Bigger Spin / EP 005 - Benjamin Deberdt

It is now a LIVE Skateboard Media tradition that whichever new episode of the French skate podcast "Big Spin" comes out instantly sees itself supported by our very own complement of it, the Bigger Spin providing you with easy access to research matter regarding the subjects getting brought up in the interviews. And if you can't grasp French, then at least here you get to enjoy links and obscure references only the real will get! Today's interviewee on the brand new Big Spin episode just so happens to be the man, the myth, the legend from Barcy (with an "a", and no "-lona") and beyond: Benjamin Deberdt! Strong of the wisdom of someone having encountered skateboarding as soon as the seventies (which he will keep liking claiming!) and the playful mind of a child, Benjamin naturally grew up to become the man long time in charge of a lot of initiatives within the skateboarding press network, most notably launching the French magazine SuGaR twenty years ago, then extending his research with the creation of the European Kingpin then even beyond, with this worldwide takeover of a website LIVE Skateboard Media is. Broad is Benjamin's experience and urge to get more life out of people via countless public recollections of incredible skate stories (complete with photo proof), a way for him to exchange little fragments of existence and humbly help piece the world together. Marks of his personal experiences and relationships keep overflooding his office further and further from "oh, the boxes" and into people's minds, by the means of magazine contributions and self-publication (see This Was Just Now). Anyway, it is for certain that Benjamin took our opportunity of an audio podcast as yet another modern way to get to reach out to whoever would like to hear the quirkiest skate anecdotes, or laugh about life with him!
 

 

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This Was Just Now in the office

This is where it all goes down. Negatives, contact sheets, a couch for exotic varieties of guests to crash on, computers, screens, scanner, magazines, fanzines, more zines.

As one can attest, everything in that room is tidily, meticulously ordered following a never-aging method of Benjamin's own.

This Was Just Now is Benjamin's own self-publicated zine he has for sale. Photographs, people, characters, encounters and the occasional skateboarding, too. A sharp vision of life and people. Get into it.

 

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TransWorld SKATEboarding Magazine

 

One of the most renowned, main US skateboarding magazine of all time, every issue of which used to be thicker than a dictionary. Their first one came out on May / June of 1983, and the latest one to date features frenchman Adrien Bulard on the cover, backside tailsliding down an amusement park.

Tracker Trucks owner Larry Balma influenced the direction of the magazine towards becoming a counterpoint to Thrasher's: the sun-soaked, colorful skateboarding as opposed to the punk attitude overflooding with provocation. Photographer Grant Brittain was a contributer as early as the first issue, David Carson handles the art direction, and the magazine will run some of Tobin Yelland and Dan Sturt's greatest images.

 

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Lacadur & Stacy Peralta

Lacadur: a french company that gave skateboarding a try back in the seventies. The boards were mostly functional at the rare, but great OG concrete parks in the country (Béton Hurlant).

The boards are now a rare collector's item you may occasionally stumble upon at flea markets.

Stacy Peralta. A very important character in the skateboarding history, formerly pro who eventually tried giving his on take on skateboarding a shot by launching his company Powell Peralta back in 1978 with George (Powell)'s partnership.

Peralta was the original who came up with the whole idea of filming skateboarding by talented riders in order to promote product; he literally established the model the industry is still following almost half a century later, and even threw a young Guy Mariano in the mix. Sébastien Daurel and Stéphane Larance too as far as European talent.

 

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Tobin Yelland

 

Tobin is part of the second wave of skate photographers, a practice already breached by Craig Stecyk and Glen E. Friedman.

Just as skateboarding is starting to overflood into the streets, Tobin knows something is on and eventually documents the inception of a worldwide movement. His work comprises a lot of lifestyle shots and portraits featuring those originators, but also a healthy dose of classic skate shots and even some sequences of never-been-done before tricks such as the legendary one below.


Henry Sanchez, first ever backside nosebluntslide. Ph.: Tobin Yelland

 

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Sébastien Caldas

Seb is Benjamin's cousin.

He was behind the art direction of La Lettre, A5 and SuGaR, and now runs the bicycle company Commencal.

Very into hip-hop, Girl, Menace, éS and general bagginess, he worked, crafted and created hands in hands with Benjamin for a while.


 

 

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The Eiffel's bassins

 

 

Those rarely skateable gems are located next to the West pillars.

A wide concrete area, occasionally empty, with transition everywhere and an island Natas apparently ollied over back in the day, according to Stéphane Larance.

Benjamin has taken some photos there, including one of David Couliau boosting it way higher than possible, and others such as Yann Garin, Tom Penny and even Parisian legend Maf, who had to borrow somebody's skateboard to shoot a ollie.

 

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Powell Experimental

And we're back to Powell Peralta and its skulls, flames and skeletons-based imagery. Their uprising riders had ads ran in the mags featuring them skating boards labeled as "experimental", thereby announcing their imminent reaching of the pro ranks.

