ERIC DRESSEN INTERVIEW

Hanging out with Bennet driving to go skate and getting all jazzed up. That gets me stoked.

Eric

Eric Dressen
Interviewed

How did you get your nickname ponyboy?
It’s from the Venice homies. Like Block and Ponch. Everyone kinda had a nickname down there and it had to do with how they look or their personal appearance. There’s Block because he’s got a blockhead and there’s wolf cuz he’s like a little wolfman. Mine is not from the movie. Those dudes have never even seen [the movie] The Outsiders before. We were in Hawaii and we were joking around and Ponch say’s shut up Pony boy with your little Pony Legs’. From there on I’ve been Ponyboy cuz I got pony legs. A lot of my friends mothers and grandmothers know me as Ponyboy. They’re all like ‘Hey Pony’.

How did you end up getting into skateboarding?
The first time I ever saw skateboarding I was about 4 years old, my dad used to hang out with the people from Dive and Surf, they’re the people who do Body Glove, and one day they were all skating down the hill. Pretty much my cousins and uncles got me into skateboarding. Back in the day all the surfers used to just dork around. They were all surfers and I wanted to be a surfer after I saw ‘Endless Summer’. I was only like 8 years old and to go surfing was a problem. To go skateboarding was a lot easier because I could just go outside and pretend I was surfing. I just took up skateboarding and I actually liked skateboarding better then surfing.

 

Eric Dressen
Slashing away on a valley pool. Photos by Boca.

How did you start developing into becoming into a sponsored skateboarder?
Because I was really into skateboarding, and skateboarding was secondary to everybody. Surfing was the biggest thing. Finally I was at Jacobs Surfboard Shop in Hermosa, and I saw my first issue of Skateboarder Magazine with Greg Weaver on the cover. I was like ‘people like skateboarding as much as I do?’. From there, in 2nd grade, that’s all I wanted to be was a pro skateboarder. That’s all I did from about 2nd grade to about 8th grade. Skateboarding died when I was in about 8th grade. That’s all I’d ever done was skateboard my whole life.

After 8th Grade how long did it take you cycle back into it?
I entered my first pro contest when I was about 13. I entered the Liquid
Pro and I entered the Dogbowl Pro at Marina. I did pretty good, I just missed the cut from making the finals. I was just a little ass kid you know. After it dies in 80-81, I went through high school. I dropped out of high school in 11th grade about 84/85, skateboarding started coming back a little bit. I was at a newstandand I saw a Transworld and I saw Tony Hawk blasting airs I was like ‘WoW’! I had a little job at a deli with my friend Zane and he had a skateboard and I’d use his board to deliver food. I was like ‘Man this is fun’, so on my 18th birthday I went out and bought myself an Alva Fish board. I got really back into it skateboarding by myself and then I started bumping into everybody who had started skating again.

What were you doing when you were skating by yourself?
I was going to Kinear Canyon School and just skate. Then little ramps would pop up here and there and then Upland was open and I’d go to Upland all the time.

Was it like a big trip to get out there?
Nah, I had some friends that were kinda into skateboarding. There were just a few people, not like it is now, who’d skate on the weekends.

I remember back then when you see another skater you’d run up and talk to them…
Funny you should say that… My friend Kevin Mitchel saw me in the market one day with an Independent shirt on. He’s all ‘Dude I gotta ramp, you should come skate my ramp’, just because I had a t-shirt on he became one of my dearest friends. Right around when ‘Thrashin’ was about to come I bumped into Alva and started hanging out with Alva again.

I saw in your credits you were credited with ‘Stunt Skater’ in Gleaming the Cube. Were you in Thrashin too?
Yea, if you look at the credits. I’m considered a Dagger.

Were you at the Dagger House?
No, that’s funny. I would show up everyday because you have to check in at like 6:30 am. By like 10 or 12 we’d all split and go skate. I’d meet up with somebody and we’d go ‘There’s a ramp here, a pool, just go get stoned or some shit. I never finished a whole day there. But I was there the night they did the joust. The only thing I’m doing in the whole movie Thrashin is the LA Downhill. I’m in the front row with a yellow helmet on. It’s funny! The only skateboarding I do in it is I go by the camera in the downhill buttboarding. I got sunglasses on .. and everyone was just crashing left and right. We were just going down the same hill all day. When the movie came out I was looking for myself in there and I go by Buttboarding of all things. I’m an expert buttboarder!

Which movie do you like worse?
I don’t know, I just saw Thrashin kinda recently. I never watched Gleaming the Cube. I actually like Thrashin a lot because all my friends are in it. There all playing themselves. I never saw Glemaing the Cube really. I just saw my part where I double for my friend Max Perlick in it. I only worked a day on that movie. I was supposed to work six months solid. I quit my job to work on that film. I worked a day and then they didn’t need me after that. From there on is when I started my pro skate career. I started skating everyday and hanging out with Chirtian Hosoi everyday.

