JUICE MAGAZINE 13 YEAR ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY
INTRODUCTION BY JIM MURPHY
PHOTOS BY DAN LEVY AND NIC CARGIANNI
Dan Levy has been riding the Juice Magazine roller coaster for a long time now and has proven himself to be one of the essential ingredients that keeps this magazine going. He’s a photographer, writer, interviewer, editor, videographer, salesman and most importantly, a skateboarder. A lot of people have no idea what it takes to keep a magazine afloat and Dan Levy is one of the unsung heroes of one of the best skateboard magazines ever. We all owe him a ton of gratitude for persevering and dedicating his heart and soul and day-to-day life to making this magazine happen. Here he is, Dan “The Man” Levy.“WE MADE BOARDS LAST A LONG TIME. WE HAD TO. MY PARENTS GOT DIVORCED WHEN I WAS 13 AND I WAS LIVING WITH MY MOM AND WE DIDN’T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY.”
Name, rank and serial number.
Dan Levy. Serial number, worker bee number 69-1.
I’m 69-69. You’re 69-1.
I don’t know what my rank is, but whatever.
Don’t worry. You’re up there, dude. You’re Special Forces. If you told us we’d have to kill you.
Where were you born and raised?
I’m from the cold tundra of Syracuse, NY.
What year were you born?
What was it like growing up in Syracuse in ’75?
It was cold. I played basketball a lot, and then I started skateboarding when I was 13.
What was your first set up?
Well, at first, my friends down the street had a little plastic board and we would roll down the hill to see who could make it to the bottom. I could always make it, so I got psyched on it. Then my friend Carlos Moroz got a real board. He had the full deal with Gullwing trucks. He went skating one day and came back with a “Ban This” video. I watched that and I was like, “I want to try that.” Then I begged and scraped and finally got my mom to buy me a board at Wayne’s Bike Shop. We didn’t even have a skate shop. I bought an Eric Dressen Pup Size board because I was a small kid. I got Slimeball wheels and Gullwings because my friend Carlos had them. Then we started skating.
Did you have ramps or were you street skating?
With the weather in Syracuse, it was hard to have anything outside, so we’d just skate the streets. We had the Everson Museum. It was a totally marble museum outside, and they let us skate there because they considered skateboarding a moving art form. We got to skate there without any hassle from the cops, so we started making jump ramps down there. Then this older kid named Scott Galster built a mini ramp in his backyard. That was the first time I got to skate a mini ramp.
Was that your first drop in?
Yeah, that was so painful. This ramp had PVC coping with a 1-foot extension with vert on it. I’d never skated a ramp before. I was good at skating launch ramps, but that was it. My friends got me up on this 6-foot extension with 1/2 foot of vert. I went for it and slammed so hard, but I did a rock n’ roll to fakie on my first try. We started skating that ramp a lot, but we still skated a lot of street. We’d meet up at the Everson, and we were just hanging out and skating there.
Were you reading the skate magazines?
I’d look at the magazines and watch skate videos, but all of my friends would fast forward through the vert parts. I wanted to watch it, because I thought vert was sick. I mostly read Thrasher and Big Brother.
What did your parents think about you skateboarding?
They weren’t too fond of it. It took away from me caring about school. All I wanted to do was ride my skateboard. I think they were glad I was doing something athletic, but my parents thought that the people I was hanging out with were bad characters. And they pretty much were. I never got into robbing or killing people, but my parents were worried that I would. My mom would take my board and lock it in the trunk of her car. I used to sneak out at night and take my board back. And then she’d find out. They weren’t really too stoked on skateboarding. They wanted me to do something else with my life.
Where were you skateboarding in the early ’90s?
I remember we went to this contest at Saratoga Springs. I went with my friends and I saw Jeff Toma skating the vert contest. I was 16, but I looked so young that I entered the 12 and under division and got third place. It was funny. I’d never skated a park before. I saw vert for the first time and then I wanted to find ramps to skate. The first demo I ever saw was Sal Barbier. Tony Hawk came to our town once, too. With Syracuse, it’s not a destination point for most people. I didn’t get to see that much skateboarding. We were mostly skating the Everson and the Syracuse University campus.
You were skating whatever you could find. Did you graduate from high school?
I graduated high school in ’94. After high school, I went to college and started playing basketball. Then I got into this crew of skaters at my college. I was skating a lot with Alan Prescuiti who now runs Krudco Skate Shop with his friend Aaron. The first day I was hanging out with them I borrowed Alan’s board for a minute, and there was a set of five stairs and I ollied them. I drove home that weekend, bought a complete and haven’t stopped skating since.
