TWS 10 Freaks

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Words by Sean Mortimer
(As seen in our August, 2010 issue)

The straight world considers "freak" a negative label, but skaters have a high percentage woven into our DNA. These ten celebrated skaters have awesomely higher freak proportions, and without them we'd swirl a little closer to that jock drain. In no particular order.

ED TEMPLETON
The sole skater worthy of a Brylcreem sponsorship is word-renowned for his shocking (to some) paintings and photos. Templeton is probably the only pro whose look hasn't changed in decades. The street icon popularized Toy Machine with disturbing mascots and hilarious but brutally honest ads that perfectly capture the reject side of skating. Ed's hardcore fans may technically be considered a cult and occasionally show up in full costume as his popular cartoon mascots.

Ed’s part from Toy Machine’s Welcome To Hell

CRAIG STECYK III
An internationally acclaimed artist who bronzed roadkill and helped start Thrasher. Stecyk gave that initial stir to the swill of anti-authority and black humor that is modern skate mentality. He penned what many consider skateboarding's finest articles for 70s-era Skateboarder mag, extracting skating's misfit motivations for all to see (and be motivated by). As a teenager he secretly buried a faux Russian bomb—complete with ticking timer—and returned to the crowded beach on Labor Day in a bomb-disposal uniform to disarm it, just for kicks.

TONY ALVA
Arguably, Alva possess the greatest freakin' ego in skateboarding. "I was pretty flamboyant at a young age," he admits. "I had an element of grace, but at the same time I was usually pretty cocky." This is merely annoying if one doesn't have the skills to back it up. Alva, one the greats, wasn't lacking. For the 1977 World Championships, he paid Elvis Presley's costume designer a reported $2,000 ($14,000 in today's dollars) to create a custom one-piece outfit. One nemesis called it "lingerie." He started the first skater-owned company and infused it with a crazed art department that made truly freaky ads like Alva posing with a plastic bag over his head.

From Dogtown and Z-Boys

RODNEY MULLEN
The longest-running freak show in modern skateboarding. The young Mutt invented street skating's building blocks on a desolate farm with only cows watching. Mullen skates alone twice a night: once when the sun sets and then from midnight until 3:30 a.m. He spends free time socializing with Navy SEALs, fellow RAND think tank members, Pulitzer Prize winners, the guy who created The Simpsons, etc. Quantum physics papers and bible codes make his summer reading list. He lullabies himself to sleep with Court TV or paranormal docs and slumbers with his arms crossed like a vampire and doesn't move until he wakes. Job for past three years: erasing his stance.

JIM GRECO
Not just anyone could rock makeup, hair extensions, borderline transvestite gear and … create a massive following. Greco, with his gift for slang, drops "hammers" as well as wads of cash on designer duds. He brought the catwalk to the skatepark and few possess the balls to fully follow.

Jim’s part from Baker 3

JIMMY CARLIN
Nobody does crazed ADD genius better than Carlin. His brain is like those dogs that go crazy once unleashed in dog parks. With PR-controlled skate stars droning out predictable boring talk, Carlin's hilarious observations and entertaining spaced style are sorely needed. Sample trick tip advice: "[Don't] wear boxers with holes in the front because your wiener will pop out. It's very uncomfortable." Why isn't he doing TV commentary?

GONZ
Mark Gonzales has so much carbonated freakiness bottled up within that skateboarding's available terrain couldn't contain him. Gonz utilized the streets as the world's biggest skatepark before anybody else. A standard interview may contain references to Rambo, Red Fox, Elvis, Willy Wonka, Bob Dylan, deaf kids, etc. His unique perspective forever altered skating—first handrail, kickflips on tranny, paint-penned grip, hippie jumps, etc. The artist and certified skate legend has been working on bicycle kickflips for some time.

Gonz in a scene from the movie Gummo

ANTWUAN DIXON
Nobody mixes effortless skating with effortless lunacy like Dixon. Nobody looks better in a giant taco hat either. Dixon has so much charisma that he could be pro at anything—he makes eating ice cream interesting enough to put in a video part. With near total coverage in the tat department, Antwuan is the most dedicated at permanently pointing out his unique path.

Antwuan’s part from Baker 3

MATT BEACH
Beach retreated from the celebrity circus that most charge into. While improving, he cut ties with the industry and enjoyed working at UPS and paying for boards until a current crop of sponsors hunted him down. How does this pros' pro keep skating fresh? Combining hardcore downhilling and tech tricks—30 mph kickflips anybody? Only he didn't tell anybody, he did it at night with his friends. Apropos: he's pro for Skate Mental.

Matt’s part from The Firm’s Can’t Stop

NEIL BLENDER
A king among freaks. Blender ushered in skater-drawn graphics, modern lip tricks, invented no-complies, and did a contest run consisting of tricks, spraypaint, interpretive dancing, and mock celebration. He popularized crazy trick naming (gay twist, eggplant, lien air—"Neil" backwards), and his video parts appear designed purely for his own amusement instead of showing off.

Neil’s part in Speed Freaks