Pioneer: Frankie Hill, Full Interview—Supersizing Skateboarding

Between 1986 and 1992, street skating transitioned from handstands and launch ramps to kinked rail 50-50s and tricks down double sets. Between the early gap/rail exploits of Mark Gonzales and Natas (86-88) and the ever-cited Pat Duffy part in Questionable (’92)—a key piece to the puzzle, often overlooked by present day accounts—came in the form of Powell Peralta’s Frankie Hill. His parts in Public Domain (’88), Ban This (’89), and Propaganda (’90) outright changed skateboarding. In terms of rail/gap pioneers, he effectively picked up the baton Gonz and Natas originated and single-handedly doubled the size of both. In doing so, he directly motivated people like Pat Duffy, Kris Markovich, and Jeremy Wray, who in turn then motivated Jamie Thomas, Geoff Rowley, Chad Muska, Heath Kirchart and onwards. The following are the broad strokes of his pivotal exploits in those three video parts.

This is the full interview text from Frankie Hill’s Pioneer Column in our April 2012 Issue.

Did you just get off work?
Yeah. The dental business is just a nightmare right now.

You’ve been at that same gig for a while right?
Yeah, for about 12-15 years now. You’d figure you would get to a point where you get in a groove or something. But it’s still as tedious.

That’s why they call it work.
Yeah. True. The battle just never ends.

First off, I guess Gonz had ollied the Gonz gap in ’86, but their wasn’t that much video footage of him skating stuff like that at the time. Who was influencing you to and some of the guys you skated with to charge stuff and skate gaps and rails?
I had the sequence of the Gonz ollie on my wall. I just remember looking at that and going, “Holy crap.” That was back when we were still just doing jump ramps and street plant stuff. I remember being at a street contest too and seeing Natas Kaupas skate and his whole approach was just gnarly. Mark, Natas, and Mike Vallely had a lot of skill back then that nobody else was getting close to. I tried to emulate those guys. I was super small still and I couldn’t really ollie up onto the rails yet. But we were filming for the Public Domain video, going through the UCSB campus and I saw those 11 stairs. I just thought, “This would be sick to get in the video.” Brandon Chapman looked at me like I was nuts. Just way outside my talent level. But I hucked a couple down it and somehow made it. I had no clue what was going to happen. But that right there was kind of where it started. It got me thinking. (Continued on Page 2.)

Frankie Hill, Jake Bradley, and Brandon Chapman’s part from Public Domain (’88). See the 11-stair that got Frankie started at 2:08