Gabriel Rodriguez: “We got away with pretty much most of it”

portrait1Gabriel at home, Mid City Los Angeles. Photo © Seb Carayol

To Gabriel Rodriguez, the board graphic world opened its door upon a biblical revelation. Not for him, but for his then-boss Natas Kaupas.
“My mom is Catholic”, he explains on the porch of the house he grew up in, in Mid City LA, “she had a huge mantle with Jesus on it. My room used to be on the back, so once Natas came over and had to walk through the house. When he saw that picture, he was like, ‘That is gonna be your first graphic.’ I was like, ‘Really? Fuck yeah, no doubt!’ I thought it was cool. I was a little more religious back then than I am now, so I was a little scared cause we were gonna be skating on, you know, desecrating the face or whatever.”
Using His almighty compassion, Mr Christ didn’t seem to mind and led Gabriel to a quality vs. quantity-driven career , until a few life struggles confiscated it. But that’s another story… For now, a quarter of Powell’s “LA Boys” has better reminiscences to focus on: dig through his 42 pro-models to pick his five favorite ones.

wrestle101 Gabriel vs The Crusher (1993)
Art by Marc McKee & Spike Jonze

This is my third board right here, when we first started doing the Warner Brothers thing. That was before they started saying something, we got away with pretty much most of it. For this one basically, I had Natas in the camel clutch and they used the computer to added  the drawing, it was a pretty funny project.

At the time Natas had most of the ideas, and I was more than happy with them. I wasn’t into wrestling at all, but it worked out as always. This was shot at Natas’ house, he just called up and said, “I have an idea, come over.” I just took my clothes off and Spike shote the photo – I mean, I had shorts on. We did a few positions but this one turned out to be the best wrestling move.

The boards from this era are special to me ’cause it was like living in a dream. Natas, I used to look up to that guy unbelievably. Hanging out with him, travelling him with him, him asking me to turn pro… That was really cool.

penalizer101 The Penalizer (1993)
Art by Sean Cliver

This one is a bite on The Punisher, the comic book, they took of photo of me and drew my face on there. It came I guess from the fact that my neighborhood was much more violent. It still kinda is like like that, but everyone is in jail or dead or whatever, but back then it was pretty bad. People used to come by my house and they’d see a lot of gang activity and they’d think I was like that. I wasn’t. Some of the gangsters used to skate in the early 70s and some of them still skated so I could skate anywhere around here without getting bugged. They even used to protect me kinda, cause at the time I was progressing and we put ramps in the middle of the street, all the gang bangers woud come and they kinda enjoyed watching me.

So I had some kind of stupid reputation of being a tough guy or some shit. That’s why a lot of my graphics tended to be violent. The funny thing about it is that it’s actually the opposite, they used to tell me, “If I see you smoking or drinking or joining a gang, I’m a fuck you up.”

bomb101 Bomb (late 1993-ish, very early 1994-ish, Slap pals !)
Art by Marc McKee

Another violent graphic, this one was more World War II-inspired. Natas actually had an actual, real World War II bomb, I remember he had it at his house, I’m not sure where he found it, probably some Army surplus.

I can’t recall if they hand-painted all this on the bomb, but for some reason I have this vague rememberence of seeing it painted already… Then they took apicture and laid it out. This is maybe almost my favorite one, ever. Just the aesthetic aspect of it, I love the actual cartoon too.

picassoChocolate Picasso rip-off (1994)
Artist unknown (well, kinda?)

This one was definitely my first board on Chocolate. The interesting thing was, we had a hard time figuring out a name for the company. I think Megan Baltimore came up with the name. And once we heard it, we loved it. At the time, there were a lot of Hispanics on the team pretty much. It wasn’t really racial but it was like bunch of brownies so we were like, “Chocolate! Hell yes !”

Even though we got to choose our graphics on the first maybe four models, I actually did not pick up this one. I was pretty clueless at the time, I didn’t know who Picasso was.  It made me want to research more who he was, and him being from Spain kinda made sense. It’s funny how I have couple other boards with bull fighters and bulls that I like, even though I’m not into that. I think it’s a stupid, stupid, fucking… I don’t even think it’s a sport, it’s barbaric. I call it the running of the fools.

At the time though I didn’t think about that, I was just happy to have a board.

cityChocolate City series (1997)
Art by Evan Hecox

This is one of my favorite series we had because this was a really good point in time for Chocolate, right when Keenan and Gino got on the team and we all hung out all the time -God bless Keenan’s soul, nicest person in the world.

This is why I really like this board a lot, it’s that time. Why I was in front of the barber shop? That’s interesting, that might have been ’cause I had long hair at the time. I don’t think it was for my mustache, I only sported it for about two years, just because I never had one.

This whole series has to me that sentimental value. This is pretty cool. Plus, having your face on aboard is always funny. I think that happened to me six, seven times or something.

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11 Responses to “Gabriel Rodriguez: “We got away with pretty much most of it””


  1. 1 thecarbonite February 1, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Reblogged this on frozen in carbonite.

  2. 5 chris f February 2, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    why is the gab vs crusher boards shape different from the original?and wasnt gabriel in the chocolate section in goldfish 93?101 board 94???

    • 6 sebcarayol February 2, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      Oh they might have different presses of the Crusher board then? Didn’t know that. All I know is that it’s announced in the World Industries Spring 1992 catalog as “coming soon”…
      I asked Natas etc but it’s true that it’d be weird if the Bomb deck indeed came out in 1994… I’ll correct that. can only be 1993, max! Thanks for the good eye ! Are you thesame guy who posted about dates on the Slap boards?

  3. 9 chris f February 3, 2014 at 1:02 am

    His third board ,the first graphic pictured would have been older than 93,the bomb board is the right year,good interview though.ill check out the slap page.

  4. 10 L February 5, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    gagbriel?? check title


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Le boardnographe du phonographe

This is an archive for my eponymous monthly page in Skateboarder mag. Plus a few extras few and far between, whenever I get a chance...
Absolutely shameless, unrated boardnography, exposed! -minus the Ebay guilt. Enjoy the visite...

_Seb Carayol
Memory Screened Inc. and subsidiaries' CEO

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