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  • Post film Q&A with Wentzle Ruml
    Experience Music Project
    8/23/02

    by Steve Pingleton

    On opening night of the "Hey Punk" 2002 event, the Experience Music Project had a showing of the "Dogtown and the Z-Boys" movie in the way sweet JBL Theater inside the museum. Before the movie, a short film by Brian Lilla called "Twenty to Life" rocked the old school vibe to start off the evening, then the Z-Boyz showed us all how it was done. After the most excellent flix, original Z-Boy Wentzle Ruml was answering questions from the audience, with Andrew McKeag running the microphone and keeping it all flowing.... much respect ... s.p.... Questions were at random from the audience, in places it is an open dialog, word...

    Q- In the Dogtown movie, it kinda looked like you guys were "criminals". Was it really like that?

    A- Well, we didn't get caught much. We didn't do anything violent, we weren't into violence, we just got radical on the streets, we skated everywhere we went, we used skateboards for transportation to get us to all those schoolyards that they were showing...

    Q- Which is criminal...

    A- Oh, we broke the law daily, but we didn't get caught and we didn't do anything violent. We were just peaceful group of radicals.

    Q- Wentzle, how did you hookup with that whole crew? What was the genesis of all that?

    A- Oh, I grew up with them that whole crew, so...

    Q- They were all your friends in school and stuff?

    A- We all dropped out of school together, and just skated, and like in the movie it shows the Zephyr shop, and Jeff Ho and Skip were really instrumental in getting us off the street, because it was a pretty rowdy area, and so we just went from surfing to skating to getting a little bit organized and forming a team, and went to contests, and we hated contests. You know, we just wanted to be skating pools and banks, and doing our own thing. So, it got kinda weird, 'cause everyone that was skating when it came back were more clean cut and sorta kinda mellow, and we were all alot more out of control and radical. I remember when we went to Del Mar, we almost didn't even make it into the contest because Ho was ready to take us back to Santa Monica because we like thrashed the hotel, and went out to a Sambo's, and even tho' Ho and Skip had money to pay for breakfast, we decided to dine and dash, you know... Ran out the door, you know, we just did crazy stuff like that, but it was all pretty harmless...

    Q- What was your first pro company you skated for?

    A- That would be Sims, I guess..

    Q- How did your parents feel about that?

    A- My parents? I loved my mother, and she was working all the time, you want to talk about broken homes, I just told her I was skating, and at one point she got me sports attorney, or whatever. But it was too late, I had already been totally ripped off by all the big corporate people!

    Q- Were most of you guys ripped off as young skaters?

    A- Totally, yeah, the only one that I know of that didn't get totally ripped off was Stacy...

    Q- He got kinda ripped off too...?

    A- I don't know, he might have, he had it together, he had more of a business sense that was more... He was a little less radical than we were, we used to kinda tease him about, ya know, being the clean cut. He'd do these, like look at these whistling, he'd whistle and do backside 360's, he'd go "look at this guys, this is really cool!" He'd do these whistling backside 360's, and we'd all be like "oh real cool Stace, real cool" KOOK! He's a good friend...

    Q- Did you guys ever find Chris Cahill or not?

    A- Chris Cahill showed up at the Hollywood premiere I was out in April for that, he was actually sitting a couple rows in front of me, he stood up before the movie started and went to shake my hand, I'm like "who is this guy?" He looked pretty hardcore, I don't know.. One of the amazing things is that all of us are still alive, and I had not seen these guys for almost 20 years. They had to hire private detectives to find some of us to make this film, no-one knew where Chris Cahill was up until last April, they tracked him down and found him, but I thought at least one of would be dead, out of the crew, but we're all, thank god we're all still alive...

    Q- Was he still skating?

    A- He did not look in any condition to be doing that when I saw him, unfortunately. But I really don't know, I think he's sorta disappeared again now, so... I think he's in Mexico...

    Q- Was he a pretty hardcore kid then? Because there's no information on him?

    A- He, was and is, and incredibly gifted surfboard shaper and artist, he did unbelievable airbrushing on surfboards, and just super talent. I don't know what he's doing, I don't know if he's just strung out, or if he's getting it together. We're all just trying to keep tabs on him, and not loose him again... How's it going man?

    Q- How did your crew react, you know when Alva started getting into the punk thing, getting into the Ramones, and the English stuff? How did you guys react to that? You know when Alva cut his hair and...?

    A- I was kinda out of the loop at that point, I had been sort of transplanted to the East Coast because I was uh, partying a little too hard, and so there was some family intervention that got me out of L.A. before I died in L.A. To Live and die in L.A. or whatever... So, I was kinda out of the loop, but, I think that there wasn't a problem with that, with any of the other crew. I think that everyone that stayed around kinda got into the punk scene. Q- Yeah, because I always think they helped to transmit the message about punk to all the suburbs of America, because it wasn't getting out there from the radio, and that how it became big. Q- You mean through magazines, and skateboard magazines...? Q- Yeah, that helped too, yeah... A- And now it's very much integrated, they're both very much incorporated, you know... Q- That was another thing Alva did...

