Fred Smith III, a.k.a. “The Scamateur”
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far less based on what kind of shoes you had your name on, was the 80s and a team run and named after the Dogtown Z-Boy hell-raiser Tony Alva. The late-80s Alva Skateboards posse inspired fear at most professional events because many of them wore black leather jackets, brought kegs of beer, and didn’t rock pink spandex like some of the other more fashion-minded pros at the time.
Within this team of Alva skaters, which included guys like Dave Duncan, Eddie Reategui, Bill Danforth, Craig Johnson, John Gibson, Chris Cook, Jim Murphy, John Thomas, and Jef Hartsel, was a dude by the name of Fred Smith III. Of all those guys on the pro team, Fred Smith III’s model, called “The Loud One,” often outsold all the rest. The only problem was, unlike the pro riders on the team with boards out, Fred Smith III was only an amateur.
According to Alva himself, “Fred Smith was a good vert skater, but he never actually turned pro. We used to call him the ‘Scamateur.’ He was making like 10,000 dollars a month, and he wouldn’t even have to enter contests or do all this other sh-t the pros had to do. The mini version of his board, the ‘Punk Size,’ was outselling the Caballero minis.”
Obviously, Fred Smith was not complaining. “I think I’m the only guy ever to have a top-selling board out as an amateur. Everybody was like, ‘You gotta turn pro.’ I was just like, ‘Why? Where are the f-king skateboard police? Come arrest me.’ I was probably 26 years old, making 100 to 130 grand a year, and I was a f-king amateur.”
Of course, this well-known fact didn’t always play well with some of the other legitimate professional teamriders. As Fred explains, “I would pick up a 400- or 500-dollar dinner on tour here and there. I was one of the bigger board sellers and I wasn’t afraid to flaunt it around a bit. I think it ate some of them up a little.” Either way, it’s doubtful any am today would turn down six digits.
In the punk-rock spirit of the team, Fred didn’t save a dime of his earnings. “My whole take was just that it was f-king great times. I might have saved a little more money if I had a chance, but it was full skating and full partying. On the East Coast, punk rock was survival.”
Fred currently runs a tattoo parlor in Newport, Rhode Island and looks back on his unique circumstance with a smile: “Whatever. We sold boards, we had a good time, and f-k everybody. It was great.”-Mackenzie Eisenhour