Out Of Business!

Out Of Business!

Out Of Business! Words By Jay Riggio

I used to date this super hot chick that I somehow convinced to like me.  I don’t know what in god’s name it was she saw in me.  Perhaps she pitied my undeveloped prepubescent features.  Or maybe she was attracted to my abnormally small penis.  Whatever the case was, our relationship persisted for a solid 7 months.  She was a phenomenal woman with shapely thighs, thin arms and an ass that wouldn’t quit.  We were good together. Then one day, the silly girl went and shitcanned me for a very ethnic, extremely well built Latino man.  I won’t bore you with specifics, but I soon learned that this mans name was Juan.  He practiced tantric sex and was hung like a Jamaican.  Lord knows how Icried over that damn broad.  But all that stuff is in the past now, and hopefully she has since caught a particularly strong STD.

The point to my bitter ramblings is that this bitch bounced without any warning.  Not a simple, goodbye. Nothing.  I think about this ex-special lady of mine every time I get word that a skateboard company has gone out of business.  Not because her vagina was reminiscent of the urethane on a new set of wheels, but because so many skate companies disappear from the world the same way she did; without a proper goodbye, or a farewell blowjob for that matter.

During my 20 years as a skateboarder, I have witnessed a ridiculous amount of companies dig their way into the skateboard industry, then suddenly pack their shit up and disappear practically overnight.  This type of ‘break-up’ must be difficult for each companies dedicated riders to deal with.  “Oh you’re having fun and getting paid?  You’re clocking tons of females at demos and getting an obscene amount of free product?  Well, guess what, homeboy?  Go fuck yourself, cause we just went out of business.”  It’s crazy, really, but the underlying truth is, the life span of a skateboard company is comparable to the elasticity of a hooker’s ass.  Shit just doesn’t last. Madrid, Maple, G&S, SmallRoom, Sims, New Deal, H-Street, SMA, Chapter 7, 101, Evol, Prime, Arcade, Hellrose, Rasa Libre etc.  The list of dead skate companies goes on and on and on.

The Whole151 CREW: Peter Hewitt, Darren Navarrette (Back D), and Sam Hitz. Rest In Peace 151. Sorry it didn’t work out and you are now Out Of Business! Photo: Brendan Klein

Recently Migdol called me up about this particular assignment he had for me.  The article was to feature interviews with pros and ams about their experiences riding for a company that has since went out of business.  I imagined all of the hundreds of intricate scandals that were associated with each company’s ultimate demise.  If a company’s run like shit, it folds.  Right?  Now the question still remains, ‘why was the company run like shit?’  Did the founder pull out all his profits in order to fund a sex change for his underage Asian boy-toy?  Or did the warehouse manager steal the entire inventory and sell it on the black market so he could open up a dance studio that specialized in interpretive dance?  Every bad business has to have a fucked up story.  And who’s better suited to recount each company’s story than the riders that were disowned like a pile of stillborn babies.

Shitty product put the final nail in the coffin for Zorlac Skateboards. Mike Sinclair. 5050 Photo: Shigeo

Mike Sinclair is a legendary  ripper that had a brief stint riding for the second coming of Zorlac. Usually companies that start back up again are doomed in the first place, but Mike was stoked on Zorlac when he was a little kid, so he figured why not ride for the ‘new’ Zorlac.  Like most people, if they don’t skate, then they’re pretty much whack.  The same goes for companies whose owners don’t skate.  “Zorlac was run by businessmen trying to make a buck and sell as much crap as they possibly could,” says Sinclair.  “Zorlac had just bought a wood shop and they didn’t have the whole ‘making boards’ thing down yet, so I got warped decks that looked like Popsicle sticks in the mail.  The holes were even off so my trucks wouldn’t fit properly. I usually had to trade in 2-3 Zorlac decks for one good deck at my local shop.  I knew it was over from the first ad I saw.  Zorlac basically went out of business when I blew my ACL out. So I guess it was a double blow out,” Mike explains.

Spreading themselves too thin may have led to G & S’ demise, they went Out Of Business. Willy Santos. Kickflip. Photo: Fick

Skate companies eat shit and go out of business for all different reasons.  But for the short-lived Enemy Skateboards, I bet it was Karma that finally kicked the company dead square in the meat sack.  I mean they were funded by some seriously whack ass shit. “Enemy got all their money directly from a major wakeboard company,” says Patrick Melcher, ex-Enemy rider.  “When wakeboarding came out, it was really big and this company made a ton of money off of it.  So they went and used the money to fund Enemy.  The skateboard world didn’t’ know anything about it but when you went to the Human warehouse, there’d be all kinds of Wakeboard photos on the walls,” says Melcher.  Sometimes I guess its just death by association.

