Josh Kasper is a product of watching Jeremy Wray, Jamie Thomas, and Frankie Hill. But now that he’s found himself sponsorless, is that a good thing or a bad thing? The time to dispel the Josh Kasper rumors is now.
“What, you guys are doing an article on Josh Kasper?” I’ve heard it more times in the last week than Josh himself has heard, “Is it true that you used to Rollerblade?” Come on, people, it’s passé. Even little kids at demos know to ask Josh how many boards he can ollie over as opposed to how many stairs he can ollie down. But snide remarks aside, Josh has found himself void of shoe and skateboard pro models, even after staying loyal to those sponsors for his entire career. The mission to redefine your skateboarding and make new partnerships with companies may be a hard road for someone who’s never had to do such a thing, especially with the pressure to jump down bigger stuff despite the fact that he’s 27 years old and no longer has medical insurance. Because all he does is jump down stuff, right?
Josh Kasper Loves His Benihana
Like Brian Anderson in Toy Machine’s Welcome To Hell, Josh appeared on the skateboard scene the same exact year as World Industries’ Trilogy and in the same exact way: without any major magazine coverage before coming out with a full-feature amateur part in a full-length video. He literally launched his infamous Carlsbad-filled part with the trick that seems to be one of the contributing factors to his being disliked, the benihana. He laughs when I ask him why it works for Ryan Sheckler but not for him: “The first time I ever saw it was Jamie Thomas in Heavy Metal. I think it’s a fun trick, and yeah, I probably still bust it out at demos.”
Josh Kasper Can’t Grind
In 1998 I heard someone in the skate shop say, “Did you know Josh Kasper can’t grind?” I never really thought about the possibility that a professional skateboarder couldn’t engage in one of the activities that I considered to be one of the pure essences of skateboarding until I thought about that Trilogy part from a few years before. He did do a pretty big handrail lipslide and even a nose-bluntslide down the San Dieguito rail, but not so much as a slappy on a parking block.
“I don’t know if I have the patience for that. I’ve just been more into going down stuff than actually doing handrails. I guess grinding a flat, round bar was harder to me than anything else. And then taking that to a handrail, when you can’t do it on a flatbar … now that’s a problem.”
Ed. Note: Josh can in fact grind, and you almost saw him do so in this article with a double-set gap to crooked grind, but the unwritten laws of skateboarding photojournalism state that once someone has done a trick at a certain spot, the photo is deemed irrelevant for magazine consumption. So just take our word for it. No, seriously.
Josh Kasper Didn’t Fit In With The “Team Plan”
Rodney Mullen put Josh Kasper on Blind in 1996. Ironically, he had to give Josh the call that relieved him from his Blind duties in 2003, just weeks after he’d been relieved of his duties at Osiris after being on the team for nearly five years.
“I take being a pro skateboarder to heart. They didn’t tell me what I had to do (as a pro skateboarder). Who would’ve thought there’d be obligations? I take it serious. And I did. I’m not trying to say it came out of the blue. I don’t know if the companies just changed … It’s hard to think that all of a sudden you don’t fit in. I mean, my friends are still on the teams. I don’t want to take it personal. They’re going in their direction and it looks good. I guess I’m kind of bummed.”
Could it have been poor management that led Josh down the wrong path? Or was he just overworked?
“It was a 40-day demo trip, then a 30-day and another 40-day (for Osiris). And then you’re supposed to be trying to film for a part. That probably ddistanced me more from Blind. We did a lot.”
Josh Kasper Can’t Skate A Mini Ramp
How do you scare Josh Kasper? Put a mini ramp in front of him and tell him to do a trick. Okay, quite the bad joke but Josh really is quick to admit that, even though he’s been skating it more lately, the mini ramp scares him more than the twenty-set.
“Seriously, when I step on there, I think to myself, ‘I can do two tricks.’ And they’re not even tricks—like a 50-50 stall and a rock to fakie. I’ve never taken the time to learn. And now I am. And I guess my transition skills have gotten a little bit better. I just don’t do that well when I skate in front of people. Even when I go to the park by myself to ride the mini ramp, it’s just so hard to try and learn something. I just need to practice and do it over and over. I don’t want to get hurt, but I guess you got to.”
Josh Kasper Can Only Do 360 Flips
A 360 flip down ten comes easier than a backside disaster on a curb, at least for Josh: “I’d rather do the backside disaster on a curb, but I know the 360 flip down ten I could do. I mean, I’d want the disaster to be a certain way. Not scoop it, but ollie it right. Land with the back foot barely on the tail … basically I can say I know I could do the 360 flip down ten right (how it’s supposed to be done).”
Josh Kasper Never Deserved To Be A Pro Skateboarder
When I ask Josh about achieving the highly sought-after pro shoe, he’s not even really humble but more like regretful: “Why didn’t I just say, ‘No, I’m not ready. I don’t deserve that.’ I actually did do that once. I had the opportunity to get into a video game, but I didn’t want to do it just to do it. I don’t play those games, but I really look up to the people in those games.”
Josh Kasper Only Skates Demos
“I really enjoy skating demos, but I always had a hard time ’cause everyone (else on the team) was so good.”
Josh Kasper Only Jumps Down Stuff
When I make the comment to Josh he seems to be in full agreement: “Yeah, it does seem like that. It is my strong point. It’s just what I always did. The six-stair, then the eight-stair. I don’t really remember the ten. With stairs it’s always been something I’d do on my own, more or less. Of course, twenty stairs I’m not gonna go out and do by myself. I know it’s just not something that everybody does. Flying off stairs is cool to me. And the people around me were always better than me, so I had to do my own tricks to keep up. I’d like to be able to skate everything—do things like (skate) vert, pool, be out having fun on everything. But at the same time, I like taking my tricks and seeing how many stairs I can go down. I’ve always been out there flying off stuff. That’s the only way I can contribute (to skateboarding).”
Josh Kasper’s Time Is Up
Sarcasm and rumors aside, it really is a different place than Josh Kasper has ever found himself: “Where do I go from here? How far can I go with my 360 flips? And then what, a heelflip? Do I put together a sponsor-me tape? It’s hard to explain because I’ve been doing the same thing for so long. And I am only good at a few things, and that time comes when you think to yourself, ‘How good am I gonna get?'”
But just as serious as he is, he’s at the same time enjoying the life of not having to answer to anyone. “The pro thing is crazy,” he says. Having no obligations (of being a pro) is rad.”
So what will become of Josh Kasper in all this mess? Maybe he’ll be the prime subject for a “Where Are They Now?” in a skateboarding publication ten years from now.
“Just leave me alone. I’ll do a couple 360 flips. I’ll ollie my twenty stairs. I’ll be out of your hair in no time,” he says.
Somehow, to the delight of many and probably the disdain of many plus a few, that’s quite doubtful. No, really.