What were you studying in college?
I was studying hotel technology and culinary arts. If I had to go to school, I wanted to eat.
Did you want to be a chef?
I just wanted to learn how to cook. I was raised on Burger King and Wendy’s. I rarely had a home cooked meal, so I wanted to learn to cook. I didn’t learn much unfortunately.
What happened next?
I went home and decided I was going to open the first indoor skatepark in my town. I did more work to get that park going than I did in all my years at school. I rented a 15,000 square foot office building with a 7,500 square foot warehouse in the back. The warehouse was going to be the skatepark and the office building was going to be a Boys and Girls Club. We were going to have after school counselors come in and give the inner city kids help. I was trying to do it right so that the community would benefit, too. In theory it was a good idea, but I was renting the building from a shady “Sopranos” type guy. The roof had a leak, and he wouldn’t fix it. Then he started demanding a $15,000,000 insurance policy for the park, when all we needed was $1,000,000. I’d already knocked out a wall, and we built a 32-foot wide, 6-foot high mini ramp. We’d just started to make a bowled corner and a pyramid. Then one day my friend Steve was skating the mini ramp and the owner came in and freaked out because I didn’t have the insurance yet. He changed the locks and said, “Until you have insurance, I’m not opening it back up.” I tried to talk to him, but it just didn’t work out.
What happened to the ramps?
I don’t know. I could never get back into the building to get anything out. My tools were still in there, too. It was a bad deal. That was my first taste of business. I got super burned, so I just kept skating and working at restaurants.
You were just hanging out in Syracuse trying to make a living?
Yeah, we had fun. We’d work regular jobs and then hang out, party, get chicks and skate.
What year are we talking?
This was ’96.
Where did you go from there?
I started getting pretty good at skating, so I was thinking about trying to get sponsored. I’d started to see more pros skating. Stereo came to Syracuse, and Jamie Thomas came there once for demos. I started dating this super hot model chick. I fell hard for her, but then I ended up breaking up with her and I was heartbroken. Then I woke up one day and said, “I’m getting out of here.” I packed my car and went to New York City. My sister had an apartment there, so I called and asked if I could stay with her. So I moved to New York City. I started skating the Brooklyn Banks and met Steve Rodriguez and all the 5 Boro guys. I ended up getting a place in Brooklyn right next to Dan Zimmer.
We had this loft in Brooklyn with a little quarterpipe in it. It was Ben Wahl and his friend Al. I skated with those guys and worked at different jobs.
How did you come across Juice?
I was skating the Brooklyn Banks one day and this guy Jerry Martinez was shooting photos of me. He was saying he was going to send the photos to Juice. Then a week later, this kid Dean Sleeper came down to the Banks. At that point, I was working as a temp at this super high-end law firm on the 60th floor of the World Trade Center. I was making good money, but I got let go, because the clients thought I looked too young. I was all bummed out. So I was skating that day and I met up with Dean Sleeper. He was like, “Let’s go get a beer and I’ll take you up to the Juice magazine office. It’s the sickest place. Then I remembered that Jerry was taking photos for them, so I was psyched. I went up there and that was the first day I met you and Terri.
Tell us about that first day. What did you see when you opened the door to the Juice office?
I’ll never forget it. I walked into this really nice apartment building on 62nd and 1st. Ramone the doorman knew Dean, so he let us in. The apartment was on the top floor. It was crazy. Dean walked in and said, “Meet my friend Dan. He’s a writer.” I walked in and saw Terri sitting at the computer. You were sitting on the couch looking at photos and page layouts. It was a really cool set up. The whole wall of the apartment was made up of windows, so you could watch the Roosevelt tram go back and forth. It was sick. I didn’t say much at first, and then you and Terri started asking me questions and I just started talking out of my ass.
You were talking total bullshit.
Oh, yeah. I was spouting off. I was like, “I can do this. I’m working on a screenplay. I can write. I can do everything.” I remember you guys looking at me like I was crazy. I was really excited to be there. I really wanted to work there. I remember leaving there that night and we all walked out to the front of the building. I had this 7.75” 5 Boro board with 55mm wheels. There was a big dumpster on 1st Avenue in front of the building and there was a piece of plywood, so we tilted it up on the dumpster. You grabbed my board and you dropped in from the top of the dumpster onto the sidewalk. I was blown away. I was like, “These dudes are the real deal.” So I decided I’d go back early in the morning and try to help out. I don’t think Terri could believe that I showed up. She rolled her eyes and was like, “Great. This kid is just going to talk all day.” But then I just got on the phone. I tried to sell ads to anybody I could think of. I just kept calling people. Terri was like, “Dude, maybe you shouldn’t call people more than twice. If they don’t call you back, they probably don’t want to talk.” I was like, “No way. I’m going to keep calling them.” Then I started getting callbacks.
