On July 31st, I wrote to “Rad Dad” Mark Dandridge, creator/curator of BMXFreestyler.com, and asked if he’d be interested in running “Extras” from interviews I conducted for Aggro Rag Freestyle Mag! Number 13. (“Extras” meaning “material I had to cut due to space limitations.”) I asked Mark, “Out of the following riders I interviewed for the zine, which three (3) would you say are your top 3 faves, and why?”
Tim Treacy, Marc McKee, Frank Garrido, Aaron Dull, Chad Johnston, Greg Higgins, Chris Day, Joe Gruttola, Jim Johnson, Adam Jung, Derek Schott, Gerry Smith, Dave Nourie, Craig LePage, Gary "Pinky" Pollak.
Here are Rad Dad’s choices, followed by “Extras” from my interviews including images that haven’t been seen by the riding public. (I pulled some images from The “Large Ray” Tapes, others from back issues of my zine, Aggro Rag Freestyle Mag!)
My Top 3 and Why by Mark Dandridge
Chris Day. He was my inspiration when I was younger and still is today. I have been trying to interview him for a while now.
Chad Johnston. Because when I met him I was like, “I have been waiting to meet you in person!” and he said, “I have been waiting to meet you, Rad Dad!”
Gary “Pinky” Pollak. Because when I had a PINKY Squeak Contest not only did he hear about it, he personally mailed me $143 to support the contest. That was an epic day!
Mike Daily: How did you get hooked up by Life’s a Beach?
Chris Day: When I was living in San Diego, Pete Augustin called me up out of nowhere and he said, “Hey, Jason can’t make this show that I need to do for Life’s a Beach. You wanna go?” I was all, “Yeah man! Totally!” He said, “OK, I’ll pick you up and then we’ll go to the show.” He did it: He came by and picked me up—I think he had a big ol’ Chevelle or something at the time—and we went to this show, and it was in a nightclub. It was trippy because we did the tricks on the dance floor—a wooden dance floor. It was the first time I ever did a show for people at a certain place besides riding down at the beach. We walked into this room and they had boxes full of all these clothes and they said, “Grab an outfit and put it on and take an extra couple T-shirts or whatever.” So I did. And they had all these strobe lights goin’ around and there were skateboarders and it was actually a trip. I had never ridden with lights flashin’ around and stuff. That was the first show that we did for Life’s a Beach, and from that point on, I was sponsored by Life’s a Beach. When I got the photos in the magazine, they gave me not only clothes, but they gave me money for every single time I got in the magazines. It was a certain amount for a one-page color or a one-page black and white, or even half a page—they had a tier of how much money they paid you. And if you remember, I got a bunch of two-page color spreads that came out all in a row. And that’s because they designated me as one of the test riders for Freestylin’—me and Pete Augustin. That was so awesome. I decided to move from San Diego to Redondo to live with my dad, because I had that opportunity to not only get in the magazine, but be sponsored and live the dream BMX life right there in Redondo. So I said, “Mom, I’m just gonna move in with Dad. That’s my dream: to ride freestyle and get in the magazines.” That’s how I wound up makin’ the move. Freestylin’ put me on the team and I was in the magazine every month, so I got checks from Life’s a Beach. It was like $300 for a two-page color spread. For a 17-year-old kid, that’s a lot of money.
That is good money—especially for you at 17—but it paid off for them because your style was so unique. You had so much attention on you and what you were doing that it must have sold a lot of Life’s a Beach stuff. Chase Gouin, for example, has a Life’s a Beach Bad Boy Club tattoo on his arm.
[Laughs.] Yeah, I forgot about that. That was a culture that Life’s a Beach was developing as their company. They had a whole company full of surfers and skateboarders and bike riders and motorcycle racers. One of the owners was an amateur race car driver. So everybody that was there was fully into being the best at what they did, and being really aggressive about it. That’s why they had the whole No Fear Bad Boy Club. That whole image and everything was completely counterculture at the time: Everything was all good and happy and bright colors and politically correct, and they were skull-and-crossbones and middle finger-to-everybody and they put a condom in giant-size on the back of a T-shirt, so it was just completely different. It blew people’s minds and that’s what made it so cool. That was Pete Augustin’s style, too. He was into skull-and-crossbones and Slayer and heavy metal music, so I kind of picked up on that and I got into it myself. Especially when I moved into an apartment in Lomita after my dad kicked me out at 18. My dad said, “Well, if you’re not goin’ to college, you’re out of here.” So I took all the money I had and me and Pete got a little two-bedroom apartment in Lomita. From then, I started growing my collection of heavy metal music and stuff. We’d go to the music store and buy like picture discs and stuff like that. Yeah, we raged on heavy metal music and rode all day and we skated at night. That was pretty much all we did.