    Q- Do you still listen to Ted Nugent and Skynyrd?

    A- Uh, not, I listen to it on the soundtrack..

    Q- But that's what you guys were listening to, when you'd pull up at a pool...

    A- We'd bring out the equivalent of a boombox or if they had something we could plug-in, we'd were listening to like, Nugent and ZZ Top "Fandango" ...

    Q- If it was fast and rockin'...

    A- Yeah, just...

    Q- Do you still listen it now?

    A- I do some, I don't carry it with me, it's not in my CD collection or anything...

    Q- Now, I have seen some photos of Tony (Alva) with an am/fm headset on his head, with duct tape wrapped around his head, skating, a couple of photos (Glen) Friedman took. Was that a normal practice?

    A- That was actually a camera headset, that was with Hal Jepsen. Alot of the footage in the film is from Hal Jepsen, who did surf films. So he had a camera and mounted it on Tony's helmet, and that's what that was...

    Q- It was to cover that Fu-Manchu haircut, it sure looks like an am/fm radio...?

    A- I don't even think they had those kinda headphone things back then.

    Q- You were telling me earlier, that the Dogbowl was just recently, uh...?

    A- Yeah I got a bunch of pictures sent to me, it was demolished. It's a drag because we were trying to figure out a way to buy the house, the property was up for sale, and we were trying to see if there was a way to purchase it, and keep it alive, you know, but then they destroyed it... I think someone on the inside found out we were gonna try and buy it, and they bulldozed it.

    Q- Couldn't talk Sean Penn into buying it?

    A- We could've done something, I think. Tony was like "Dude, we gotta buy it man, Dogbowl is up for sale, that property is up for sale, we gotta get it, we gotta get it!" It's gone now, yeah it's kind of a drag. But, there's alot of skateparks now too though...

    Q- Alright, growing up watching you guys lay down this history, and seeing Jay Adams pull these moves that were unbelievable pictures. How many of those in the magazines did he actually pull off?

    A- That's a good question, I can't answer it but....

    Q- Like 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, or what?

    A- Oh man, I could get in trouble on that question, I don't know, Jay would be like "what are you talking about, I made that!" (laughter) I don't know, there's stuff... I look at it as, you know you see pictures you can tell are totally... there's no way he made it, unless the board flew back and glued to his feet, but other than that, I can't, that's dangerous, dangerous....

    Q- What about the handplants...?

    A- I think the handplant stuff, like the early era stuff, he was making 50 percent of it.

    Q- What about the stuff on the Z-Flex boards?

    A- He was probably making alot of that. He pretty much invented the handplant, as far as I know, and man he was getting air before anybody, just out of bowls out of skateparks...

    Q- In the movie they commented that he would try it once and get it, or move on to something else...

    A- He was just trying all kinds of stuff at the same time, it wasn't like he wouldn't go back and like, "oh wow, I didn't make that, I better not try it again". He definitely was full on into trying to make things.

    Q- Did you guys ever get into street skating?

    A- I don't think any of us did, we pretty much were always into banks, and pools, and pipes. Street skating to me was like getting around town, we used our boards to go everywhere, whether it was to school, or down to go surfing, we'd skate down with our surfboards. But street skating now is totally different...

    Q- What do you skate now?

    A- I skate banks, and pools and halfpipes, a little less vertical skating. I'm getting older, I had some cartilage rebuilt into my one of my knee's so hopefully I can skate this pool in Florida in the Fall.

    Q- Wentzle, speaking of now, tell me about the Deathbox thing...?

    A- Oh, I'm involved with some other skaters, which most of 'em are coming up to do this demo on Sunday at the skatepark here. We just decided that it would be fun to come out with a line of skateboards and, to try and keep, well my board is a true old school board, it doesn't have a kick nose, it's a flat nose, it actually resembles closely a board that was a pro model I had with a company called "Quasar" that totally ripped me off. The thing with Deathbox is we don't care if we make any money at all, we are just trying to have a good time, and for me a personal goal of mine is to try and keep surf skating alive and to try and reintroduce that to people who don't really have that going on. (applause)

    Q- Believe it or not those banks actually are useful for something other than a jump ramp!

    A- I have a 6 year old son, who is showing me last week, he goes "check this out". My stepson who is 15 who works at the skatepark in the town that I live in, he goes "yeah Jeremy taught me this" he's like, I've got some fresh asphalt on my property, so he goes by on his little Deathbox mini-monster skateboard, with whippersnapper wheels right, and he's crouched down, feeling with one hand on the asphalt, he's styling. And I'm like "yeah, yeah, thats it, that's it!" And he's asking me "when are we going to go to that big skatepark in Florida?" So, I'm gonna take him, we're gonna go skate. Kona, there's a park called Kona that was one of the first parks ever built, and it's got snakeruns that are banked on both sides, that's really what I like to ride, I'm like a bank rider, I just like to surf on the concrete.

