Chris Cole Spotlight

A true Renaissance man is in our midst. To skateboarders worldwide, the name Chris Cole has become synonymous with the boundary-pushing brilliance of today’s tidal wave of so-called amateurs. Cole, along with a slew of other youth featured in this issue, are scaring the shit out of many an established pro–threatening to wash into the ranks of signature-shoe-and endorsement-deal nirvana, and snap the vertebrae of those who write off such inevitabilities.

Few people (pros or otherwise) know, however, of Cole’s many secret and equally successful lives outside skateboarding:

• A highly endowed spiritual healer, Chris Cole has been practicing his gift in Sydney, Australia since 1981, often traveling abroad to teach people how to act as mediums for channeling energy so that they might teach others to heal themselves.

• Founder or cofounder of numerous software companies since the early 80s, Cole has most recently been involved in painstaking I.T. research, developing applications that, among other things, use the Internet as a platform to advance virtual communities.

• A North Carolina Libertarian and ordained priest of a minority religion called Asatru, Cole is currently running for a spot on the Charlotte city council where he would support the privatization of nongovernment functions while adamantly opposing any new tax increases.

• Drafted just eighth (seventieth overall) in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Cole is a second-year wide receiver for the Denver Broncos. Known for his speed and athletic capabilities, he averages a little over fourteen yards per catch, and occasionally makes appearances on special teams.

With a laundry list of accomplishments and successes such as these, skateboarding should count its blessings. Now that someone of Chris Cole’s aptitudes has aimed his Midas touch toward progressing the technical and burly nature of the world’s greatest

activity–skateboarding–we can be sure that our humble clique will soon rise to a status worthy of all its diverse and talented participants.

Thank you and good night.

Aren’t you pro already?

Nope.

You’re not?

Uh-uh.

When’s that going to happen?

I don’t know. I talked to Rodney (Mullen) about it, and he talked to Marc Johnson. Whenever I talk to Marc Johnson, neither of us bring it up. We’re having a showdown–except I’m the nervous one and he probably just doesn’t care.

I heard from a couple people that you turned pro already.

Yeah, I don’t know.

I guess that makes it all right that you’re getting an interview in the Am Issue.

There’s something about having an am interview that expires when you go pro. You can’t really look at that stuff anymore because it’s expired (laughs). Or it’s like, yeah, you’re getting an interview, but it’s because you’re am and that’s it (laughs). So that’s kinda lame (laughs).

But I guess Mark (Appleyard) had that one. I kinda want it to be like Mark’s because he had such good photos and it was just like am-to-pro–he was am, but went pro as that came out.

That’ll probably be how this goes, don’t you think?

I hope.

Doesn’t amateur just mean you don’t get paid?

Kind of. Nowadays it’s kind of weird because a lot of ams do (get paid).

Are you getting enough to survive?

I don’t really have my own place or anything, so yeah, it’s pretty easy to get by. I usually spend my money on really stupid things–candy and stuff. I buy a lot of candy.

McDonald’s?

No. I don’t eat McDonald’s, I eat Gummi worms, which I’m eating right now.

I think a lot of people go pro strictly for money. Which isn’t always bad, like if somebody’s all, “Surprise, you’re having a kid.” And you’re like, “Dude, I need money.” But a lot of it has to do with your attitude and views on skateboarding, and how you deal with being a pro. A lot changes from am to pro. Like right now I can go to a skatepark and somebody’ll come up and say, “Hey, are you pro?” And I’ll be like, “No, I’m not.” Then they’ll turn around to their friends and say, “He’s not pro, guys,” and just walk away like it’s not cool. You’re cool if you have your name on a board.

Am and pro are sort of separate, but the separation kind of suggests that there’s some kind of level of skill going on or some kind of competition happening at the higher levels. Do you think the labels “amateur” and “pro” are still appropriate for skateboarding?