Were the Plywood Hoods an influence on you? Because you went on and did all of the major rolling tricks…
Yeah, for sure. The Plywood Hoods were a vital influence on everybody in flatland then, but I had a different take on it. My whole thing in riding was: I wanted to be an inventor. I wanted to invent new tricks. That was really my whole goal every time I went out and rode: to do one more new variation of a boomerang or a tailwhip or go from a certain whip or a boomerang into something else. So I kept a list of all the tricks that I wanted to do or was workin’ on. So for me, it was all about inventing. I wanted to be a guy that came up and created tricks that would live on into the future. I wanted to learn all the tricks that were out there just so I could say, “Yeah, I can do that trick.” I knew every trick when it came out. So it’s like, “Oh, cherrypicker? OK, boom. Check that one off, I got that one…” I learned all the tricks that came out—when they came out—but I didn’t necessarily keep doin’ ‘em all the time, because I was really most of the time working on new tricks that I was trying to invent. You know, like, you do a backwards rolling wheelie on the peg, and I wanted to reach down and grab the tire in a certain way, or something like that. That was really my whole perspective, in addition to being really aggressive and fast. I wanted to be known as a rider that was fast. I wasn’t a slow rider. I wanted to do a hundred boomerangs and a hundred tailwhips as fast as possible. That was kind of my thing. Then I wanted to go into a bunch of other tricks in-between. When I had the most amount of energy, that was my riding style: boomerangs, tailwhips, rivets, boomerankles…the kind of stuff that you could constantly keep goin’ and goin’ and goin’ and goin’ and goin’. That, for me, was everything. When the rolling tricks started coming out and I saw Kevin Jones…God blessed that guy. He changed everything. We all idolized him. When you guys came out and the whole thing was hang-5s and whiplashes and then hitchhikers and all that stuff, it blew everybody’s mind because it no longer was using brakes. It was all rolling and there was no stopping. It’s funny because I kind of felt guilty learning the tricks because again, I’m an inventor—I want to invent my own new tricks—and here were all these new tricks comin’ out that everybody was all crazy over. I felt guilty, but I also felt a sense of obligation to learn the tricks. It was almost like I did it in secret. I would go down into the underground parking area at The Spot, and I would learn the hang-5s and the whiplashes and locomotives and all the scuffing tricks. I learned ‘em in secret because I didn’t want anybody to say, “Hey, look at Chris! Now he’s doin’ everybody else’s tricks!” That was a slam that a lot of people put on other riders: that they just did everybody else’s tricks, and they just went through a checklist. They’d go out and do their routine in a contest and pretty much do the standard tricks that were the best ones they could do to try and get a good placing And I didn’t care about that. As a matter of fact, I really didn’t ride very well in the contests! [Laughs.] And that’s because for one thing, you had to wear a helmet back then. I never rode with a helmet, so when I’d go out—and I was already nervous in front of hundreds, if not a thousand people lookin’ at you—yeah, I got real nervous. Especially at the big AFA events. It totally changed my riding. All of a sudden they call your name out and boom: My stomach starts churning and I had to put on a helmet and go out and do my routine. It threw me off, so I’d wind up touching a bunch of times. That’s why I didn’t always place real high. I wound up getting better at it but looking back, I wish I would’ve worn just a plastic skate helmet. I probably should’ve just changed and entered Pro because they gave you more time, so that probably would’ve helped, too.
Chad Johnston: I’ve been a fan of Aggro Rag ever since you guys first started distributing it.
Mike Daily: Thanks. When you say “distributing,” it was pretty much hand-to-hand or through the mail…
Yup. I had a couple copies and that’s how I got ‘em—probably from you or Lung or Kevin at an AFA comp back in the day.
Is it an optical illusion or were your one-piece cranks really bent in the photo of you in Issue 11 of Aggro Rag?
[Laughs.] I’m sure they were really bent. I went through those frequently. I finally upgraded to some Sugino 400s—the Redline cranks. Shortly after that photo was taken, I was able to upgrade.
So you did a lot of street riding.
Yeah. Sometimes it was like 50/50, but I was never completely committed to street. I’ve always been influenced by street. I prefer to watch it.
You bent the cranks jumping and stuff, right?
Yeah. I’m pretty sure that was around the time when I was havin’ fun with wall rides. It probably got beat-up from a couple rough landings. Heavy landings.
Do you remember what you were doing in that picture?
I’m pretty sure I was exiting a trick. I had a swivel-type move and then I would do an over-and-out. I think Jason Parkes used to call it a switcharound. That was the ride-out.
So the Intrikat bike you ride is totally brakeless? You don’t have a coaster on it, right?
No, but I did consider a coaster for a while. A buddy of mine—Bill Freeman—he had the brakeless LTF set-up with the coaster brake on it. He was doin’ some really cool things with death truck and stuff. I thought about it, but I’m pretty happy with the freecoaster. I think I’ll stick with that.
Mike Daily: You toured with Ceppie and Dizz, right?
Gary Pollak: Yeah, I did. I don’t remember what the year was, but to make a long story short, it was me, Scott [Guarna] and Mike Cutillo. None of us really worked at the time and it was in the summertime, so we followed the CW tour around. That’s how actually I ended up getting like a little co-sponsor—goin’ to a couple of the shows and showin’ off and then finally McGoo’s like, “Yeah, you can ride ramps.” So I ended up ridin’ the ramp and the wedge, and they were just like…in shock. And then I guess it was the next year that I was picked up and I was travelin’ with those guys.
The year that you were picked up and you were touring with them, what uniform was that? Was it the white one with the lavender, or was it the black and pink one?
It was the original one: the lavender with the white and black. Believe it or not, I still have all my jerseys and leathers in storage at my parents’ house.
Do you still have any of the bikes?
No. I have a couple GTs from back in the day—that’s it—but nothing CW. Very limited parts. If you look at now the way that people collect stuff, you look back and you’re like, “Wow, if I woulda kept some of this stuff…” The majority of the stuff was hand-me-down stuff to friends in the neighborhood that would ride. Why not, you know? You’d get something new and it was like: “Oh, here you go. I don’t need this. I would just throw it in the rubbish.”