Skateboarding has always attracted all sorts of thrill seekers and masochists. Every once in a while, though, someone comes along who needs a little more than just the satisfaction of landing handrail tricks. Bam Margera, the CKY crew, and the Jackass cast have all brought skate-adjacent stunts to the masses and inspired many to put their body on the line with or without a skateboard.
Tanner Napper is the next in a long line of skateboarding stuntmen, and he is using the San Francisco streets as his backdrop. You may have seen Tanner’s tricks on Instagram where he is gaining traction by bombing massive hills on anything but a skateboard: crutches, a TV, and a surfboard are all a part of his repertoire.
The antics are sketchy, but in the world of ABDs, everyone is working hard to stand out and beat the algorithm. In between researching new fire-breathing techniques and what object he can bolt trucks to, we chatted with Tanner to see how far he’s willing to take his stunts to make a name for himself.
Would you consider yourself more of a stuntman or skater?
I love skating because I definitely wouldn’t be here without it, but I’ve noticed recently that if I post a skate clip everyone’s like, “Oh, yeah that’s cool,” and if I post a stunt everyone’s like, “OMG that’s so sick!!” I’ve been sticking with the stunts because they’re getting better reactions.
What kind of kid were you in school?
I’ve been homeschooled my whole life. I grew up in a small town outside of Fort Worth, Texas. I was pretty sheltered. My parents didn’t like the school environment and the town the school was in was kinda shitty. A lot of crackheads and shit. My mom figured she could just teach us better than what the school system would teach us.
Were there other homeschooled kids around?
It was mainly just me and my brother and my older sister but then we would do homeschool programs. It’s like a super hardcore Christian lifestyle. All the homeschool nerds would meet up and play flag football or something. I hated that shit. They forced us to do it to be social, but I was like, “Mom I fucking hate this.” I grew up pretty much by myself in the backyard.
You tip cows and stuff growing up?
[Laughs] I’ve tried, we had these horses in our backyard that we could just jump on bareback and just see where they took us.
You ever tried the peanut butter trick?
What is that one?
You put peanut butter on your nuts and have someone lick them off.
[Laughs] I tried that with a goat.
Did it work?
They weren’t too hyped [laughs].
Were you the classic ADHD kid that was always jumping around?
Yeah, all the time. My mom told me a story about how I would jump off the bookshelf and shit. She couldn’t keep me on the ground. She has a whole scrapbook of my injuries as a kid too. I had a trampoline growing up so I pretty much couldn’t wait to just go outside and start jumping on that thing.
You live in San Francisco now? Are you working, skating, or just bumming around?
I’ve been here for like three years, and I just work when I can. I mainly do tree work and hard labor. I currently have a fractured foot so I can’t work quite as much. Just enough work to get by.
Are you getting any money through skating at the moment?
I make a little bit of money through Instagram reels, which just depends on how many views you get. On a good month, I’d make maybe $200 bucks through Instagram.
Have you considered doing TikTok or Patreon?
I got banned on TikTok. I posted a video and they flagged it as “dangerous acts” and deleted it and kicked me off. They should see what I have on Instagram [laughs]. I was never a fan of TikTok anyway. You can’t redo Vine. Vine was the sickest. I haven’t thought of Patreon.
My biggest downfall is I’m so bad with cameras and editing. I have the ideas and I can put myself out there, so I just need to hire someone to do that shit for me. The homie Shayan films most of my stuff but he’s on a massive road trip right now so it’s kind of a setback.
What’s the direction you’re trying to go with your stunts?
Definitely more of a Jackass theme. I like putting myself through bodily injuries for the pleasure of others.
Haven’t you been hurt though?
The last four things I’ve done have been with my fractured foot. I just take Tylenol and drink beer until I can’t feel it anymore [laughs].
Do you drink, smoke or take drugs before your stunts to gain courage?
Uh, I’ve dabbled with drugs, but more beer. I smoke a little bit but I don’t know, I get too much in my head so it freaks me out. I don’t really smoke anymore.
Some of the Jackass guys have had sad or questionable endings. Does that make you think differently about how you go about things?
Fuck, that’s a tough one. I’d say we’re all humans and we all have our own struggles and battles. Just try and surround yourself with good people and friends that will take care of you when they see you are going through something. We all need a little help from our friends.
Does it get hard when people want constant evolution and variety in your stunts?
Yeah, I’m already starting to get that a little bit with bombing hills over and over. That’s why I’m hyped this time with the TV hill bomb I just did, because I ate shit and everyone was like, “Finally he did something different.” In reality, everyone wants me to eat shit because it’s way funnier, so I gave the people what they wanted for once.
I’ve always been a little different with my skating. I’m always trying to find shit that is appealing to the eye. The GX crew is insane and I felt like I was never going to match up to them unless I threw a little twist on it, and then I found myself making the surfboard. After that, I just tried to find random shit I could connect trucks to and bomb with.
What happens when you run out of new ideas and different insane board setups?
I have bigger stunt ideas that aren’t involved with skateboarding, but I definitely want it to be in a bigger setting.
Like a Netflix show?
Yeah, I’m eventually trying to head in that direction for sure. I know this dude Isaac who is Steve-O’s personal assistant. He’s been mentoring me a lot. We met up and he introduced me to Steve-O and that was cool. Steve-O told me that his favorite stunt of mine was the surfboard [laughs].
Are there any other stunt people you look up to outside of Steve-O?
I was very inspired by Jackass and Evel Knievel, Travis Pastrana, the super legends. I was so sheltered in homeschool that I wasn’t even allowed to watch Jackass or anything. My mom would call it jackdonkey, cause she didn’t want to cuss. I didn’t even know about that shit till I got older but she would let me watch X-Games and Travis Pastrana.