Do you remember selling your first ad?
Oh, yeah. My first skateboarding company ad was from Kareem Campbell. He had Axion shoes going at the time. We had a lot of music advertisers at the time, but I was calling skate companies because I knew skateboarding. I called Kareem and I got him on the phone and talked to him for a while. He knew the magazine, so he knew what was up. He was like, “Call my man Abe Smith and we’ll see what we can do.” I called Abe and he booked a quarter page ad. It was a Caine Gayle ad. When the artwork came in, I felt like I had lived up to what I’d claimed I could do on my first day.
When you were selling, what was your pitch?
It was pretty easy because everyone digs Juice. It’s a hardcore skateboarding, surfing and music magazine. I remember telling people that we were hitting a different market than any other magazine hits. Skateboarding, surfing and music go hand in hand. You hit three markets with one ad. Once they did start to advertise, they got results. We have a lot of heart. People were buying ads because they felt that the magazine was good. I truly believe that buying an ad in Juice helps their business.
What took you from New York to California?
We went to California because Terri wanted to go where the skateboarding industry was. You know what’s funny? I wasn’t going to go. I was like, “No way. I’m not going. I live in New York.” Jianca Lazarus and Bryan Stahel were both like, “Yeah, let’s go to California.” I got booted out of the loft in Brooklyn, so Terri let me stay at her apartment with her fiancé at the time, but he was not stoked about that. I slept a few nights on the roof at the Juice office. I remember for like a week, I was skating around the city all night and showing up at “Juice” in the morning, sleeping on the couch for a few hours and then waking up and hitting the phones all day, trying to make the dream happen. That was a heavy time. Every dollar that came in, we just put right back into the magazine. We weren’t making money, and we all thought, “If we go to California, maybe we can.” We had nothing but hope. I was the last one to cave in and say, “Let’s go.”
Was that your first time in California?
We had gone to California before that with Juice for the Urban Phenomenon event. That event was crazy. We hopped in a rental van, drove across country and threw this huge event at the LA Coliseum. It was Run DMC, the Executioners, MixMaster Mike, Brand Nubian, 808 State and so many more. We had 114 pro skaters there from Muska, Kareem Campbell, Kris Markovich, Ryan Sheckler, and Lance Mountain. Circa had just launched, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game was just getting ready to come out and Activision demoed the game there. We had the Red Bull vert ramp and a full street course. It was really good.
That was cool.
We had gone out for ASR a few times, too, and we stayed in Venice with one of Terri’s friends, so we just decided to move there. We packed up the U-Haul all day and we were supposed to leave at 6am in the morning, but Bryan Stahel stayed out all night with some chick. We didn’t get to leave until the next night because Bryan was MIA. We finally left and made it to a rest stop on the Turnpike in Jersey before we pulled over and went to sleep. We were stoked. Then we went to California.
What was that like being a magazine from the East Coast in California?
Well, in New York we’d just put out our first glossy cover ever.
That was the one with Caballero on it.
Yeah, we were all stoked on it. Vans had started building skateparks. And we were all psyched about that. The next issue had Glen Friedman’s photo of Jay Adams on the cover and the one after that had Rhino’s photo of Tony Alva on the cover at Gonzales’ pool. Right after that issue was when we moved. It was a magical time for Juice. We were selling ads as we were driving across country. That ended up being our highest selling issue at that point. We were really excited to be moving to the West Coast. We already had Dogtown advertising with us when we were in New York, so we were looking forward to hanging out with those guys.
How was it when you got there?
It was different. Being from the East Coast and going to California was like night and day. People are just different.
In a good way or a bad way?
To me, it was great. We ended up getting this place in Venice Beach. It was so lucky that we got it. They had the sign out for four hours and we were the first to look at it. We signed the lease that day. It was right on the boardwalk in Venice Beach in front of the old Pavilion, where everyone skated. I went to skate there the first day and people were definitely sizing me up, but I just kept showing up every day and skating. Then we started meeting all the Venice dudes and we did the Venice issue with all the Dogtown guys on the cover. The Dogtown documentary was just being filmed then.
It got a little easier to keep the magazine going there?
