Gasbag – 20.1

When I came to settle in California back in ’94, skateboarding was on the verge of a transformation. It was a change nobody saw coming. People like Pat Duffy and Frankie Hill (to name but a few) had influenced a new, young breed of skaters who were about to make history. American and European skaters were taking the sport to another level. The ante was being upped.

Three skateboarders important in that change were Jamie Thomas, Chad Muska, and Tom Penny. I had the good fortune of photographing them as kids when they were coming up. Jamie was already established when I first met him; he’d been turning heads for some time and was already well on his way to making an impact.

Muska was a different story. He was a street kid from Las Vegas, but new to the streets of California. One night, Swift and I were shooting photos and video footage of Kris Markovich. Muska stepped up out of the blue, and with his cap on and hood up, he did a five-0 on this rail. We were pretty stunned. I saw the photo the other day. It’s out of focus because we had no prior warning-Muska was skating for fun.

I first saw Penny when he was fourteen. That would’ve been around ’91. He was skating in clothes that looked five times too big for him at the Harrow park, London. He was obviously a natural. Stories and rumors were even flying around about him back then.

In ’96, they all went their separate ways. Jamie formed Zero, while Chad started Shorty’s and then Circa. Tom, disillusioned with what he saw as the big sellout of skateboarding, pulled a Jim Morrison and went to live in France with his mother. Stories are still being told about him-you may have heard them. Some are true; most are just bullshit.

Things have changed big time since I came here in ’94. But skateboarding with friends was what it was about in the first place, and that simple fact still remains.-Skin