We don’t see much new footage of Kerry Getz these days, but I won’t forget the first time I was introduced to him in CKY, after waiting 3 days for the Napster download to finish. “Hello, my name is Kerry Getz. I am from Lehighton, Pennsylvania and I like to stress. Fuck, fuck, fuck, I am angry with my skateboard.” To all the kids growing up at that time, it’s things like this that will forever be engrained in our brains.
Curious to know what he’s been up to recently, we got in touch with Kerry to find out how things are going for one of the longest-lasting Philly locals left. Opening up and taking a minute to look back, we discussed his career, professional skateboarding as a job, his new app Angry Skaters and Ryan Dunn’s passing.
You have one of the most perfectly popped kickflips in the biz, what’s your secret?
It’s all in the front foot. I see a lot of people use the front part of their toe to flick, but it’s more about using the entire side of your foot to flick, like where your laces start, the last last three lower loops.
Watch Jeremy Wray do it, he is a prime example. He’s got a big ass foot and he would be riding a 7.5 board, kickflipping with his foot almost right in the center of the board. If you see his shoes his laces are fucked halfway up the shoe because he’s using the entire side of his foot to do that kickflip. Andrew Reynolds does the same. Just stay on top of it at all times, jump up, flick and that board will come right up – it’s going to come up to your feet just like an ollie.
You don’t have any sponsors right now. Is most of your income from running your skateboard shop, Nocturnal?
Yeah, that and some odd jobs here and there. I’m getting by, just struggling. Most of my time is spent raising my kids. I’ve got my first born daughter who is 6 months old now, and on top of that my wife and I took in 3 of our nieces and nephews who needed a home. So we went from 0 to 4 kids in less than a year, but if we didn’t step up to taking in all 3 of the kids then they would have been split up into foster care. They deserve more, so soon we’ll be adopting them so they can grow up and have a chance for a bright future!
At this point in your career, are you looking to take on new sponsors again?
I’ve got mixed feelings about this question, but I feel my time as a pro skater has come and gone. When I was sponsored and skating became like a job, I almost couldn’t wait until it was over. Like, then I could just skate again and I could go to a skatepark and nobody would know who I was or want me to kickflip something to flat. I almost wanted it to be fun again like, oh shit I can go do these crazy pressure flips again, kind of turn into a kid once again on my skateboard.
”I feel my time as a pro skater has come and gone.”
I haven’t had that time to really appreciate that part of being unsponsored yet because every time I get back on my board it’s weeks or months apart from each other. I haven’t had a lot of fun on it lately because I compare myself to what I used to and then I’m like, shit, man, I’m relearning kickflips over pyramids or something. It almost breaks my heart, like, you know what? I’m just going to put my board to the side and go home. I just wanna have fun on my skateboard, but it’s hard when you’re almost 40, battling East Coast winters, and raising 4 kids.
Why do you think Philly local Kyle Nicholson hasn’t gotten his shine?
I really don’t understand it. If I had a brand I’d sponsor that kid in a second. He’s a good kid who skates hard anywhere he goes, always smiling, laughing, never getting pissed off at his board. Sometimes people say he has a weird style and dresses crazy, but if he does that then fucking get him a fucking clothing sponsor! Put the dude on, give him a chance. Take him on a trip because when you do a demo, that dude will skate better than your whole entire team, and all those kids will remember the name Kyle Nicholson. He just hasn’t had that shot yet.
Let’s talk about the year 2000, that was kinda a big year for you, wasn’t it?
Yeah, in 2000 I won Tampa Pro, and then in 2001 I won X-games. People were calling me and the sponsors were rolling in. It was non-stop.
I got invited on the Tony Hawk Boom Boom Huck Jam Tour which was rad because we’d show up and there’d be like thousands and thousands of people there. It was the closest thing to being a rockstar that I’ve experienced. Riding around in a $250,000 RV with leather couches with people like Dave Mirra and Tony Hawk and the ESPN crew. There were big beds in the back and we’d be gambling insane amounts of money on blackjack in between tour stops. I saw dudes win $8,000 – $10,000 bucks in that RV.
I did two of those and then did the secret skatepark tour which was awesome because we’d show up and no one would know we were coming. There’d be like no one there and then within an hour there’d be hundreds of people. Everything was just falling into place then and life couldn’t get any better… It was like the highlight of my life and it came so quickly.