I don’t know. It’s been working pretty good so far. When I was a kid, I didn’t think about being a pro or anything, I just thought about getting sponsored, like, “That dude’s sponsored. That’s amazing.” I never took it far enough to think about being pro. Like remember the movie Rad? Cru Jones? He needed a corporate sponsor and it was just so sick. Now it seems like everybody’s sponsored. You can go down the street and see a kid skating in front of his house–he’s sponsored, he fully has stickers all over his board, he’s wearing the shirt (laughs).

You’ve been referred to as sort of an outsider when it comes to the theater of high-profile skateboarding. Why do you think that is?

I just see myself as me. Skateboarding is very, very important, but being a person–being a human being–is more important than that. I have to be me before I’m a skateboarder. I don’t think I can be a great professional skateboarder if I’m not a great person before that.

Langhorn, Pennsylvania is a suburb?

Yeah, it’s between Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey, but it’s on the Pennsylvania side.

Do you feel like you’re a big part of the Philly scene, or that the scene there has had an effect on how you skate and live, or are you more a product of living out in the cuts?

As far as a person, I’m a suburb dude. I don’t think I could live in a city–I just don’t like it. I’ve always liked suburbs–busy suburbs, not farms. The only inclination I have to being a part of the city is when I go to a demo–kids pinpoint that they’ve seen coverage of me from Philadelphia. As far as (people) thinking that I’m a part of this scene, I doubt it.

But I used to take the train there when I was eleven. We’d take the train down to Love Park–that was when it was legal to skate there. We’d skate there all day. The people were really cool to me and my friends. I remember TransWorld had this thing a long time ago about Love Park. We would go up there and see all the people who we saw in the magazine–Stevie Williams, Matt Reason, Ricky Oyola, and guys like that.

You looked up to those guys.

Yeah, very much so.

Were you going to FDR from the beginning, too?

Actually, yeah. All they used to have there was a pyramid, a wall, and a ledge and we used to go and skate that, too.

But you’ve skated a lot of transitions, too, right?

Well, the weather’s not so great here, you know, ’cause it’s on the East Coast. So winter and spring, we’re in the park. I used to have a friend who lived right next to the skatepark–right down the street. We’d be there at least once a week. My mom used to take me to Cheapskates, too.

If I had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning and I had to skip school, she’d have to take off work, too. Afterward, she’d drive me up to Cheapskates, which was a 45-minute drive. She would sit there and read a book for like three hours while I skated. That was when I was really young.

Did you ever feel like you had trouble being accepted by other skaters or skateboard companies when you were looking for sponsors?

Kind of, maybe. I don’t really think it was where I was from too much. It helped me, actually. When we used to film, we filmed for sponsor-me videos. That was the thing. We would always be filming for a sponsor-me video. I had like twenty of those things–different ones. We would film every day, at least a trick a day. If I didn’t hear back from a company, I thought, “I better make a better sponsor-me video. I better start doing harder things.” I guess it helped me in a way.

I’m stoked now. I didn’t want to be one of those dudes where they’re like, “Here’s a new face.” Nowadays it looks like everyone’s just looking for the new dude. It’s more on a marketing scale than anything. “He has a great name, it’s a new face, and we can promote this dude. We can make him into the next Muska.” I’m stoked I had to work for what I got.

A few years back, there was an infamous letter distributed to sponsors by a now-prominent vert skater claiming greatness and falling just short of demanding support and respect from companies. It kind of had the opposite effect. What was your approach to getting sponsors attention early on?

I always wanted to send in sponsor-me videos, but every time I talked to someone, they’d always tell me they got sponsored because somebody saw them skate. I was always holding out because I wanted really good sponsor. I never wanted to skate for something that was under par. I didn’t want to skate for a lame company and then move myself up. So I held out and held out. My friends had to help me out a whole bunch. I had no money. I was the super-poor kid–I had no money at all. If they had an extra dollar, they’d always buy me a drink. If they had an old board, I’d always ride it–no matter what it was. Things like that.