I always wanted to be a big dirt bike rider but I could never afford it, so I just ended up sticking with skating. In the first video I put out on Facebook forever ago I was trying to jump this bush pile on a bike and ended up face-planting. I posted and heard people giving me reactions, so I was like, “Alright well this could be something.”
I’ve heard you know how to blow fireballs. How’d you learn?
I don’t remember who I first saw do it, but the first time I tried it I was with my friends I was like, “I want to breathe a fireball but I don’t know what to use. They have to use gasoline right?” So I filled up this Gatorade bottle with gasoline and went to blow a fireball. I didn’t realize gasoline has so many fumes and the fumes catch more than the gas. The fire came back and lit my whole face on fire. I burned half my face off.
I was peeling the skin off and I was telling my dad, “I fucked up.” He said if I had swallowed any of the fumes I would have seared my insides. Some lady heard about it after I did it and told me I was supposed to use rubbing alcohol. I went back and got redemption and now I come to find out people use lamp oil because rubbing alcohol leaves a numb taste in your mouth. It’s so bad. Lamp oil is thicker than water and doesn’t taste like anything. Back then I didn’t have Google so I was learning on my own [laughs].
What would the dream stunt situation be like?
I like having a crew. With the recent stuff, it’s been me, the dude Shy, and then the homie, Fiene. It’s sick that we’re a trio and everyone knows that if we’re together we will probably end up doing something. I can do the stunt and come up with the idea, but sometimes it takes a crew to make it happen.
How do you prepare for your insane hill bombs?
The hill I usually do stunts on is right by my old house so I used to bomb it every day for lunch. I know it like the back of my hand. I’m not just going out and hoping things work. For the various setups, I go into this hardware store by my old house and this dude Tom helps me put the different boards together. We measure it all out and spend hours putting the thing together. I take it out there and just pretty much rip it first T.
What was hill bombing with the TV board like?
Super wobbly. The measurements were definitely off on that one [laughs]. I was thinking it would be easy and then I got up there not thinking about the TV weighing 25 pounds. It was like I was a 300-pound person.
Do you ever worry the government is looking at your texts and thinking you might be a terrorist or suicide bomber?
[Laughs] Mmm, I’m sure they are anyway, but they’re gonna be really bored if they go through my phone logs.
Any close calls while bombing hill?
All the time [laughs]. Pretty much any time you bomb you’re asking for it. One time I was bombing at night and went through a red light and a car clipped the back of my leg.
Another time I was about to blow a red light and a car came out of nowhere. I ass-slid and kicked the side of the door with my foot and put a fat dent in her car. She put on the breaks and I just took off running. I didn’t want to deal with that.
If there were no cars in San Francisco you could bomb pretty much anything. The best was during COVID when no cars were out. We would just bomb every hill, but now there are certain hills that are impossible unless you have like 20 spotters.
Do you have any tips for people trying to get good at bombing hills? What do you do about speed wobbles?
C’mon, you gotta have some tips.
Hmm. Sit backseat and keep your front foot light. That helps with the cracks. If I start getting the wobble and I know it’s bad I just drop to my ass. It feels safer than the pain of sliding down the concrete. When I first moved here I never bombed hills. Texas is pretty flat, so moving here I was eating shit left and right. All my clothes had holes in them and my hands were always bleeding. You just keep doing it and doing it and eventually you get used to it. You get comfortable on your board.
Someone told me to ask about your tattoo that says “No Morals.” What’s the story there?
Someone dug deep on this one [laughs]. I do have a “No Morals” tattoo on the back of my arm. We were drinking at this bar taking tequila shots and this one dude had this chick he was seeing and he was like, “This other chick is hitting me up, I want to go see what’s up with her, is that fucked up?” And I was like, “I don’t know, no morals right? Fuck it.” And he was like, “NO MORALS!”
We ended up getting more wasted and bought a 12-pack and we were like, “Let’s go get tattoos!” We pulled up to the tattoo shop and me and five other people all got that tattoo on our arms. I don’t really kick it with them anymore so I just have matching tattoos with one dude I know and then four other random people.
How did you get the nickname Metal?
I got that because of my stance. I pretty much bomb standing frozen. I don’t move my hands around too much. I forget who, but one of the homies was like is that Metal Mario? I was just frozen in a little funny position. After that, I went to drop in on a roof and slammed, but everyone was like, “You really are made out of metal,” because I didn’t get broken off. Pretty much everyone around here calls me metal. I prefer that nickname because it’s pretty sick. I have it tattooed on my fingers.
Do you play the lottery?
I’ve bought a few. I was actually thinking about buying one the other day.
If you won, what would your lifestyle be like Monday through Friday?
Cocaine and strippers [laughs].
Nah, fuck, I don’t know I’m kinda low maintenance. I don’t care, I got a fuckin’ old beat car and I’m just chilling. I’d probably just pay rent and be able to go do stunts and shit around and not worry about a real job.
Would you keep skating and doing stunts?
Oh, for sure. Every day. I can’t sit still. I’m always thinking of new ideas. I have a list on my phone of shit I’m preparing to do. I can’t stop.
I’m wondering how can you get paid so you can just do this.
That’s the biggest goal. I’ve been looking for that every day.
Sometimes I wonder, am I put on this Earth to just tell stories around skateboarding? Do you think you were put here to be a stunt person? Does it not feel sort of “immature” for lack of a better word?
Eh, not really because you never know whose life you’re changing. Or maybe it’s just making someone’s day. With your interviews maybe you inspire other people to either want to do what you do or the person you interviewed inspired someone else reading it. If I make a video and it hypes people up, that makes me feel good and I hope I can do it as long as my body lets me.
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