    Q- Who do you skate with now?

    A- Well when I was in California in April, I got to skate with Hackett, and Mike Folmer, and Brad Bowman, and Pineapple, and Wally, and all the guys I skated with back in the day. On the East Coast, there's a couple just local kids that skate the park, that I will go skate with and hang out. The Florida thing, I just got invited down there by a guy, Mitch Kaufman who is like "the" guy to be hooked up with down at Kona. I'll skate with whoever man, whoever wants to skate...

    Q- Since the movie came out, when you go to a skatepark, do people recognize you, or say anything to you about the Dogtown scene?

    A- A little bit, but hopefully not too much. I don't want them to think I will be blasting big airs or something, you know what I mean. In the "Twenty to Life" movie, which by the way I thought was awesome (applause) I really enjoyed that, especially that downhill stuff, sliding around those corners was stylish, and just... Anyway, yeah I don't want people to to think I'm like busting big airs, or anything like that, I still have the same attitude, I just want to go skate and have fun, and hopefully find places that have banks and snakeruns, stuff like that...

    Q- Did you ever skate Badlands at all? Mount Baldy full pipe? Pipeline skatepark?

    A- Oh, yeah that was fun. I skated Upland, and the Baldy pipe, I didn't like to travel too far back then. It just got kinda weird being away from Dogtown and that whole area. We had alot of pools, and places to skate, so...

    Q- Do you have a pool at home?

    A- To skate? No I'd have to drain one, and I would probably get in trouble. (laughter) I know a few,I know a few, 'cause they're around, but that would not look good in my community.

    Q- How much contact do you have with the guys you skated and grew up with?

    A- Since the whole movie thing came about, I'm in touch with those guys on a fairly regular basis, I talked to Bob Biniak and Paul Constantineau and Shogo, Peggy, uh, who else..? I'm in touch with Biniak and those guys every week, partly because we're having some litigation things with Van's around the movie, and stuff. We got hooked up again in Hollywood for the premiere out there, and David Hackett is the one behind the whole Deathbox thing that we are doing, so I have been able to go out and spend time with him in San Diego. It's just fun, at this point it's such a blast to be able to hookup with these guys and do a little skating, and hopefully not get hurt, it's just been alot of fun.

    Q- Did any other teams from Del Mar ever bust out into vertical skating?

    A- I don't think I ever saw Russ Howell or Ty Page, or any of those guys at any pools, I seriously doubt it... He was pretty unhappy when we came in to Del Mar...

    Q- Yeah they used to call you guys "ape riders" he said...

    A- Yeah, they hated us, we had the torn ass...

    Q- He was looking good in his O.P.'s, with his shirt tucked in...

    A- With the hush puppies... Every time I see that scene, I look at the hush puppies, and then at him ready to cry when the judges can't figure out what to do. Well, that was Ty Page...

    Q- I know that Stecyk did alot of the artwork, but I was curious how much Wes Humpston influence was?

    A- Wes Humpston artwork was absolutely influential, he did alot, and still does. He's got some really pretty amazing stuff out, he's got a company called Bulldog skateboards, and Shogo has got a board with him, and rumor has it that Paul Constantineau is gonna be riding with him. He's an amazing artist, and has a site on the web too.

    Q- Was there any rivalry between the guys and Peggy Oki, since she was the only girl?

    A- Oh no, she was just one of the guys. She was great!

    Q- What do you think about the E-Bay phenomenon? You know, a Dogtown or Z-Flex board going for $2-3 grand? What do you think about people cashing in on all this?

    A- I don't know, I think the most of the people on E-Bay are collectors, who happen to have a board or whatever. If I found out that other people, you know, that I grew up with and skated with, or any of the other Z-Boyz were putting their stuff on there, that would leave a little sour taste...

    Q- What do you think about a $2 or 3 thousand dollar Jay Adams board?

    A- I think that whoever owns it is trying to cash in, and...

    Q- Is it worth it?

    A- I don't know man, can you put a price on it? I would be embarrassed if somebody had one of my boards on there for a big sticker price, I would probably call 'em up and tell 'em "hey man, why don't you sell it for like $50 bucks or something?" Or else just keep it, or send it to me, I'll buy it. No, I'm not into it...

    Q- Where do you see skateboarding going in the future?