My first board-company sponsor was from around here–a dude I met named Brian Mace. He was the coolest–he’d help me. Brian didn’t have a humongous demand for his product and millions of dollars, but he’d shell out what he could. That was Alliance. Directly from there, I went to World (Industries). Before World, I got flowed from Toy Machine for a little bit, then I went to World, and then after that I went to enjoi.

At some point, someone took you aside and gave you some advice on how to conduct yourself, how to present yourself, along with a bit of guidance on how to get things going in the right direction. Who was that?

Jamie Thomas.

Where did that take place?

At the Tampa Am contest. It was afterward at the hotel. He just said, “Hey, you should stop by later.” He said, “Stop by,” and it wasn’t like, “Yeah, you know, I’m not gonna do that. I’m not gonna stop by.” I knew to ask, “Well, when should I go down there?” I went to his hotel and it was like a three-hour drilling of what was wrong with me.

Shit.

Yeah, three hours of it. I was like, “Man, this sucks.” But it was him caring. He was saying it because he wanted to help. He kept on saying that. I was like, “Man, this is terrible. What’s with this?” And he was like, “Obviously, I care or else I wouldn’t say it. It’s next to the skatepark–right down the street. We’d be there at least once a week. My mom used to take me to Cheapskates, too.

If I had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning and I had to skip school, she’d have to take off work, too. Afterward, she’d drive me up to Cheapskates, which was a 45-minute drive. She would sit there and read a book for like three hours while I skated. That was when I was really young.

Did you ever feel like you had trouble being accepted by other skaters or skateboard companies when you were looking for sponsors?

Kind of, maybe. I don’t really think it was where I was from too much. It helped me, actually. When we used to film, we filmed for sponsor-me videos. That was the thing. We would always be filming for a sponsor-me video. I had like twenty of those things–different ones. We would film every day, at least a trick a day. If I didn’t hear back from a company, I thought, “I better make a better sponsor-me video. I better start doing harder things.” I guess it helped me in a way.

I’m stoked now. I didn’t want to be one of those dudes where they’re like, “Here’s a new face.” Nowadays it looks like everyone’s just looking for the new dude. It’s more on a marketing scale than anything. “He has a great name, it’s a new face, and we can promote this dude. We can make him into the next Muska.” I’m stoked I had to work for what I got.

A few years back, there was an infamous letter distributed to sponsors by a now-prominent vert skater claiming greatness and falling just short of demanding support and respect from companies. It kind of had the opposite effect. What was your approach to getting sponsors attention early on?

I always wanted to send in sponsor-me videos, but every time I talked to someone, they’d always tell me they got sponsored because somebody saw them skate. I was always holding out because I wanted really good sponsor. I never wanted to skate for something that was under par. I didn’t want to skate for a lame company and then move myself up. So I held out and held out. My friends had to help me out a whole bunch. I had no money. I was the super-poor kid–I had no money at all. If they had an extra dollar, they’d always buy me a drink. If they had an old board, I’d always ride it–no matter what it was. Things like that.

My first board-company sponsor was from around here–a dude I met named Brian Mace. He was the coolest–he’d help me. Brian didn’t have a humongous demand for his product and millions of dollars, but he’d shell out what he could. That was Alliance. Directly from there, I went to World (Industries). Before World, I got flowed from Toy Machine for a little bit, then I went to World, and then after that I went to enjoi.

At some point, someone took you aside and gave you some advice on how to conduct yourself, how to present yourself, along with a bit of guidance on how to get things going in the right direction. Who was that?

Jamie Thomas.

Where did that take place?

At the Tampa Am contest. It was afterward at the hotel. He just said, “Hey, you should stop by later.” He said, “Stop by,” and it wasn’t like, “Yeah, you know, I’m not gonna do that. I’m not gonna stop by.” I knew to ask, “Well, when should I go down there?” I went to his hotel and it was like a three-hour drilling of what was wrong with me.

Shit.

Yeah, three hours of it. I was like, “Man, this sucks.” But it was him caring. He was saying it because he wanted to help. He kept on saying that. I was like, “Man, this is terrible. What’s with this?” And he was like, “Obviously, I care or else I wouldn’t say it. It’s not like I want you to ride for my company or anything, I just think that you’re not a bad kid, you just need to do these things because now you’re around people of this caliber now.”