Where and when was your funnest skate trip?
I just recently had the best and funnest skate session of my whole entire life like two weeks ago. It was at the Pala Pool. They were having a pool party there and my friends band Nyluss was playing. By the end of the night it just ended up being me, Dave Ruel, my dearest freind Bennet, and Seff Nietos. Us four just skating the pool. Cesar was playing killer music and I was newly sober. I just had the best session, my best skateboarding, and the most fun. We all just started ripping, and tearing the pool a new ass. Everything I was trying I was making. It was seriously the best session of my life, the most fun ever in my life. And no one filmed it (laughing). That other party at the Pala I went to I was probably drinking and smoking dope on the way there, dropped in and did a frontside around the deathbox and just slammed. I showed up this time, warmed up sober, and stratgically started terrorizing the pool. I was surprising myself. Dave’s rippin, Seth was just tearing it and Bennet is just the gnarliest guy ever. It was kind of crazy. It was the first time I really enjoyed skateboarding in my life.

 

 
 

Today is your 30th day straight sober?
Yea

What made you decide to do this?
I dunno. I’ve been abusing drugs and alcohol since I was 16 year old and I’m 37 now. Never went a day sober ever. If I wasn’t smokin weed I was drinking and if I wasn’t doing that I was always turning to something else. I was having a real hard time trying to stop doing drugs. I just ended up drinking more. I was flat broke and two hairs away from living on the street right down here (In Los Angeles). I was right about to be homeless, I spent my last dime on drugs and alcohol, and all my friends are over me. They were over dealing with me and over me being fucked up.

Do you feel like you have a new energy?
Oh yea. I used to think the world hated me. I used to hate the world. I used to be really scared and shy. I’ve always been a shy guy. I just made it worse. Then I’d just cover up things with my alcohol and drinking. Also I always suffered from vertigo and dizzy spells for the longest time. I always thought it was something wrong with me but it was really my drug abuse. and stuff. Right now I’m like a hyper maniac. I can’t stop talking and fidgeting. I’m out of control. I recently hurt myself because I’ve had so much energy I’ve been over doing it. It’s like the first time in my life I’ve enjoyed life. I’ve been a miserable wreck. I didn’t enjoy skateboarding for a long time, I just kinda did it. Right now my whole life revolves around skating and my health and trying to be a better person. I’ve been a rotten bastard the majority of my life. And I also straightened up to because me and Tom Know got our own division on Santa Cruz called the veterans division. I’ve been hanging out with Tom and he’s been sober his whole life. He’s the greatest guy ever. Before, instead of going skating, I’d had to get stoned. I wasted so much time doing that. This is a second opportunity for me and it’s a dream come true for me because really wanted to ride for Santa Cruz again.

What direction is that going to go?
At first Santa Cruz was kinda leary about it. They were doing the re-issues of old boards and stuff and they asked me if I wanted to one and I said yes. Then I went to an art show in Santa Cruz, just looking at the artwork. I was just like ‘Santa Cruz is the best Skateboard Company ever’. There graphics have the longest longevity, all the original Santa Cruz graphics are the best skateboard graphics ever. I was like ‘man, I have one wish and that would be to be on Santa Cruz again’. I got kicked off Santa Cruz about 93 for being a constant complainer. Even though I was skating good and doing demos and winning contests, no one likes a complainer. Over the years I’ve made amends with them and became friends. When the asked me to do the re-issue I was super excited about it you know. I said I wanted to be back on the team. They were like ‘That’s funny’. I said ‘Look at Red Kross, they got Steve Olson, Duan Peters, Christian Hosoi, Jeff Grosso and whatever. That’s like the whole Santa Cruz Team plus the wheels, team rider wheels, boards, and stuff are out selling your modern day skate team. I said ‘I wanna be back on Santa Cruz, I want a cool shape, and I want to be a fucking pro skateboarder. . I just want to be a real pro skateboarder again. Jeff (Kendall) called me back a week later and said that was the best idea they ever heard. Me and Tom’s board sold out the first day they were out. We both had to different models with graphics come out and both our boards sold out in the first two days. I called up and said “I heard my boards are out…can I get some” and they’re all “No man, they are all gone, before we can even pull a board out for you they were all shipped out”. That’s the best news I ever heard.