Enemy Skateboards was owned by a wakeboard company. Death by association. Patrick Melcher. Blunt. Photo: Deville Nunes

Just because you skate, it still doesn’t make you exempt from acting like a complete dick, or fucking over a fellow skater. Brian Young started Sixteen Skateboards under Climax Distribution before, as he says, being completely screwed over.  “I started Sixteen through Climax.  I brought them the idea and they thought it was great and they went with it.  Invisible got dropped, but they kept doing Sixteen.  I came in one day and the locks were all changed.  I showed up and was like, “Hey my key doesn’t work.” They were like, “Yeah, we’re firing you but we’re still going to keep Sixteen going.” I should have gotten money for the next year or so after I got fired, but since I was young and naïve, I didn’t have the right contracts signed.  So I basically ended up getting screwed out of my own company,” says Young.  I would have burned that motherfucker down.

Letting team riders expense strippers maybe the ultimate recipe for fun but it didn’t stop the fall of Maple. Dave Coyne. Frontside Flip. Photo: Tadashi

Maple was once one of my favorite companies.  With a badass team including Jerry Hsu and Marc Johnson, they were at one point seemingly unstoppable.  But when Marc Johnson left, Hsu, Mayhew and Ed Dominick followed.  The company never really recovered from the losses and went out of business a short time later.  Daxter Lussier was pro for Maple when the owner decided to drop the bomb.  “Maple was sick.  They gave even amateurs credit cards for gas, generators and cameras.  It was insane.  We were even paying for strippers on the credit cards,” says Lussier.  “Maple’s sales had decreased from the previous year quite a bit. We were told, “Things will still be going for a long while.  We started working on a new video, had all these trips planned and we even got two new filmers.  One filmer moved here from Canada and the other had went out and bought all this editing stuff for the video.  And seriously like a week after they were given the go ahead to do all that stuff, the owner of Maple pulled the plug and went out of business.  It hit everyone out of nowhere.  I ended up getting hooked up good at the end though.  They gave me and a couple ams 50 boards each that we could sell,” says Daxter.

I was sorry to see Hollywood go. Richie Belton. Stalefish.
Photo: Mecaro

Chad Knight was Daxter’s teammate and was also around when the shit nailed the fan at Maple.  “The dude that was running Maple at the time was real sketchy.  He’d talk to me and try to get me all excited about the company, but you could just tell the he had no faith in the company,” says Knight.  The dude would walk into the office with fucking coke under his nose all the time.  The dude was a trip.  You could never trust one word he said.  He’s still in the industry, that’s why I’m not saying his name.  But there were all these rumors that Maple was gonna get bought and we’d all get these crazy paychecks.  Then Variflex bought Maple and they ended up selling a bunch of cheesy Maple shit at Toy’s R’ Us.  I even saw my board graphic in a sporting goods store catalog,” says Chad.

Dan Conolly rode for Evol shortly before their passing. Heelflip. Photo: Tadashi.

Brand Manager Ed Dominick left Maple a couple years before it ended, but was bummed to see what had happened to the company he helped to create.  “You’d see complete Maple boards with crappy graphics and no-name trucks in Target and Wal-Mart or wherever the fuck they were being sold.  From what I hear, the entire company was sold just for inventory.  So he didn’t even make any money off it,” Laughs Ed.

Peter Smolik rode for the ill fated Voice Skateboards. Switch ollie over the fence. Photo: Tadashi.

Chad Knight also mentioned Maple’s company expensed strippers, or whores, as I like to call them.  “We had a stripper budget for the Black Cat video.  Whenever we were on tour, we’d get strippers and try to film them for the video but most of the girls didn’t want to be filmed.  We ended up scrapping the whole idea for the video but we ended up getting a lot of free strippers.”

Tyron Olson fucking ruled it during the Arcade days and hasn’t stopped it’s a shame they went Out Of Business. Photo: Fick.

While I was working on this article, I envisioned the testimonials from my subjects being more revealing and disturbing than they actually turned out to be. I imagined speaking with hundreds of riders that would reluctantly admit to scandalous, unimaginable things like, “I was regularly molested by my Team Manager,” or “My sponsor was all a drug front.  As part of my contract, I agreed to sell speed to kids at demos.”  All of this would be told to me as their voices pathetically cracked and dense tears filled their swollen eyes.

Mad Circle is dead and gone Out Of Business but Cairo Foster is still ripping. Back Smith. Photo: Sean Peterson.

My investigative reporting would somehow spark a civil war within the confines of the skate industry.  Pro’s and Ams everywhere would soon be murdering one another in the name of retribution and team pride.   My words would unveil the naked truths about Out of Business skate companies while proving to my editor and the rest of the world that I was the best goddamned skate journalist in, not only the continental United States, but quite possibly the entire fucking universe. If there were a Pulitzer Prize for skateboard journalism, this son-of-a bitch was going to get it.  But if you’re reading this right now, you already know that nothing of the sort happened. Well, fuck it.  Next time I’m skipping to the heart of the fucked up and interviewing Pro’s that have blazed my ex-girlfriend. And contracted her STD.

Ironically Chapter 7 filed Chapter 7. Mako Urabe. Fakie Noseblunt. Photo: Brendan Klein.

 

 

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