Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva|
an emily blunt interview
message from Stacy Peralta:
message from Tony Alva
You recognize either of
these palookas? Neither did I till I realized I've known "them" for
See they are Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta, legends in the skateboard
world, once part of the infamous Dogtown Z-Boys. I heard
Alva's name thanks to my nephew and his billion references to the man's style;
"I can't get the Alva look" They and their rogue team of hellions The
Z-Boys changed the way young folks looked at that wooden board atop four urethane
wheels. Simply put they made skateboarding an artform. Their moves and styles
so graceful it was as if they liquefied the terrains they rode producing an almost
surreal concrete surfing.
Peralta is a filmmaker and decided to make
a documentary (Dogtown and Z-Boys) on his friends, himself
and the beginning of the real way to ride a skateboard (sorry its "deck")
...These rules and tips aint in your grandfather's dusty old manual that's for
result was a film that created an stylized etching of an endless summer that transports
you back with such riveting emotion and truth your smacked upside the head with
its subtly. Even if you're not a "boarder," like myself, the film's
so well done and crafted it's still mesmerizing.
two are mesmerizing too...very handsome. Meow. It was hard to maintain a lady-like
composure sitting in a room alone with these two "bad boyz." I'd love
to rub mansicle Tony down in SPF15 coconut scented block on a cool Maui beach
babble here's what they had to say.
Emily Blunt: Hi boyz! You two what revolutionized skateboarding? [laughter] What's
that all about?
Peralta: Well, it wasn't just the two of us
no it was just the two of us.
[laughter] The other guys had nothing to do with it!
Alva: It was, like, the whole crew of guys that were on our competition team,
Paul Constantineau, Jay Adams
that whole team at one time changed the whole
basis of skateboarding. Basically through our style
Peralta: That and being in the right place at the right time. We had a series
of school playgrounds in our area that were unlike anyplace in the world. As well
as that we had the highest concentration of swimming pools! Yeah, all these empty
swimming pools, and the right style of empty swimming pool.
Blunt: But how do you look at an empty swimming pool and go 'yeah, this is it?'
Alva: You can tell with water in it that it's right up your alley. Like all those
good ones in California. They're the best pools.
Peralta: They start out as movie star pools. These movie stars want these sensuous
shapes in their backyard with this beautiful bulbous cone at the top, which is
perfect for skateboarding. You go to skateboard parks now and it's emulated. But
even the parks have never gotten it down right. They've never ever surpassed what
these guys did in the fifties and sixties. Wasn't there awhile when we only looked
for Anthony pools?
Alva: Oh yeah. There was a brand name pool
uh, Blue Haven, I think, um,
Anthony Brothers, and there's an Amazon something. And the locals would say 'oh,
that's an Anthony pool!' You know it's gonna be good.'
Blunt: So you were pool brand specialists? [laughter]
Peralta: [laughter] Well, they have a plug that they used to put over the electrical
thing that had their emblem on it, and hustlers collect those to this day. I think
it's going a little far
Alva: Yeah, it's like taking the Mercedes-Benz thing off the car.
Peralta: So they collect those, and also there will usually be a tile with the
logo on it and, or there will be something in the coping or near where the light
is. The mark is all over if you know where to look.
Alva: I still have the eye for it! It just stays. Every single time I drive to
the city, I walk in a backyard, it doesn't matter where you are, but you're always
looking at every single wall, crevice
Peralta: You know, if you're a surfer you're always looking at the waves, saying
'is this rideable?' Because you want to fantasize about it.
Blunt: How come the people who design the parks don't come to you and say, like
they do with the golf guys, and say 'hey, what do you suggest?'
Alva: They do.
