Welcome back to the devil’s playground, Jenkem readers! We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled shenanigans this week to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of our favorite skate videos of all time, Toy Machine’s “Welcome To Hell.”
It’s been said that nostalgia runs on a twenty-year cycle (which may in part explain our current fetishization of grainy VHS footage and parking lot demos with portable ramps) but let’s not use that to detract from how truly remarkable the video releases of 1996 were for today’s skateboarding. Now, before you dive into the footage, let’s take a moment to remember and historicize the mid-90s era for what it’s worth. Skateboarding popularity was on the upswing. The X-Games premiered on television in 1995, and it was starting to look like being a career skateboarder was a viable profession. Stylistically, the early-90s Goofy Boy phase of tiny wheels, huge clothes, and too-tech ledge variations had finally passed into memory, and, by 1996, an emphasis on speed and style came back into play. Technicality had never been smoother than in Girl’s video “Mouse” or World Industries/Blind/101’s “Trilogy,” and nothing had ever been gnarlier than the Jamie Thomas directed epic “Welcome to Hell.”
We could write a million words about what this video meant and means to skateboarding, but instead of just waxing philosophically about how powerful Mike Maldonado’s ollie over that wall is, or publishing a long and unnecessary thinkpiece about how progressive Elissa Steamer’s inclusion was, or doing a list of best ‘fits and tricks from the vid (JT’s sweatband 5050 one-foot would get a nod), we wanted to give y’all a little something new to celebrate something so old. We got to talking with our friend Josh Stewart (the man behind Theories of Atlantis), and he surprised us with a couple of never-before-seen tapes he filmed during the Summer tour leading up to the release of the Toy video. It’s filled with great skating from legendary pros at their prime and makes us wish we could macarena our way straight back in time to ’96.
Wet your appetite by checking out part 1 of the raw tour tapes above. And come back to us to see part 2 tomorrow. (We might even have a few interviews with the legends responsible for this video later this week – so stay tuned!)