Best Street: The Muska If Vegas were taking bets on the Best Street category in

If Vegas were taking bets on the Best Street category in the 1998 TransWorld SKATEboarding Readers’ Poll Awards, you would have gotten terrible odds for Muska to win. Maybe two to one. Maybe. The fact is, 1998 saw Chad Muska rise to become the single most popular entity in skateboarding. So much so, he received an honorary “The,” thus making him simply: The Muska.

Chad won Best Street by a landslide, which shocked few of us at TransWorld, where we get a minimum ten letters a day begging us to do another Muska interview. Since the Readers’ Poll is all about what you think, not only did we set up an interview, but we let you ask the questions. We advertised on our Web site a chance to ask Chad your own question, and in five days we got over 2,000 responses. Further proof the odds were on Chad’s side.

So we sorted through the sea of e-mails and pulled out 27 gems. We eventually got a hold of Chad (no easy task), and asked him your questions. The following is a scripted interview with skateboarding’s sure thing.

What got you into skateboarding? John Luckenbill, Shrewsbury, New Jersey

Muska: When I first started seeing skateboarding I was in Arizona, and I’d seen a lot of kids skating launch ramps in my neighborhood. These kids skated this empty pool that was up the street from my house, and I started riding my bike in it and hanging out with the skaters. I used to try their boards every once in a while, then my bike got stolen, and a few of the homies hooked me up with a deck. I started riding it more and more. I started riding the pool and skating the launch ramps that were around the neighborhood. I just kept doing it and doing it. I never got another bike after thatskateboarding was my main thing. My mom and dad let me drain my pool, and build a halfpipe in my backyard, and make a little quarterpipe out front in my driveway. They always supported my skating. Once I’d started, I knew that’s what I loved to do, and I haven’t stopped since.

Who inspired you to skate, and what was your first board? Adam, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Friends from my neighborhood inspired me to skate. The more I got into it, I started looking up to certain pros. I don’t think any one person inspired me to skateboard; I think the feeling of having fun is was what inspired me. But one of the first pros I really looked up to was Randy Colvin. He was from Arizona. I remember the first board I got was a fked-up board with no graphic. But the first board I actually bought was a Neil Blenderthat one with the crazy Picasso-looking drawing on it. I remember the second board I got was a Gonz.

What’s the latest trick you’ve learned, and which trick is your favorite? Jake Beck, Boise, Idaho

I think the last trick I learned was a pop shove-it nosegrind on a rail. I don’t know if I’ve learned once since then. Oh wait, kickflip noseslide. That’s the latest trick I learned. My favorite trick is just to ollie things. Big ollies off banks, or down stairs, or off curb cuts.

Do you ride different boards for ramp skating or hills? Jim Drummund, Salt Lake City, Utah

I pretty much ride the same setup on anything. My setup is kinda diverseit’s not too big, and it’s not too small, so I can take it to a vert ramp, and I can take it to street. Some days I’ll set up a skinnier board just because I want to try something new out. But for the majority of the time, I ride the same boardmy red Muska board.

What kind of music do you make? Nick Yackle, Crystal Lake, Illinois

I’m into making a lot of instrumental hip-hop music and a lot of drum-and-bass-like jungle-film music. Some people who hear my music label it as that, but I’m into just making. You can’t really categorize it. I appreciate all kinds of music, so therefore I can appreciate making all kinds of music, too. But my heart is really into doing drum-and-bass and hip-hop music. That’s pretty much the roots of where my music comes from. I’m trying to get in using live instruments and whatever.

I heard you’re going to have a new shoe company, if so, what will it be called, when will it begin, and who will be on the team? Chris Gammarano, Saranac Lake, New York

We’re putting a lot of hard work into the new shoe company. It’s called Circa Footwear, and we’re just getting all the designs done. We’re working on the team right now, too, and I can’t really mention any names because it’s all part of business. I don’t want to jeopardize anybody’s position. I should have shoes by the end of May, and we’re hoping for them to be in stores three months later. We hope. It takes a lot of time and work to get the whole shoe thing together, so we’re just working really hard on designs and advertisements. We’re hoping to make really good shoes that fit the way I dress and what I’m down for, and that function really good for skateboarding. Like with my new shoe, I totally drew the whole thing. Me and Niko Achtipes got together, and he specked it out exactly how it should be. Then we made a few minor changes on things that I had drawn. So I’m stoked, I had a lot of input on this new shoe. I felt like I knew more of what I wanted than I knew when I was on S.