”One quarter I got like $47,000 in royalties, just one check. It was fucking unbelievable!”
Who was your biggest sponsor during that time? How much were you making a month?
DVS for sure. I was making around $7000 a month to ride for DVS, and then on top of that I was getting shoe royalties for my pro shoe, which I got every quarter. They got pretty gigantic. Like one quarter I got like $47,000 in royalties, just one check. It was fucking unbelievable! And then the next quarter it was only like $15,000, but on top of getting those monthly checks. It was like you wanna go to Atlantic City and spend $500 gambling? You wanna spend $400 at the bar? Yeah, lets do it.
That shoe on DVS really hit a home run I think because it had that pointy toe that makes kickflips look perfect and the colors were all cool, plus it was when I was all over the mags and winning contests too. Habitat was probably my second biggest paycheck because our board sales were just killing it. But once 9/11 hit, sales just dropped off, it was crazy.
Just think of this, from a board sponsor you used to get a set salary of around $4000 a month, and you know that that $4000 is showing no matter what. But then you start getting checks for like $8000 – $10,000 because of the added board royalties, like, holy shit, my board sales are selling that much? And then boom, after 9/11, it went right down and you just made your $4000 a month. That’s where it stayed from then on, you never really saw much over $4000 again. It was just really crazy how short lived it was.
I was 25, 26 years old and it all happened literally within 2 years – from making $300 dollars a month to $1500 a month, straight to like $20,000 a month. Back then, you got noticed very quickly with a video part, companies were calling and you win contests and then boom, it’s your year. But to hold on to that for many many years, it’s tough. My advice to every skateboarder is to save every single bit of money that you can, because you never know when that dark cloud is gonna come over and rip it all away.
During that time what were some of the more extravagant purchases you made?
People that know me, know how much passion I have for cars. I bought a 2001 Porsche 911 turbo in 2003, and that was an $85,000 car. At the same time I had an Escalade that had all kinds of parts on it too, it was all blacked out, lowered, 22 inch rims. If I get a car, I have to make it mine. I don’t care if it’s a Honda Civic or an Escalade, I have to lower it, get rims for it, put different bumpers on it… make it my creation, not the dealerships. And then I’d get to the point where it looks exactly like I want it, then I’ll sell it and lose all the money I put into it. Over just a few years I went through like 4 Porches, 7 BMW’s, 2 Range Rovers, a Mercedes E55, and so many more. I had a different car every 6 months.
And, you know, I would remind myself, I wasn’t going to be making this much money forever, but I always wanted to live as fully as I could. I always worked so hard in skating, throwing myself down stairs, gaps and rails every single day, filming as much as I could. So buying and fixing up cars was kind of be my outlet away from all of that. I wasn’t just living the dream through skateboarding, I was living the dream through my car enthusiasm and my hobbies. Cars were my drug of choice.
”Cars were my drug of choice.”
So late 90’s to about 2005 was your peak in skateboarding?
Yeah, up until 2005 I put out a solid 7 years of video parts and skated contests. Then in 2006 I kind of took a little break. I moved to Jersey, bought a 4-wheeler, and got really into quads. It was kind of like being a kid again, except now I could afford almost anything that I wanted when I was a kid. I got this $8000 quad and then modified it to make it race ready and as safe as possible cause I was jumping it a shit ton. I’d go out into these pits in the woods and ask the construction dudes with their big bulldozers to make these step-up jumps for me, and I’d hit these ramps at like 50 miles an hour in 5th gear. I had literally become this motocross guy in this short year.
I even filmed a quad and skate part at Bam’s house that made it into into this one video called Carpe Diem. There’s this one jump I did in the video where the gap was at least 65 feet. This kid I was with slammed on it twice, even broke his neck one time. I actually crashed on a smaller jump and hit my head super hard. It was a good thing I crashed on the smaller one because if it woulda been the big one, I woulda been done. So I put all that on hold. I sold my bike because I was getting too brave, but from 2006 to 2007, my life was all about quads.
What’s up with your friend Bam [Margera] these days? Why doesn’t he skate again?
You know, when you don’t skate for a while, it’s tough. Every skateboarder is hard on themselves… You think, “I used to able to do this, why can’t I do this trick?” Bam never had the time to skate 3 – 4 times a week, not since Jackass. I’m going through it now too. I’m off the board for like 3 months, then when I finally do skate, I feel so shaky, so weird, so heavy. I know what he’s going through as a skateboarder.
