While a surprising number of pro skaters are managing to skate into their 40s, 50s, and even 60s, none of them have kept up the lifestyles that endeared us to them in the first place. Except maybe for Dustin Dollin.
Dustin made his name during a time when excessive drinking, “partying” (i.e. any drugs stronger than weed), and a willingness to turn any evening into a night in jail were encouraged as marketing angles. But unlike his Piss Drunx mates, all of who are more or less entirely sober nowadays, Dustin thrived under those circumstances. “Last to fall asleep, first to get up,” or something like that.
Today, Dustin lives in Paris and abides by his own form of semi-sobriety (only one beer a day), still skating sketchy drop-ins and steep banks. Chris Nieratko, who’s traveled with Dustin in the past and had segments of his show with him, originally did this interview for our Volume 2 book. But since not everyone has seen it and there’s probably never going to be a better time to focus on Dustin, considering his Baker 4 part, we decided to run it in full on the site.
Last we spoke you got thrown out of America, right?
No. I didn’t get thrown out of America. I got deported from Greece. I was on a trip in Romania and I tried to fly into Greece. I had like three days left on my Schengen Agreement, which is only 90 days or some shit. I had my dog Betty with me. They put me in jail with Betty then they flew me back to Istanbul to Canada and then Canada back to The States.
Goddamn. How long were you in jail?
Just overnight in the deportation jail with Betty. She didn’t get to pee or eat for 72 hours but she was pretty fucking stable. I obviously didn’t sleep because they didn’t tell me where they would send me, what time, how to book a connecting flight. I had to beg the dude to call somebody so I could get a connecting flight. It’s all good. Volcom hooked it up.
That’s been a thing for you for a while, playing the Visa game.
I have a Visa for America. The Schengen Agreement in Europe kind of sucks because it’s only for 90 days. I just went back to Australia to get a Visa for Europe for a year. So I have a Visa in America and Europe now.
You’re posted in Paris these days. Are you planning to be skateboarding’s Jim Morrison?
Hopefully I won’t die in a bar and have my friends take me home and put me in a bathtub…the true story. I’m living with my girl in Paris, it’s really sweet. I’ve got my Visa. She’s finishing work. We’re probably going to head back to The States and Mexico City and just cruise around a little bit.
You’ve been putting in a lot of time in Europe the last few years. What is it about the European lifestyle that you enjoy so much?
The European lifestyle is more free than America. I like in Paris you can smoke at cafes while people are eating and they don’t go, “Eww! Excuse me!” You just take beers out to the street and skate around. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten in trouble with a security guard or a police officer in Paris ever in my life. That’s pretty cool. The food’s amazing and the supermarkets are amazing to cook food at home. To me, most of Europe is what America wishes it could be. It’s actually the land of the free.
“I feel absolutely fine right now.
It’s so weird being an alcoholic for 20 years and now my body feels fine.”
I texted you earlier and you said you were at the gym. Are you on a health kick? Are you training for the Olympics?
Yeah, a little bit. I’m just trying to chill a little bit. Trying to take it easy and make sure my body’s really good. I’ve always been at the gym. I spent fucking 15 years at the gym with these fucking knee surgeries. I’ve spent just as much money being healthy as being unhealthy. With seven knee surgeries, medical bills, massages, physiotherapists and orthopedics, osteopaths. I definitely have never ever not splurged on myself being healthy including good food.
Seven knee surgeries? How does that feel now?
It’s a little achy every now and again but it seems to be doing all right as of late.
How do you feel overall right now?
I feel great. Fuckin’ A. I feel absolutely fine right now. It’s so weird being an alcoholic for 20 years and now my body feels fine.
Do you accept that you are an alcoholic?
I did since I stopped drinking for two weeks and didn’t need to go to AA or have some fucking therapy or bullshit.
How did that feel?
It’s fine. You sweat it out for three days, have the night terrors, then you’re fine. You get up earlier and figure out another way to deal with your time. I’m not saying I’m quitting for good but I’m taking a little break. It wasn’t hard. I didn’t need to cry to some group of people who did terrible things in their life. I just have a good girl around, eat good food. It’s pretty fucking easy.
