Jocks, maybe surprisingly, have contributed a lot to skating. A jock showed Marc Johnson how to kickflip. A group of jocks inspired Mike Vallely to serve up one of skateboarding’s most brutal beatdowns. And in the case of Rob “Sluggo” Boyce, we have a guy who looks like a bicep and can rile a crowd with a single claw.
But finding a jock that skateboarders actually embrace is hard. They can’t be too jockish, and they have to bring the mania without bringing the WrestleMania. Sluggo has that rare mixture of craziness, skate gymnastics, and showmanship that just makes him fun to watch, no matter how “core” your taste in Bobby Puleo spots is.
So get pumped, motherfucker. It’s Sluggo time!
You often post shirtless pics on Instagram. As you get older and your tits begin to sag, will you keep posting?
There’s a pretty good chance. I have no apologies for that shit. Every day I do some type of exercise. Whether it’s gym, hiking, yoga, etc. The main focus is not to get hurt, and to continue to skateboard and do the things I love. If you look like this at my age you’d be posting shirtless photos too [laughs].
Do you walk around your house naked a lot?
I never wear clothes. I have a housekeeper that comes and cleans my house every Tuesday and I forgot she was coming one day. I got out of the shower and I walked down my fucking stairs and my housekeeper was there and I’m fucking butt-naked. I was like, “Fuck!” She’s this Christian-Filipino woman that probably thinks she’s going to hell now because she saw me, butt-ass-naked. She looked at me the entire day like I was Satan. So that was my morning. Par for the course.
Do you still get paid for skateboarding?
No. I don’t get paid for skateboarding anymore. I went pro in 1991 and I retired 12 years later, so in 2003. I called up World Industries and was like, “Hey guys, this is going to be my last contest. I’m no longer going to have a board.” And when you give up your board sponsor the rest just fall in line.
But I started doing film right before myself and Colin [McKay] opened up RDS Skate Supply [in 1995-96]. We started that and then we opened up Centre Skateboard Distribution [in 1997] and started distributing DC shoes and a bunch of other skateboard brands across Canada. So it was different for me as a pro because I was a stuntman and I owned a shop and a distribution, so I wasn’t dependent on my pro checks.
Colin and I were really really lucky to be in Canada. In America, all of our sponsors already went directly to shops. Being in Canada, we got to be in the middle. So all of our sponsors went through our distribution and then went to the shops. We never would have had that opportunity in the States because all the companies providing skateboard goods and manufacturers already had networks.
Do you still own part of Centre Distribution?
Yeah. Colin and I are the shareholders in Centre Distribution and Red Dragon clothing. Centre is either the biggest or one of the biggest in Canada. We’ve had that for 20 years.
How did you get into being a stuntman?
Wesley Snipes’ stunt double approached Alex Chalmers and I at a skatepark and asked if we wanted to be in a movie. It was called Future Sport, and I doubled for [the actor] Dean Cain. At the time he was Superman on TV. So we went to the stunt audition and it was a whole bunch of dudes on roller skates in a giant 16-foot bowl. Their job was to tackle Alex and me off of our skateboards as we dropped into this ramp. So for the next two hours we had ex-pro football players, ex-pro wrestlers, and ex-pro NHL players trying to take us out on roller skates with staffs. We did that for two hours and when we were still alive at the end, we got the job. After that experience, it was easy to see what I was going to do.
“Back in the ’90s I was asked to invest in this porn company called Peach Productions.”
So you kind of lucked out with stunt work being able to cover a lot of your bills and eventually becoming your career?
100%. I got really lucky. Way back when I was still riding for Real, I got offered to work on The Neverending Story III, and I worked for a week and made good money. Every day I worked I made $2,000. So five days times 2 grand, that’s $10,000.
Back then I was probably making $1,500 a month off of my sponsors and I thought I was doing fine in the ’90s. I was able to pay my rent, I had money for food and other things, and it changed skating for me once I was a stuntman in the union. Even working two or three days a month, that made it so I could enjoy skateboarding in a different way again. I wasn’t skating for an income and that changed everything. I didn’t have to worry about stuff that a lot of skaters do worry about, as far as paying their bills and things like that. So I still got to be a pro skater and not worry about the financial fallbacks of skateboarding for a living.
That phone call at the beginning of your FSU part where they tell you you’re going to skate to a Backstreet Boys song: was that real?
No, I can’t say it was real. It took a few tries to get that call recorded. I wasn’t really down for it at the time, because I didn’t know what the song was going to be, and I hadn’t seen the part yet. It turned out to be one of my favorite parts of mine, but at the time I was nervous about it.
Looking back I think it’s so rad. If you’re a purist skateboarder you might not have liked that part, but it fucking worked and I looked like I was in a fucking boyband and that’s great.
You also landed one of the first backflips in that video. Where did the backflip come from?
Well, I saw a video of a fella at the Taj Mahal skatepark in Montreal try a padless backflip over the spine. He didn’t land it, but he fucking came really close. I was already a stuntman at that point, so I found a gym that would let me drag a jump ramp to the foam pit. I learned how to do it into the foam pit, and I did it that day in three or four tries. Then I called one of the photographers and went to one of the cement parks in North Vancouver and within about five tries I had it. I was like, “What the fuck!?” I did it padless and helmetless in a cement pool. I got into that 411 opener and I was fucking stoked to get that back then. 411 was our bible, we all lived for that.
