By Mackenzie Eisenhour
“Ask Jesus to forgive your sins always. Pray always. Get to know the Lord. Study and obey the Bible. Quit sinnin’. Escape Hell.”
-Lennie Kirk, Alien Workshop’s Timecode, 1997
In mainstream sports like basketball, dying your hair, having a nose ring, and dressing in drag on occasion à– la Dennis Rodman might qualify you as “weird.” In mainstream charades like Hollywood, jumping on Oprah’s couch and sullying the field of psychiatry à– la Tom Cruise will do the trick. Well, welcome to skateboarding, where it’s fair to say our participants tend to raise the bar by a few notches-into a dimension most normal folks would want to see locked up in a straitjacket and tossed in a padded room, and that’s not even taking into consideration one of our craziest skaters of days past, Lennie Kirk-perhaps our most perplexing enigma to date.
I’ve searched high and low for the complete story on him, and these bizarre fragments amount to all I could compile. When he first set foot on the scene during the early 90s, he was but a young North Carolina ripper with a hell of a switch back tail and a lust for the Californian skateboard dream. Yet, even early on, after rooming with Kelly Bird, John Drake, and Rob Dyrdek in San Diego, he was described by one of his roommates in his TransWorld Check Out as “straight-up bipolar.”
As Lennie Kirk’s story plotline thickened with his move to San Francisco, the theme of “bipolar” is probably the only way to explain his bizarre switch from the AK-47 earring-sporting, corn-rowed, thug-life practitioner who hits the blunt before his opening line in his Wheels Of Fortune (411VM 10), to the Bible-thumping preacher he appears as in Timecode a few years later.
As legend has it, Lennie was left completely blind for nearly two hours after the dumpster slam in the beginning of his Timecode part. After regaining sight in the hospital, Lennie ripped out his I.V. and bolted. It’s hard to match the reckless style and overall craziness he brought to skateboarding. And it should be noted that the skating in his part is truly amazing to watch. His switch backside five-0 down Hubba Hideout and switch backside 180 nosegrind were ridiculous for their times, and the downhill, crazy leg contortion, full speed lines are insane. What’s interesting about Lennie’s Timecode part is that almost all of his footage was filmed before he began touting Jesus, so the intermittent cuts of him dressed in a suit, donning sunglasses, and reading passages from the Bible throughout make it that much weirder to associate the “new” Lennie with the guy on screen 50-50ing a huge double-kink rail in braided hair and rolled-up pants.
As rumor has it, not long after Lennie’s blinding dumpster slam, he was bombing a hill in S.F., got cut off by a bus which turned right in front of him and ran over his stomach. He walked away from the incident completely uninjured, with some believing this miraculous event alone was responsible for his radical transformation to preacher of the Lord. From there, the story gets even hazier, with a rumor of him being arrested for demanding all on board an airplane bound for South America embrace Jesus or the plane would crash in 2000, and a story of him robbing a taxi in S.F. at gunpoint a few years later.
Lennie went on to ride for a few other companies such as Cyclone in 2001 and the Christian company Manna Skateboards in 2002. While I was unable to locate his current whereabouts and current state, I’d like to give Lennie Kirk a pound for being one of the ingredients over the years that makes skateboarding so much more exiting and colorful than your average team sport, bland old hobby, or Sunday lawn bowling.-Mackenzie Eisenhour
By Mackenzie Eisenhour