Is that the longest sober stretch you’ve ever had in your life?
Yeah. I mean I still have one beer a day. I don’t quit cold turkey American style. I do it how I feel comfortable with myself.
What age did you start drinking?
I was definitely taking sips at the pub under the table at 11. I grew up in pubs. That’s why I feel so comfortable inside of them. I started drinking a little bit at 11, but then high school I started drinking every night after school. We would party in the park. I always knew the older kids so it was pretty easy to get my hands on beers.
I’m pretty much just mainly a beer drinker anyway like most Australians. I wouldn’t say it’s perpetual alcoholism. It’s a standard social way of being Australian. There’s heaps of Americans that drink all the time too, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not in the culture to drink a beer with breakfast like it can be in Australia, especially in the summertime.
You and I have been more than just a few beers in. We’ve spent a good amount of time blacked out.
Of course. I stopped drinking liquor maybe a year and a half, two years ago. I limit myself to maybe a shot every now and again. There was six years of my life where I could drink a bottle of vodka or Jaeger a day no problem. At some point I realized my brain has so much imagination without alcohol, liquor especially. If I drink liquor, paranoia kicks in because it runs in my family.
That decision was pretty easy, it was like, “I’m a fucking nightmare when I’m on liquor so I’ll just stick to beer and wine.” Then I started getting these weird allergic reactions to what I thought was wine, so I just stopped drinking wine. That wasn’t a problem either. It was simple. Everything to do with me and moderation is simple. Of course I miss beer every second of the day, but I can stop it by drinking tea.
“Waking up drunk is the best feeling in the world. It’s the best time to get tricks, in my opinion”
I’m the same way. I’m a bit of a masochist, I like to torture myself. I am of the belief that if I can’t do it, no one can do it for me.
Well I’m of the belief that I don’t get hungover because I just start again. I don’t think I’ve ever had a hangover that stopped me from getting out of bed in the day time at all, never. I’m not the kind of person that would stay in bed all day because I’m hungover. Waking up drunk is the best feeling in the world. It’s the best time to get tricks, in my opinion. You’re just so lightheaded and not caring about anything. Go out like space cadet and I’ll try anything.
Do you have any memorable hangover hammers that come to mind?
Probably all of them, especially all of them on tour. I’m always catching a free one when I’m catching a trick usually.
Let me ask you about the legendary Jaeger clip where you were taking shot after shot.
That was crazy. That was the same night I did the noseslide through double kink to fakie. We saw that rail outside of the bar in Colorado. I was like, “Fuck, this is perfect.” I just want to take a shot.
I think [Jim] Greco actually had the idea in the first place. He used to go see The Stitches play in Huntington and there was this spot with a bar and it had a double set. I think he wanted to do a shot but I don’t think he ever got around to doing it. I think it was just stuck in my head. I wanted to do something Jim wanted to do but never got around to it. I was like, “Stop the van!”
I actually had to do at least six shots before I got that one. If you see that one, I don’t actually do a shot before that try because the manager was kicking me out of the bar. We edited it so it looked like that but I definitely did take at least five or six shots before I stuck it. I don’t know, maybe they didn’t hit me quick enough yet. I think I tried to switch crook a 13 after that and I hurt my knee a bit the same night.
I think a lot of people handle alcoholism differently. I’m of the belief that if my brain can’t stop it, if I can’t control it, than it can’t be done. A lot of people do need rehab. They do need AA, but you are pretty anti and rather vocal about those things. Why is that?
I think there’s a point in alcoholism where you surround yourself with shit people. The only way to escape from them is to hide in a place where other people are battling the same disease. Of course alcoholism is a disease. Of course it kills everything in your body. In Australia we don’t really have AA. I’m sure there is places but you don’t really hear about them. It’s more, “Oh come on. Let’s go meet at a bar and talk out what you did wrong.” The thing in Australia is you have to do something seriously wrong for people to look down on you. Everyone’s a fuck up there. In America, not to generalize a whole country, but if you go to New York, everyone’s
drinking all the time.
