Jordan Taylor, The Search For The Whack Steez

Back in 2005, I wrote an essay for Scion magazine called "The Counterculture vs. Big Business." My argument, as summarized in the Toyota-owned marketing publication was that a perpetual game of cat and mouse existed between those launching fringe counterculture trends and those intending to capitalize on them. Basically, a movement like punk rock would come along and adopt something drastic—like embracing the Mohawk—then a few months or years later, somebody in business would pick up the trend, deem it safe, and try to sell it to the masses. Once the mainstream got a hold of the once rebellious trend, it was obviously no longer counter to said culture, and punk rock would have to find new way to shock the norm. This cycle repeats ad infintum.

After interviewing Jordan Taylor, I realized Jordan had developed a similar theory—except far more hands on. Unlike my 2000-words of passive mental-masturbation/dissertation he was actively putting his theory to work on the daily. Enter The Search For The Whack Steez. Between working on a solo part for Grant, Raymond, Johan and the crew at WNKD, filming for an upcoming NB "Half-length", and producing short comedy clips for his handle @shortsoverpants, Jordan has embarked on a continuous quest to constantly find the newest of the whack and the freshest of the stale. Only once that new whackness is cool, it's no longer whack, so it's on to the next thing. Make sense? The following—amidst assorted skate nerdery, East Coast sports team chatter, and the finer points of Steve Olson's wrist guard in Fulfill The Dream—represents the fruits of his mission. Stay Whack.‑Mackenzie Eisenhour
Photos By Brent O'Donnell

Thread the needle nose manual. Los Angeles, CA (click to enlarge)

What's been going on lately?
Things have been good. I live in Echo Park with my girlfriend. I was in Long Beach for a few years but it felt like I was just paying rent in Long Beach and living up here.

What's new with WKND?
Still loving it so much. It's just such a rad crew. We're all super tight. Right now, I'm working on finishing this part for WKND that is supposed to come out at the end of June. That's the classic thing to do these days, right? Solo part.

I remember reading something where you thought the full-length was basically done.
Yeah. I mean don't get me wrong, I would love to still make one or be in one. But maybe the consumer can't wait that long anymore. Even waiting for one part is too long a wait now. They want Instagram clips every day. I can feel it happening to me sometimes. It sucks. Like I'll watch an old full-length now and unless it's just a super classic video that I love, I'll catch myself going, "Damn, this is pretty long." It's crazy.

You can almost feel the social media shortening your attention span.
Exactly. It's a bummer. I don't like the feeling. But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Just another robot right? [Laughs]. But we're going to Barcelona at the end of the month to get some more clips for it.

Looking back with some time passed, can you sum up leaving Toy Machine for WKND?
The longer I've been on WKND the more it feels like a better fit. We just kind of grew apart, which is normal I guess in any type of relationship. But It had a lot to do with Kevin Barnett leaving. He was kind of my go-to guy over there. Then the timing just felt right with WKND. I was skating with all those dudes anyways. So it just made sense.

Noseslide transfer into bank. Altadena, CA. (click to enlarge)

How did you originally get on Toy Machine? What was the "Ed dressed as a woman" story?
He was dressed as a woman at this Halloween demo and I was dressed as a bolt—like a skate bolt [laughs]. I think at that point I had been on flow for a while. But I think it was that day, him dressed as a woman, and myself dressed as a bolt that he told me I was fully on.

There must be some kind of Freudian symbolism there. What's new with Austyn [Gillette]?
Dude, he's so good. I forget and then every time I skate with him I'm just like, "Fuck!" He's so incredible on a skateboard.

Grant from WKND told me you were rocking a chain wallet lately. What's up with that?
Dude, I literally got this thing a week ago.

Is the chain wallet coming back? They were super popular until people fell on them. You'll never get a better hipper.
When I was really young I had to have one. My brother and I went and got these terrible wallets—like I think they had sparkles all over them but it didn't matter because it had the chain on there. I was talking about it forever so my friend finally got me a new one for my birthday.

