20 Questions – Alex Chalmers

20 Questions

Alex Chalmers

As tough as skateboarders are generally portrayed to be, skateboarding itself is surprisingly filled with quite a few little children. Children meaning those who complain with every little faulty spot. Children meaning those who throw massive temper tantrums when they can’t get their trick. Children meaning those who can’t rip tranny. Children meaning those who like to appease those around them by not speaking the real truth. With that said, Alex Chalmers is quite the opposite—a man who truly seems to carry himself with disregard for what others think about him. If you want to know, Alex will tell you. And now that I know that, I really wish I could have sat down with Alex for a full-fledged interview, but until then, twenty questions will just have to do.

1. What did you think when you first heard Johnny Rotten was going to MC the Flip video?

I wasn’t told he was hosting the video ’til a couple of weeks before it was out. I didn’t even know I was going to be in the video or that they had filmed an intro for my part. I listened to The Sex Pistols, so it was a cool thing to have a rock legend work with a skate company. There must have been some sort of personal connection with the (Flip) owners being from England, and I’m sure they paid him well. I thought that he handled it well. I still don’t know what my intro is supposed to mean. “They” took care of that.

2. You held out for Flip—or for a legitimate board sponsor—for years before getting on. Did you ever just think of throwing in the towel and settling for a local or smaller company? What made you hold out?

I wanted to ride for a good company that stood out. I wasn’t thinking about only getting on Flip. I talked to a few other companies at the same time. I remember talking to Rodney Mullen about getting on Blind, and the owners of Maple really wanted me to ride for them. They flew up to Vancouver and hung out for a week. I got some boards from New Deal and some stuff from Mic-E Reyes. Steve Benson and Ed Dominick from Maple were super rad guys that were down for me to work with them, and they came to party, hang out, and skate to prove it.

In the end I went out for dinner with Jeremy Fox (Flip owner) at my first Tampa Am weekend in ’98. We talked about me getting boards from them. I ended up top ten at the contest, so Jeremy and I met up again at the next trade show and he took me on as a teamrider. I also have to thank Sasha Steinhorst for pushing me to travel and skate around the world with him when he was running the Etnies program a few years ago. Sasha was in close with Fox and (Ian) Deacon so he was backin’ me riding for Flip as well. Smaller Canadian companies were never an option for me. I held out for four years and was riding boards that my shop sponsor or Sluggo would give me.

3. Which came first, the hair or the headband?

The hair was the original, but it all started out as a beard for last year’s NHL All Star skate-hockey game with Mike V. and Dave Carnie. I grew a big bushy beard to show some camaraderie with my usual opponent, Dave Carnie. Together “The Beardos” beat Mike V.’s team eight to three. Thanks to Mike for hooking that weekend up. I came home from the All Star game and immediately got rid of the beard, but not the hair. It’s been untouched by scissors or clippers since my return from Florida which makes it thirteen months now. The headband was a gift from David Mailman, the organizer of the Marseilles contest and my Quik Europe promotions manager. The headband was meant to simply keep the hair out of my eyes during my runs at this year’s Bowlriders. I was stoked, because on my way through the parking lot to my first heats, he drives by and jumps out of his car from doing a million things to make the contest happen and he still went out of his way to go get a headband for me, because he thought I would look like Bjorn Borg, the Swedi tennis pro from the 70s. I wore it on the Hawk tour this year in the States, and I would throw these little fake temper tantrums, so I got a lot of John McEnroe comments. I used to play tennis and I have a wicked double-handed backhand.

4. What’s more telling on the body, being set on fire or being shot as a human cannonball into the front of a truck?

I haven’t been injured badly from any stunts. I wouldn’t say that any stunts I’ve done are as telling on the body as a rough day skating. I’ve been hurt while doing a skate stunt job, but it was from being run into by another skater during a choreographed run for Futuresport. He was supposed to carve low and I was going to go high, but we collided and his mega-huge stunt board/hoverboard slammed right into my ankle. That’s the only time I’ve been remotely injured.

Before you do a stunt there are a few telling moments on your brain. You could compare it to butterflies in your stomach before a contest run, but it’s a little more expensive than a 200-dollar entry fee. You have to get your stunts done in as few tries as possible, because there are up to 100 people on the set being paid way too much to hang around, whether you need them for the stunt or not. You can’t waste a production’s time with multiple attempts—if you take too many tries, you won’t work for long.

