INTERVIEW BY STEVE OLSON
INTRODUCTION BY STEVE OLSON
PHOTOS BY WARREN BOLSTER
The Cadillac Kid, smooth, stylish, barefoot… What else do you need to know? Maybe the best footage ever shot of a skateboarder skating downhill to date. (SpinningWheels) If ever there was a Soul Skater, Weaver was it.
“FULL PIPES ARE JUST UNREAL. WE DROVE LIKE AN HOUR FROM PHOENIX AND WHEN WE PULLED UP IT WAS JUST PIPE AFTTER PIPE. IT WAS SURREAL. THEY WERE ALL LINED UP.”
What’s up, brother?
Who is this?
Weaver. You called me.
What do you mean? Who am I talking to?
What are you getting at?
What is your name?
What are you looking at? Have you ever seen Next Friday when they go into the suburbia of Rancho Cucamonga and the Mexicans were all, “What are you looking at?”
So you like Next Friday?
That’s the best one, dude. I love that movie. What’s happening, dude?
Nada. I’m almost done with this bookshelf. Then I have to make one for Hackett. I told him I need a board and a picture because it’s going to be a dinosaur theme.
[Laughs] You’re funny. How old are you?
I’m old, dude.
Let me tell you right now, we’re not going there. You’re like a chick. “I’m old.” If you said to me, “Olson, how old are you? I’d say, “Forty-sex.”
Answer the question. Are you older or younger than I?
See, that’s going to leave a mark. That could mean years of therapy.
No, this is the start of your final therapy. I want to do this interview.
[Laughs] Let’s knock it out.
Okay, you have to tell me your name.
I have to fill out the form?
Are you really Gregg Weaver?
Yeah, and Gregg has two ‘G’s on the end. See, you would have fucked that up already.
That’s why I asked you how to spell it.
Wait. Let me get my license out. G-R-E-G-G W-E-A-V-E-R.
Gregg Weaver, also known as the Cadillac Kid.
[Laughs] Yeah. I’ll never live that one down.
No, you’ll never live that one down while I’m around. Where did you grow up?
I spent most of my life in Encinitas. I moved here when I was eight years old from the LA area. Encinitas is my hometown, though. I went to Cardiff Elementary.
Where were you born?
I was born in San Jose, but I only lived there for a year. My dad was in the military. My dad was a Navy fighter pilot in Korea.
Wait. So was my dad.
He set the world record for the highest, fastest bail out in an airplane. He flew the L10-11 and the SR71 Blackbird, which broke apart at 85,000 feet doing 2,220mph.
Wow. My old man used to fly the F86. My dad was in the Korean War as a fighter pilot, too.
They probably flew together, huh? My dad was at Lockheed after the Navy, but he was basically a test pilot. My dad is still flying and he’s 78 years old. He’d have fun with your dad.
Uh… That’s where I was going with this.
[Laughs] Oh, I’m sorry. I’m inhaling varnish fumes.
You want us to believe that you’re inhaling varnish fumes that are floating up your nose from making a bookshelf? Where is the plastic baggie?
[Laughs] I have a silver ring around my finger.
Well, let’s not get off the subject. What did you do as a kid growing up in Encinitas?
I surfed. Then I got a Black Knight skateboard from the next-door neighbor. Then Cadillac wheels came out.
We’re not getting that far ahead of ourselves yet.
[Laughs] Am I trying to rush this thing?
[Laughs] Oh, you can try all you want.
Dude, I like you. We’ve got to hang out.
[Laughs] That’s not going to happen. Wait a minute, though. Everybody from our generation had a Black Knight. They had to have sold a lot of skateboards. Then everyone rode a Roller Derby. Did you ever advance to the longer version of the Black Knight, the Indy 500?
No, I didn’t go that far. We were pretty broke, my parents. My neighbor didn’t want the board, so he gave it to me. I’d ride it to school, hit a pebble and leave more skin on the asphalt than you’d ever think was possible. Then I got an old Hobie stringer model. That was when the urethane wheels came out. That was a huge buy, getting that thing.
Did you have the urethane wheels on the Hobie?
Originally, I had clay wheels on the Hobie, but I remember the Cadillacs had just come out. I was cruising down Neptune, to my sister’s house in Leucadia, from Cardiff. I was skating down the road and Frank Nasworthy said, “Hey, do you know Donald Gonder?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “He was supposed to show up to skate for this Cadillac Wheels ad, but I can’t find him. Do you want to go shoot it? I’ll give you this short john wetsuit.” I’m like, “Sure!”
They picked up the Cadillac wheels poster boy on the sidewalk of Neptune’s?
[Laughs] Yeah, Donald Gonder should have been the Cadillac kid.
Well, he’s not and you are. He didn’t show up and you just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
That’s my whole skateboarding history. It was crazy. There were so many more guys that ripped way better than I did.
That’s enough of that. So they grabbed you off the street?
Nasworthy said, “Do you want to go shoot some pictures?”
Of course, you said, “Yes.”
