Here is our second installment in the ‘COCI’ series. This time we check in with July 1995 Check Out recipient, Jan. 2004 cover holder and all around creative/style original Tony Cox. Currently residing in Upstate New York, here is what Tony has been up to over the last two decades.
Where do you currently live and what does your day-to-day life look like?
Tony Cox: I currently live in Mount Tremper, New York, which is a part of the Catskills mountain region in upstate New York. Day-to-day life consists of waking, coffee, screaming, spazzing, dancing, sewing, eating, crashing repeat.
Do you remember first seeing your Check Out (July 1995)?
I think the first time I saw it was at the TWS office. I was still living in Encinitas, California at the time (1995).
How did you get from Louisville, Kentucky to Encinitas, CA?
I drove my Honda Civic, "The Black Smear" out two days after I graduated high school. I ended up in La Mesa, California for the first three months. My friend Chip Van Ham and his sister Jackie had a place and I was able to crash it for the summer. Across the street were childhood friends Thom Hornung and Josh Sachs living with Jack Barnet. They moved a year before when I was still in high school, so that had a lot to do with it as well.
Is it true you rode for Liberty? Liberty Horror days (1990)? Any good stories?
Yes I rode for Liberty, but was on the tale end of all that. Todd Congelliere, Mike Youssefpour and Jeremy Klein came out to Louisville on a tour. At the time I was obsessed with Alien Workshop and I drove Jeremy mad. Jeremy was calling me a Robbie Dyrdek impersonator and we took him skating to the curb cut we all skated frequently called "the red giraffe." I think he took a liking to our insanity and told Todd that he should put me on Liberty. So they went back to California and I sent them a video. A couple months later I opened the door to my mom's house and there was a box with two boards—a "Raining Babies" Kip Sumpter pro model, a "Fred Brown" model, and bunch of trash and dust that had been swept from the floor.
Your Check Out seems to have some artistic contributions (background art by Nathan Peters, portraits by Heather Rose Howard, etc.) Was that planned or just TWS at the time?
That was just what happened at the time. We were all meeting each other for the first year and that’s just the way it worked out. Heather Rose was working in the dark room and Nathan was working at the mag—we all just clicked and all made sense to work on it together.
Having Mario Rubalcaba write it must have been rad. Were you (are you) a big fan of his music/skating?
I love Mario and have always been a hug fan of him—on all human and creative levels. After living in La Mesa, Chip and I moved to Encinitas with Mario and Scott Bartoloni—his band mate from Clikatat Ikatowi. It was Damon Way's flat prior. We were living right next to the YMCA.
Are nollie hardflips still in the arsenal? Do you remember shooting the tailside photo?
Nollie hardflips have been erased from the arsenal for over a decade. I remember shooting that tailslide photo like it was yesterday. It was the first time I shot with Dave Swift and maybe the second time I shot with a photographer for a mag. So this was all so new. I remember Thom and I getting really stoned and driving to the spot. I was wearing a black curly wig when I got out of the car to skate. Dave didn’t really say anything, but at one point I was so stoned I was asking myself, "What am I doing?!"
If I'm not mistaken you turned pro for Supernaut in 2001?
Yes, I think that is correct.
Can you break down your sponsor run from ATM to there?
Liberty, ATM Click, Duffs, Union Wheels, Independent, Silver Star, Half Life, Supernaut, iPath, Satori, Young Coconuts and Uprise.
You had a heavy presence in the iPath glory days (2005 Promo). Best memories from those days? You and Kenny Reed seemed pretty close.
Oh man, those were some amazing times and they forever changed my life and they way I see things. I would have to say the Japan trips skating all together and just the energy that would come out on those trips. Also shrooms were legal in Japan in the beginning. I remember tripping so hard in a dollar store and buying all these ridiculous items and coming back outside to the demo and skating this mini ramp in a discotheque with maybe ten kids. Skating this ramp in a way I never have before. Only Mike (Fox) and I where on shrooms and none else knew for the whole tour until the very end of it. Also during the filming for that video, I was with Mike Fox and Jack Sabback a lot for a couple years. There are so many great memories from that time. Kenny and I are still close; he lives across the river in Hudson, New York. I see him all the time.
You also had your classic TWS cover in Jan. 2004. One of my all time favorite covers. Can you break down shooting that one? Did you know it would be a cover?
Well, the night before that photo was shot I had been out all night partying—how you do in Spain when you first arrive. The next day Kenny (Reed) was going skating with a group of people and meeting up at Sants to go skating with Pete Thompson. This was something I rarely did—go skate in an organized manner. Anyways, I went to Sants with Kenny, Paul Shier, Jack Curtain, Quentin de Breiy, and Justin Strubing. I was pretty out of it and Sants wasn't really my scene. I was about to just skate and sneak off and go back to center. Right as I was creeping away Pete shows up with his roller bag. So Kenny says, "Just come and skate." So we took off skating in a part of the city we had never been and all sudden those silver roller humps appeared. I followed Justin down the street and kept going off them and eventually by the time we got to the next spot—I really figured out how to fly off those things. We went to some other spot to check it out, then Pete asked if I wanted to go back and try and shoot a photo. So we did.
That was my first six months in Spain and only the second photo I had taken in the six months I had been there. Also the first photo I ever shot with Pete. He was shooting for the photo issue and that was the last day to shoot for it. That was mid October and on my birthday three weeks later we were at dinner on November 7 and Justin just handed me the magazine. I got the cover with that photo. Had no idea. That photo saved my career for about four more years.
When did you move back from BCN? Things you miss most from Spain?
I moved back from Spain on September 2, 2008. There are so many things I miss about being there. The quality of living—how relaxed and happy people are all. The food, the sea, and the skating.
When did your "sponsored" skater days more or less end?
They ended really the day they sold IPath To Timberland. April 26, 2007. I remember I was sitting on a bench in Spain with Mike Fox and we got the text that they sold it. I remember the day because it was my brother's birthday.
Tony, Kenny Reed, Nate Jones, and Ocean Howell’s shared part from the cult classic 2005 Ipath Footwear promo. Video by Dan Wolfe.
Are you still involved with skating and the art world in Upstate NY? 21 years since this Check Out, do you still get out to roll around?
I'm not too involved in skating anymore and there isn't really an art world Upstate. I just make my art here, stay quiet, and keep to myself. But, yes, I still skate around when I go to the city.
Thanks to Tony for taking the time to chat and for his many contributions to skateboarding.
Follow Tony on Instagram: @ronlittles
Simon Woodstock (May 1992)