Christian Hosoi Surf Skate Style

SURF SKATE STYLE WITH CHRISTIAN HOSOI.
INTERVIEW BY JEFF HO.
PHOTO BY ART BREWER.

 

My name is Jeff Ho, and I’m interviewing the myth, the legend, the ultimate stylist, Christian Hosoi. Christian, how is it going?

Wow. I appreciate the love in that, man, from Jeff Ho, one of the people behind Zephyr, Shogo Kubo, Jay Adams, Tony Alva… You’re the one that inspires me. To say something like that is just a huge honor. I really appreciate that. Thank you so much.

Well, thank you. Christian, in my mind, you’re one of the ultimate stylists on a skateboard, and I’ve got a couple of questions for you. We’re talking about surfskate style. When did you first hear the words surfskate style?

Well, I’ve never heard of that term all in one sentence like that, but I believe that they’re all connected. I think there is something so beautiful about surfing on a wave, especially when I think of the most elegant surfing, like Gerry Lopez dropping in at Pipeline and just soul arching and relaxing into the tube on those boards with the   Lightning Bolt on them. Seeing that calmness in such a treacherous moment, that is the ultimate style. That is what burned in my mind as being the pinnacle of style. How that transfers to skateboarding is because surfing birthed skateboarding because they wanted to surf on land. Sidewalk surfing came in and it was all about surfing on the land, so the moves they were doing were surf-related. When I got into it, my idols were Jay Adams and Shogo Kubo, who surfed. I would go surfing with them at four in the morning and I’d sit on the rocks and they’d be yelling at me, “Get in the water!” I’d be like, “I’m not getting in the water. It’s freezing! You guys are nuts!” I’d try it, but I never got past that point. I liked to go watch those guys shred because there was something about it that I was so attracted to and I believe it was the style and the grace and the power and how you generate speed. There’s not an engine there. You can’t rev a boat. It’s not a hill where you gyrate your speed. When you see it done properly, there’s something uniquely beautiful about it. Skateboarding adopted that in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. That’s when I came in and it was all about doing my tricks and pretending I was in the water, because my ultimate goal was to emulate    surfing. Surfing style and skateboarding style are all  married to each other, and it’s what I love so much. I love martial arts too, and Bruce Lee and his style and Elvis Presley and his style, but there’s something about fluid style when there’s power involved and there’s speed involved. When it comes to skateboarding, there is height involved too. That’s where you get the ultimate refined style that comes out of that. When you see it, you just know.

That’s very cool. You know, as one of the leaders and one of the most stylish skaters that I’ve ever seen, what does surfskate style mean to you?

It’s an expression. When I think of style, it’s expressive, and everyone expresses themselves differently. Everyone has their own laugh and everyone has their own walk and everyone has their own way of doing things and I think it’s an expression of one’s self and it’s pure. You can’t front it. You can’t fake it because          everyone knows if you are or not. When it comes out pure, it’s something that is so beautiful and so flowing that you’re just attracted to it, and you can’t help but keep your eyes focused on it. Until it stops, you’re basically in the moment, just absorbing it all. That’s what I love about surfing and skateboarding – it has that    feeling. Art is great. Music is amazing, but there is   something about when you add the athletics to it. It’s like when Bruce Lee is flying a kick or doing a combination of punches or having to fight a group of guys. There’s something about that. It’s not planned. It’s spontaneous. I think that’s what style really is. It’s real and pure, as is the spontaneity of whatever you’re doing.

Who has the best surfskate style?

I’ll just name the one that I always pick and that’s Jay Adams. Rest in peace J-Boy. To me, J-Boy was the ultimate stylist. He personified the freedom to express himself without being subjective or it seeming forced. There was no money involved. Obviously, he skated for some money, but there was never any indication that he was doing something because it was monetary. I think that Jay is one of those guys that really was pure at heart when he surfed and skated. He is the one that Stacy Peralta said, “When God created skateboarding, let there be Jay Adams.” To me, that is so profound because Jay raised me. When I was young, he brought me into Z-Flex, and we became partners through thick and thin and through dark and light. I think if there is any one person, that personifies surfskate style, it’s Jay. I have a whole list that would fill a page, if I were to start naming them all, but then I’d have to keep adding to it because there are so many people today that are starting to carry that torch. To me, it’s the aggressive attitude, the flow and the freedom in how they approach skateboarding. For Jay, it wasn’t so much about the tricks he did. It was more in his approach and how it remained pure. I have to say Gerry Lopez too. He’s the guy that burned in my mind to be stylish.

How has surfing influenced skateboarding and how has skateboarding influenced surfing?

I think surfing gave skateboarding that flow, which obviously Jay Adams, Tony Alva and Shogo Kubo took to the pools as they emulated surfing. I think that’s what surfing gave to skateboarding. What skateboarding gave to surfing is the aerials and the maneuvers that advanced and progressed the sport and took it to a whole other level, where you see it today. I think that’s the healthy giveback. I think they complimented each other along the way and there’s been a lot of respect on both ends. It took a while for us to grow each culture in the industry to where we see it today. Now surfing and skating are the biggest, coolest cultures that we love the most. For me and you, Jeff, it represents who we are. Whether it’s art or music or skating or surfing or fashion, it all relates to what we do and who we are. I think that’s a healthy relationship. What surfing gave skateboarding, I believe skateboarding gave back to surfing and then some. I think it’s been an amazing journey. I’m 50 now and to be able say that I’ve been part of it since I was ten years old and to still be involved is incredible. Just to be doing an interview with Jeff Ho is amazing. Come on! I’m feeling pretty special right now! [Laughs]

Come on now. You’re a special individual and I’ve watched you skate since you were a young, little, mini grom. Okay, I have another question. Is surfskate style important today?