Are you kidding me, dude? For a short john wetsuit, of course, I said yes. But it took him like, six months to get it to me. I was like, “Fuck, man. A deal’s a deal.” I skated by his house every week.
Who took the photos?
Frank and his buddies shot the first photos and sent them in for the original Cadillac Wheel ads, but they lost the film. Then they sent Art Brewer down to shoot the ads. Brewer was lying on the back of the truck going down La Costa hill yelling, “Go faster!” He shot the photos that they used in the ads. They landed Brewer. I got the good photographer.
Art came in and took the photos?
Then they started Skateboarder, and Bolster called me. He saw the original Cadillac Wheels ad. Then I had this one thing in Surfer. Bolster said, “We’re starting this magazine.” So we became friends. Like I said, there were a lot better skaters.
Okay, I’m so over that in this conversation. There may have been better skaters, but many had no style. Maybe you should stop and look at what’s really going on.
I should just shut up while I’m behind?
Just shut up, because this interview is over.
Do you promise?
No. It’s just like the short john.
How stoked were you when you saw your picture in the magazine?
I was stoked. Those ads were cool. All I ever got from Frank was those wheels and that short john wetsuit, which I had to work for. Just kidding, Frank. That guy is a cool dude, though. Didn’t he re-invent skateboarding with the urethane wheel?
Um, I think he brought skateboarding to a whole new level.
He came to our wedding and I introduced him to Hackett. I was like, “Hackett, this is Frank Nasworthy.” Hackett was stoked to have been introduced to the man who re-invented skateboarding. ”
[Laughs] Okay. How did you get on Hobie?
They contacted me. That was my first real sponsor. I wasn’t on Hobie when I first met Bolster, though.
Okay, wait. They brought back Skateboarder and you’re on the cover, in the pool.
Right. I only went halfway up. I’ve heard that my whole life.
It has nothing to do with that. You were on the cover of Skateboarder when it first came out. How rad was that?
I walked into 7-11, saw it, and I was like, ‘Hey, that’s me!’
That was my first cover. Bolster was meticulous. I had tile shots, but that’s the one he wanted. He had an idea in mind and went with it. He was a perfectionist.
The impact of that cover and that cover happening to be you had a huge effect on kids around the world.
Here are these toys we play with and now here’s an empty swimming pool. Where was that pool?
San Marcos. San Diego. My buddy says, “We have an empty pool. Do you want to ride it?” We were like, “Sure.” We’d just been riding ditches and trenches. That pool was the perfect eight-foot kidney. It was bitchin’!
The sensation of skating a pool is like carving around a Hot Wheels track.
It was the real deal. Those pipes in Arizona were perfect, too.
Did you get a cover in the pipes, too?
No, I didn’t.
You had a cover shot at Skatopia, though.
Yeah, and I got a cover at El Cajon, which was a shitty park.
That’s the one where you’re doing the handplant thing?
That was a lame-ass cover. That cover sucked, but Skatopia was a cool park.
And you were riding those big spongy, orange-red Kryptonics. My memory is really sharp.
I can tell.
This is important. It’s crucial. We’d been riding pools, but then you got the cover. It was on. You had a flowing, casual style like Lopez.
That was it. Gerry Lopez was my idol. I remember watching old surf movies like Five Summer Stories. We’d lie on the couches and people would be smoking weed in the theater. I was just blown away by those guys that would drop in and arch into the barrel.
It’s kind of like a Zen master.
Exactly. Lopez was my idol.
We used to emulate our surfing heroes’ styles, but listen to where I’m going with this. Jay [Adams] and the Dogtown cats were emulating Bertlemann and Buttons. You were doing the Lopez, casual style thing. It was a direct wink to the surfers that were older.
You’re right. It was a tribute to Sam Hawk and that crew.
Do you remember that magazine?
I still have that magazine. That mag is sick. Those guys laid down hardcore style at Pipeline. Why did you dig skateboarding?
I started it for transportation, and then I just started digging it. It was just natural. It was bitchin’. Then the Cadillac wheels came out. That’s when La Costa was brand new and we’d go over there and bomb the hill.
What was up with putting the Cadillac wheels and Sure Grip trucks on the water skis, Weaver?
[Laughs] That landed me a longboard. We used to shape our own boards. I always worked with wood, so I always made my own boards. We got mahogany. Then we figured out that we needed to through bolt them because a few guys hit manhole covers and the back trucks would fall off. You were just watching your buddy go flying up off the curb, at 40 mph, with his trucks flying off.
That’s so epic. I forgot about that. We used to use half-inch wood screws. What about skateboarding without shoes?
It just felt better.
Grip tape wasn’t happening yet, so you had to grip your board.
You could feel the edge of the board, but you pulled your toe off enough times stubbing it that the whole front of your toe comes off. Did you skate barefoot?
Totally. It was all about being able to grip your board and stubbing the shit out of your toes.
Look at my shoe on that one cover at El Cajon. Look at my shoe.
I was there the day you shot that cover.