Right now we’re going to start filming for a video. I’ve been working with Brian Lotti, he’s one of my new friends, he’s been working on a video called First and Hope which is a skateboarding film and he invited me and TOm Knox to be in it. Also this tatoo movie called ‘Skinned Alive’ by Bart Saric. It’s got all my tatoo buddies and skate buddies in it and all tatoo related things like skateboarders with tatoos, and tatoo artists. So I’ve been doing that, and also a Transworld video without knowing it. I’m pretty excited about that but pretty soon we’re going to start working on the Santa Cruz video. It’s funny now because when I have the best sessions there’s no one there filming me. I never predict. If I do set up things, I’m always so nervous before, I’m a worry wart. But I’ve been doing a lot of photo shoots lately. I shot an Indy ad and a Santa Cruz ad and been shotting with Transworld a couple of different times.
Like another thing that made me straighten up my act is because I always said ‘If I had a skatepark close to me then an hour away, I wouldn’t be going out every night partying’. I have somewhere to go. And Glendale opened and it’s 20 minutes away. Me and my friend Bennet, is just always down to go skate. He’s just rippin and I’m thinking I gotta step up, start skating, and clean up my act. This park is so good I always want to skate.

 

Eric Dressen
Top: Launch Ramp method, Middle: Mug shot, Bottom: FS Wheeler over the hip. Photos by ?, Greenwood, Bart Saric.

What’s your life like outside of Skateboarding?
It pretty much revolves around tatoo shops and hanging out with my friends. All my friends are artist, and tatoo artists. Pretty much everyday I wake up and come to the tatoo shop. I’m either at a tatoo shop or with my skateboard friends hanging out. I’m a hanger-outer.

Who do you think has the deepest bag of tricks?
I don’t know…Tony Trujillo of course or Rick McCrank, those guys can do anything. That’s why I trip on Tony T. because he can go up and do a 360 flip and on the next wall do a Miller Flip. I always like that, that’s really cool. I’m a big Big fan of the Anti-Hero team.

Speaking of tricks – What’s the trickiest trick you’ve ever done?
The most technical I think is when I did an ollie 540 on vert back in the day. I was filming for Troops of Tomorrow in 91. But I never got it on film. I did it like an ollie 360, like how Danny Way does them where he lands just slightly over and brings it around. My favorite trick to do it finger flip disasters or Sal Flip Disasters. Mini Ramp or where ever. And the one trick I invented, the Salad Grind.

What do you remember about your first pro street contest?
Being sunburn and nervous as all hell. (Laughing)
Which one was it?
It was Oceanside. I think the 2nd Oceanside one. Back then you had to get there and sign in at like 8:30 and then they had the amateur thing. I’m real fair skinned you know and the contest is like at 4 or 5 in the afternoon or later. It was just fun and always what I always wanted. I look back then and it was just nerve wracking.

What were the type of moves going on?
Back then there was just jump ramping and wall ride thingy’s. That’s just how it was back then.

Have you ever lived outside of the Los Angeles Area?
Not really. My whole family is from Inglewood. My grandparents and my mom, dad and everybody has gone to either Inglewood High or West Chester High. I’ve always lived in the South Bay, then moved to Venice/Santa Monica area when I was about 11 and I’ve always been on the westside ever since then. Last year I moved on the east side here in Downtown LA / Little Tokyo. This is my favorite place I have lived my whole life. I like it a lot. I’d spend some of my summers here and there with grandmother who moved to Las Vegas.

When you used to travel to contests as a pro how long did they take?
Back then they weren’t really long tours, I’d just go away like every weekend. Anybody ask me to do a demo, I was there. I’d go away every weekend. Then for a while I’d go to Europe, come home and two weeks later go back again. One summer I went back and forth to Europe four different times. I thought ‘I should just move here and get an apartment’. I didn’t think like that back then.

Who did you usually travel with?
Originally me and Scott Oster. Me and him went a lot. Then me and Tom Knox when I was on Santa Cruz. Me and Tom would do all the demos so I went everywhere with Tom. We went everywhere together. Then I did a lot of demo tours with Tom, Alan Peterson, Bod Boyle. Those are some of the best demos I’ve had. The most fun tours I’ve ever had. I haven’t really been on a recent tour or anything.

Who are your sponsors now?
I ride for Santa Cruz, Independent Trucks, Spitfire Wheels, Oust Bearings, and I just got on Diamond Hardware.

What kind of equipment do you like to ride, like what size?

8 1/8 regular board, and I ride super small trucks, the Indy 126’s. I don’t know why. I always ride 61mm Spitfires

So how often are you in the shop?
I don’t tatoo, I’m just the shop helper. I clean up and sterilize. Lately, I’ve been so busy getting hurt and needing rest, I’ve been in and out. I can’t really dedicate all my time like I really should but I’m here everyday. I’m a hanger-outer.