“Sometimes the best way to get out of it instead of going to AA is to watch your own skateboard video parts to see what you’ve achieved in your life…”
Along with alcoholism and coming down off alcoholism comes paranoia, so you think you’ve done a lot more bad shit than you actually have. The problem with most people’s hangovers is what’s going through their brain. It’s ultra, everything bad they’ve ever done. They don’t think of all the good stuff they’ve ever done. Sometimes the best way to get out of it instead of going to AA is to watch your own skateboard video parts to see what you’ve achieved in your life and realize that you’re a fucking great person. I’ve never had too much of a problem with pushing away my friends with alcoholism. I’ve never really fucked anyone over too hard. I guess shit drunks are shit drunks.
With the AA thing, whatever works for people, you know? Of course I’ve said, “Alcoholics against Alcoholics Anonymous,” and I guess that kind of pissed people off. I had [Andrew] Reynolds say, “Are you serious?” I’m just saying, wouldn’t it be better to just talk to your friends instead of just hiding in this clubhouse of strangers? He was like, “Okay. It’s your opinion. But maybe take it easier on that because some people really need it.” I understand, but whatever. My opinion is my fucking opinion too. He’s always good with that.
How does that dynamic go over at Baker Boys? You’ve got a lot of guys that used to be Piss Drunx.
We still do. All the kids on Baker drink. Andrew is not pissed off about that. I’m not pissed off about that. They’re all productive. It’s when people start turning into Antwauns and getting themselves locked up in jail.
I don’t think the drinking is anywhere near where it was in the early 2000s. The drunk partying was out of control. Skateboarding was at its peak of fucking drugs. Look at trade shows now compared to the late ’90s. That shit was fucking cocaine, strippers, bars at the trade show, full on drinks. Parties for days. Now you go to a trade show and it’s squares. It’s like AA-SR! I mean, we were out of control. I’m yet to see the day where a new group of kids come up and really terrorize skateboarding the way the Piss Drunx or Baker and Warner Ave crew had.
Do you think it could happen in the skate industry again?
I don’t think they’re going to let anyone get away with what they want to do anymore. I don’t know, you see the Fucking Awesome kids, they’ve always got Hennessy and shit. I just watched that 917 video and Aiden’s drinking Jim Beam, throwing up on the floor. It’s cool that it’s still around but now that’s the cool kids, the one’s who aren’t being the squares. It’s always going to be like that in skateboarding.
Squares, sure they’re going to make a lot of money in the contest, but at the end of the day, the problem with that is that they have to keep their party habits in their own mansions. You can’t be Nyjah and do the parties he has at his house out in regular public. The poor guy has to hide in his own mansion to have parties.
Do you think the reason kids love you so much is because you’ve always been so open about that? The relatability?
Do kids love me so much?
When we were on the Vans tour through the Midwest people were bringing guitars for you to break and sign. They love you. You’ve got a certain rabid fanbase.
I’m just being exactly how I’ve been since I started basically. I didn’t change for anyone. I’ve have troubles with corporations trying to settle me down. The problem is they can’t get rid of me. I’m productive. Even if I drank a lot and partied a lot, I’m still the first one at the van ready to go. It’s when you start going missing and cause problems, when you’re late for flights and you’re just not being professional about it. I’m always at the signings. I’m fucking there.
How does it feel to be the last of the Piss Drunx that’s actually drunk?
It was kind of inevitable, wasn’t it?
Is it Piss Drunx for life, even if you’re sober?
It’s Piss Drunx for life. It’s a fairytale basically. It was definitely the funnest times of my life, that Piss Drunx era. I was only really with the whole crew for two years. When I got back to The States, everyone was sober basically. I just think that cult had a really big impact on a lot of kids’ lives. There was the fresh skaters and then there was the punk skaters. There’s thousands and thousands of PD tattoos out there and I still represent to the nines. I talk to Ali [Boulala], even after all his shit and he’s still down. It’s still a crew. Does anyone want to support drinking? No, that’s fine, but it’s still a crew.
Do you have any regrets over the years?
