My First Paycheck – Steve Caballero

“Yeah, I’ll think about it.”

Those were Steve Caballero’s words to Stacy Peralta when Stacy originally asked him to be part of his new skateboard company, Powell Peralta. The year was 1979, Steve was only thirteen years old and riding Santa Cruz boards flowed by his Campbell skatepark team. And more importantly, Steve was yet to hold his first job. It took a month for Steve to ponder Stacy’s offer and agree to be part of the team.

Two years later, at a ripe fifteen years of age, Steve was a new pro at a bustling company. And if it weren’t for Steve voicing his opinion, he might’ve been stuck with some boring pro model imagery: “They came up with this graphic with a propeller and a skull. I didn’t really like it ’cause I was riding the Ray “Bones” Rodriguez and that graphic was pretty strong. Stacy showed me that board, and I said, “You know, I think the artist could draw something better.” To coincide with the fact that he was born in the year of the dragon and because he thought it would be a good icon, Steve came up with the dragon as his graphic. Artist Court Johnson aligned Steve’s dragon atop a ball bearing to create Steve’s first ever pro model.

Steve’s first board-sales check in 1981 netted him a cool 300 bucks, all of which went straight into the bank. In a few years Steve would see checks as high as 18,000 dollars a month, and board sales at nearly 250,000 a year during their peak. Keep in mind those were the days when pros received a-dollar-per-board royalties compared to now where it’s more like two dollars and up.

Today the evolution of the Steve Caballero dragon is forever branded into the minds of skateboarders throughout the world. And for Steve, he knows he’s past his prime in the skateboard world—he just wants to maintain that comfortable living he’s grown accustomed to, “It’s almost time for me to get my first job—at 39!”—Eric Stricker