Yes, I was. I was watching. I was in awe. I was jealous. I was like, “Look at those dudes! They don’t have to buy any equipment.”
[Laughs] I love that Duane Peters’ movie where he spit on Tony Hawk. Tony asked for his autograph and Duane spit on him.
I just talked to Duane an hour ago. He said, “What are you doing today?” I said, “I’m going to interview Gregg Weaver.” He was like, ‘Fuck, that’s rad.”
No way. When you talk to him, tell him that I’m making this bookshelf in the dinosaur theme and I need a board from him. Tell him he’s on the top shelf. That guy is gnarly.
So you used to make your own skateboards. You made them for yourself and there was some real connection between you and your skateboard.
I think so. But then I sold out to Hobie.
Wait. How did your friends react to you getting the cover?
I started riding for Hobie, so I was making good money. It was a $500 a month salary and 50 cents a board.
That was huge.
They never told me how many boards they sold, but I would make like, $2,000 a month, and we’d go party with it. I’d go pick my check up in Costa Mesa. Rodney Jesse and I would go. He’d say, “Let’s go get your check, Weaver!” That guy shreds.
You and Rodney Jesse were tight.
Yeah. Tony [Alva] and all those guys respected him.
Rodney charged hard.
You didn’t have any beef with those guys really?
No, I totally respected those guys. I don’t think they disrespected us either. It was all bravado. With the interviews that Stecyk did in the magazine, I think that was healthy for the sport.
Totally. When you live in a metropolis like LA, the energy is crazier; whereas, down south, it’s more laid back. It could be directly correlated to the environment you’re surrounded by.
Exactly. I remember Stecyk wrote, “Flush Twice. It’s a long way to El Cajon.” I thought it was funnier than shit.
So you got on Hobie, but did you think that would happen?
Well, it all started when they grabbed off the side of the street. Then they did that one thing on me in Surfer, and there was interest in me. Steve Pezman was the publisher of Surfer at the time. He says to Bolster, “Start this skateboarding magazine.” Bolster was like a pit bull with a steak. He made that magazine. That guy was incredible. That’s another reason I had so many shots in the magazine. He and I got along really well. Again, there are better skaters.
I’m so uninterested in that statement.
[Laughs] Are you going to come down here and kick my ass?
If you keep saying that shit, I’m going to come through the phone and strangle you. I’m kidding. I want to know more about the beginning. For people that were in it, skateboarding was huge.
You were the poster child. Did you feel pressure from that?
No. I never even realized it. Bolster got a hold of me and he put that magazine together. Within a few months of the Surfer article, Skateboarder was on. It just took off. Kids across the country could skateboard. You didn’t need an ocean to do it. Surfer was doing 100,000 copies a month and Skateboarder was doing 1,000,000 copies a month. Skateboarding just blew up and I didn’t even realize it. I wish I would have. I would have been like Tony Hawk
But you were like Tony Hawk, minus the cash. From my perspective, you were the dude we saw in the magazines constantly.
I appreciate that you respect me, dude.
You had your own unique style. That’s, hands down, amazing, right there. You had some of the sickest shots in skateboarding. It just so happens that you were working with a really hot photographer, too.
That was it. That’s the key right there. He did the Surfer’s photo journal thing and designed one for me. He sent it to me and signed it, “To my favorite traveling buddy.” He was a hard guy to go along with.
But for some reason, you guys had a connection.
That was a lot of the reason that I got shots in the magazine. I had cool style, but there were a lot better skaters.
Are you really going to go there again? When I come through the phone, it’s going to be all over AT&T.
In that movie Downhill Motion with Spider Wills, you were unreal. My friends and I just watched that.
The slow motion footage with the heat waves was cool.
It’s insane. I was talking to these dudes that have nothing to do with skateboarding; they’re just into weirdo films. I gave them a copy and they were blown away. They’re from Holland and they said, “He is walking on air.”
That’s what I’m saying. You’re going to get mad at me again, but that was the photographer.
No, it’s not just the photographer, because for something to happen, the subject matter has to be there. There are a thousand elements that make something amazing. You just happened to be the best subject matter to make that happen. Some other dude might not have been as graceful. That footage is insane.
That dude had a 1000mm lens and he lay on the asphalt at the bottom of La Costa hill. I was like, “Whatever.” I just took off down the hill. I just got that video recently. It’s the photographer. All I was doing was turning.
It is still sick, Weaver.
Do you switch stance in it?
Yeah, I did.
You were cruising and cross-stepping and the asphalt is shimmering.
That 1000mm lens created that. They showed the car going up the hill before that.
Then Hobie called you and said, “We’d love you to ride for us.”
I’m trying to remember. I don’t know if I surfed for them first or not. But I remember I met Hobie Alter at his house one time. I signed the contract and I could tell that he wasn’t even into it anymore. He was already selling it out to the other two guys. He was already the corporate dude, like in the movie. He was like, “Wear this uniform. Go to all the freestyle events. Get photos.” And I sucked at freestyle. I would get 20th out of 20 every time. I’d try to do those one-footed nose wheelies.