Yeah, we were going to the events, and meeting the skaters. We were so happy to be there and we were so full of life. We were stoked on it. Then people started seeing the magazine more and more. Street skating was still dominating big time, but we were staying true and doing vert and pool coverage. And then it started to work. People started to realize that Juice is a very vital magazine. People were really into it. They knew it had been around for a while. It wasn’t just some new magazine. From a sales point, it got easier because we got to know people. We got to meet people face to face. People started to understand the conceptual freedom that Juice embraces. What most people may not understand is how difficult it is to operate Juice Magazine on a daily basis with only two people. Most magazines have an editor, publisher, designer, photo editor, website builder, tape transcriber, administrator, fact checker and marketing director. Terri is all of those and more. My role includes assistant editor, setting up interviews, coordinating photo shoots, production of our merchandise, circulation, advertising sales, shipping and handling and more. All of our editors contribute their time and efforts as well. The daily grind is just overwhelming sometimes, but we keep on doing it. Our website was recently referred to as one of the most comprehensive news websites in all of action sports. The funny thing is that it’s a website, which has a different impact than a magazine, yet people dig that too. The heart and soul of it all is printed on paper – the one form of communication that has been around for centuries. Most everything important in the world that has any validity is printed on paper. And Juice is considered a paper of record for skateboarding, surfing and music. The best part about it for me is the way Juice impacts people. The way people to react to each issue is emotional and real and worldwide.
Then there was the trip to Hawaii. Do you want to talk about that?
I guess it would be kind of hard not to. Holy Shit. Hawaii. I’ll tell you how that went down. We put out Issue 49 with Knox Godoy on the cover. Then we put out issue 50 with Sloppy Sam on the cover. At that point, we were doing really good. The magazine wasn’t making a shit load of money, but the momentum was definitely flowing our way. We were putting out magazines every other month. So I guess I should take credit for the idea to make a movie, so the blame comes to me, too. I brought up the idea to Terri that we should do a video. I was like, “Everyone is doing videos. We have to do it.” Pat Myers was our roommate at the time and he was really good filmmaker and photographer from Hawaii. He was like, ‘Let’s go to Hawaii. Let’s do a trip over there and make a video.” I was like, “Yeah.” So we talked Terri into it. Then we ended up getting a meeting with HBO because there was a film company right below our office called Cucalorus. It’s Danny Ducovny’s film company. He’s David Ducovny’s brother. Linda Stewart that owns it and runs it was super cool. We’d do PA work for them sometimes to make extra money. So we ended up taking a meeting with this guy and he said, “We should send a camera crew and do it for HBO.” Then we drove out to the valley and took a meeting with a guy named Louis Schwartzberg. He is a super cinematographer dude that makes feature films. We met with him and he was like, “What’s your budget?” We were like, “Budget? We don’t have a budget. We’re just going to go over there and film and put it together.” We wanted to make a skate movie, not a feature film. So he got excited about it and wanted to do it for HBO. We decided we’d film it ourselves and then bring it back to HBO, so we ended up getting some family financing for it. It was Terri, Pat, me, you, Heidi Fitzgerald, Tony Alva, Dave Duncan, Steve Olson, Merk, Tim Clark, Steve Badillo, Brewce Martin and his kid Hellskull, Olson’s kid Alexander. Joey Tershay came over. There were like 16 of us altogether. We ended up renting this house in Kailua. That house was sick. What a week. I was blown away by that whole trip. I can’t even put it into words. That was the first time I’d ever gone on a skate trip like that. That was the first time I’d ever assumed the role of being responsible. We were trying to skate and film and make sure everyone had per diem. I had never done that before. I kind of lost it on that trip. I was throwing my board around at Wallos. I was a rookie. You guys had traveled the world. You, Duncan, Olson and TA have all traveled the world. You were just having a good time. You knew how to roll with that shit. I had never done that. I was freaking out. We haven’t finished making that movie yet, but we will. What do you remember about it?
It was just a lot of skateboarding and partying. Some fists flew. There were a lot of emotions going on. When you bring that kind of crew together people are going to lock horns, so people locked horns.
The best part of it was that we filmed that footage before the Dogtown documentary came out so TA’s ego wasn’t as big as it got. There were no Masters contests, or old school reissue boards coming out. There was nothing. The only companies making big boards at that time were Wounded Knee and Bulldog Skates. Nobody had a big ego at that point. We were all just stoked to be there, but when you get Brewce Martin, Tony Alva, Dave Duncan, Steve Olson and everyone else in the same environment for longer than a day, it turns into anarchy. There was cock blocking. There was snow in Hawaii. It was on.
There was a blizzard.
TA turned 43 years old on that trip and we had a big luau at Simon from Black Fly’s house. That night everyone went out and had some adult fun. It got crazy. I don’t know how we even got over there without getting arrested on the plane. You could never do the stuff that we did on that plane again in aviation history. That will never happen again.