I heard you were going to be one of the characters in the new Tony Hawk PlayStation game. Have you played the game yet? Do you like it? Jamie Ruiz, Mexico City, Mexico

Whoa, kids are already asking about that and the new shoe company? Crazy! Yeah, I’m definitely stoked on the video game. It’s the new project that Activision has been working on, and I have a little character in there. It makes me laugh so hard to see myself on a video gameit’s pretty crazy. I’m super stoked on the game; I got a copy at my house. They designers at Activision just keep making it better and better, so it just keeps getting doper. So for all you little video-game heads out there, it’s going to be out soon, and you guys are going to have fun with it. Also, I think the game is rad because it gets out to people who don’t skateboard. Kids that sit around and play video games all day can play this video game and see how rad skateboarding is, and say, “Damn, maybe I really want to do that.”

Do you feel as if you’ve been exploited by the skateboard industry? Mike Tobin, no address

I feel that I have been exploited by some companies, but I’m friends with all the people at those companies that use my name and my image, so in a way, it’s my job, and that’s what I need in order to do to get my name out there and move product. So it’s definitely part of my job to do advertisements for companies, and that’s how I make a living. That’s what I have to doI promote products and my name. To some extent I’ve been exploited, but I’m not unhappy with it.

What advice would you give to skaters who want to get sponsored? Chase Gomez, Carlsbad, California

To all the kids out there that skateboard and really want to get sponsored, it’s definitely something to look forward to, dream about, and want, but don’t let it take up your whole life. You can’t let yourself forget why you skateboardbecause you have a fun time doing it, not because you want to get sponsored and get free stuff. If you worry the whole time about being sponsored, it’s going to make skateboarding not fun. So the best advice is just to keep skating, and if you’re becoming gnarlier than all the people around you, then keep doing it, and if it’s meant to happen, it’s gonna happen. People will recognize your talent if you just keep doing what you’re doing. But never let it take over your life, and don’t drop all your plans for school to do it. That’s what I did, and I just happened to get lucky and become sponsored. Have a back-up plan for your future because skateboarding only lasts so long. Don’t really even try to get sponsored, just skate. That’s the best advice I think I could give.

When people send you their sponsor-me videos, do you consider putting them on the Shorty’s team based solely on their video sections, or would you and the team need to skate with the people and get to know them? Adam, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

I try to look at as many sponsor-me videos as I can. We get a lot of them, so sometimes it’s hard to see everyone of them. If I saw a video that really impressed me, I would try to contact the kid. I definitely wouldn’t just see a video and be like, “Oh that kid’s rad, I’m gonna put him on the team.” At Shorty’s we don’t put you on just because you’re a rad skater; you’ve got to fit in with us, be able to travel with us, and get along with all the people. I don’t know how other companies work, but that’s how Shorty’s works. It’s a decision that everybody on the team makes, so you would definitely have to come out and hang with us, and make sure you fit on the team. Unless, maybe it was the gnarliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Do you know how Arto Saari got on Platinum?

TWS: I think he got on Platinum that way.

Sponsor-me video?

TWS: I’m almost positive.

Yeah? They just put his ass on? I’m not saying it can’t happen, but, most likely, we’d have to see him first. Somebody could work all week to film one trick, you know what I mean? You’ve got to see what they actually skate like in person, under pressure, because professional skateboarding is a whole different realm. You’ve got to be able to deal with photographers, contests, and all that. Some of those kids at the contest might be the raddest skaters, but they get there and they’re overwhelmed. They’re like, “Oh my god, I can’t even skate.”