Well, Benjamin also got his own “Experimental” board, hand-drawn by his cousin.

 

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Street Machine and Fontaine des Innocents

Next to Les Halles on rue Bailleul is where the classic Paris skateshop Street Machine first opened its doors, back in 1989.

Tobia from Denmark was the boss; Bamba and a few others his minions.

The employees were rude, you didn't get to touch anything, you could only try and breathe the dream in around the sponsored skaters - and what about the occasional pros - Street Machine was an attitude factory and a little kid dream.

And if one day you walked in and an employee looked up, then you were in and could keep going on with your day with a strong sense of acknowledgment.

Fontaine des Innocents is a spot that was only a five-minute skate from Street Machine, so of course that's where it would all go down.

Days packed with Paris' who's who crossing paths with folks from the suburbs, never-been-done tricks, and a few fights.

Open daily from noon to eleven. You'd get stuck at the Tonf'.

 

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Éric Obré, aka. Bamba

Bamba already was familiar with skating down the hills of San Francisco with Tommy Guerrero before he started running Street Machine.

He then flew away to San Diego to give a US-based Street Machine a try, then move on to design shoes for Sole Tech then DC Shoes.

A future Big Spin guest, hopefully...

 

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Alex Wise + Stéphane Larance

 


Alex Wise.

The true essential Paris OG's. They both skated for Street Machine, at Fontaines des Innocents oftentimes but also just about anywhere else they could catch up with skateboarders at. Street skaters complete with the style, attitude and flow. Just getting to watch Alex or Stéphane skate was the sign of a great session.

You'll hear more about them soon in a next Big Spin episode; they pretty much made Paris skating up. Also, they were the absolute kings of La Vague, and of late shove-its, and were very complementary of one another.

 

 


Stéphane Larance (with some quality background props - can everybody identify them? #whatevenisskateboardingthesedays?).

 

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Natas Kaupas

A main modern street skating pioneer, Natas brought the ollie, the nollie, and street skating in general to new levels, most notably by skating the first handrails along with Mark Gonzales.

He's had the most classic skate parts, timeless original style and Public Enemy shirts forever frozen in time mid-ollie.

Natas is just as much of a living legend as Mark; eventually, he had to retire from professional skateboarding in the early 1990's due to knee problems.

But then he launched his own company: 101 (One-O-One), the team of which used to comprise the likes of Dill, Gino, Koston… Then he kept collaborating with other companies throughout the decades, all the while ever fine-tuning his own project: Designarium.


 

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Stereo

 

 

Operated under DLX since day one, Stereo breaks the norms of the time. Super 8 film videos, downhill street skating in San Francisco and home-made jazz tailor-fit to the clips. But of course.

It appears that their film A Visual Sound came out in 1994, and Girl's Goldfish in 1993, but especially back then, worldwide distribution was a much slower process and the cards easily got blurred overseas.

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Salman Agah

Switch (or opposite-footed as we used to say) skateboarding pioneer right there. Still close to San Francisco, gave and still gives a lot to skateboarding.

His pro board graphics were always timeless and Benjamin got this stripped one. True bliss.

 

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Plan B / 1991


Click for everything to click
 (maybe?)

Filmmaker and enthusiastic personal coach Mike Ternasky has helped a lot of legendary pro skaters with their careers, always driving them to push themselves and once quit the company H-Street to start Plan B skateboards, bringing a chunk of the H-Street team with him.

A huge thing at the time, only topped off by the cherry on the cake that was their first video Questionable (see above), instantly setting new standards as far as technical skateboarding and skate filmmaking.

The world got their proper introduction to Pat Duffy, Mike Carroll, Sean Sheffey, Rick Howard… And it was clear that a new era was just being written.

 

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Mark Gonzales, Marseille, Lyon and Jérémie

 


Jérémie Daclin. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt

Mark Gonzales. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt
 

Hervé Ricqueau, wallride to fakie. Ph.: Rémy N'Guyen

Thanks to Bud Marseille skateshop's boss Laurent Molinier aka. Momo, here's a depiction of the spot Benjamin brings up, next to gare Saint-Charles.

Gonz's wallie over to grind - pictured above - was in Marseille as well, and he did hit it straight on. Gonz actually did many Gonz things in Lyon around that time period, occasionally filmed by French Fred, but rarely documented in still frame.


Mark Gonzales. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt

 

Some years later, Gonz hit Paris again, and circle boarded around the city of lights and the Trocadéro for Benjamin's lens.

A video clip, a book and many memories later, how remarkable of a representation Mark is of skateboarding is a thought that can't help but occur.


Mark Gonzales. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt

 

 

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Ludo(vic) Azémar

 


"Echoes From The Road"
by Ludovic Azémar.

Ludovic is behind the Mark Gonzales circle board in Paris video clip, but he's also been traveling and filming with the Antiz guys for a while!