How do you compare skateboarding from the past to the present?
There’s a lot more media nowadays, it’s incredible. When I was a kid you get a new skateboarder magazine maybe every two months if your lucky. You’d never see skateboarding on tv. They didn’t have skateboarding videos. No one had video machines. The only time you could see skateboarding would be if you went to a surf movie and the surf movie had a little skateboard clip. I remember seeing ‘Go for It’ and that was the first time I saw Tony Alva and Jay Adams skate. That was in the theatre and you only got to see it that one time and be like ‘Oh My God!’.

What did you think of the Dogtown interpretation of the old days?
It’s all right. It’s cool. I don’t know about that movie. A lot of those dudes ride on Jay Adams, Tony Alva, and Shogo’s coattails you know. I knew all those dudes growing up. They were my heros and they eventually they became my friends. I know them as being them.

So what’s worse skate politics or real politics?
I think real politics man. I hate…no I don’t hate it but it’s depressing. I listen to this guy Michael Rupert and he just laid it all out, who’s who, what’s what, CIA, Wall Street and man it’s so depressing and so scary. I’m super American, raised by WWII vets and proud to be American. It’s scary to be American with these people in government. They don’t give a shit. I kinda think there should be revolution. Skate politics nowadays is silly and funny. A lot of these people who are in it don’t even skateboard. I just think people that skateboard should be the only people that can talk shit about skateboarding.

What do you think the future has in store for you?
I’m just going to try to be happy and try to skate and enjoy life. I just want to get out there and try not make a fool of myself.

What gets you in a good mood?
Bennet! Hanging out with Bennet driving to go skate and getting all jazzed up. That gets me stoked. My friends who are into it and excited about it. For a long time a lot of my friends weren’t into skateboarding, they say they’re into it but they’re to busy partying and being ego-maniacs. This is the first time in my life when I got friends that will go skateboarding with me at any given time.

Do you have any crazy rockstar moments of other people?
Oh man, nothing but!(Laughing). I got so many stories from traveling around with Ben Schroeder and hanging out Christian Hosoi. Me doing demo’s and meeting famous people. Little do I know that a lot of Rock Stars grew up skateboarding. I met some of the biggest Rockstars. They’re all like ‘Oh my god your Eric Dressen, I grew up wearing argyle socks and khaki shorts because of you.’

Another plus is with the tatoo world, all my favorite tatto artists grew up skateboarding. I go meet them and they are big fans of mine or just know me from skating. It’s been a real plus just getting my foot in the door in the tatoo industry and plus getfree tatoos.

How many do you have – how mch are you covered?

Pretty much my arms, and my chest, all over my legs, but I’m not going to have a body suit because I’m sensitive to pain. For a while I was getting tatoo’d like once or twice a week but lately I’ve been cutting it off because I’m sensitive (laughing).

Tell me a little bit about your aversion to sunlight?
I’m just super fair skinned. My whole family has got really fair skin. I was always out in the sun since I was like 6 years old until I was 26. I was out in the sun everyday,every contest, every demo. All ,my friends are dark skinned so everywhere I go it would be the middle of the day and I would just get fried and fried. I never got sun tan I just got sunburnt. After my 26th and my knee surgery I became super light sensitive. I’ve got real sensitive to light, to smell, equilibrium. I get sea sick real easy and I break out in hives when I smell cheap perfume. I like the night time, like vaninan from the Damned. I’m just a vampire. I like the night too because there’s a lot less people out in the streets and on the sidewalk.

Who has been your best friend through the years?
I’ve had so many good friends. A lot of people have had to take care of me. It’s hard to point out because there are so many. I really apreciate it. Right now I know who all my really good friends are, and actually I realized how great of friends I have. I didn’t really know it. I thought I got lots of buddies and everyones my friend, everyones hanging out with me. But now I’m like I got some of the greatest friends in the world and I’m really excited. Just hanging out with Bennet, and Brian Lotti, Kevin and Jarrel here at Routes and everybody. It’s funny I just realized how great of friends that is.

Did you have any other people you’d like to mention?
Tom Knox for being a good friend, who I left out. He’s one of my best friends ever. He’s the only person that can tell me something i don’t know. He’s so smart. We were always like the opposite, I was the loady and he was the smart guy and clean cut. He just loved me. When me and him get on the phone together we can just talk like little girls, we can talk for hours. He’s ripping so hard right now. We’re kinda lagging on getting getting ads going and videos and stuff for the veterans division. Were gonna get some coverage coming up and start concentrating on it.

Last question, if you had the whole world for a day what would you do with it?
Geez, I don’t know. Oh yea. I’d pretty much like to be a flat track racer. Race the motorcycles, race the mile track.

Have you ever done it before?
I’d like to do that. I’ve asked, my dad used to work at Harley Davidson, and they sponsored the #1 dude.