For most of us in our late 20s and beyond, we look back on our teenage interests and styles with laughs, cringes, and confusion. When you see a picture of yourself in some wild gear that was trendy at the time, it looks pretty weird out of the context of the times. Personally, I started skating just after the “goofy boy” phase in skateboarding, but I came into the mix caught between the pants-constantly-getting-tighter Zero and Baker days and the more relaxed styles of teams like Girl and Alien. So my interests varied, often depending on who had the latest pro interview in Thrasher or Transworld, and which video I had rented out from the skateshop most recently.
I had my fashion ups and downs in those teenage years. I’m sure there was a time when my wardrobe included a pair of jeans as tight as I could fit, alongside a pair of super loose carpenter pants. It’s hard to dial in what you like in those years, as you grow, both mentally and physically. I never went so far as to have a pair of the infamous D3s though. I knew enough to know those were not for me. Soon enough, I’d find out what was exactly for me.
Aside from my avoidance of that terrible shoe, there is one particular thing that I admire about my teenage interests. From the first moment I saw Gino Iannucci on a skateboard, I knew he had the best style. I’m terrible with timelines and years, but I know that I had the above Chocolate ad of Gino’s Switch Back Tail on my wall moments after seeing it in a magazine. Even before that, I was watching this part from The Chocolate Tour on repeat:
It’s hard to describe what it is that makes someone more pleasing to watch on a skateboard than others, but it’s worth trying. Firstly, Gino skates with a speed that was uncommon at the time. He’s skating some cutty spots, but he’s not letting the spot do all the talking. He’s doing progressive and unique tricks on spots that others might get away with skating more easily. He’s skating switch and nollie a lot of the time, but in a way that makes it obvious it’s his unnatural stance, with his shoulders a bit closed up. Yet it still looks so good, almost better that way at times.
At some point (again, I’m awful with years and dates) I got this Skateboarder Magazine interview issue, which featured an interview with Gino, along with a sequence. All these years later, when I think of Gino, I think of this caption, because it summed up his style so well:
“Fast and loose, Gino mixed chaos with control in his native New York City. First and only attempt at a frontside noseslide.”
I remember just pouring over that sequence, seeing how far out he landed and knowing that he truly was skating with speed. It was also in this little interview that I learned he was from Long Island, which seemed to me, without ever having been there, to be somewhat similar to where I lived in New Brunswick. It was certainly closer in proximity and landscape to where I was growing up than to California, where the bulk of the skateboard media was coming from.
This page was definitely on my wall as well, and was the exact reason that I learned Switch Pop Shuv-its, despite not being able to do anything else switch at all.
Enter Gino’s legendary part in Yeah Right!. It was a Girl video, so nobody was expecting a full part of this magnitude from him. But he delivered, with an onslaught of manuals at some rugged Long Island spots to start, the textbook Backside 360 you see below, and then just gems upon gems afterwards: the schoolyard line; the Back Tail to Fakie to slam; the tricks down the stairs and block in Italy; the janky schoolyard set-up Backside Flip (wearing a sweater vest!); and finally, the manual enders at his hometown spot, the Roslyn Banks. Even Owen Wilson gave him props.
This was around the time where my style worlds started to collide as well. The punker/hesher/rail-rider guys I liked wore these baseball tees. But then I saw Gino wearing a baseball tee, flying down some stairs with style. Throughout Yeah Right!, he’s also frequently wearing what appear to be soccer shoes, and even soccer jerseys. As a former soccer player, what was I to make of all this? I was under the impression that you skated OR played organized sports, but what I took from this what that it’s okay to be influenced by whatever you like. “You do you,” as some say.
On top of all that, here he is doing a Switch Noseslide, a trick you don’t see too often, while wearing a “Six Feet Under” shirt. A TV show shirt? This guy really wore whatever he felt like. Not to mention the fact that in the video clip of this trick, he’s wearing a zip-up vest and a t-shirt. And then before you know it, I see this ad for The Hot Chocolate Video:
Anticipation was high, and what followed was a rad part with some good moves and heavy slams, along with various appearances and interview clips throughout the video.
So there you have it, my own pat on the back to myself for showing a glimmer of good taste during what is typically a confusing time in most people’s lives. Throughout all my various interests and current favourite skaters, one has always remained and has never disappointed:
*Thanks to The Chrome Ball Incident for existing and making a place for us all to revisit these kinds of things anytime we want.