His latest video piece for the company, a full-length called “Echoes from the road” just came out on Thrasher.

 

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Thomas Campbell


Thomas Campbell next to Benjamin (right), shot by Mike O’Meally.
 

TransWorld's photographer at the time, his unquenchable thirst for more of the world somehow drew him to Europe and beyond, and photograph the locals, tell stories and generally get people psyched.

Quite the discreet character, he still remains very active.

 

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Quim Cardona

 


Quim Cardona. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt

“Mini-Gonz, Mini-Gonz !”.

Quim Cardona first popped up on screens and minds as soon as 1996; from New Jersey born and raised, he was in "downtown Manhattan" all the time alongside his brother Mike (R.I.P).

Quim, aka. Joaquim, had the most naturally G'd out style, straight up. Both switch and regular, his legs were always making crazy shapes and he would blow everybody's mind in real life.

Fat pop, fat smile, fine connaisseur of rap, tech and wallies.

 

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Bobby Puleo

A certain Big Spin activist used to work at Street Machine on Saturdays, going as far back as before the early naughts.

While abroad, Benjamin used to make collect calls to the shop all the time, at such a rate we still wonder to this day how it managed to stay afloat for so long.

We really are talking plenty of collect calls.

And as we had just watched Bobby Puleo's 411VM segment for the first time, we would tell him how incredible we all thought he was. See for yourself.

 

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Keith Hufnagel


Keith Hufnagel. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt

 

Huf as in Keith Hufnagel.

King of New York.

Skating every single day, regardless of the weather; motivated like crazy.

Very professional and self-confident, he frontside boardslid this jersey barrier boarding a busy road in the span of a red light.

 

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Keenan Milton & Peter Bici


Peter Bici. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt

 

Two New York children who tried going for the California dream of professional skateboarding.

Pete cut his career short, whereas Keenan's lifestyle eventually brought him a step too far. He passed back in 2001, forever leaving a void.


Keenan Milton. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt

Lying on Samir's floor here. “Coup’ du mande ni??a!”, 1998.

 

 

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Alleged Gallery & Beautiful Losers & Supreme

 

Back in the nineties, New York City was an ever-effervescent cultural soup, boiling non-stop.

Aaron Rose took notice of the rise of skateboarding and gathered some of its most renowned artists together under the Beautiful Losers designation.

And here they are having a show at Alleged, on Ludlow, street corner crack capital.

 

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Ethan Fowler

A young talent first brought up by Thomas Campbell, he earned himself a timeless place in skateboarding with obvious displays of natural style - oh, and a world champion title.

He hung out in Paris for a month when he was seventeen, skateboarding around and drinking wine at cafés.

Still a master of the dark art of the solid 360 flip.

 

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Jamie Thomas

 

Jamie Thomas, his US flag-adorning griptape and his "get down or sit down" mentality. He certainly didn't come to Paris just to kid around.

His subsequent evolution amidst the industry only proved to show more of the world the world how serious he really was.

 

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Jérémie's boardslide at Green Banks


Jérémie Daclin. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt
 

Classic trick at a classic spot.

Jérémie did that trick while full of overly spicy chicken curry and cigarette smoke, and under Pontus Alv's scrutinity as Polar's founder had just joined Cliché's roster at the time.

 

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SuGaR, KingPin & Pause

 

Three print magazines Benjamin has launched.

Try and catch a glimpse of them at your older skate friend's crib sometime. The physical remains.

 

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Someone else's eye

 



Mickey Reyes' Market Street Bart Station wallride in San Francisco.

Toby Shuall on Mark Gonzales' shoulders.

Julien Stranger and his radio.

Anything gathering Matt Hensley and Dan Sturt.

The days.

 

 

 

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Favorite glimpses he's caught

Mark Gonzales displaying some odd accuracy on a first of January, all the while Julien Bachelier - of Antiz - is just recovering from getting that frontside boardslide around the Galeries Lafayette a few hours earlier.

Quim Cardona, Washington Square, NYC.

Tom Penny mid-backside nollie at that abandoned amusement park near Marseille.

Just great moments somehow related to skateboarding, wherever in the world and in the most random ways.


Dennis Busenitz, Créteil ollie back in 2001. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt

 

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Stuck on an island with only one video part

Mark Gonzales in Blind Video Days. Just watch it!

 

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Pick just one skateboarder, or maybe two

Mark Gonzales & Natas Kaupas

The true originals.

They experimented, innovated, invented, adapted, building upon both the technicality of freestyle skateboarding and the stylistic considerations of surfing.

It is due to them that we are wherever we happen to be right now.

So, thanks, guys!

 

 
Feel free to click here for a recent, complementary interview with Benjamin by Josh Stewart; and here to marvel at Benjamin's guest model for the French Magenta skateboards, bound to be worth millions in a few years' time.
 
See you soon for more things Big Spin!
 
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