Originally published in Skateboarder # 101
There are a few treasures in the Girl warehouse. One is of course Rick Howard’s Vespa used in the Mouse intro, but any Crailtap reader knew that already -as well as Tim Gavin’s latest lunch pick. A more elusive gem took the form of anonymous cardboard boxes on a long-forgotten shelf, with just the word “Rudy” written on them. As Rudy Johnson guts them all, one after the other, you realize that Indiana Jones only found some worthless, cheezy crystal mask: this is where Royal trucks’ mastermind, of former Powell/Blind/Girl fame, keeps all his past pro-models, most of them shrink-wrapped. This collector’s wet dream has an explanation: “My wife”, Rudy laughs. “She’s the one who made me keep them all in such good condition.” After crossing out a bunch of mythical boards, it takes him only a few minutes to come up with a definite choice of his all-time five favorite decks. Here’s the skinny on them, with a little help from the designers behind.
1. Blind Rudy Johnson “Experimental” (1991)
Artwork: Mark Gonzales
“This was my first pro-model, in 1991. Powell Peralta, which I was riding for before, always had these Experimental stickers on the boards of the people who were about to have a pro-model. They were the coolest boards you’d see in videos. If you could put your hands on these stickers… I was telling Mark [Gonzales] how cool those boards were, so he just wrote “Experimental” all the way up, on the whole board. We kinda improvised it. Then my first car was a Toyota, that’s why he wrote “Toyota”. It’s funny cause in the beginning a lot of people were confused, they were asking who Toyota Johnson was. It was a cool board. The body parts, I don’t know, he just started to throw them there. I was stoked on the colors, those colors are hot now, you know? It was ahead of its time, man.”
2. Blind Rudy Johnson “jock skull” (1991)
Artwork: Marc McKee
“I was definitely stoked on this graphic because we [Rudy, Guy Mariano, Paulo Diaz and Gabriel Rodriguez –Ed. note] were going to be the next amateurs to turn pro for Powell before we left to Blind. I’ve always loved their artist VC Johnson, classic Powell, he’s incredible… So in a sense I kind of had my VCJ graphic. That was probably my fourth model on Blind and I know they had been talking about this series for a while, cause Rocco had this thing with George Powell.
So Marc McKee picked the Powell graphics he wanted to work off with, I was the last one and the others had already chosen. I got the fake Per Welinder one but I liked it cause it’s hilarious. This one and the spark plug board were my two models that sold the best, I think.”
3. Blind “spark plug” (1993)
Artwork: Marc McKee
“I was never really into slick-bottomed boards. I never really like the gimmick about them, I barely ever rode them. Anyway, I was into drag racing my Mustang, I’d go out on weekends and race in Fontana, or on Milliken Avenue in Ontario, out there. So I’d come back and talk about it at World, that’s how Marc McKee got the idea.”
Mark Mc Kee: “That one was a combination of pencil, acrylic paint, and some airbrush for the white highlights and the fade in the background. I was trying to mimic the style of one of my favorite artists, Hajime Sorayama, who does these awesome pin-up paintings of super slutty girls, and in one of his books he had a step-by-step guide to his painting methods that I followed. That was the only time I ever used that technique. I came up with the image of the girl on my own, using a few different photographic sources. Her face is taken from this ‘90s porn star Teri Weigel. The idea for the graphic came from an article in Adbusters magazine on the topic of sex in advertising.”
4. Blind “Lego dragster” (1993)
Artwork: Daniel Dunphy
“This is a rare one, it’s one of my last boards on Blind before we started Girl. Super small run, I don’t think it did that well. It’s the only board where I’m here live, as a person. I mean, there’s the [Blind] “Rear-end Rudy” but that’s cartoon… This one came up when they started to be able to photoimpose people onto graphics.
To shoot this, I had to sit outside of World, just on a regular wall. That was my Hollywood debut [laughter], I had to look like I’m racing and I’m taking off. It’s so different now, the style of graphics. Probably right now in the market it’do great for kids from 6 to 12 years old. I love it though, it’s a cool little theme going”.
Daniel Dunphy: “If I remember correctly, it was a crash test dummy Lego set and Sean Cliver built it… I remember going to a photo studio with him to have it shot.”
5. Girl “charango” (1996)
Artwork: Johannes Gamble
“I went to Bolivia in 1995 with Paulo Diaz, on a non-skate vacation, for probably two and a half weeks. We were really young, like 22 or something, but we went out there, and we learned about all these strange instruments, including the one represented here, called a charango. It’s a strange instrument with five double strings, and it’s made out of an armadillo, a real animal. We went to Bolivia cause it’s one of the only three countries where they make it, with Peru and Chile.
The actual graphic is a poster that I brought back. Instead of my name, it said : Ernesto Encarvo, a charango master player. It just said that, it was the exact same layout. I was so happy to ride this board, and people loved it. I still own two of the posters.”