What kind of stuff did he tell you that you needed to do?

Watch what you say because it’ll always be analyzed by other people.

In skateboarding, unfortunately, that’s a really prominent thing. When you say something–anything–whoever’s around will misconstrue whatever you’re saying and make it seem like you’re saying something bad or negative.

(Jamie Thomas) always has little things to say–even now–that are beneficial. Like I did a run on this Canada trip on these two little

wallride things. I did a wallride on the first thing, a wallride on the

second thing, and then a flatground trick. He was like, “You should have done it off the curb.” (Laughs) He’s been constructing runs for so long, the flatground trick will always go off the curb into the road. Always. Aesthetically pleasing things–things that’ll please the eye. Things you want to watch.

Was there a point in skateboarding where you thought to yourself, “I think I could be pretty good at this.”?

I can’t think of a definite point. Maybe on the Europe tour with Circa. It was just something that was so amazing to me. Not only did I get to go to the place … that’s almost everybody’s dream, you know? When you say, “Where do you want to go?” They say, “Europe.” Not only did I get to go there, but I got to go there with those people. It was just like, “Whoa.”

There comes a time in every person’s life where they kind of make a conscious decision to change or alter themselves a bit. Have you ever made a turn like that?

I know what I can talk about to the person I’m talking to and what I can’t. I had to realize that not everyone’s my friend. Not everyone knows what I’m talking about. Not everybody will think, “What he’s saying is good.”

It seems that you’d want to get to a point where you’re comfortable enough that you don’t care what anyone else thinks.

Well, you can do that. In a way I don’t, but in other ways I do. I just don’t want anybody to have a real reason for not liking me. When people don’t like me, if someone asks, “Oh, why don’t you like him?” I want them to have to scramble for an answer. I don’t want them to have a legitimate reason, like, “He said this and it offended me.” That would suck. I’d feel like an asshole. I don’t want to offend anybody.

How about with skateboarding, are there any corners you turned with respect to the way you skate?

Every (video) part I do, I try to do something different. Like in one interview/video part I did a whole bunch of one kind of trick, and then in another part I did a whole bunch of handrails. I don’t want people to watch my part and go, “That’s really similar to his other parts, but just at different spots.” I want there to be more than just skating. I want to give the people who are watching something else, not just, trick, trick, trick. I want them to a get an insight to me. Like Bam (Margera). He can sell boards whether he skateboards or not, because kids go, “That dude is so funny I’m gonna buy his board.” They like him. I want people to not just see the skating, I want them to see the person, too. That’s why interviews are good.

Do you feel like you owe anything to anyone?

Always. There’re so many people who I owe at least a thank you to. A thank you everytime I can. Everytime I talk to them, I just want to be like, “Hey, thanks again for everything.” Like I’ll go down to Circa, and I’ll be in the design room looking at whatever they have coming up next. Jamie’ll be down there, and I’ll just want to be like, “Thanks.” Because I wouldn’t be hanging out in the design room–I wouldn’t even be at Circa, if it weren’t for him. You know?

I want to thank Mom, Rodney, Ries, Tony, Chad, Marc, Hair, J. Hernandez, Holland, Fayhew, Gee, Kellkell, Golden Boy, Cardboard, the McDonnells, Pixie, Ry Guy, Bonez, Face, Sandzabar, White E, Monster, Vinne, Kev, Verbich, Ian Matthew Berry a.k.a. Bobby Boozecan, anyone who pushes me, kids who skate for fun, and whomever helped me get here. Thank you.

like I want you to ride for my company or anything, I just think that you’re not a bad kid, you just need to do these things because now you’re around people of this caliber now.”

What kind of stuff did he tell you that you needed to do?

Watch what you say because it’ll always be analyzed by other people.

In skateboarding, unfortunately, that’s a really prominent thing. When you say something–anything–whoever’s around will misconstrue whatever you’re saying and make it seem like you’re saying something bad or negative.