5. You’ve plugged Coke in almost every interview in the past. So are you sponsored by Coke yet?

No, I am not sponsored by Coke. I don’t really make a conscious effort to promote Coke—I just drink boxes of the stuff all day, every day. It really came to a head in the Flip video, but that was just “them” grasping for some way to portray me to the public so they can sell a personality. I didn’t have anything to do with the decisions to grab a frame of me drinking a can of Coke and using it as an ad. I didn’t choose my first two graphics of the crushed can and the old-school bottle—they just showed up in the Fed Ex boxes. I don’t mind the connection and the fact that at demos kids bring me cans of Coke. Who knows where it may lead? Something might come of it.

6. What do you drink when the Coke runs out?

Canada Dry ginger ale, Snapple, good old water. I like milk, but only two percent.

7. Are the girls in Slam City Uncensored your acquaintances or Renee Renee’s?

The girls that we hired to host the Slam City Uncensored video answered an ad that my business partner put in the local paper. We interviewed and filmed a dozen or so girls and asked them to get topless so we could use some shots in the interview section of the DVD. We paid them all for the initial interviews and told them we would get back to them if we wanted to hire them to host the weekend. The two we chose, Jaime Koeppe and Alexandra, seemed to fit the criteria for our needs. They looked good in tight clothes and were personable enough to talk to dirtbags, pro skaters, and other girls spontaneously. That was the key—it was all filmed spur of the moment. We didn’t have a shooting schedule or scripts. We just got four friends to film whatever was going down at the contest and put a camera guy and a mic with the girls for the weekend. We didn’t know these girls at all before hiring them, but we heard that Jaime used to date Blake The Blade, the kickboxer from the RDS video. I think we made the right choice with those two girls, because since then Jaime has won Miss Molson Indy, and she also won the WWE Divas contest. I guess that’s big with wrestling fans. Alexandra is doing test shots for Playboy or something like that, so they’re both good-looking girls. They were fun to hang with as well.

8. Why is Canada better than America?

Less people, more land. See Bowling For Columbine.

9. What do Canadians like more, drinking beer or playing hockey?

Both are very popular with all races and creeds in Canada, but I would say that I personally like watching hockey while drinking beer. Playing hockey is something that I only did on the street in front of my parents’ house. I didn’t play ice hockey until I was 26 on the Tony Hawk tour when they set us up to play against a bunch of eleven and twelve year olds. I don’t drink much beer nowadays—it makes you fat and drunk. I drive a lot, so I can’t be drunk all the time, and I eat enough already, so I don’t need help with the getting fat part.

10. Which pays more, being a professional skateboarder or being a professional stuntman?

Hands down being a stuntman pays much more. You can’t compare the two. Skating is not about making money; stunts are what enabled me to live a skater’s lifestyle all this time without having to worry about selling a board or a shoe. I’d only have to work 100 days a year doing stunts to make as much as I would make in a year from my endorsements. That’s more than two and a half times more lucrative, if you look at it as an income standpoint. Movie and television productions spend more money in one or two days than entire skate companies’ budgets for a year.

11. Where is your part in Really Sorry?

As it says on the box of the DVD, Rune and Alex are only featured in the Sorry portion of the DVD. I’ve been hearing that there may be some sort of hidden Easter egg on the DVD with secret footage of Rune and me. I sent in about three minutes of footage, but when it came down to it “they” were not happy with the way it was filmed and decided that it would be better of I didn’t use it in the DVD at all. I went through the same thing with the first video. “They” weren’t going to put me in, because my footage was shot by Renee Renee and it “doesn’t do you justice.” I spent the whole summer asking for a filmer, and nothing was done about it. I suspect that they wanted to sell a “just street” video. It was really about PJ (Ladd) joining the team. They were talking about postponing the release again, but once the tape with PJ’s footage showed up around the deadline, that was all they needed to go ahead with the DVD. Makes sense if you think about it, and I get to give my footage to some other project. Maybe Digital? I like those videos. Not allowed to give footage to 411 anymore.