We’d be in Guantanamo.
We have all the video, so hopefully you’ll all get to see it one day.
After Hawaii, what was your state of mind?
After that trip, things slowed down. The other thing was that on the way to the airport my laptop had gotten stolen. It had all the next issue on it, ready to go to print.
That was the precursor to the whole trip right there.
We were so bummed. We were all at the airport bar and we’re supposed to have this meeting about the trip and everyone just got wasted. I was freaking out that I’d lost my computer. Then it was like, “Fuck it. Let’s go.” But when we got back, we had to redo all of issue 51. That was tough, but we kept going, and put out issue 51 with Pete the Ox on the cover at the Hook. Skateboarding was transitioning, and then the Dogtown thing happened.
Who was on the staff when you moved to California?
The people on the staff were Terri, you, me, Bryan Stahel, Laurie, and Lisa Walters. That was it. Before we went to Hawaii, you’d interviewed Olson for issue 50. Then he started coming by the office in Venice. When he came to Hawaii, he slapped down a cassette tape on the table. He had interviewed Dave Hackett for the magazine. That was his first interview then it really started rolling from there. At that point, it was Terri, me, and Eric Dressen was our other roommate. We had a bunch of roommates like Pat Myers, Robin Fleming, Heidi Fitzgerald, Eric Dressen, Stoney, Concrete… Bryan had met a girl and moved away. We were just trying to make it work and have rent money. It was heavy. When we got back from Hawaii, Bryan had died. He had an asthma attack, which caused a heart attack one day when he was out surfing. We were really bummed, but we still kept going. Then we put out issue 52 with Eric D on the cover. That’s when we started the “Dogtown Chronicles”. Olson came up with the idea to interview everyone on the original Zephyr skate team. Then we put out Issue 53 with Jason Jessee on the cover that Ted shot. That was one of the best issues with the Devo interview that Olson did and Jason Jessee skating the Strawberry on the cover. Then we started to see the resurgence of vert and pool skating slowing coming back. Then the Dogtown documentary hit. I remember going to the trade show with the Jay Adams cover and I remember the impact it had. People were really looking at it like, “Holy shit.” That was a heavy cover. He’s got a tattoo of Charles Manson on his arm. He’d just gotten out of jail at that point.
That’s when I started skating pools. Ninety percent of the reason I started skating pools was because of you, Murf. Remember when we went to the combi for the first time and I was skating the street course? You were like, “Dan, get over here. You’ve got to ride this thing.” I was intimidated because the combi was huge. You got me skating that thing, and I never got to thank you for that. The first time my wheels hit tiles going around that square corner, that was the day it was on. I couldn’t believe it. I’d never gotten that feeling from my skateboard ever. It was nuts. Then after that, Rhino and Charno took me to my first pool over by the airport. We hit Shakeys. We hit five pools in one day. That was insane.
You were stoked.
Oh, yeah. I’ll never forget that session for the rest of my life, and I didn’t do anything except go around a corner. So we were living in Venice and then we started hanging out with dudes in Venice that still skated pools. Then Jesse Martinez started skating again, and then Murray and then Tuma. We’d all go and find pools. It was on. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I’d go skate a pool with Eric Dressen, never mind live with the dude. So I was skating the beach in Venice and starting to understand about the history of Venice. It was crazy. I was skating pools with Murray and Jesse Martinez. It was nuts.
Then they started helping with the magazine, too. It was a really good time for us. There’s no other place like Venice. Then we started rolling to events. The whole neighborhood would get in a caravan and start rolling to events seven cars deep. It felt like what it must have been like back in the day. We started feeling the momentum. We weren’t making money, but we felt like we were doing something that made a difference. That’s the one thing that Juice has always done. It’s the reason I’m still here. Terri has never lost her vision. It’s pretty cool. Other people were starting to see her vision, too, and the staff was growing. Then we were working with you, Olson, Jay Adams and Ted Terrebonne. Then our staff got crazier with Jeff Ho and O’Mahoney. Then Christian Hosoi got out of jail and started helping us. Then Dibi and Herbie jumped in the mix. Then Duncan joined the team. It was unbelievable. It was trippy to see it unfolding. I don’t think people will ever understand how hard it is to do this magazine.
What’s the hardest part about it?
Most magazines start with millions of dollars and go out of business in two years. Terri started with $500 and here we are 13 years later, still kicking ass. It’s really tough. You have to be super dedicated to it. You have to convince people to advertise and make it a valuable resource, and your content has to kick ass. I applaud anyone that can keep a magazine in business for longer than ten years. It’s tough.
Where were you on 9-11?