Why did you leave éS? Steve Pearson, Millbrook, Alabama

It was a hard decision. It’s hard to say all the reasons, and I can’t actually say all the reasons, because I’m not 100-percent sure yet if they are true or not. Basically, I left S because I was ready to do my own thing and put my input into something new. I sent a fax out that basically said I wanted to start something new and have input on the entire company and not just the one shoe that had my name on it. I wanted to do a company the way I think it should be done.

Recently, the police in our town have started to take our boards away if we are caught skating downtown. What do you think we should do should? Should we run from them or just hand over our favorite activity? Kyle Smith, Concord, New Hampshire

That’s a hard one. You TWS can get a lawsuit from this one. “Run, kids, run!” My advice is to get a bunch of people together and try to get a place to do it. Get a crew together and get petitions signed to make a skatepark somewhere. But then again, like I said, I like to skate in the streets around my neighborhood. It’s hard to say. If you run, you automatically admit guilt. If you stay around and maybe try to talk to them the police, they might let you stay. It depends on what the police officer is all about. I wouldn’t say to actually run from the cop, because you can get a ticket, or your board taken away, or put in jail for resisting arrest. So, I would say the best advice is to get all the local skaters in your area together and try to get the petition going to get a public skatepark for free. And be a part of designing it so it’ll have stuff you guys like to skate.

Do you think public skateparks are a good or bad thing? Joe Hayden, Kansas City, Missouri

I think it’s super rad that public skateparks are getting out there, giving kids a place to skate. All the kids around the neighborhood that don’t skateboard get to see these parks and the kids skateboarding, and they see how fun and rad it is, and it makes them want to go out there and skate. So it’s definitely good for skateboarders and the whole skateboarding industry because it gets all these kids to skateboard that don’t usually.

But there is a downside. I’m a street skateboarder, and I skateboard natural things in downtown areas. Therefore, when these parks start going up, the city starts seam based solely on their video sections, or would you and the team need to skate with the people and get to know them? Adam, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

I try to look at as many sponsor-me videos as I can. We get a lot of them, so sometimes it’s hard to see everyone of them. If I saw a video that really impressed me, I would try to contact the kid. I definitely wouldn’t just see a video and be like, “Oh that kid’s rad, I’m gonna put him on the team.” At Shorty’s we don’t put you on just because you’re a rad skater; you’ve got to fit in with us, be able to travel with us, and get along with all the people. I don’t know how other companies work, but that’s how Shorty’s works. It’s a decision that everybody on the team makes, so you would definitely have to come out and hang with us, and make sure you fit on the team. Unless, maybe it was the gnarliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Do you know how Arto Saari got on Platinum?

TWS: I think he got on Platinum that way.

Sponsor-me video?

TWS: I’m almost positive.

Yeah? They just put his ass on? I’m not saying it can’t happen, but, most likely, we’d have to see him first. Somebody could work all week to film one trick, you know what I mean? You’ve got to see what they actually skate like in person, under pressure, because professional skateboarding is a whole different realm. You’ve got to be able to deal with photographers, contests, and all that. Some of those kids at the contest might be the raddest skaters, but they get there and they’re overwhelmed. They’re like, “Oh my god, I can’t even skate.”

Why did you leave éS? Steve Pearson, Millbrook, Alabama

It was a hard decision. It’s hard to say all the reasons, and I can’t actually say all the reasons, because I’m not 100-percent sure yet if they are true or not. Basically, I left S because I was ready to do my own thing and put my input into something new. I sent a fax out that basically said I wanted to start something new and have input on the entire company and not just the one shoe that had my name on it. I wanted to do a company the way I think it should be done.

Recently, the police in our town have started to take our boards away if we are caught skating downtown. What do you think we should do should? Should we run from them or just hand over our favorite activity? Kyle Smith, Concord, New Hampshire

That’s a hard one. You TWS can get a lawsuit from this one. “Run, kids, run!” My advice is to get a bunch of people together and try to get a place to do it. Get a crew together and get petitions signed to make a skatepark somewhere. But then again, like I said, I like to skate in the streets around my neighborhood. It’s hard to say. If you run, you automatically admit guilt. If you stay around and maybe try to talk to them the police, they might let you stay. It depends on what the police officer is all about. I wouldn’t say to actually run from the cop, because you can get a ticket, or your board taken away, or put in jail for resisting arrest. So, I would say the best advice is to get all the local skaters in your area together and try to get the petition going to get a public skatepark for free. And be a part of designing it so it’ll have stuff you guys like to skate.

