INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY
INTRODUCTION BY ERIC DRESSEN
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN LEPANTO
Back in 1978, everyone took notice of Steve Olson. He introduced us all to hardcore punk rock skateboarding. If not for him, skaters would still have long bleach blond hair, O.P. short shorts and listen to Led Zep and Fleetwood Mac. Steve left his indelible mark on skateboarding. Olson changed the look and outlook of skateboarding forever.
Bulky! What’s up?
Alright, you know what? Straight out – don’t call me ‘Bulky’. Let’s just get this straight. ‘Bulky’ is the stupidest name I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s like a dude puking or a guy gaggin’ on cocaine because he’s doing lines back to back.
Does that dude have a name?
What’s the story?
You want the story? I’ll break it down. My older brother Bucky and I used to skate and there was this other guy in San Diego called Bucky. They called this SD guy Buuecky instead since there were two of them. Rod Saunders used to know my brother and they called us Bucky and ‘Bulky’. I didn’t care what they called me.
You were punk as fuck, huh?
No, I was just a little surf rat then.
“I WAS PICKED SKATEBOARDER OF THE YEAR AND NOT YOU. I PICKED MY NOSE. I SLUNG MY BOOGERS. T.A. THROWS HIS TROPHY IN THE TRASH. WE DIDN’T CARE. NEXT THING YOU KNOW, OUR POPULARITY WAS EVEN BIGGER THAN EVER.”
How old were you then?
What were your main parks?
Carlsbad. They had a couple of smaller bowls, back when Cadillac Wheels were out, before precision ball bearings.
And you were living in Orange County?
I lived right outside of Seal Beach in a place called Rossmoor.
Who were you skating with then?
Surfers. Dudes from Harbor Surfboards and Wayne Brown Surfboards that made Wayne Brown Skateboards. You had Wayne Brown Skateboards, Zephyr, Logan Earth Ski and G&S and then you had all the other nig-nogs in there.
This is before the Dogtown scene heated up?
No, this is when Dogtown was happening.
Did you ever go and skate with those guys?
No, I surfed with Jay Adams in Huntington a few times.
How was J-Boy back then?
Same as he is now. Punk as fuck, cool as ever. He was bad ass. I surfed with him and then we’d skate under the pier.
Did you ever see T.A.?
We discovered the Fruit Bowl back in the day.
Who discovered it?
Well, Steve Thomas, the Alvarez brothers and I would ride the bus over to Garden Grove and meet up with this guy Willy who really discovered the Fruit Bowl. Little Willy had a pool near his house too, which was off Brookhurst and then the Fruit Bowl off Garden Grove. Little Willy was more a biker than a skater, so he was carving his bike around this pool at an insane asylum and that’s how it got it’s name the Fruit Bowl. That’s where I saw Waldo, Jay, Tony and Warren Bolster with photo sessions going down.
Was there crazy localism going down?
There were major egos and major attitudes. You think they’re bad now. Tony Alva. He wrote the book. TA was like Mohammed Ali or Cassius Clay, whoever you want to go with.
If Tony Alva was Ali, who was Steve Olson?
What part of the pool was your target?
The light. You either carved over the light or under the light.
You weren’t even thinking about the coping?
Aw dude, I hit tiles my first day in a pool at this square pool out at Mt. Baldy.
Tell me about when you first got sponsored.
I got sponsored by Wayne Brown Skateboards in Huntington Beach. I was like the outsider kid from Long Beach riding for the HB Team. Then I started riding for Powerflex Wheels, Harbor Skateboards and Foam which turned into Powell Peralta. I was the first dude to ride for them and I brought them Ray ‘Bones’ Rodriguez. So, I rode for Bones. Ray Bones was down in Skatopia and we just ruled the USSA. Then the Santa Cruz team, supposedly the best amateur team, came down to the Concrete Wave, in their motor home with their matching jerseys and we just fucked ‘em up hard. Ray Bones and me. I beat the fuck out of ‘em in the bank slalom and in the bowl.
How did you get on Santa Cruz?
Well, I didn’t jump on their team immediately. I just kept beating them in contests. Then I won the Overall in the Amateur Series and then the Spring Valley Contest was coming. That’s when I joined Santa Cruz and went pro.
Was that your first pro contest?
Yeah, it got rained out three weekends in a row. The favorites like Dennis Martinez and Pineapple were supposed to win because it was their home park. They did rip but Scott Dunlap, Salba, Mike Weed and I fucked ‘em up. Salba won because he didn’t fall off, but I made up tricks during my routine. And I did doubles with this guy, Dunlap, ‘Don Huey’ was his nickname. He was kinda big, kinda Dunlapish. We were doing a minute 30 doubles run routine. It really came down to an endurance test. We were both goofy foot and hadn’t really gone over our run but we had agreed one of us would go high on the drop in and the other would go low. We pushed in really fast and both went high and collided in the middle. Don Huey probably outweighed me by about 20 pounds. But that’s why I’m The Bulkster! Salba being Le Machine was doing wheeler to wheeler and he ripped but not to say he shouldn’t have won or anything but he certainly wasn’t doing tricks like me and Mike Weed. I think I tied for first in longest carve. I got 3rd, Dunlap 4th, Salba won and Mike Weed got second.
What happened next?
We went to Upland, their home park and all the Badlands dudes were favored to win. Tay Hunt got 1st, Chris Strople got 2nd, Don Huey got 3rd and I got 4th. And the only reason I didn’t win was because I hadn’t learned airs yet. So, Don Huey and I were tied for first overall going up to Newark for the third contest. We were like the new upstarts coming up. Blackheart had the advantage at his home park but I had learned FS airs in a washboard over in Winchester, so now I’ve got that in my arsenal of tricks. So, it comes down to the top 16. Salba had choked at Upland and Salba choked at Newark. TA pulled out the ten inch board. We were riding 8 1/2′s with 16′ wheel base. But Mike Weed was riding double kick tails. Blackhart does the first fs roll-in over coping, Bobby Valdez throws the first invert. It was revolutionary.
What did you think when you saw the first invert?
I thought Bobby Valdez must be on acid or some peyote from Mexico. He had this super smooth casual cool style. It was effortless, pre-Hosoi smoothness. Now we can roll in and go upside down. And, oh my god, there’s Terry Nails in black tight leather pants, cowboy boots, a black and white cow vest, cowboy hat, with his hair jet black and Buddy Holly mirrored sunglasses on. That was when punk rock started. That dude was the coolest cat I’d ever seen. It was like Halloween can exist everyday now if you choose.
Back to the contest.
Oh yeah, I was eighth going into the finals… Wait, I have a story. I’m in history class in the 10th grade taking a test. My test paper had a bunch of sketches of the Keyhole Pool and tons of lines I’d drawn in. The teacher came up behind me and snatched up my paper and said, ‘Mr. Olson, this is not history!’ And, I said, ‘No, not yet.’ And I was already making more money skateboarding than she was making as a teacher.