Posted by:on November 1st, 2013
Here on S&A, Simon Woodstock talks about boxing, a burning circus, his mad clown graphics from the 90s, shoes, booze and much more! Don’t know Simon? Read here, here and check his website for his current activities as well as archived magazine interviews from the past. When you’re ready, you may enter the circus.
Why is the ‘Circus’ deck (like all Sonic and Woodstock decks) so hard to find? Do you still own some of your old boards?
I’m not exactly sure why not many of them appear anywhere. The Circus deck was the best selling board that I ever had. But, aside from some exceptions, board sales numbers from the early/mid nineties weren’t that high in general in the industry, so I think only a few thousand were put into circulation. When that specific board pops up on eBay I think it goes for $500 or more. I actually don’t own any of my old decks. I am not a very nostalgic person nor am I much of a collector of stuff. I gave a bunch of boards to Sean Cliver in the early 2000s and sold the rest to a collector a couple of years ago to help pay for a missions trip that I went on to Ethiopia. I went there in March of 2012 on a Christian skateboarding missions trip to help some of the impoverished youth who live in the ghettos near the capital of Addis Ababa. It was definitely a life-changing experience.
Who came up with this idea of the graphic? Why did you work with Kevin Marburg?
I thought of the graphic idea and Marburg and Mike Prosenko got it going. They were the artists who worked in the Sonic Skateboards graphics department at the time. Marburg was actually a part owner of Sonic (Along with Gavin and Corey O’Brien and Mike Briganti).
Most of your designs were evil clowns, but the clown on the ‘Circus’ deck was sad, was this a specific time in your life?
I think it was more of an abstract concept than what was really going on with me at the time (at least in any extreme sense). I thought it was funny with the circus tent burning down and the animals running away. I was just imagining everything falling apart at once in a ‘burn out’ rather than ‘fade away’ fashion. It turned out to be a bit prophetic, though.
In ‘Disposable’ you said the ‘Circus’ deck was a perfect reflection of your career, namely you being a sad, drunken clown that wanted to die after burning all your bridges with the sponsors.
Ha! It just seemed like that at times. There were a good amount of haters after I was saturated in the media for a couple of years, but that’s par for the course for most any skater who gets out there in the public, especially if you do a lot of conceptual skating. I guess I did get depressed after a while in the scene, but looking back now I have a very positive and thankful attitude towards my career. I did do a fair amount of binge drinking and so forth and I did fall into the hot seat with my sponsors around late 1998 for “inactivity” as I was pretty burned out from the touring and filming etc. It all ended abruptly in 1999 as the circus did finally burn down and all the participants fled the scene. Pretty good/fun run though from around 1992 until then, nevertheless.
Is the shirt from later? You said you totally forgot about it.
Yeah, I had forgotten all about that shirt until you posted it. The shirt came a couple of years after the deck. It was a Big Brother shirt designed by either Cliver or Marc McKee. I think it was right after I scored the lucrative shoe deal with Vans and I was like “okay, the Circus is re-vamped and high rolling now” but I kind of squandered away the Vans cash and partied a bit harder and wound up burning it all down again. I don’t drink anymore, though. Over 16 years sober now.
Did the clown sell his circus or is he just breaking it down after the show?
I think the workers are rebuilding the Circus tent in the shirt graphic, that was the idea if I remember correctly. Big Brother would just do random shirt designs from time to time. There was one of me and Jeff Tremaine that commemorated the infamous Big Brother Mardi Gras tour of 1995. Actually, come to think about it, that short tour represented everything you see in the Circus board pretty concisely in about a one week time span. I’m not sure how I survived some of those old days. I think Someone was looking out for me, even way back then…
Clown VS. Clown
Snowboarding also had it’s famous clown during the 90s. Shaun Palmer is a legend of extreme sports like skiing, motorcrossing, mountainbiking and founder of Palmer Snowboards in 1995. He liked illustrations of clowns in his snowboard graphics (especially on the Sims boards of the early 90s) and even cut his hair all Bozo-style and so forth. So Simon tought it would be a good idea to challenge him for a fight in the ring: snowboarder vs. skateboarder, clown vs. clown. I like that!
How did you approach Shaun Palmer for the fight?
I personally called Shaun on the phone and just straight challenged him to the match. When he agreed to the fight, I had a feeling it would be a big event, it just turned out a lot differently than originally planned.
To last 3 rounds in a boxing ring is pretty hard (I know, I used to box for a while). How did you prepare for that fight?
After the fight with Shaun Palmer (the original opponent) was set, I was like ‘Oh man, now I need to learn how to box’. My friend Freedom Silvera told me about the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, CA where Javier Mendez graciously let me study boxing with one of his pro trainers, Arturo “Witzi” Mata, for 5 months. Pretty grueling, but an amazing experience.
Were you into boxing or was it just a one-time thing?
That was the first time I boxed, but I wound up having 3 other organized fights. My record is 3-1.
In the end, you didn’t fight Shaun, but Mike Muir from Suicidal Tendencies. Did Shaun Palmer hurt his hand right before the boxing match or did he get scared?