    A- I think that we kind of paved the way, in terms of being the pioneers of vertical skating, and surf style skating. The future, I don't see our group being uh, I don't see us doing new things, bringing it to another level. I think that the generation now and the future generations are gonna be the ones to determine that. You know, our days, we are old dogs now man, I just turned 44 about a week ago, I'm still skating, but I know a few people that are 50 years old who are still skating, bones get brittle though...

    Q- Do you like skating or surfing better?

    A- I spend more time surfing, because water is a lot softer. But I love skating concrete, I try to stay away from metal parks and ramps, I know the younger generation rips that stuff up. Last time I skated a metal halfpipe I fractured my wrist, so, and I skated concrete and that is more familiar to me.

    Q- Whatever happened to Arthur Lake?

    A- That is a good question, I don't know but I know Van's is using him for promo stuff.

    Q- I just read in Thrasher that he died in Hawaii a couple weeks ago?

    A- Man, I will look into that right away, I do know that he was in Hawaii. Wow, that would be a real bummer...

    Q- What do you think about the size difference between skateboards now, and what you were riding back then?

    A- I can't ride a double kick board, thats just me, I was out of the loop so long, some of the Deathbox boards have a kick nose. But, I don't know, my board is much shorter than... They are totally different boards, and you guys ride 'em well, I can't ride 'em...

    Q- Do you know who was all in the Devo video "Freedom of Choice"? I saw Stacy, and Duane Peters, Olson, and Brad Bowman I think too...?

    A- I don't know, I don't think I was in that... (laughter)

    Q- Were you there that day when Tony Alva pulled the first frontside air in the Dogbowl? Was it mind blowing?

    A- Definitely, yeah,it was... We were all hooting and... Most of those sessions, we were all there, you can look in the shallow end, I can anyways, and there Biniak, there's whoever. It was pretty epic, I mean he was really working on it, and when it happened, it really happened, we were like WOW, too cool...

    Q- What was the strangest place you ever rode in your travels?

    A- We used to skate this place in San Diego called "the Concourse", it was a big parking lot. We used to get together about 20 of us and go to the top and just charge it, I don't know how many stories it is, with cars coming up, at least 10 stories up there, and you get flying, you get moving! And cars swerving around us, pretty crazy...

    Q- I saw Neil Blender do a rock and roll on one of those 3 ft concrete sort of barriers around the circles up there!

    A- I probably hit one of those barriers.. Q- Do you have any of your first boards? A- I don't have any of my original equipment. I sold most of it for party money, unfortunately. Some of the Quasar boards have shown up on E-Bay. They are out there, I'd like to get one but, like they E-Bay thing... There's one on the Z-Boyz site, but Brad Ullman, who runs the site, says I found this this guy has one of your boards but he does not want to sell it. OK, cool, at least it's there...

    Q- I saw a Wes Humpston go for like $4900 last week, an original airbrushed board.

    A- I don't know what these people are thinking, if they are thinking in like 10 years they are going to be worth $25 grand, I don't think so... You know, I think they are going a little overboard with that.

    Q- What is Ty Page, Russ Howell, and Brad Logan up to nowdays?

    A- I have absolutely no idea, no idea at all. Ty Page probably works in an office somewhere, selling hush puppies... (laughter)

    Q- During the eighties we had a bunch of parks that were nice, like you guys had Marina was in your home turf, and it all died off, now it's starting to come back again. This movie sorta focuses on the old school roots of it all, I'm glad you guys made this and did it to make people aware of the roots of it all, and that style is important. (applause)

    A- I'm super, super stoked that there are so many parks going in all over the country, and I get I have alot of people that email me, it's amazing how many good parks are out there, just blows my mind. This guy Wally Holiday, who designs parks and goes out and builds them, there are parks that... I wish I was 25 years younger, believe me. There's stuff now, all over the country, probably all over the world, that just wasn't available to us when I was skating. I might try to hit a few of them...

    Q- Ballard, Burien for the Snakerun!!! Q- It's frustrating to hear people bitch about a "bad" skatepark that is built, or see trash at a park, what do you think about that?

    Q- You gotta realize how lucky you are to have these things and they're free! I mean even the parks 20 years ago those weren't free, well they could be free... we'd sneak in, but... There's times when you go to a park and there's beer cans, and messes people leave, and you gotta realize how lucky we are that we can do this, it's pretty cool that the cities get behind it now...

    A- When I went to San Diego in April hanging out with Hackett, we went to skate this one community park, and the thing is, they had lights on, and they shut them off at nine o'clock, and everyone just got up and left, they got in their cars and left. I was like "alright Hack, let's take some runs" he said "no, no, you can't, the police have survelience cameras on the park", but the cool thing is the kids and everybody they respect that, they don't want to lose the park, so when it's closing time, they go home. I thought it was cool they keep the park clean, they realize how lucky they are to have it there, and it was also a free park.

    Q- I just want to thank Wentzle for coming, donŐt forget to come see the Dickies show tomorrow night...

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