Peralta: It's just that we haven't gone into actually constructing and manufacturing
the parks, because number one, the signature model parks are not to cool with
the kids because the kids, like, it's idol worship and they don't actually dig
Alva: It's not like golf. Yeah, they'll buy your board and stuff like that, but
a park? That's not there. But they other thing is that we are involved with things
like this. A lot of designers, guys that are building the biggest parks they can,
like city funded and all, they come to us for input. And we let 'em know what
we think. And Stacey even had a skate park in the warehouse next to his manufacturing
place up in Santa Barbara one time which was one of the best wooden runs. Just
an art museum of wood that was a great skate park. It was amazing. It's called
the Skate Zone.
Peralta: So we are involved in that, it's just that there's other things that
are a little bit more creative and things we want to achieve in our life.
Blunt: Now how did "Dogtown and Z-Boys" come about as opposed to somebody
stealing it from you and turning it into a Hollywood star vehicle?
Alva: That's why we did it! 'Cause Hollywood, they were planning on making a fictional
version. So this was ours.
Peralta: They came after us. They wanted to buy Tony's life rights and my life
rights and Jay Adams' life rights and they wanted to buy the rights to the article
in a prominent magazine.
Alva: Basically this is our statement.
Blunt: So you got the footage together and started editing yourselves as yougin's
wow! I mean you were kids-Now, you guys are what, 36ish?
Peralta: 44 ! I was thinking you know what? I can't believe I got all this of
skateboarding! I was working in television, which is an awful thing to do [laughter]
and I just started looking at the footage and it was just putting me in touch
with some of the best times of my life. I'm like sitting down with my neighbor
and my boys, and realizing! Being reminded of my life, and it's still like we're
little kids you know the Zboys? We're still having fun together.
Blunt: After seeing DTZB I started to notice things. Logos and codes around the
streets. When I now knew what it all meant I felt ' I am so friggin' cool!' Thanks.
Alva: That is so great! So you were initiated into a taste of the art culture
and then the subculture, because the Z Boyz thing and all that is is really a
way of life! We were some of the first street skaters and people don't really
give us that much credibility for that, but we were. And the streets was where
the Z Boyz came from, straight up. So we went, we just, like Stacy said, we were
pushing it 'cause we grew up in a neighborhood that was so conducive to the lines
that we saw in the concrete, in the schoolyard. We were like artists and we always
will be. We're kind of like an abstract artist. The concrete was our canvas. But
see the benefit of this film has been to entice people like yourself, which we
never expected, which has been really really gratifying. We want more people who
know absolutely nothing about skateboarding to see it, of course.
Blunt: Honestly, I never saw anything like what I saw in this film. I never really
thought "this all started somewhere." You know?
Alva : Well, it's a different approach. It's basically that the roots of skateboarding
is portrayed and we were adapting and getting closer to our group of guys. When
we got down to the bitter end, Stacy and I basically were it. Still it was really
cool though. It was a special time in my life. I remember going down to the last
event and Stacy and I were neck and neck -- we just looked at each other-- and
he was like 'hey man!' It
was great though. So we can look back now, and everything we worked for, regardless
of how hard we competed, it's all come together.
Peralta : And it's better than a documentary too. I mean, it was not all blabbering.
Alva: Now that's the way Stacy put himself in the third person and having himself
be the director and having a part in it and all, I could have never done that,
put myself outside of it and everything and had the film come out the way it did.
Peralta: I had nightmares about it, I'll tell you.
Blunt: Well you must be honored because first of all, to be that honest seeing
Peralta all over the press kit I thought ' uh-ha this is going to be an ego fest
of colossal proportions! [laughter] But it wasn't.
Peralta: I was so worried about that! [laughter]
Blunt: It was very endearing, and I had tears in my eyes over that poor fellow
Jay Adams. We all know a guy like him!
Alva: First time I saw it I did too. He's like my little brother. He's a hero
to a lot of people, and he's a very strong person, but you know sometimes this
Stacy Peralta: Exactly. That's just what people can relate to. You know,
we were talking earlier about the whole story, it seemed like, I don't want to
get too cosmic but it's like it wanted to be told. And at some point during the
ending of this picture it literally just took over and told us what it wanted
to be. It started going that way, and more and more we became like servants to
the picture. Where it just kinda, I'm not sure whether you get this when you write
an article, and you click when you're writing something, and all of a sudden it
just starts to take its own shape. That's what happened.