(Jamie Thomas) always has little things to say–even now–that are beneficial. Like I did a run on this Canada trip on these two little

wallride things. I did a wallride on the first thing, a wallride on the

second thing, and then a flatground trick. He was like, “You should have done it off the curb.” (Laughs) He’s been consttructing runs for so long, the flatground trick will always go off the curb into the road. Always. Aesthetically pleasing things–things that’ll please the eye. Things you want to watch.

Was there a point in skateboarding where you thought to yourself, “I think I could be pretty good at this.”?

I can’t think of a definite point. Maybe on the Europe tour with Circa. It was just something that was so amazing to me. Not only did I get to go to the place … that’s almost everybody’s dream, you know? When you say, “Where do you want to go?” They say, “Europe.” Not only did I get to go there, but I got to go there with those people. It was just like, “Whoa.”

There comes a time in every person’s life where they kind of make a conscious decision to change or alter themselves a bit. Have you ever made a turn like that?

I know what I can talk about to the person I’m talking to and what I can’t. I had to realize that not everyone’s my friend. Not everyone knows what I’m talking about. Not everybody will think, “What he’s saying is good.”

It seems that you’d want to get to a point where you’re comfortable enough that you don’t care what anyone else thinks.

Well, you can do that. In a way I don’t, but in other ways I do. I just don’t want anybody to have a real reason for not liking me. When people don’t like me, if someone asks, “Oh, why don’t you like him?” I want them to have to scramble for an answer. I don’t want them to have a legitimate reason, like, “He said this and it offended me.” That would suck. I’d feel like an asshole. I don’t want to offend anybody.

How about with skateboarding, are there any corners you turned with respect to the way you skate?

Every (video) part I do, I try to do something different. Like in one interview/video part I did a whole bunch of one kind of trick, and then in another part I did a whole bunch of handrails. I don’t want people to watch my part and go, “That’s really similar to his other parts, but just at different spots.” I want there to be more than just skating. I want to give the people who are watching something else, not just, trick, trick, trick. I want them to a get an insight to me. Like Bam (Margera). He can sell boards whether he skateboards or not, because kids go, “That dude is so funny I’m gonna buy his board.” They like him. I want people to not just see the skating, I want them to see the person, too. That’s why interviews are good.

Do you feel like you owe anything to anyone?

Always. There’re so many people who I owe at least a thank you to. A thank you everytime I can. Everytime I talk to them, I just want to be like, “Hey, thanks again for everything.” Like I’ll go down to Circa, and I’ll be in the design room looking at whatever they have coming up next. Jamie’ll be down there, and I’ll just want to be like, “Thanks.” Because I wouldn’t be hanging out in the design room–I wouldn’t even be at Circa, if it weren’t for him. You know?

I want to thank Mom, Rodney, Ries, Tony, Chad, Marc, Hair, J. Hernandez, Holland, Fayhew, Gee, Kellkell, Golden Boy, Cardboard, the McDonnells, Pixie, Ry Guy, Bonez, Face, Sandzabar, White E, Monster, Vinne, Kev, Verbich, Ian Matthew Berry a.k.a. Bobby Boozecan, anyone who pushes me, kids who skate for fun, and whomever helped me get here. Thank you.

I’ll go down to Circa, and I’ll be in the design room looking at whatever they have coming up next. Jamie’ll be down there, and I’ll just want to be like, “Thanks.” Because I wouldn’t be hanging out in the design room–I wouldn’t even be at Circa, if it weren’t for him. You know?

I want to thank Mom, Rodney, Ries, Tony, Chad, Marc, Hair, J. Hernandez, Holland, Fayhew, Gee, Kellkell, Golden Boy, Cardboard, the McDonnells, Pixie, Ry Guy, Bonez, Face, Sandzabar, White E, Monster, Vinne, Kev, Verbich, Ian Matthew Berry a.k.a. Bobby Boozecan, anyone who pushes me, kids who skate for fun, and whomever helped me get here. Thank you.