12. Who’s got the best part in Really Sorry?

Mark Appleyard.

13. Why bother learning 540—360 body varial—flips in the skatepark when you can go fast and already know how to stalefish over the entire park?

Well, you just do whatever comes natural to you that day. Some days things work out, others you can’t even ollie or carve. Just understand that you have to go with what you’re feeling that day and hope that if it’s not working out that day maybe it will tomorrow. Some people are just always “on,” though, and make skating everything look easy.

14. What does a pro skateboarder owe to the average kid?

Pro skaters should simply remember that no matter how annoying at one point or another, you may have been that little kid.

15. And what doesn’t the average kid know about skating a wide board?

I don’t think that the average kid can or should relate to riding a slightly bigger board. It has to do with effort and stability. I go pretty fast sometimes and wouldn’t be as comfortable on a little board as I am on the size that I ride now. A long wheelbase gets me going faster, quicker. I have size ten and a half feet. Most kids have smaller feet than that, so they need a smaller board. Kids are surprised when you play them in a game of skate and you do all these flip tricks with a big boat—they can’t believe it. I tell them it makes your ankles stronger, and there’s more board to land on. Flip doesn’t offer my board for sale in the size that I ride. Everywhere I go people ask about how they can get a big board like the one I ride, and all I can say, “Sorry these are made special for may that I personally like watching hockey while drinking beer. Playing hockey is something that I only did on the street in front of my parents’ house. I didn’t play ice hockey until I was 26 on the Tony Hawk tour when they set us up to play against a bunch of eleven and twelve year olds. I don’t drink much beer nowadays—it makes you fat and drunk. I drive a lot, so I can’t be drunk all the time, and I eat enough already, so I don’t need help with the getting fat part.

10. Which pays more, being a professional skateboarder or being a professional stuntman?

Hands down being a stuntman pays much more. You can’t compare the two. Skating is not about making money; stunts are what enabled me to live a skater’s lifestyle all this time without having to worry about selling a board or a shoe. I’d only have to work 100 days a year doing stunts to make as much as I would make in a year from my endorsements. That’s more than two and a half times more lucrative, if you look at it as an income standpoint. Movie and television productions spend more money in one or two days than entire skate companies’ budgets for a year.

11. Where is your part in Really Sorry?

As it says on the box of the DVD, Rune and Alex are only featured in the Sorry portion of the DVD. I’ve been hearing that there may be some sort of hidden Easter egg on the DVD with secret footage of Rune and me. I sent in about three minutes of footage, but when it came down to it “they” were not happy with the way it was filmed and decided that it would be better of I didn’t use it in the DVD at all. I went through the same thing with the first video. “They” weren’t going to put me in, because my footage was shot by Renee Renee and it “doesn’t do you justice.” I spent the whole summer asking for a filmer, and nothing was done about it. I suspect that they wanted to sell a “just street” video. It was really about PJ (Ladd) joining the team. They were talking about postponing the release again, but once the tape with PJ’s footage showed up around the deadline, that was all they needed to go ahead with the DVD. Makes sense if you think about it, and I get to give my footage to some other project. Maybe Digital? I like those videos. Not allowed to give footage to 411 anymore.

12. Who’s got the best part in Really Sorry?

Mark Appleyard.

13. Why bother learning 540—360 body varial—flips in the skatepark when you can go fast and already know how to stalefish over the entire park?

Well, you just do whatever comes natural to you that day. Some days things work out, others you can’t even ollie or carve. Just understand that you have to go with what you’re feeling that day and hope that if it’s not working out that day maybe it will tomorrow. Some people are just always “on,” though, and make skating everything look easy.

14. What does a pro skateboarder owe to the average kid?

Pro skaters should simply remember that no matter how annoying at one point or another, you may have been that little kid.