I’m the kind of guy that likes to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I have to take Palmer at his word on that. But, it is interesting that neither he nor his crew made any effort to reschedule the fight later on.
Simon won this unsanctioned/amateur boxing match on points after 3 rounds of 2 minutes by unanimous decision.
Who designed the ‘fight’ deck? This deck is even rarer than the ‘Circus’ one, how come?
I presented the idea to Marburg and he drew it up. Sonic only made like 200 of them, so I would imagine it is pretty rare on the collectors market. Each one of them came with a VHS copy of the fight that Lance Dalgart shot from ringside.
How did the fight influence your career?
It really helped it out a lot, actually. With Palmer backing out, it was up to me and Mike Muir (the last minute substitute opponent) to save the event. I think Vans had dropped like $40K into getting the venue out in Vegas, so I told Steve Van Doren that I would fight whoever they could find. I was scared that I had to box Mike Muir, but it wound up working in my favor. I also had a pro spotlight in Transworld (that I shot with Mike Ballard) that was out at the time, so I wound up getting a signature shoe on Vans as a result of the fight and the mag.
Who came up with the idea of the ‘Twins’ Vans ad? Is that also you lying there?
It was indirectly Mike Carroll’s idea (he had a shoe on Vans for a minute), but Vans changed the idea a bit used it for my shoe and I worked with their ad agency to get it going. Conceptually, I am supposed to be all three characters in the ad. The head of the agency is actually stunt doubling for me as the ‘mom’ in the clown wig. I was really happy with those red and blue shoes. We released them at a time when most shoes in the industry were white leather with white mesh and puffy tongues and fat laces. I wanted to intentionally buck that system with my red and blue ‘clown shoe’ with Vans. There were even some crazier colorways (blue with red and yellow; orange and purple; yellow and green) that were never released, but I think the blue and red scheme proved the point nicely. ( Editor’s note: Simon actually has a pair of his signature Vans up for auction on eBay right now. )
I can still remember an ad from Sonic where Jason Adams flipped your board with his hand when you ollie of a wall or something, haven’t seen it since, I think you had red hair there. Must have been a Big Brother magazine ad from around ’96.
Yeah, that was a Sonic ad in Big Brother and the footage appeared in the Sonic industry section in 411VM. I think Dan Cates and Death Skateboards are re-releasing that industry segment sometime soon.
Death Skateboards is your new sponsor. How did you get in their team?
Well, I am more of a team mascot than anything else. Dan Cates is a good old friend and he tracked me down a while ago via e-mail and we agreed to do some guest boards and stuff.
They are from the UK, no?
Yes, One Direction, The Spice Girls, West Hammm United, Iron Maiden, William Wilberforce, John Wesley, King Henry VIII, Big Ben,The Beatles, Benny Hill, Sidewalk Magazine, and Death Skateboards are all from the UK. Mind that gap and all that.
Is Zarosh still doing screen printing for Death skateboards?
I don’t know much about the other guys on the Death Skateboards team other than the fact most of them seem to have these one-name names like Zarosh, Steak, Harry, Zorlack (cf. Madonna, Prince, Kei$ha, etc). Richie Jackson is my favorite skater on the team, though. Not only because he has developed a lucrative career for himself by way of stealing my kickflip high jump from 1995 and milking it for all it was worth, but also because he gave me such an honorable mention in an episode of his ‘Amazing Show’ on youtube. That was quite an honor, indeed! Patrick Melcher is an amazing skater as well, although he sort of reminds me of a pirate when he skates.
You recently put back on your clown suit to go skating. How did that feel?
It had gotten kind of annoying (for myself and others) to wear all the time as a pro back in the day, but it actually felt good to ‘suit up’ once again. Some young non-skater kids were trippin’ that I randomly showed up to Red Park in San Jose to skate as a clown, so I gave them my balloons when I was done and they got stoked.
How long did you wear it?
I actually wore it only one day it to commemorate the ‘clown brothers’ guest model that is coming out on Death Skateboards in the near future. I might wear it again soon, though, given the right occasion.
Who came up with the idea of the clown ‘twins’ deck?
Cates had it going with a Death Skateboards artist they refer to as D.J. and they expanded it to be a clown duo release. Sort of like the infamous Heinzovich model that did so well in the 90s.
Dan Cates had a few decks with clowns in the past, what’s up with that?
He basically kept the clown candle burning bright while I was off the scene. If you look at the stuff he has done in the UK media, it’s pretty insane!
The clowns in your graphics look pretty happy this time, what has changed?
I’m living the good life now, my friend. Loving sobriety, my Christian faith, and doing outreach to needy people in the area. Hanging with Bob Frank, Ted Egner, and Nick Caldwell in the 95008 when I can. Repping the BMC and TB crews. Filming with the Skidmark Magazine crew now and then, and continuing with my studies in the Philosophy of Religion at Veritas Evangelical Seminary. Skating again regularly has been a blessing as well. All is finally legit these days. I guess the circus has been rebuilt and is up and running again, on a smaller scale.
Where do you skate nowadays?
In everyone’s town, later today. See you there?!!
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