All those people running their mouths to Bam like, “you don’t even skate anymore,” you didn’t live this guys life, and you don’t know him personally, so why talk shit? And it sucks because that gets to your head – it gets to Bam’s head, and he’s like, “oh man, I should skate again. All these people are saying I should skate.” Of course he wants to, but those people also don’t know that he has like these crazy bunions on the inside of his feet, and he needs surgery on them so he can skate again. They don’t know these certain details about a person. But there’s endless amounts of shit Bam has done and he barely even graduated high school. He’s shined hard for many years.
Think of how much he benefitted a brand like Element. Bam was selling hundreds of thousands of boards… he’s the one who helped make Element financially stable enough to put so more pros on their team and give so many skaters a career with that brand. And he’s just one dude. No one else can say that. I don’t even know if Dyrdek at the height of his fame could even touch as many boards as Bam sold.
”I don’t even know if Dyrdek at the height of his fame could even touch as many boards as Bam sold.”
You’ve appeared on some of his movies & shows over the years, do you get any back end royalties from MTV or Bam?
Yeah, I was in Jackass 3.5. I didn’t make it into the actual movie, but I made it into the credits, so I still get like a small check every few months for a couple of bucks, but it isn’t anything like, “Woo Hoo! I’m paying my bills for the next three months.” Nothing like that. Just some extra money to hit up McDonald’s or buy a 12 pack.
What about CKY?
I never took a dime from Bam from any of that stuff. That was his creation and his videos, and I just wanted to be a part of that because I thought it was rad.
Do you think your career was changed for the better when CKY came out?
100%. Instead of me just being this skateboarder from this little town it created a character for me. I’d go to demos and kids actually wanted me to get pissed and throw my board around! CKY videos had a big impact on me and my skating career because they got bigger than skating. You know, if a jock walks past a TV screen and sees skating, it’s whatever.. but if he sees some dude smack another dude, it’s probably going to draw him in. All the random stuff in CKY – Ferraris being banged up, people being pushed around in shopping carts… It kind of brought everyones eyes to the whole Jackass thing and It didn’t take long until it spiraled out of control and sold all over the world. It was very cool.
Did Ryan Dunn’s passing hit you harder because you’ve driven with him and driven recklessly before?
Dunn’s death was one of the worst times. He was such an amazing guy and it was much too early for him, man. He had such a great life ahead of him and was so passionate about so many things. He was a huge car enthusiast, way beyond me. He was building his own parts and had this body shop and was actually professionally racing. I just wish he kept his racing off the streets and kept it on the track.
”He died in a Porsche and I had a Porsche…
I always think, that could have been me.”
His passing always brings me back to this one crazy night when I was filming for my friend’s street racing video. I had my Porshe 911 at the time and I just got reckless. I wanted to get some cool clips and I went 120MPH through this bridge and when I came out it was pouring rain. It was so heavy, to the point where the windshield wipers weren’t doing anything. There was a car right in front of me, and I had like half a second to figure out what I was going to do to not crash right into him.
I swerved to the left and ended up just clipping his mirror. His car was fine, it was like a 1989 Honda Accord, but he chased me down and tried calling the cops. I talked with him, everyone was fine, no one got hurt, it was just that I just couldn’t slow down. But that moment could have changed my life. That was in 2007 and Dunn died 2011. He died in a Porsche and I had a Porsche… I always think, that could have been me.
A GLIMPSE INTO THE BAKER HAS A DEATHWISH II WORLD PREMIERE
16 long years later, the second coming of Baker Has a Deathwish has arrived...
REMINISCING THROUGH THE YEARS WITH STATIC ALUMNI
We talked to 12 skaters featured in the long-standing Static series about their memories and thoughts on the videos.
SKATEBOARDING AND SOCCER WITH NEW YORK CITY’S CHINATOWN SOCCER CLUB
Meet the club of skaters, artists and notable locals that have casually played soccer together for the last 20 years.
A CHAT WITH LUDVIG HAKANSSON, THE OLDEST SOUL IN SKATEBOARDING
The man loves to read Nietzche, skates in some expensive vintage gear, and paints in his own neoclassical-meets-abstract-expressionist style.
THE EVOLUTION OF… NYC’S PYRAMID LEDGES
We collected stories from the only ledge spot made out of tiny mini ledges.