15. And what doesn’t the average kid know about skating a wide board?

I don’t think that the average kid can or should relate to riding a slightly bigger board. It has to do with effort and stability. I go pretty fast sometimes and wouldn’t be as comfortable on a little board as I am on the size that I ride now. A long wheelbase gets me going faster, quicker. I have size ten and a half feet. Most kids have smaller feet than that, so they need a smaller board. Kids are surprised when you play them in a game of skate and you do all these flip tricks with a big boat—they can’t believe it. I tell them it makes your ankles stronger, and there’s more board to land on. Flip doesn’t offer my board for sale in the size that I ride. Everywhere I go people ask about how they can get a big board like the one I ride, and all I can say, “Sorry these are made special for me by the guys at Flip.” I can’t sell them, so I want all the big-board riders to write in to Flip and tell them to sell my board in two sizes, because I’ve tried to get them to do that for a year now.

16. What precedes the best feelings you get from skateboarding?

Travel is what does that most at this point in my life. When I get around a crew of new skaters to go on tour with, and we get to skate new stuff for a few weeks, that’s what precedes the best feeling I get from skating. There is so much stuff out there that I haven’t skated yet. I’m looking forward to putting my new U.S. visa to good use. I want to spend more time in Arizona and some time in Oregon as well.

17. What’s the difference between a beginner snowboarder and a pro snowboarder?

A couple of days.

18. When you can do all the same things as snowboarders on your skateboard, and considering you live in such close proximity to so many, what do you think of them?

Just like skaters—there’re many different kinds of snowboarders, and I’ve met them all. I like snowboarding and most of the snowboarders I know are good guys that are fun to hang with. I grew up on the tree line of three local mountains and skied since I was four, so snowboarding came naturally. You used to have to get certified on one mountain and prove that you could stop and turn and get on a chair without falling before you could go to the other mountains and ride. I’ve always found snowboarding to be ten times easier than skateboarding. You’re strapped in and on snow. You can become a better snowboarder faster than you can become a good skateboarder. Most pro snowshreds I know are aware of this and accept it. But I know a lot of good snowboarders who are talented skaters as well—Devun Walsh, JP Walker, Kurt Wastel (Van’s older brother). There’re lots of snowboarders who could’ve been or could be good sponsored skaters. I have respect for many aspects of snowboarding, especially backcountry riders. You just can’t avoid skateboarding’s influence on snowboarding, and I was doing both at a young age, so it’s only natural that I have a bit of a snowboard style. I like going big.

19. Is it true that kids who go to private school are better transition skaters?

I had the fortune of being sent to a private school right out of elementary school because my older brother screwed up in public school, so my parents didn’t even give me the chance to try a regular high school. I was the only real skater at my school and stood out because of it. I don’t know if having gone to private school made me a better transition skater. I think that it has something to do with the terrain I had available to ride when I was growing up. I remember reading that Matt Hensley was sent to military school, so I didn’t feel bad about having to go to a simple private school. One good thing is that I got my PE credit for sending in a video of me skating every term, just like Tony Hawk and

Kevin Staab did when they were young—that was cool. It wasn’t a boarding school, so I would get to go home every day. I do remember playing rugby against some other private schools and being so jealous because they had ramps and stuff to skate on campus. One school, on Vancouver Island, had an eleven-foot vert ramp.

Funny thing how I played rugby against these other schools and then in ’98 at Tampa this Chilean kid comes up to me and tells me that he went to school for a year on Vancouver Island. Ends up we played rugby against each other once or twice that year and then we end up skating against each other at an am contest in Tampa eight years later. That kid ripped hard at everything and to this day is a good all-around skater. That kid was Danny Fuenzalida.

20. When it comes down to it, who’s got your back, the agents or the directors?

My experiences, as a stunt guy not as a skater, have been that an agent will do nothing but take money fromm you. As a stunt guy, no agent can get me a stunt job, only my experience and reputation can win me that job. In the end, it’s up to the stunt coordinator to choose who gets the job, no agents are involved at all. No amount of promotion on someone else’s part can guarantee the stunt job to me. The directors I’ve connected with the most are the ones who have my back. The thing is that it’s truly the producers who have all the power. A producer pays for everything and has the real last say. This only applies to stunt work. If you want to be an actor or do commercials, you need an agent. For skateboarding, I try to do all my own business, because nobody has your back in this industry but yourself. Take accounting in school, kids. Be in control of your own financial situation. It’ll help you later on in life.

y the guys at Flip.” I can’t sell them, so I want all the big-board riders to write in to Flip and tell them to sell my board in two sizes, because I’ve tried to get them to do that for a year now.

