Skirting Disaster: Duane Peters Talks

Do you remember that contest?
Very well. I had to borrow shoes. I found there was a contest at Whittier and I had already won two of them. I had to piece together a board. Got to the contest and I forgot the tennis shoes. I asked kids if any of them were size 11. A guy had Converse but one shoe had a hole in it. I found a kid with Vans and I’d rather have Converse so I just took one of the Vans. Then I got a Catholic girl pregnant. Her dad caught me under the bed. Then she had another [kid]. Her parents took care of us. We moved to different cities, bought different cars, wrecked them, blah blah, blah, I went to jail, heroin habit. I remember grabbing a magazine in the bathroom and seeing Gator on the cover in a stadium and thinking, What’s going on? There are people [watching]! I had just been in a contest with Caballero in the woods. I beat him because he fell, but I won like $300 bucks. I had just hypered my knee going off a four-story building running from the cops and…

Wait. You fell off a four-story building?
I didn’t fall. I jumped. But I thought it was the second floor. It was in a parking garage and the cops thought we were stealing car stereos but we were just doing downhill runs. I always stashed a bottle by an abandoned white station wagon that was always on the second floor. That night it wasn’t there and I put it by another white car on the fourth floor. I went down a couple of times and pulled out of the pack and waited for them to come down again. I hear everybody yelling, “Cops!” and tires screeching. Nobody knew where I was so I stayed hidden and had a couple of swigs. Then I felt guilty so I charged out being Mr. Hero. “Hey cops! Leave ’em alone!” I just remember being rushed. I ran up the ledge thinking it was the second floor. [Mimes turning, standing on a ledge and flipping the cops off.] It was the dark side of the building. I went “F—k you Cops!” and jumped. It was perfect. Then I saw that big 4 that was painted on the wall and went “Arghhh!” I landed in a dumpster. Swear to God. I could have been cut in half. But my knee was bending the other way. I buried myself in trash and started pounding my knee. It had hypered and begun blowing up. But the cops didn’t find me. I was still on Santa Cruz. I moved to Sacramento for a year and learned how to drum as rehab.

By the mid-’80s the National Skateboard Association began organizing contests again.
Yeah, Hawk’s dad put me in LA County in ’86 at a street contest. [Frank Hawk organized the N.S.A.] I was on methadone. I had screws coming up through my board to hold my feet on. I was out of my mind! It was when street style was getting huge and all I could do was a few 360s. They were shooting with a video camera and I didn’t understand how you didn’t have to wait for processing. I said, “Watch this!” I went really fast and smashed into a plant container. I wasn’t going to do good in the contest so I broke some more plants. Somebody had to pay for them, right? I wasn’t thinking about that. Then some windbreaker guy comes up and tells me knock it off. “Who says?” I asked. They pointed over to Mr. Hawk. At that time, our parents weren’t backing us. I remember seeing, way before, Mr. Hawk on the fence watching his kid. Loving his kid. We didn’t have that and I would never have admitted that back then. So I yelled, “This ain’t a place for parents! Why don’t you get a job, old man!” I smashed as many plants as I could. Next thing you know I have a herd of windbreakers after me. I run through the contest in the middle of somebody’s run. Here’s Peters running with his board and the screws in it. I jumped over the railing and threw my board into families and I’m running through them. I grabbed a kid’s board and smashed a windbreaker’s nose and that was it. I got the shit beat out of me. Lights out. I thought that was enough. Nope. Carson City jail. I was kicking methadone and there were Crips and Bloods. Then I went to LA County. It was horrific. Guys getting buttf—ked. I dove down the stairs to try and get meds. I had a fake seizure. They laughed at me. I spent 54 days in there. I got jumped in there. My money was stolen. I had a one-armed guy try to teach me to meditate. I’ve never been on methadone again. I’ve had years of drug problems and crash landed for the millionth time but I’ve never been on methadone again. I talked shit when Hawk’s father passed and it started a big thing. But that asshole in me talked … that old punk rock bullshit. Here I am talking shit on his dad and then after I do a bunch of road time and loser scenarios, I came to the conclusion that I would never have been off methadone if his dad hadn’t thrown me in jail. It’s the hardest thing to kick. That’s the only way I would have kicked that shit. I’m too weak. That was the gnarliest kick of my life. That motherf—er saved my life. Years later I was filmed for a documentary on Hawk and I looked in the camera and said, “I want to apologize for that Dad statement. I don’t know what you guys want to do with this, but that guy saved my life and I’m sorry [for talking smack] from the bottom of my heart.” You’ve got to clean up what you can. I couldn’t live with that shit. Then, when my kid died, I thought for sure Hawk would say, “How’s it feel now, Peters?” [Chess Peters died in a car accident in 2007.] That’s how sick I am. That’s the asshole I am that would think that. My kid was a rad little skater and he looked up to him. He said, “I don’t know what happened between you but he does some gnarly tricks!” I remember getting to the point where I thought, Yeah, he does! I don’t know how you twist that many times and know where the hell you’re at. I know very well that my kid would have freaked out that Tony Hawk knew his name. When Hawk made a point to say he was sorry for Chess, when he said his name, it melted my heart. This is a genuine motherf—ker who doesn’t need to say shit to me.

