just went to check it out and I did it real quick. That was it. You can see that I was drinking a lot when you watch the footage because of how crazy I did it.”
It says a lot about Andrew’s skating when you learn that particular frontside flip is what he considers a drunken, crazy make. Don’t do drugs, kids. But if you’re gonna do drugs, do your fuckin’ job well too.