What's going on with @shortsoverpants?
Still plugging along. We try and do one once a week if we can. My buddy that does it with me is in film school so depending on his schedule we pretty much work on them when he has free time. It's fun though. Sometimes I feel like it helps your skating to have another outlet. It's like skating is your outlet, and then it becomes your job, and then you almost need another outlet to have something else going on. Sometimes you need a break.

Do you have a special technique for finding spots in LA?
Not really. I just drive around until I lose my mind. Get some good music going and drive until I have no idea where I am and then look for something skateable.

It seems like even with known spots, there's usually a way to skate it differently too.
Totally. I love that type of thing. Sometimes it'll just hit me like, "This or that spot, I wonder if you could… no one has really gone this way." That's the best when something clicks out of nowhere.

Divine inspiration or maybe just good skate brain? You have to think of that stuff though, right? That's almost part of your package deal—having the mind to see it.
That's honestly half of it for me. And with the way skating is going, it seems like it is going in the exact opposite direction of that somehow. It's getting more defined; like these new things where they bring a bunch of people, "Here's the spot, what do you got?" It's been like that forever but it feels like there is more of that lately.

Hippie jump. Los Angeles, CA. Photo: Alex Pires (click to enlarge)

 

I know what you mean. But I do believe that there is a flipside to it. Like the more these people try to define it all—there is a side that will rebel even harder against it.
Basically whatever is not cool right now—I'm doing that. My friend and I always talk about the "Whack Steez." We are always in search of the new Whack Steez. The Whack Steez is what's cool. It's so whack that it's cool.

It's kind of like kids tucking their shirts in or wearing the dad hats or whatever. It's like a "fuck you" whackness.
Yeah. Exactly. But then it becomes cool and all the kids do it. So it's a fine line to keep finding that actual Whack Steez [laughs].

It's only cool when it's truly whack? But once it's cool, it can't be whack anymore.
[Laughs].
Exactly. It's a fine line that keeps changing. It's never-ending—The search for the Whack Steez. I'm already behind on the chain wallet. That thing is cool again now.

I liked your stories from growing up going to San Dieguito Academy. Watching the Zero team skate the ten-stair or whatever. Did you ever hit the rail with the helmet on?
I think I Ollied the stairs in the helmet days. But I think it was right after the rail got taken out. Then they sandblasted it. You could kind of still skate the stairs after they sandblasted it but it sucked. I think it was Jeff King who kept the actual rail.

Celtics are looking good this year. You're still a big fan, right?
Yeah. I'm still a fake Boston everything fan. My dad is from the East Coast, so he brainwashed us. Except I actually like basketball so I actually like the Celtics. Go Celtics. That's kind of whack too. Being a jock is Whack Steez. I should just go full jock. I think I got that.

What's new with New Balance?
Such a rad family over there. We're all working on a video right now. Not a full-length but maybe like an extended promo video. A half-length. A few people have parts and then there is a montage. They just rented a house for the out-of-towners that is down the street from my house in Echo Park. I think it comes out in July.

Last time we talked you were saying you were a big Bam fan pre-Jackass. Like a fan of his actual skating. Were you stoked on the recent return of sorts?
I saw that one line on Instagram. I'm rooting for him. But I saw a photo of him recently and I think he has the Whack Steez completely figured out.

Purple Diablo is about as Whack Steez as you can get.
He's looking pretty whack. I love it. Keep going, Bam.

Frontside 50-50. West Palm Beach, FL. (click to enlarge)

I remember you telling me that you bought a wrist guard after seeing Steve Olson's part in Fulfill the Dream ('98).
Yeah. Even though my wrist was perfectly fine [laughs]. I thought it was like a fashion accessory. It was the first video I ever saw. So I bought the wrist guard and like a giant floppy beanie hat like his too. That's whack too. Damn.

You almost did the wrist guard for real though this year.
It got too real [laughs]. That's just lame. It's not even whack anymore.

Here are my closers. All-time Celtic?
Kevin Garnett.

All-time Encinitas skater?
Danny Dicola. He was a little older than me. But he just had this mystique about him. He'll come out with these crazy cool—some might say Whack—tricks. But I love it.

All-time 411VM segment?
Warner Ave. Crew-Day In The Life. (Best of 411VM Vol.6 '00).

Jordan’s pro part for WKND