We were in Venice. Jesse Martinez called us right when it happened. He was like, “Dude, turn on your TV right now. America is getting attacked.” I was like, “No way.” We watched the second plane hit. After that, the economy kind of ate shit. We went straight to war. It hit us hard financially, so we went back to the East Coast for a few months. Leaving Venice sucked.
Why did you leave?
We just couldn’t afford it anymore. That’s why we left Venice. It was pretty sad. We’d lived there for six years. I loved that apartment. So we came to the East Coast for a few months and then went back to California and got a place in Marina Del Rey for a year.
What was the reception when you got back?
Everything was the same. We were stoked to be back, and then we came out with what I think was the best magazine we ever published, issue 58 with Aaron Murray on the cover. Christian interviewed Tony Hawk for that one. That was insane. We stuck it out in California for another year, but it was really tough financially, so we went back to Wilmington for a year and now we’re back in LA again. The magazine just keeps growing. Everyone is down for it.
You just got back from a road trip to Arizona. What was the reception to Juice there?
The cool thing is that everyone loves the magazine. It trips me out every time. People come up to me and say, “I just read this interview. It was sick. Keep up the good work. You guys are doing a great job.” When someone says something nice about the effort you put in, it’s really cool. Not many people know the effort that you, me, Terri, Olson and everyone else put into it. There seem to be a lot more people that are down and complimentary of the magazine than anything else. We have a good energy out there. Everyone in AZ was stoked. All the pros like Rune, Salba and Benji and everyone seem to have respect for the mag, and that’s a tough crowd. They all grew up on Thrasher like I did. It’s cool to have people be stoked on what we’re doing, too.
What do you think separates Juice from all the other magazines?
Heart. It’s important to have integrity and belief in what you’re doing, instead of just pushing products and following trends. It’s hard to explain. I don’t want to say anything negative about any other magazines, but it seems like a lot of them have a specific marketing plan. It feels plastic. Juice is just way more than a magazine. It has a heartbeat and a pulse. It eats and sleeps like a live thing. It seems like every time we do an issue, every article complements the other articles and every interview has a link to the others. It’s not forced, it just happens. People being interviewed in one story will be talking about someone else we interviewed in the same issue and vice versa. I truly think that Juice is the best skate magazine out there.
I think so, too. Why is it harder to make a skate magazine on the East Coast?
It comes down to the nuts and bolts of skateboarding. Skateboarding and surfing as an industry are based in California. If you’re not in California, it’s harder to be taken seriously. You’re also dealing with the seasons on the East Coast. On the West Coast, it’s summer all the time. There’s more action in California. In Wilmington, there’s not that big of a scene. The scene is cool. It’s just not big. When you’re talking about LA, you’ve got millions of people out there in the surf, skate, music and entertainment business.
What do you think about the fact that we’ve been covering concrete, pools and skateparks for 13 years and now it’s at the forefront of the action with the events like Pro-Tec Party, Arizona and the Trifecta. Now we have a concrete bowl series. Do you see other magazines trying to pick up on the audience we’re already appealing to?
I think it’s amazing what’s happening in skateboarding right now. It’s a dream come true for skateboarders of all abilities and genres. Having all of these skateparks is amazing. There are still a lot of skaters that will only skate the street, but now you have the World Cup concrete bowl series. You have the bowl contests happening. It’s the most exciting skateboarding to watch by far. As far as other magazines go, I think magazines in general will cover what the advertisers in those magazines tell them to cover. Some magazines in particular are bad about that and I think that’s very dangerous. As a person that loves magazines and loves skateboarding, it seems immature. Usually, when you see a magazine catering to a certain type of skateboarding, it has nothing to do with them loving that kind of skateboarding. It has to do with who is supporting that editorial. With Juice, it’s the exact opposite.
It’s funny. We think people should advertise in the magazine because the content is good. The content is raw and true and represents skateboarders. It’s about backyard pools and hunting down places to skate. It’s not easy to be that kind of skateboarder. A lot of times you have to create your own scene and build your own roundwall. You have to hunt. It’s warrior style.
Do you see companies trying to gear their ads towards more bowl skaters?
A lot of them are, but ironically a lot of the skater-owned companies aren’t. These company owners used to be skaters, too, and that’s what trips me out. Some of them say, “We don’t want to support bowl skating because it’s got a bad image.” I’m like, “You don’t want to support the guy with the PBR whose grinding with a 9-5 blue collar job and is a warrior on a skateboard?” They want to support the kid that could be on TV in the Jeep ad. Tony Hawk is an odd example. He’s a vert skater. He has huge endorsement deals. If you look at the next level down from him, the skaters getting the biggest endorsement deals are street skaters. Tony’s an exception to the rule. The industry doesn’t want to support this kind of skateboarding, because they can’t control it. It doesn’t project skateboarding in a good light to them. A lot of these company owners are freestylers. Let’s keep it real. Their whole mission in the ’90s was to destroy vert skating at the core.