Blunt: And how did it feel to win the Spirit Award?
Alva : It was great! He was there, and two of the other guys were there, we were
all there together and it [the show] was in the parking lot where we all started,
right there! That's where the tent was for the whole thing!! And as we were eating
I said 'dude, if we win something, we gotta say welcome to our party' And
it was like the first thing Stacy said. You know we were just excited.
Peralta: I was having so much fun. I was jumping around and grabbing the mike
and going to people. Saying hey, those offshore mornings, six in the morning,
we used to be out there in the radioactive sewer surfing and stuff. And people
were just like "uh, yeah, whatever" you know. It was cool. I knew some
people there so it was kinda like a party but kinda like a stuffy old people thing
all at the same time. But the award itself, it was just incredible. It's just
the icing on the cake.
Blunt: I believe that that whole team was just fated to change the sport. Don't
you think that it's a little convenient that you'd have this phenomenal
photographer [Craig Stecyk] with you all the way
and that there's all this
video footage? You even have the melodramatic stories of the childhoods you came
from. You couldn't create all of this. In other words, if this was a Hollywood
picture you'd look at it and go 'oh please that doesn't happen!'
Peralta: Yeah. It is odd. And the film's a reflection of the subject matter. We
pieced it the way we did because we felt that the film should look like
home videos from a family.
Alva: The film also had a special rhythm.
Blunt: Yeah! That's what went through my mind. I'm watching it and getting into
it and listening to the music. The soundtrack is just phenomenal
read that the editor Paul Crowder was a drummer, I was just blown away, because
though it looked and felt like a musical piece.
Peralta: He has a feel for music like no other director I've worked with. He's
just one of the most eclectic geniuses on the planet.
Alva: He easily inspired us all.
Blunt: Dogtown and Z-Boys is up there with Citizen Kane[ laughter] Okay! So it's
a little bit of an exaggeration but it's just fantastic. Thank you for making
Peralta: THANKS! [handing me great DTZB gifts] So is it your nephew that's the
Alva: [handing me a few more gifts] You gotta take him to see this.
Blunt: Oh yeah, well he's just dying to see it anyway! He's like 'whoa, you are
so cool-you're meeting Steve and Tony?' Now I'm cool. You don't know what you
guys have done.
Alva: How old is he?
Blunt: He's seventeen.
Peralta: Oh brother.
Blunt: He's a skateboarding monster and he does, thanks to you, all those dangerous
moves that my sister-in-law gets all up in arms about! She gets him padded up
like he's about to cross a Minnesota tundra in the dead of winter!
Alva: I wear a helmet and stuff, but that's mostly because we skate extreme terrain
and also the fact that if you're really going to hurt anything when you're skating,
pads aren't gonna keep you from breaking your arm or your leg. You know, if it's
gonna happen it's gonna happen. But the helmet is vital. Even at skate
parks. So what if you don't look Joe Cool, you know? You're gonna save yourself
some serious injury if you take a really hard fall.
Blunt: This from a man who was doing this vertical stuff and that air gliding
thing with no helmet as a kid?
Alva: Oh, well, that's alright see.
Peralta: You grow and you learn.
Alva: Yeah, you do. And you hopefully don't make the same mistakes. I've knocked
my teeth out, Stacy's broken his arm, I've have bumps and bruises. It's good considering
what we could've paid.
Blunt: From what I've seen yeah.
Peralta: It's amazing that none of us ever got hurt too badly.
Alva: You can get hurt just
surfing too. Or in one of these backyards.
Peralta: That would've been a disaster. We would've been taken to the hospital
and arrested too.
Alva: Then the other guys that would get hurt when we were younger kids, we didn't
know them well so when these kids got hurt, we would drag them out and put them
out on the street and say 'ok, call your mommy.' As long as you weren't
in the pool.