I think it’s always been important. Maybe it’s not for some people, because tricks became a more progressive part of the sport, but I think that in our culture of people that like certain things and are attracted to certain types of art and music and certain types of skating, I think style has always been an important factor. It’s almost like it’s a mandatory factor where I come from. Within the school that I came from, and the school of guys that I learned from, like you, style matters more than money. I’d rather be stylish and basically skateboarding for free than to not be stylish and making millions of dollars. I’m not doing this for money. It’s all passion. It’s all love. If you get paid on top of it, that’s a bonus. I’m doing what I love regardless. When I started skateboarding, it was like, “Could you imagine if I could do this for a living? I wouldn’t have to work a day in my life. I’d do this anyway!”

Oh, man, you got it, Christian.

To be complimented by you about my style is so humbling because I learned from the best. I learned how to stay grounded and how to remember where I came from and I owe that to my father, Ivan, and my mom, Bonnie, who kept my head on straight. There were times when I could have gotten carried away, but I was always brought back down to Earth by guys like J-Boy and Shogo. They’d say, “We do this because we do this. We’re not doing this because someone said to do it.” To me, that has always remained the foundation and why I try to keep it real. I love skating and I love doing all the things that we get to do with skateboarding, with all of our sponsors, like traveling with Vans around the world and being able to represent as an ambassador of skateboarding, and showing up and signing autographs and taking photos and doing demos and contests and all that. That’s just a part of giving back and sharing what we love so much. On top of that, we get to skate all over the world at the best places. I think we’re reaping the benefits of all the hard work and all of the walls we had to tear down. There were a lot of naysayers that said we were just a bunch of punks. Now look at us. Everyone wants to be a part of it and it’s cool. Skateboarding and surfing are still the coolest things in the world, to me.

I’m so thankful that we can still do it and we’re still here.

That’s right.

The waves are good, man. I’m at First Point at Malibu right now and the waves are just roping right now.

Nice. I was just driving in H.B. and it was insane. If I could surf, I would have been out there. You know what I said to J-Boy right before he passed? Right before he passed he told me, “You’re going to learn to surf. When I get back from Mexico, I’m going to teach you how to surf.” When he passed, I made a vow that I’m going to learn how to surf.

You have to come up and go surfing with me.

For sure. This summer is going to be the summer I think that I’m going to be out there flailing until I get it right. I can’t wait to be able to ride a wave. It’ll be cool.

Yeah! Come up to Malibu this summer. It’s going to be a good summer.

I’m going to be psyched. I’m going to look up to the sky and say, “J-Boy, this barrel is for you!” I think that’s what’s next.

Nice. Is there anything else you want to say about surfskate style?

When it comes to encouraging people to discover or find style, you just have to find what inspires you and what intrigues you. What is it that motivates you? For me, it was surfing. It was Christian Fletcher. It was Bruce Lee. It was Elvis Presley. It was Clint Eastwood. Those are the ones that inspired me to have style. That created and  personified what I do. I just added all of that together and it’s really who I am and what created my style. Everyone has inspirations, but they don’t add that to what they’re doing sometimes. If they’re surfing and skating, and just trying to do what they do, it’s cool, but if they tried to capture that moment and think of where they’re at and just flow, whether it’s by listening to music or envisioning someone you look up to or whatever it is that inspires you, you can let that take you there and the world goes away and it’s just you and the wave, or you and the ramp, or you and the pool. You become one with it. I believe that’s where your true pure skate and surf style will come forth.

Hosoi’s style was and is iconic! Crafted in ‘70s skateparks and ‘80s vert/street culture, just a stone’s throw away from the beaches of California, Hosoi’s skate style was emulated In every skate shot and video you would see. This backyard ramp air with surf icon, Christian Fletcher, looking on tells the story of surfskate style crossover! Photo © Art Brewer

JUICE MAGAZINE SURF SKATE STYLE STORY:

The influence of surfing on skateboarding has been discussed since the beginning of both, yet we have now entered a new era, where skateboarding has returned the favor with its own unique influence on the surfing world. In order to get to the core of this cross over and to try to define the origins and current state and status of surf skate style, we’ve interviewed some of the most innovative skateboarders, surfers, artists, documentarians, photographers, filmmakers and musicians on the planet. In honor of the great, Shogo Kubo, who once said, “To me, style is everything…” welcome to our exploration of Surf Skate Style featuring interviews with Aaron Murray, Aaron Astorga, Abraham Paskowitz, Art Brewer, Bennett Harada, Brad Bowman, Brandon Cruz, Brian Brannon, Carter Slade, Chris Miller, Chris Strople, Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Craig Stecyk III, Darren Ho, Dave Tourje, David Hackett, Dennis Martinez, Dibi Fletcher, Don Redondo, Eric Britton, Garrett McNamara, Gerry Lopez, Glen E. Friedman, Greg Falk, Greg Galbraith, Greyson Fletcher, Herbie Fletcher, James O’Mahoney, Jef Hartsel, Jeff Ament, Jeff Divine, Jeff Ho, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Gray, John Van Hamersveld, Jonathan Paskowitz, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Kalani David, Keith Morris, Kirra Kehoe, Larry Bertlemann, Laura Thornhill, Lizzie Armanto, Marc Emond, Michael Denicola, Michael Early, Nano Nobrega, Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Neil Stratton, Norton Wisdom, Pat Bareis, Randy Katen, Ray Flores, Rob Nelson, Robert Trujillo, Scott Oster, Shane Allen, Shaun Tomson, Shota Kubo, Solo Scott, Stacy Peralta, Steve Alba, Steve Olson, Takuji Masuda, Terry Nails, Tim Curran, Tim Hendricks, Tim Kerr, Tom Groholski, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Zach Miller.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, ORDER ISSUE #75 AT THE JUICE SHOP…

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