And they did it. Now they’re seeing a resurgence in it. They’re like, “Oh, no, the bowl skaters are coming back again. Oh, shit. We hate them. Let’s clamp back down and support only the people that we know aren’t going to come up through that kind of niche.” The industry as a whole doesn’t like bowl skaters and pool skaters. There are certain companies that support it and those are the companies that support our magazine. They have the balls to stand up and say, “We’re a skateboarding company and we support skateboarders.” “Juice” has been a really good barometer for what’s really going on in skateboarding and who is really down for skateboarding, too. It really comes down to the fact that if the industry can’t control something then they try to destroy it. It’s really stupid.
Yeah, it is. What’s your duty now for the future?
I want to continue to work with Juice and persevere through the hard times and good times. I want to make sure that skateboarders as a whole have a voice through Juice. It’s not about making money. It’s about having a voice. That’s why we do it. We want to let other skateboarders know what’s up. It’s about being down for your bros, being down for your scene and doing good for humanity. With most pool skaters, there’s a brotherhood that still exists. As long as we can keep that fire burning and keep the underground in tune with what’s going on, that’s my “duty now for the future”. We’re doing it and we’re going to continue to do it. Anyone that doesn’t like it, can fuckin’ beat it!”
Do you have any final words or thanks?
Skateboarding has saved my life a few times. I want to thank Terri Craft for her complete belief and forgiveness, because I’ve made some mistakes, but she’s always backed me. I’ve never met anyone that will unconditionally back you as hard as she does. She’s taught me so much. I’m continuing to learn so much from her about loyalty and integrity. It’s unbelievable. She’s like a mountain. And then there’s you, Murf. If you would’ve told me eight years ago that you would be interviewing me, I would have told you that you were on crack. I think I learned the most about skateboarding from you. The first time I ever skated with you, I was blown away. You just skate so hard. When you fall, it’s because you fell off, not because you bailed. You get worked committing to a trick. That’s where it’s at. I’m stoked and honored to work with you all this time. For you to stick it out through all the shit we’ve been through, I’ve learned about loyalty. That’s something you take seriously. That’s rad. You’re one of the first people I call, whether shit is going bad or good. It’s like, “I’m going to call the Murf!”
You’re important to our existence. So thank you.
No problem, man.
I also have to thank my dad and my family. My dad has been 100% behind our efforts at Juice. He has a real big heart and he’s a real nice guy. He does a lot for his community, so it’s good to have his support. My dad has been very supportive. My mom, sister and step-dad have been supportive, too. They understand we’re going after our dream. They’re all for it. I also have to thank Steve Olson. He’s one of a kind, too. He’s been a big supporter. He’s a person that completely understands the integrity of what we’re doing. He does amazing interviews and we’re psyched to have his help. Dave Duncan is a busy guy, he rode with you for Alva and he has his thing going on with the World Cup and ramp building, yet he takes time out to do interviews and help us, too. Christian Hosoi. Are you kidding me? That’s such an honor. What do you even say? I’ll never forget the day that we were supposed to interview Tony Hawk, and Christian Hosoi was still sleeping. I was calling his cell phone every minute. Then I remembered that Terri had his home number. So I called and got that and started calling his home number. Christian’s grandmother answered and I explained that we were supposed to go interview Tony Hawk and could she go get Christian up. So she went and woke him up. I got there and Christian was taking his time getting ready. Then we drove down to interview Tony Hawk. We were so late. Tony had already eaten his breakfast. He was ready to leave the restaurant and then Christian just rolled in. The look on Tony’s face and the look on Christian’s face was unreal.
What was Tony’s reaction?
I think Tony was genuinely stoked that Christian was there. It was the first time they’d sat down and talked since Christian had gotten out of jail. Christian was really stoked to see Tony, too. As a kid, I never got to see Tony and Christian compete against each other, and if I ever get to see them compete I’ll be stoked. To hear their stories and to hear them talking to each other was crazy. It was such an honor to be there. Christian was so punk rock about it. He just got out of jail and he didn’t even care. His ego is still there. He’s like, “I’m the man.” He didn’t even apologize for being late. Even though Tony is more financially successful, Christian is still cooler. Nothing against Tony. For us to become friends with Christian and for him to be working with Juice is unbelievable. Then, of course, there’s Jay Adams.
