Pioneer: Sean Sheffey, Full Interview—Power From The East

How soon after that did you film the Santa Cruz part (A Reason for Living [‘90]) there?
Probably a year and a few months after that. I got to go [to Pulaski] about two times a week after the first time. They would take me down there a bunch. My father was actually well known. The Sheffey name was really good there. We kind of had a good way with the police so they would probably bring me just for that (Laughs.) My brother was a really big high school athlete too so we pretty much had our way in DC. We had privileges (Laughs.)

When did you start ollieng higher? Were you ollieng higher than the other dudes early on?
I guess I just adapted. I would watch Natas and Gonz in the videos. Then I got to skate with Mike Vallely through Chris Pastras. Dune was good friends with him and all the Shut guys were too. When I got to see him [Mike V] live that was like a whole new level of skating. I couldn’t believe the stuff he would set up and ollie in the streets. We started setting up trash cans and I had seen the picnic tables in the videos so that kind of intensified my creativity. I would try and imitate what I saw. You knew it was possible.

After Shut, how was your first trip to SF? When did you get on SMA?
The first trip was really intense. I got to go with my friend Goose. I was living in Michigan at the time and Julia; my son’s mom was pregnant. Greg Hunt came on that trip as well. It was through that trip that Greg first got hooked up with Spitfire and Thunder then eventually Real. I was also inspired by all the vert. I liked to ride vert and mini ramp at that time. I liked all the lip tricks they would do. And I think we tried to do those on ledges. I didn’t really start to flip my board until I got together with Rick Howard and Mike Carroll and the Plan B guys. I really liked to incorporate the tech stuff with power after that.

Fence Ollie for a Speed Wheels ad, Circa 1990.

That’s true. In the whole Life part I don’t think there’s one flip trick.
Or shove it. I remember reading something Mark Gonzales said in a magazine and it was like, “Don’t flip your board. That’s not really something cool to do.” Of course, I came to know later that he was doing triple flips and stuff years before I even started. But maybe it gave me a different focus not to have my attention on the flip tricks. I was more into just power.

Yeah. We were saying how that kind of became the East Coast trademark style. Kind of basic stuff but just bigger, faster, and more fluid on the streets.
Yeah. I still had guys around me though ruling at tech stuff. Brian Tucci way back would 360 flip down the three stairs almost every try. We had guys like Pepe Martinez who would do all kinds of flip tricks up to the ledges. Chris Hall was super technical. He was unbelievable to watch. I sometimes wonder what I would have skated like if I had tried to incorporate all that stuff into my skating.

I feel like in some ways though you stood out because you didn’t do that stuff. Especially in the Life part. Which really established you as a top pro.
Yeah. Maybe I developed a different style.

The Legendary Life part to the tune of Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” and “Boy King” by Ron Allen. A Soldier’s Story (1991).