PHOTOS AND STORY BY ROB ERICKSON
Every seventeen years the Cicada Locust emerges from the ground for a very brief but frenzied stint of noise making and pro-recreation.
They live a simple life of rest and play. Very similar to the lifestyle of most skateboarders. One could stretch most to all if one were to consider the larger group of skateboarders who aren’t as fortunate as the sponsored types. Hence, the daily routine of the nine to five employment slumber. The day in day out drone of bringin’ home the bacon becomes such a constant that one forgets they’re awake. No matter how exciting the career may be, the consistency of its pattern dulls to a sleep as deep as the Cicada. Enter the weekend warrior.
Rutland, Ohio? Where the hell is that? Take a magnifying glass and scan it across the southeastern corner of Ohio and you will eventually find the dot. Twice a year, on the last weekends of June and September, traffic thickens in Rutland to a consistent buzz of sticker laden steel headed to a farm on the edge of town known as Skatopia. Here both men and women abandon their routines and proceed as if they just woke from a seventeen year power nap.
Brewce Martin along with many in tow have constructed by definition the punkest stuff ever made for skateboarding. In an ancient barn up on a hill, defiantly sits the center of attention—a thirteen foot deep left hand kidney bowl. When one enters the grande bowlroom, they gaze upon a bottomless pit garnished with porcelain smooth pool coping (minus a few cavities). This super-sonic masonite demon is solely for those who ante up everything they have ever learned on a skateboard. Pool champions, swamp troggs, and other respective gnar-charge quiver from what this structure is capable of giving and TAKING. Part of the game is to not let the bowl figure you out. It is a virtually blind ride of speed reacting to every drop, carve, and pitch before one can gather their wits and coherently skate the beast. But there exists a rare and adaptive breed of boys AND girls who show up at Skatopia from all corners of the country and proceed to take the bowl for a ride.
On the back porch of the barn is an equally ambitious monument of skateboard anarchy. Does anyone remember the “Boomeramp” in San Jose way back when? Take that ramp for example and add two more hips, corners, a giant roll-in, a spine, another bowl, a shallow end, and a three quarter pipe escalator/extension to the elbowed shape of the Boomeramp. See figure 1.1 for a better idea.
Skatopia is well endowed…….but that is only the A-side of thicket. On the flipside take all that surrounds a biker bash, remove the bikers and replace them with equally rowdy skateboarders and hangers-on. Presto! An instant batch of ATMOSPHERE! There is an experience by which all are overwhelmed by while at Skatopia. Kokonos (pronounced Coke-a-nose) is an Indian word that signifies this experience. Skatopia attendee Dan Tag describes Kokonos as “a place where everything you could want anything to be.” When one is at Skatopia they’re at Kokonos. Simple. At a previous party, Dan was explaining the phenomena of Kokonos to Dustin Dollin (aka Spawn). Spawn was very sure he was only at “SKAA-OPIA”, which he would yell aloud in his thick Australian accent. Dan was amused to find someone who wasn’t experiencing the unification of two separate worlds at one time. An anomaly among deviants! How fascinating! Spawn eventually saw the light.
You see Skatopia is more than a skateboarding experience. It is a gathering of many walks of life, both ordinary and often extraordinary. A magnet for people who are talented on a skateboard beyond a marketable sense —they wouldn’t live it any other way. They come for the incredible sessions that occur off and over the board. The bonfires, the bands, the bandits, the broads (political correctness is not an issue and all appreciate the fact while at Kokonos), the brew-ha-ha, the BOWL, and all the other b-words that blaze through the night. The only competition at Skatopia is with yourself. Can you endure? If you can endure, can you come out whistlin’? There are so many facets to this hive. From the ghostly siren of a tree filled with thousands of locusts having their own rager, to the person next to you screaming “show us yer tits!!!!!”, to the fires lighting up the twilight joust sessions, to everyone raging together hand over fist, and to the skateboarding spirit that is aglow in this not-so sleepy hollow, Skatopia is a place for all to come and rub their eyes out of a Cicada slumber.