IF SKATEBOARDING IS A CRIME, THIS MAN IS DESTINED FOR DEATH ROW. HE NOT ONLY MADE SKATING AN ART FORM, HE MADE IT AN ACTUAL SPORT. AND, AS ONE OF ITS EARLIEST INNOVATORS, HE'S BEEN PROPELLED TO SUPERSTAR STATUS, APPEARING IN PRINT ADS, TELEVISION COMMERCIALS, AND HIS VERY OWN VIDEO GAME. OUR VERY OWN BONES BRIGADE WANNABE, NEOGEO THE PROPHET, SPENT A Q&A SESSION WITH THE LIVING LEGEND HIMSELF, THE ONE AND ONLY TONY HAWK.
neogeo: Tony, before we get start, let me run this idea past you: we can make an insane amount of money by marketing your very own breakfast cereal. We’ll call it “Tony Hawk Pops”! It’ll have little marshmallow skateboards in it and a catchy little slogan like, "Tony Hawk Pops Are Nutritious And Delicious." On the front of the box, we could have a photo of you doing a 900 out of a skate park bowl filled with “Tony Hawk Pops”. What do you think?
Tony: Maybe if they were chocolate-coated sugar bombs with personal shin scrapings.
n: So how do you handle all the attention you get?
T: I just do my thing: be a dad, skate, take out the trash, and try to surf when I can. I get less sleep than I used to, and I sign a lot of autographs.
n: Do you ever feel any sort of ethical conflicts between the anti-establishment attitude of skateboarding and the commercialized sensationalism that things like the X-Games and Mountain Dew have done with the sport?
T: In some ways. But then I realize that as pro skaters we have the opportunity to show our attitudes and skills to a much larger audience through certain media. The Mountain Dew commercials are lame; but the skating is always great at the X-Games. Sometimes the presentation is a little skewed, but I think the skills always shine through.
n: You already have a little boy; but I heard a rumor that you and the Missus just had a little girl, too. Any truth to that?
T: We had another little boy born September 28, 1999.
n: How is family life?
T: It's the best. I have the best reason NOT to travel.
n: When your son gets a little older and starts showing you up on the old half-pipe, are you going to hang it all up?
T: Nah. I'll be right there on the deck asking him for tips.
n: Some have called you the ‘Michael Jordan of Skateboarding.’ Both of you are the best at what you do, and you both have retired and made a comeback. How do you feel about that?
T: It is an honor to be compared to such an amazing athlete. But I think that skating is much more diverse than basketball, so one person can't represent all of it. I am mainly a vert skater, which is only one aspect of skateboarding.
n: Do you believe in voodoo? I was wondering because sometimes when I’m playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater I make you fall off a four-story building onto a handrail, and I think to myself, “I wonder if Tony felt that?”
T: I can honestly say that I have had no blood squirt from my head since the release of the game.
n: Is it on?
T: Of course it's on. Vegas, baby, Vegas.
n: We all know that marketability is a big part of success. Do you think you’d be the superstar you are if your name wasn’t so cool? Like, what if your name was Dudley Smachenlichen?
T: I always thought my name was a curse growing up, since people easily rhymed it with “bony cock”.
n: Is skateboarding lacking some of the old school mentality that made it more about being with friends, instead of how many flip tricks you can do down three flights of stairs?
T: That attitude will always remain. It just so happens that more people experience and appreciate it now. The hardcore skaters will always be hardcore, no matter what.
n: In your opinion, do dogs have lips?
T: Mine does; but they are nasty.
n: Is Jeremy Klein mad at you for not being put in your video game? I mean, he is so well known for his obsession with gaming, and he’s on your team, but he still didn’t make an appearance in the game.
T: He's got ideas for other video games besides skating, so he's exploring those options.
n: Got any good stories about being famous?
T: I met Sean Penn, Danny DeVito and Eric Estrada (separately) over the last few weeks, all because their kids are skaters.
n: Just how often do you get razed by your fellow skater friends about your face and name being everywhere?
T: Not that much. But some of them think it's funny when I get invited to talk shows.
n: What’s the best thing about your current popularity?
T: Getting reservations at good restaurants without proper notice.
n: The worst?
T: Limited privacy. Parents drive their kids to my house to get autographs or pictures. I don't mind doing it elsewhere, but it's our home.
n: I watched you do that 900 during the X-Games. It was real damn impressive. What’s next? Rumor has it that you want to try a Sack Tap and have it be a "special move" in the new Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 game.
T: I have tried the Sack Tap on and off for a few years. I finally committed making it so that it would be a special move in the game. I also made it so that when kids ask me if I can do it, I can honestly say, “yes.”
n: I just broke my board and was wondering if you could hook me up?
T: You and every other kid. Oh wait, was it a Birdhouse deck? Well, maybe then.
n: Any advice for kids out there that want to make it doing what they love to do?
T: Don't give up, and keep doing it because you love it; not because you feel obligated.
n: Anybody you’d like to give props to?
T: My family-- thanks for always believing in me. Blitz, WMA, SHP, THI, 900 films, Mort, PGA, Apple Computers, and Advil.
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