No, not really. I’ve been through a hell of a lot of shit for my age, with a lot of people dying, a lot of different movings and lifestyles. Basically, all the events is just how my life is and didn’t have anything to do with drinking anyway. It just had to do with…the world is a chaotic place. You can’t just sit there and think everything’s going to be perfect. But I don’t have any regrets at all.
We had this situation recently where a friend of ours died in a drunk driving accident.
Yeah, and I had that many years before with Shane [Cross] and Ali. The same shit. The thing is, drunk driving is fucking stupid. That’s why I don’t fucking drive. That’s why you always pick me up when we’re going to do shit. Drunk driving is the fucking dumbest shit ever.
Knowing Ali [Boulala], and being such good friends with him, how does one cope with that?
I would say that Ali is one of the strongest people on the planet because he didn’t kill himself after that when he wanted to. I would say you cope with it how he has. We haven’t really talked too deep about it. We haven’t really seen each other until we saw each other the other day. Ali just dealt with his demons the way he does, you know? I don’t know how Cory Kennedy is going to deal with this but I’m sure it’s very tough for him right now because him and P-Stone were such good friends.
Absolutely. Speaking of regrets, I almost killed my buddy, Noah Uman, about 15 years ago in a drunk driving wreck, so I can relate to him. My buddy is fine now but I still haven’t forgiven myself. It’s a heavy one to cope with.
If you think about how often skateboarders are on the road anyway, I’m surprised there’s not more car accidents in the first place. It’s crazy especially with how riled up the vans can get…party style and fun…how tired the drivers must get sometimes. It can happen to anybody. I don’t know if anyone’s ever done the statistics of how many people die in cars that aren’t drunk driving related. There’s that too. What are the statistics in the world? Are there more people who die from drunk driving or are there more people who just die from driving? I’m definitely not recommending anyone to drink and drive, but statistically has anyone ever figured that one out? Cars are dangerous. Take a bus.
You’ve been holed up working on a book too. What’s it about?
Exactly what we’re talking about. It’s in between a memoir and my psychopathic brain’s imagination. It’s kind of all over the place. I’ve just been typing. My girl got me a typewriter. I’ve just been typing away. Basically, when I get drunk I tell a lot of stories and I’ve had so many people tell me, “You should write a book.” Any situation they say I can relate to what’s happened in my life so there will be a lot of stories that people can relate to and laugh at.
How’s your recall as a result of being so wet on the brain?
It’s incredible. I remember so many little details. I figured that my brain would be squashed too but it turns out that I can remember shit from when I was 12 years old. That’s what the book will do, jump from different ages. It’s not going to be in chronological order because that doesn’t make any sense. It’s got to be how my brain thinks of it.
At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, what do you think your legacy will be in skateboarding?
A fucking legend, mate. Haha. Nah, I don’t know, I just did it how it’s meant to be done, I guess. Living life to its fullest. Taking advantage, especially during travels. Not staying in your hotel room playing video games or whatever the fuck those kids do. Just get out there and meet as many people as you can because it might be your last chance.
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December 12, 2019 4:54 pm
Interesting insight into the mind of Dollin. I definitely feel conflicted because I love that Piss Drunx/Baker 3 era of skate culture, but I understand it’s not sustainable nor is it healthy for the pros I was watching. Currently I think we’re moving towards a skate culture where the skaterat is the ideal promotion vehicle. No extracurriculars, just non-stop skating, instagram ready.
December 13, 2019 8:03 pm
Quote of the decade. Pretty much sums up now and the future of skateboarding
> «Currently I think we’re moving towards a skate culture where the skaterat is the ideal promotion vehicle. No extracurriculars, just non-stop skating, instagram ready»
December 12, 2019 9:53 pm
Under the ladder bitch
December 12, 2019 10:21 pm
I remember the first bust or bail man, fucking Jake loved you dude!
December 13, 2019 2:08 pm
Why does he have to be so bitter about people not drinking? Who gives a shit.
December 13, 2019 4:22 pm
Because he’s an asshole. Always has been and I’m sure he’d admit it, too. So is Nieratko.