Maple’s Black CatPremiere

Charlie Wilkins travels 3,000 miles, uses restroom, returns home.

It’s difficult to get excited about skateboard-video premieres. That may seem strange to those of you who’ve never been to one, but just like your favorite ice cream, too much too often can give you a headache.

Those of us blessed with a San Diego zip code not only enjoy virtually year-round sunshine and warm weather, but we’re also smack-dab in the middle of skateboard-video-premier heaven–or hell, depending on your perspective.

When Maple announced that they’d be showing Black Cat at the ultra famous La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas on June 2, the scene was fairly predictable: a dark theater with velvety upholstery and sticky floors full of raging teens, yelling and screaming at their friends on the screen, throwing popcorn, and eventually getting kicked out by a manager who would vow for the millionteenth time never to rent his theater to another skateboard company–just like he told Toy Machine in 1995.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen footage of some of the Maple skaters, plus I heard that Jerry Hsu was in particularly fine form, so I made it down for the early showing at six o’clock, when the sun was still warm and well above the horizon.

To my surprise, the scene wasn’t quite as unruly as I predicted–not yet, anyway. A small crowd had gathered outside, with a few people were actually inside the theater, as well. It was 6:10.

As everyone found a seat, I counted about 30 people. The next day I was told that the 8:00 o’clock showing was packed. I was glad when I heard that, because the 30-minute video was so worth sitting in gum and sticking my shoes to the floor for.

Black Cat utilizes most of the same filming and editing techniques you’ve come to expect from a skateboarding video–intro montage, individual parts, friends section, and a bunch of goof-off footage–but it also revealed the personalities of this cantankerous and super talented group of skaters. Lots of party footage shows how much fun they have together, and the Maple team kills rails a la Zero. Even at the premier, the team and their small cast of friends managed to generate a ruckus I’ve not seen from a full house.

The video features Jerry Hsu, Charlie Wilkins, Chad Knight, Dave Coyne, Daxter Lussier, and Jesse Erickson literally breaking themselves (each of their parts begins with slam footage) as they session the continent and all of its parks, ledges and rails–even the ones wrapped in chains. There’s no stopping these guys, on-screen or off. Add to this some Saturday-morningesque cartoon footage of Maple’s Black Cat character on the prowl (i.e. in heat), and you’ve got a solid half hour of skateboarding and silliness.

In the lobby I ran into Charlie Wilkins, who was on his way to the toilet. Not wanting to delay him too much, I asked if he would be in town for long. He said he was only there for the premier, and was returning to Boston the next morning. I let him go and thought about that. Some pros actually live where it’s hot in the summer and freezing in the winter–its where they’re from, and they like it.

Jaded, I walked out into a typical California sunset.