JIMMY “THE GREEK” MARCUS
INTERVIEW AND INTRODUCTION BY STEVE OLSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAN LEVY AND TED TERREBONNE
Some seem to be In it for the right reasons… The Greek… When the soul says so, that’s the time some go… Skateboarding… From a young age until one dies… The Greek, the Traveler, a Skate Gypsy… On a mission, One that does not stop, Until one can’t roll any longer…. Think about it. New school, old school. Right or wrong. If there’s a Soul, there is No Wrong…
“GET IN YOUR CAR, PACK IT UP AND GET ON THE ROAD. DON’T TALK ABOUT IT AND SIT AT HOME. DO IT. PEOPLE NEED TO GET OUT AND RIDE. LIKE THE Q MAN SAYS, ‘KEEP RIDING. KEEP TRAVELING. KEEP IT GOING.'”
Hey, Greek. Is that you?
Okay, good. Good-bye.
All right. I’m glad that’s over with. Later.
[Laughs] Are you going to go skate?
Yeah, right now I’m at the motorcycle track taking rips and watching some friends ride motorcycles.
Where are you?
I’m at Lake Elsinore.
I’m on my way out there right now.
I’m at the racetrack, not the skatepark.
I want to come by the racetrack.
Yeah, I need someone to drink some beers with because I don’t have any.
There you go. I’m on the way. Greek, where do you come from anyway?
I come from the East Coast. I’m from Clearwater, Florida. I was born in Dunedin, Florida. It’s the town right next to Clearwater.
You’re East Coast?
Yep. I’m East Coast all the way.
When did you start skating?
I started skating in 1977. I was five years old. It was the year before the best skateboarding trucks came out. I started skating at Clearwater Skatepark. My parents were always into surfing, the little bit that you could surf in Clearwater. They were always surfing and riding Harleys. Clearwater Skatepark was right up the street, so they started taking me there to skate. I had one of those little roller derby plastic boards. That’s how it started. I was lucky enough to have Clearwater Skatepark just two miles up the street from my house.
Clearwater was fun.
Did you skate that park?
Yeah, I skated it with Jim McCall.
Some of the guys that rode on the Clearwater Skate Team were George McCullen, Dave Adams and Steve Fisher. Steve Fisher invented the first skateboard rails. I had some cool cats to skate with. Rainbow Wave was right there, too. Then we had Sensation Basin in Gainesville. I was blessed as a little kid to have those parks around until they all got torn down.
Did you ever ride the Hollywood ramp?
I think I did. Being a little cat, I forget where I went. I remember skating some different parks and ramps, but I was just a little grom. I do remember Sensation Basin, Rainbow and Clearwater really well. We hit those parks a bunch. It was cool, until the ’80s when the Florida parks started to close. That’s when Clearwater Skatepark got torn down. Rainbow Wave and Sensation Basin followed soon after that.
When you were riding, it was usually sunny in Florida?
Yeah. It was hot. We’d wake up, call each other and hang out throughout the day. We’d go to the beach or whatever. We’d wait till the sun went down and then go skate.
Do you surf?
Hell, yeah. There weren’t any big waves, but we’d go out on longboards. The waves aren’t great, but we have some of the best surfers in the world coming out of Florida. We’ve got the Lopez brothers, Chris Colepin, and Slater…
It’s not about where you’re from anymore.
Yeah, we were skimboarding and all that good stuff. It just went hand in hand. I’d get stoked to watch all the old Hawaiian guys, like Dane Kealoha and older cats that threw down. We thrived on that because we didn’t have waves. When the waves came around, it was time to rip.
What did you skate after the parks closed?
We went to the backyards and built ramps. We hung out and did our own thing. That’s how it was on the East Coast. We didn’t get big publicity. We built backyard ramps early. You guys still had Del Mar for a few more years. We went backyard and kept it going like that.
Why are you such a bulldog?
I grew up riding all those concrete skateparks. I grew up on transitions. It came hand-in-hand. I was riding with Mike Frazier. We all rode vertical. We had some pools here and there, but we rode transitions. Then I wanted to expand. I wanted to get into more pools. I adapted really well to that. I always wanted to be in California, where the pools are better. I grew up on cement, so I like falling on cement. It’s great.
That’s cool. When did you know that you were a good skateboarder?
People would always say, “You’re good.” I didn’t want to hear that as a kid. I just fell into it. I was, kind of, a natural. I just picked things up. I felt it. Skating was the shit. I skated and played a little bit of soccer.
Did you ever do the contest thing?
No, not really. I did a couple of contests back in the day, before you had to qualify in the NSA contests. It’s not like now where you can just pop into it and you’re automatically a heavy-hitter. You had to pay your dues. A few years back, I entered a few contests. But I was over it. It’s different over there. If you’re not on it, you’re not really going to be on it. I wasn’t the type of person to go kiss balls. You have to go out there and stay on people on the East Coast. I just rode and had a good time. I never saw it any other way. Money doesn’t matter. I just loved riding. It’s in my blood.