Do you appreciate skating in a different way now?
Yeah, because of my sobriety trip it’s totally needed because of the endorphin thing. Whatever is wrong with me needs to fix on stuff. Alcoholism … whatever ‘ism’ you want to give it. I drank too much and did way too many drugs and didn’t know when to quit. That’s one of my problems. I’m really not into over-analyzing shit—I’m working on living differently and skating is everything to that because I’m not getting high anymore. Music does it for me as an endorphin rush and maybe a bit of validation and maybe [it’s also about] the monkey in me wanting to be onstage. We talk about how we’re just caged monkeys on a rolling prison that backstage all the time. “Okay Monkeys—out! Dance! Here’s your bananas. Back in your cage!” Then you’re hyperspaced to the next show. I started being a monkey at 14 doing Rad Ramp demos. Everybody and their mother have wanted me on anti-depressants. I don’t want to be on them. To me right now, the punkest thing I can do is be present and feel all this shit. I’ve gone through so much tragedy and drama and not wanting to be on the planet for these last three years. I’ve never signed up to die like I had the past three years. I was not coming home. I’ve lost many friends, but I’ve weighed it out and there’s nothing worse than losing a child unless you lose your whole family. I had a gun in my mouth over and over. It was the darkest time. Always, at the last second, I stopped because I didn’t want to leave that legacy to my two kids I had left. When a kid passes … everybody is willing to give you advice, to say live for the kids you have. But anybody who’s lost a kid will tell you all that you think about is the one that got away. That’s all I could think about when I was in that heat of depression and anger like I’ve never known. That’s why I’m down here [in Cardiff, CA] now. I was losing my mind. I didn’t want the house on the f—kin hill anymore. That’s what I had been fighting for and thinking, That f—ker has something that I should have. All that victim shit. I got sued by an ex-girlfriend for 3.5 million dollars. I’ve never seen more than $100,000 in my bank account at one time. Ever. I had given her my ten-year’s worth of Sanford and Son goods that I had worked for being on the road ten months out of the year. But a lot has changed. It’s coming up on three years and the suicide thing is wiping away. I didn’t want to start this suicide train for my loved ones. “What did Dad do when it got really rough? He blew his brains out.” That’s always going to be in the back of their heads. That’s the ultimate selfish way out of having to feel it, when you’re lost and nobody seems to understand it. At some point you have to come around … I’m starting to come around. And the skating! I go back to that “me” that was semi-innocent in a lot of ways and wanting to experience the planet at full speed. A lot of that guy was right but he didn’t know about karma, thinking you’re going to live forever and not giving a shit about no one. At a certain point I looked at it and thought, That’s not me. I’ve got a character on stage and I’ve got a character in the pool. But those characters came really naturally. My ex-wife Corey taught me a lot. My philosophy used to be, “You’ve got to lose to win!” She’d say, “What are you talking about? Where do you come from, dude?” I thought, Really, you don’t have to lose to win?

I think we found somebody who could take on Antwuan in the tat dept. Frontside grind revert the OG way!