16. What precedes the best feelings you get from skateboarding?

Travel is what does that most at this point in my life. When I get around a crew of new skaters to go on tour with, and we get to skate new stuff for a few weeks, that’s what precedes the best feeling I get from skating. There is so much stuff out there that I haven’t skated yet. I’m looking forward to putting my new U.S. visa to good use. I want to spend more time in Arizona and some time in Oregon as well.

17. What’s the difference between a beginner snowboarder and a pro snowboarder?

A couple of days.

18. When you can do all the same things as snowboarders on your skateboard, and considering you live in such close proximity to so many, what do you think of them?

Just like skaters—there’re many different kinds of snowboarders, and I’ve met them all. I like snowboarding and most of the snowboarders I know are good guys that are fun to hang with. I grew up on the tree line of three local mountains and skied since I was four, so snowboarding came naturally. You used to have to get certified on one mountain and prove that you could stop and turn and get on a chair without falling before you could go to the other mountains and ride. I’ve always found snowboarding to be ten times easier than skateboarding. You’re strapped in and on snow. You can become a better snowboarder faster than you can become a good skateboarder. Most pro snowshreds I know are aware of this and accept it. But I know a lot of good snowboarders who are talented skaters as well—Devun Walsh, JP Walker, Kurt Wastel (Van’s older brother). There’re lots of snowboarders who could’ve been or could be good sponsored skaters. I have respect for many aspects of snowboarding, especially backcountry riders. You just can’t avoid skateboarding’s influence on snowboarding, and I was doing both at a young age, so it’s only natural that I have a bit of a snowboard style. I like going big.

19. Is it true that kids who go to private school are better transition skaters?

I had the fortune of being sent to a private school right out of elementary school because my older brother screwed up in public school, so my parents didn’t even give me the chance to try a regular high school. I was the only real skater at my school and stood out because of it. I don’t know if having gone to private school made me a better transition skater. I think that it has something to do with the terrain I had available to ride when I was growing up. I remember reading that Matt Hensley was sent to military school, so I didn’t feel bad about having to go to a simple private school. One good thing is that I got my PE credit for sending in a video of me skating every term, just like Tony Hawk and

Kevin Staab did when they were young—that was cool. It wasn’t a boarding school, so I would get to go home every day. I do remember playing rugby against some other private schools and being so jealous because they had ramps and stuff to skate on campus. One school, on Vancouver Island, had an eleven-foot vert ramp.

Funny thing how I played rugby against these other schools and then in ’98 at Tampa this Chilean kid comes up to me and tells me that he went to school for a year on Vancouver Island. Ends up we played rugby against each other once or twice that year and then we end up skating against each other at an am contest in Tampa eight years later. That kid ripped hard at everything and to this day is a good all-around skater. That kid was Danny Fuenzalida.

20. When it comes down to it, who’s got your back, the agents or the directors?

My experiences, as a stunt guy not as a skater, have been that an agent will do nothing but take money from you. As a stunt guy, no agent can get me a stunt job, only my experience and reputation can win me that job. In the end, it’s up to the stunt coordinator to choose who gets the job, no agents are involved at all. No amount of promotion on someone else’s part can guarantee the stunt job to me. The directors I’ve connected with the most are the ones who have my back. The thing is that it’s truly the producers who have all the power. A producer pays for everything and has the real last say. This only applies to stunt work. If you want to be an actor or do commercials, you need an agent. For skateboarding, I try to do all my own business, because nobody has your back in this industry but yourself. Take accounting in school, kids. Be in control of your own financial situation. It’ll help you later on in life.

ney from you. As a stunt guy, no agent can get me a stunt job, only my experience and reputation can win me that job. In the end, it’s up to the stunt coordinator to choose who gets the job, no agents are involved at all. No amount of promotion on someone else’s part can guarantee the stunt job to me. The directors I’ve connected with the most are the ones who have my back. The thing is that it’s truly the producers who have all the power. A producer pays for everything and has the real last say. This only applies to stunt work. If you want to be an actor or do commercials, you need an agent. For skateboarding, I try to do all my own business, because nobody has your back in this industry but yourself. Take accounting in school, kids. Be in control of your own financial situation. It’ll help you later on in life.

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