Do you think public skateparks are a good or bad thing? Joe Hayden, Kansas City, Missouri

I think it’s super rad that public skateparks are getting out there, giving kids a place to skate. All the kids around the neighborhood that don’t skateboard get to see these parks and the kids skateboarding, and they see how fun and rad it is, and it makes them want to go out there and skate. So it’s definitely good for skateboarders and the whole skateboarding industry because it gets all these kids to skateboard that don’t usually.

But there is a downside. I’m a street skateboarder, and I skateboard natural things in downtown areas. Therefore, when these parks start going up, the city starts saying, “All right, we’ll give you a little ashtray in the corner for your skatepark, but then we’re gonna ban skateboarding on the streets, everywhere.” So there’s definitely good and bad factors. You can definitely be stoked, ’cause there’re skateparks going up all over the place, but then again, it could mean the end of street skating.

How do you think skateboarding will change in the next ten years? someone at Sonoma State University, California

I think skateboarding is just going to get gnarlier and gnarlier. Right now it’s almost to the point where you think, “Man, nothing crazier could be done.” But I just see it progressing, getting bigger and bigger, more technical, and doing more technical tricks on giant handrails and ledges. I pray that it keeps getting bigger and it doesn’t fade out like it has in the past. Ten years from now I see it being everywhere, and being a sport people recognize and a lot of people do. Skateparks will be everywhere, just like baseball fields. Kids will be skateboarding all around the world, and it’ll be an accepted thing, not just such an alienating thing like it seems to be now.

Do you think the celebrity status you’ve achieved within skateboarding has helped or hindered your skating? Nathan Vella, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Actually, I’ve been skating the same exact way ever since I started. I’ve always enjoyed doing big handrails, jumping down big gaps, and doing big stuff that people aren’t doing. I don’t think becoming pro has changed the way I skateboard at all. I mean, sometimes it makes you do things you normally wouldn’t have done, like skate something you don’t feel like that day because maybe you need an ad. If anything, my skating has progressed, but that’s because of age and years of practice and experience.

Some of my friends think you’re just another marketing success, like the Spice Girls. What do you have to say about that? Patty Hopkins, no address

Like my skating’s really not good? Like I’ve just been marketed right? I think everybody out there is entitled to an opinion. I mean, I guess I’ve become sort of successful in the skateboard world, and I’ve been marketed by lots of different people, but I feel that I’ve never been fake. These companies did nothing but market my image and me. I never changed to fit some image that I thought kids would like. I just skateboarded and did my thing, and people wanted to put me in ads and use my name, and I just agree with it. I never let them do something I didn’t want to do. I kind of just happened and kids just identify with me and what I’m doing. People can think whatever they want to think, as I’ve said, but I don’t think I’ve changed at all from the person I was five years ago. The main difference is that I’m making more money off skateboarding than I did five years ago. I don’t really understand the question.

TWS: This person is trying to say that you’re basically a fake.

So, I basically answered the question.

Did you grow up as a homie, or are you just a sellout? Al Loftin, no address

Everything I’ve ever said in interviews has been nothing but the truth. I’m not going to make up some image just to sell skateboards. I lived a pretty rough life as a kid; that’s just how it was. I’ve always been how I am. I’ve always been into music. Just because I make money at skateboarding, does that mean that I’m a sellout? I skateboard for fun, and I make money off it because I have no other way of making money. If I didn’t make money skateboarding, I don’t know what the hell I’d be doingI have no back-up plan for the future besides being involved with skateboarding and trying to do music. I don’t even know what “homie” means. What do they mean by “homie”? Do they mean “super hip-hop guy”? I’ve always been part of that. I’ve gone through different phases in my life, but I’ve always come back to the same things. If you ask any of my friends what I was like eight or nine years ago, they’d say I was the s