In your FSU part you were also breakdancing. Did you grow up breaking?
Yeah man, breakdancing was my life. I did gymnastics for about eight years when I started breakdancing, and my gymnastics went to shit. I breakdanced in the streets of Victoria when I was 13-14 years old. I was spinning on my head for nickels for sure. Cardboard under the linoleum. The cardboard was supposed to be a little cushion [laughs].
We breakdanced almost every day in Victoria near the inner harbor for tourists. I was 13-14 years old making $60 a day all summer long. It was crazy money for a kid and entering breakdance contests where the first prize was $1,000. A grand to a little kid is a lot of fucking money. I went into every single breakdance contest or battle I could. B-boy for life.
Did you breakdance crew have a name?
We had the sickest name in the world, we called ourselves the Floor Lords. We were the fucking Floor Lords. Battling people was fun, but there weren’t that many people around. We all knew each other. Breakdance was maybe big worldwide, but where we were breaking there were a couple of crews. My B-Boy name was Fly Boy because all the breakdance moves I did were big and in the air, like windmills and shit.
How big of a jock skater were you?
In my day, I was probably the biggest jock skater there is, me and Danny [Way]. We knew this from a young age so we just went to the gym. We “trained” and I came from a gymnastics background, I was a gymnast for 10 years, from 6 to 16. I didn’t start skating until I was 16 so I was constantly one of those kooks that they didn’t want to let in. I was one of those kids people were probably like, “Who the fuck is this kid? He’s got perfect form?” [laughs]. I was never naturally gifted at skating, but I was really good at not getting hurt when I bailed.
Who’s bigger: you, Brandon Biebel, or Weckingball?
Fuck, I was just with Biebel and I’ve never seen Weck in real life but Biebel is a big fucking boy. I always thought I was one of the bigger skaters but when I was with Biebel in Montreal, he’s fucking twice my size. Weck takes it very seriously and I like that. I like that dude. He’s got an army behind him, man.
The skaters wanted something else. They were sick of perfect pros, they wanted to start bringing us down to earth. That’s what’s lacking in the skateboarding world, personality, and that’s why everyone loves Weck. He has a strong personality and these kids can relate to him. We’re surrounded by real boring dudes right now. We need more Muskas.
“In my day, I was probably the biggest jock skater there is, me and Danny [Way].”
I got to do this TV show called “Skate,” it was a Saturday morning show back in 2002. We did an entire season of 13 episodes. We got Koston on there, Danny Way, Chris Haslam, Rick McCrank, Colin, and then Muska. When Muska came to the set, we rented a handrail like how ETN does it now. He was doing front tail fakies on a 14-stair rail and killing it, and before every shot he was going, “Fuck yeah, here we go NBC! It’s fucking going down right now. You got those cameras rolling?” The cameras have already be rolling for two minutes [laughs].
Everybody I worked with to this day remembers Muska. Koston was a big name in skateboarding but he wasn’t as animated and he wasn’t a character, he didn’t translate well on the kids’ show. But Muska was amazing.
Since you work in the movie business, have you ever had an opportunity to be in a porno?
[laugh] Yes, there has. Back in the ’90s I was asked to invest in this porn company called Peach Productions and one of the selling features to invest was, “We’ll put you in a few of the videos” [laughs]. I was married at the time and my wife was not having that. I’m really glad I didn’t invest in that company. When you’re young and you have money you might be like, “Fuck yeah, I own a porn company. We make porn!” But in retrospect what a fucking nightmare that would’ve been. I’m paying other people to fuck? What the fuck is this? We didn’t have a deep talent pool in Vancouver either. I think LA was the place to go to make some porn.
Some people might not know that you were a pro snowboarder for 8 years. Do you see any similarities between the skate and snowboard industries today?
When I was going pro there was a lot of money in snowboarding and it was brand new so everybody was throwing money at it. Sponsors were sending us to 5-star resorts, it was ridiculous. You’d go to these crazy places and you wouldn’t get a single drop of footage or a single photo because of the bad conditions. Snowboarding is more competition based nowadays.
Skateboarding could easily fall down that path, but there are surfers and snowboarders out there that get paid that don’t enter a single contest and generally, those are the most beloved guys. Just like skateboarding, there are guys that never entered Street League and never will, but they’re loved. It gives kids something to care about because if it was just contests, there’s no real following there. It’s just a contest. This is why people like the Dime Glory Challenge so much.
The Glory Challenge has come a long way.
It’s the best contest in skating, by far. If you’re not down for skateboarding and having fun you’ll get exposed at that contest. If you show up there and you don’t want to participate, all the kids will be like, “Whoa, so and so is here! But he won’t make himself look silly and he’s too cool.” Kids want to be entertained, so you can be a good skater but at this contest, the fans want more than that. Don’t be scared to put yourself out there and look silly, they’ll love you more for it.
We’re skaters and for the most part we’re a little anti-social and recluse and that’s why we skate. But when you get to that level you just have to let that go, enjoy it, and give back to the kids. You’re on stage. Dance, monkey, dance [laughs].