John Lupfer is a name we all know and love, but maybe haven’t heard in a while. He definitely carved out his groove in the skate scene back in 2008-2010 with stand out parts in Osiris’ Feed The Need and the SHUFFL Video, had interviews in the mags and sites—the whole nine. After that, he disappeared for a while, and while those of us close to him knew what he was going through, most of the world at large was surprised to see his pro announcement for Stereo last week. Well, read on to see the kinda-sorta comeback to the scene, from the guy who never lost his love or talent for skateboarding. Timing is everything.
Interview by Blair Alley
Photos by Brendan Klein
So, the question on most people's minds is, where have you been for the last few years?
Ok, let's get right into it… I broke my leg while skating at the end of 2009 and there were a lot of complications that came along afterward. When they did the initial surgery they had to put a titanium rod in my leg from my knee to my ankle and a few screws on each end to hold it in. The rod ended up having some bacteria on it that led to a pretty serious infection, so my leg was never able to fully heal. There was a dime size hole in the skin under my knee that wouldn't close up for about a year. So I went in for another surgery where they tried to flush out the bacteria while still leaving all the metal in. That didn't work, and the hole still didn't close up. At this point it was getting pretty serious, and I was told if it didn't get it taken care of properly that there was a real possibility of losing my leg. I switched doctors to an orthopedic surgeon who worked with a lot of athletes and really cared about the fact that I not only wanted to keep my leg but also wanted to skate again. He decided that we had to remove all the metal and not take any chances. So that was another surgery. They removed all the metal and put a ton of antibiotic beads down my leg that would release over a period of a couple months to destroy the rest of the bacteria. That's the surgery that finally worked and my leg started to heal properly. A little while after that I was able to start skating again.
I think its also no secret that I was partying a lot around that time as well, and after I broke my leg I got pretty caught up in it all. That's a whole other story, but I'm happy to share it in person if anyone wants to know.
What year did you stop getting boards from Stereo, and kind of give up on being a sponsored skater?
To be totally honest I'm not exactly sure what year it was, but I think it was around 2013/2014.
What year did you get back in contact and start getting boards again from Dune/Stereo?
I moved up to LA around the end of 2015. A couple months after that, probably early 2016, I ran into Dune at Sheldon park and within one minute of saying hello he said "You're skating again? Give me your address, let's get you some boards." Just like that. Thank you Chris.
I remember one time you said you were relieved you didn't have to film or shoot photos anymore for companies. What made you decide to get back in it?
I was just young and it was my first time trying to balance something creative that I love while also trying to make something out of it, so I was a bit overwhelmed. I had no plans to get back in it like that this time around either. I just wanted to skate with my friends again. But Dune started giving me boards, he linked me up with Mark Spencer to film some things. I started skating a lot with Abe Bethel who really got me motivated again. It all just worked out and felt right.
When did they start talking about turning you pro? Or was it a total surprise?
It was a total surprise. I just met up with the FUCC (Fellows Union Curb Club) boys for some 8 a.m. curbs, and Chris rolled up a little later saying he had shirts for everyone in his trunk. Soon as we all gathered around he pulled out the boards and I was just totally floored. Stoked, speechless.
What's a day in the life of John Lupfer like in 2018?
I live a much quieter, simpler life these days. I do a lot of hiking, reading, cooking. I'm actually going back to school full time in a week as well. I want to be a Landscape Architect.
What have you learned from your whole journey thus far?
I've learned that there are a lot of ups and downs in this life and you have to be willing and able to roll with all of it. A lot of things will be out of your control, but the least you can do is have good intentions and be conscious to create good habits.
What are the major differences being a skater living in SD versus LA?
I like that in LA I'm like the median age for a skater. Also the spots here are unbeatable.
John’s pro Stereo part, in Hi-Fidelity