What was it like working with Jay all this time as he’s been in jail, out of jail and back in jail?
Jay is one of a kind. That’s all you can say. Even though he’s been in and out of jail, the dude has a pure heart. He’s like a kid all the time. I’ve gone skating with him a couple of times and he’s just like a kid. When he does his interviews he gets super excited about it. He’s really excited to help out with the magazine. He gets it, too. Everyone that does interviews for Juice gets it. When Jay interviews people, he’s stoked. Every time you talk to Jay even when he’s calling collect from prison, he’s in a good mood. He’s making jokes in jail. He’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, man, I’m in prison again.” He doesn’t really care where he is. He’s just always in a good mood. He’s just cool. Every time you get to talk to Jay on the phone it’s something you’ll remember. He leaves an impression. There’s something to be learned from that. It’s a huge honor to work with him.
The impact he’s had is insane. Then we have Jeff Ho. He’s been one hell of an inspiration for Juice. You want to talk about integrity. Look up that word in the dictionary, and his name should be in there somewhere. For 30 plus years, he has done Zephyr on his own terms with his own unique shapes and designs. People have tried to rip him off so many times, but he’s always remained completely true to what he is. When he does his interviews he’s got that little kid curiosity, too. He found the fountain of youth. I love to hear him ask the questions that he asks. Part of doing a good interview is asking the right questions and Jeff does that. He’s been a really good friend to us.
Jeff is a really good guy.
And the impact he’s had on our culture is undeniable. For him to have an impact through Juice and through what he’s doing with Zephyr, it’s an honor to be able to present that. That’s all there is to it. Then there’s James O’Mahoney. You want to talk about a guy that’s had an interesting life and done a lot of things and touched a lot of people’s lives. When he gets his interviews going, he has so much fun. You get stoked. It’s really cool to work with him. His whole attitude and persona is completely contagious in a positive way and anybody that gets a chance to meet the O, you’ll know. You’ll learn shit. That guy is truly awesome. You get him on the phone and talk to him and he’s like, “Yeah, just keep going. Keep doing it. You guys are doing a good job. Everyone loves it.” He’s very encouraging. It’s a big deal to have those kinds of people telling you that you’re doing the right thing.
Yeah, it is.
It’s crazy. Then you have Ted Terrebonne who has been shooting photos forever. He took the first photo of Christian Hosoi that got in a magazine. Who would have known what Christian would become, and Ted was shooting him as a kid. Ted is in his fifties, but when you send him out to shoot a photo, you’d never know it. He’s like a kid. He’s excited to take photos. He’s so stoked on skateboarding. He’s a very good photographer and he’s so down for it. Ted has never made millions of dollars, but you’d never know it because the guy is just happy all the time. He has that energy that even if you’re in a bad mood, you’re stoked. We’re stoked to have Ted contribute photos. And what about Dibi and Herbie Fletcher? You want to talk about some history in surfing. Dibi and Herbie keep it real. They don’t give a fuck. They tell it like it is. It’s an honor and a privilege to talk to them on the phone every time I talk to them. They’re also very excited about what they do. They’re just rad. Look at their family, Joyce Hoffman, Flippy, Christian, Nathan, Greyson, Dibi, Herbie… Now Dibi’s doing an HBO series. And Herbie’s art and photos are unbelievable. It’s a super honor to work with them. I can’t even list all the people that have contributed to Juice. I could try to make a list, but you’ll just have to dig up some back issues and look for yourselves.
What were some of the highlights?
To have a photo of Jimi Hendrix in Juice, that’s never been published before, to have Stecyk writing stuff, and Friedman contributing photos, it’s unimaginable. All of those people being involved make it so much more important than any other magazine as far as I’m concerned. All the other magazines do good work, but it’s really hard to put any staff up against those names I just mentioned. It’s very humbling. That’s all there is to it. The opportunities that I’ve had with Juice have been great. I was greener than the grass when I started. I’ve grown up a little through the years and Terri’s afforded me the chance. It’s cool. Thanks to everyone that ever bought an ad in Juice. Thanks to everyone that subscribes and reads. Thanks for understanding what we’re doing. We appreciate that very much. We couldn’t do it without our advertisers, so thank you advertisers. Keep advertising. We appreciate it.
Rock n’ roll. There you go.
Thanks, Murf. To everyone that reads Juice and supports the cause, you are the reason we do this magazine. We are always stoked to get your letters and we save every one. Keep skateboarding a crime.
Thank you, Dan. Thanks for hanging in there on the rollercoaster.
It’s a big honor. I’ve been grinding pool coping. Keep it real. Over and out.
DAN LEVY INTERVIEWS