Peralta: He's all got a fracture and the kids are screaming and 'hey, get him
out of here before they hear him!' and the skating would go on. [laughter]
Blunt: Your style looked more like surfing riffs than skateboarding.
Alva: Yeah, but the style made us feel kinda like Jimi Hendrix or Carlos Santana
or something. Rockstars. It was the only thing we knew, it was the utmost.
Peralta: The thing is we live in the age of extremism, where going big is all
that matters now. Back then, you could go big but if you didn't look good doing
it, you might as well not do it. You had to look good
you couldn't just
learn it. You had to really put the time in.
Alva: Eventually you just reach a state where you don't think about the style
anymore. It's like a statis. But that is one part where the energy would let you
get to, and the style that we represented, all the Z Boys had a very similar style
even though they reached their peak. But I think it was because of our attitudes.
We just had this really unique beautiful casual attitude. It was a lot of imagination.
You're imagining yourself doing something while you're doing it.
Blunt: I noticed the continual hand touching concrete, that was all very wavy
Peralta: When they showed surfing, Bertleman would do that! Every time we used
to watch he would always have his hand scraping the crest.
Would you say 'we put so much work into this style we designed?' I mean that you
didn't just jump on these skateboards and God willed that you would use this style
and recreate the sport?
Alva: No we put in time. The only thing any of us really wanted to accomplish
as kids was to get on the team. And to be recognized by the two guys [Skip Engblom
and Jeff Ho]that owned that shop. Because once you're in that shop and they say
'you know, we like what you're doing.' You could be a part of us.' You know 'cause
our parents didn't understand what we were doing, the school didn't understand
it. They didn't want you bringing skateboards to school. They wouldn't let us
and we'd have to stash them. We got no respect for doing it except for these two
guys that ran the shop. And they were like 'Not only do we think it's cool what
you're doing, but we want you to do this. And we're gonna support you guys.' And
they gave us free skateboards, helped us make our own boards, they gave us
we were kids who could barely afford a two hundred dollar surfboard. They gave
us surfboards. They'd make us work, we'd have to work a couple weeks in the shop,
sweeping up stuff or doing whatever, but in the long run we got a surfboard, the
thing that we would've paid hard-earned cash for. So you know it's the mid 70s
in California you know, down in Santa Monica
Peralta: You see that's a good point Tony's bringing up. Back then when we were
living on the beach there and stuff, I remember it was just desert, open sky and
ocean. But still there really was a different culture. It was just developing
in this little petri dish of its own.
Alva: Look at it now. Look how it's changed down there.
Blunt: I'm not from here.
Peralta: Are you from Boston?
Peralta: Actually I've never been. I've been all over the US but not to Boston.
Alva: I sponsored a guy from Boston. Fred Smith III and basically the editor from
Thrasher magazine, Jake Hill, he's from Boston. Great place.
Blunt: Yeah, especially to grow up in. In school when we'd learn about American
history and say we'd be talking about Bunker Hill, we'd jump in the bus and go
to Bunker Hill! It makes a difference with the learning.
Peralta: We don't have any historical architecture to speak of. Well we have old,
super old missions, it's crazy. California's pretty rich in culture, but it was
Indian and Mexican and European. The Spanish came here for a bit, then the Mexicans
just took over.
Blunt: Boston had so much to do with America, you know with the Revolution our
birth as a nation.
Peralta: Philadelphia too. I love Philadelphia.
off we went into heavy discussions on history and places to visit that were not
so much skateboard friendly but made a great vacation
selves a favor and get to Dogtown and Z-Boys it's one helluva fine film. Dogtown
and Z-Boys has been taking the independent circuit like a tsunami! Find this
film! You'll be drawn in as you watch these kids, now adults and living their
lives, morph the sport they loved. The sweetest thing is, naturally, these guys
had no idea the impact their addiction to the rush of extreme riding would
have on the skateboard community. Stacy, Tony and all their friends on the team
recreated the term "vertical" and there's plenty of freespirited enthusiasts
that are extremely thankful!
and Z-Boys Review Here