Matt Hensley: “I became, well, relatively known and it kinda freaked my life out for a while”

The boarding school, Operation Ivy, the chain wallet, his stealth missions with Dan Sturt and even his stance regarding the burger issue: as one of the first street skating celebrities, pretty much every aspect of Matt Hensley’s life has been scrutinized during a career that starts around 1988 and has yet to end, 1993 “retirement models” be damned.
A legend suit that was maybe a few sizes too big for the discreet Vista loc, as his first pro contest shows: “Even if my sponsors signed me up for it,” Matt remembers in his Carlsbad garage adorned with the mandatory pool table, “I didn’t enter it. I was skating skating the course and all of a suddem I got surrounded by Natas, Gonz, every sweet motherfucker I grew up looking up to. It was ovewhelming. When they called my name I was two blocks away smoking a pack of cigarettes. I didn’t enter it.”
Good thing the next ones went better, and that the video days came to the rescue. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be an army of Church-Glass-graphic-tattoed old asses wandering the streets of the globe today. Here are Hensley’s five favorite boards.

[Oh and by the way, I had already pestered Matt with other stuff on my other blog, that no, I think, is not dead. Yet.]

H-Street Vista (1989)
Art by Scott Obradovich

Matt Hensley: “This is my first board but not my first graphic though. My first one was some kind of star, I cant remember what it was. It was some star with a weird script saying “Matt Hensley”. It was okay. It was done by that Italian guy Francesco Albertini, but it didn’t fit for me.

For me, growing up in Vista, it had a really vibrant street skating scene. I figured out you know what, I always wore chain wallets and it might sound cheese-ball but I wanted that street sign, something that represented street, this is what I do. So Obradovich came up with that and it was perfect. It looked exactely like this, I barely made any changes. Maybe I told him to add Vista but this is it.

This kind of graphics were so different at the time, I had a lot of people tell me they loveds it, and a lot of people tell me they didn’t like it, to be honest. But to me, it kinda had the street sensibilty to it.”

H-Street Peace Pole (1989)
Art by Nate Hadden & Scott Obradovich

“We started doing really big demos around that time again, and a lot of kids were now skating, that’s why they did these minis. I used to live in Vista with my friend Nate Hadden, he used to do Assault skateboards and drew this graphic, then it got redone again by Scott Obradovich.

I’m still in touch with Nate, he calls me. I got a story about him. I used to ride for Gullwing, this was when there was an angst SoCal/Norcal you know? So Gullwing was around here and I was riding Gullwing even to the bitter end. To make a long story short, they tried to kick me out of the team and this guy called Gullwing and freaked out on them. To him it was the biggest insult of all time. Wether I told him or not, Nate was acting like my agent, calling people and getting pissed off. But I loved how he’d do it out of caring about me. I just had to do a few apology calls to some people.

Anyway for this graphic he just used the one from my regular board and said he’d make it more rowdy, more punk-rock. You can tell, its’ less perfect. Now it’s an actual street, not just a pole. There’s a curb on this one and it’s painted red, so you can slappy it.”

H-Street King Size (1990)
Art by Francesco Albertini

“King Size, at that point in time, only meant more “king sized nose”. For me, a bird or an eagle feeling represents the symbol of being free and flying.

I liked eagles, I got birds tattoed all over me now, I kinda always had a recurring love for birds so it shows, I had a few boards with tmen on it, there even was a Plan B “Firebird” theme once. I just liked the vibe of it, it looks good.

I’m trying to remember how Francesco Albertini came up with it. Just like the star came about that way, it was something kinda like this, in simplicity. Once I saw this, it looked perfect to me.”

H-Street Church Glass (1991)
Art by “mysterious Colorado dude” & Jeff Klindt

“This board represents a couple different things for me. At the time, I did well in skateboarding and I became, well, relatively known and it kinda freaked my life out for a while. I wasn’t necessarily the happiest guy on the block for a while. And we were doing a demo in Colorado and I met an artist there, we were having some beers, I was a little pissed. So I was talking to him and told him how I wanted to do something that looks like the Minor Threat cover. Down and out. He worked on it but it just was rough, so it got redone by Jeff Klindt.

A lot of people I heard said it had a religious feel, but it’s not for me. I mean, that was part of the sketch, it kind of set a mood, but not a religious one, more of a serious one I guess. And I also think that it comes froma demo in Glasgow Scotland, where we did a demo in a church. Beautiful church, I remember being there and skating under that crazy light and it felt cool. Again, I don’t mean that God came and touched me, but it just felt… important, almost. And those two things came together. Again, it’s simple. It was rebelling against the old-time in skateboarding where everything was almost like a tattoo. I liked all my graphics to be iconic, almost like a stamp.”

Plan B Retirement model (1993)
Art by Carl Hyndman / Photos by Niko Achtipes

“This collage is a good glimpse of where I was in life at the time: skating every day, playing guitar, partying probably way more than I should be. It just makes me laugh. You see on some of the photos, this is my backyard, there’s a cracked window cause a bunch of Nazis came to my house and tried to fight our whole crew, cause I was part of a scooter club called The Upsetters.

So these Nazis came to my house cause we had put a windshield out on their car. And you can see on the floor a bunch of scooter parts, we were always working on scooters. Also on there you can see my roommate Jason, my best friend in the world, the Upsetters logo, a sign stating where I’m from, also the sink where I shaved peoples’ heads. It’s kind of the perfect “feeling” board for me.”


12 Responses to “Matt Hensley: “I became, well, relatively known and it kinda freaked my life out for a while””

  1. 1 Cayo October 25, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    I may be wrong, but i think you posted the Vista board to the Peace Pole text and viceversa.
    Great Article. Thank you for the nostalgic thoughts that make me want to skate even more.

  2. 2 Bevilacqua October 25, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Super !
    Btw: je ne suis pas dans ton blogroll – je n’y ai pas ma place ?

  3. 3 Keith October 25, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    first 2 graphics are flip flopped

  4. 4 sebcarayol October 26, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Thanlks for being good watchdogs, the two first boards were indeed flip-flopped.

    And Sakaroulé : bien sûr que tu y as une place d’honneur, dans ce blogroll ! J’ai tellement plus l’habitude de mettre à jour que j’avais complètement zappé. T’y voilà donc, sorry…

  5. 5 vaskateboards October 27, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Hensley is the man! I visited his bar in Carlsbad last year November. It was the day after my then girlfriends birthday, she was puking in the parking lot I had a couple of brews. Very proud to have all his OG H-Street boards.

  6. 6 Old School Sammy November 2, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Something that is so cool about all those boards is how iconic they really are, still having copycat graphics and re-issues boards done in the 20 plus year range…a street legend for sure!

  7. 7 Skately November 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Such a cool and humble guy. Used to have a roommate who grew up with Matt and who hated country western music so Matt would send packages to the house with cowboy boots & Merle Haggard albums. It was hilarious how mad my roommate would get.

  8. 8 some dood December 3, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Matt’s retirement board: Collage by Carl Hyndman with all photos taken by Niko Achtipes

  9. 9 Francesco January 15, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Hey Hi Matt!
    Actually I really can’t remember me doing anything with a Star (?) and your name on it… No way… never done anything like this at all. I do remember exactly that actually to me the vista guy on the pole was the first ever Matt Hensley graphic I’ve ever seen myself… so… who knows who did that that you mention…
    I remember indeed how I came up with the eagle graphic: I was in Italy… 1998? in between my USA journeys… we were still sometimes having quality problem with silkscreening multiple colors on full deck. So I wanted first of all to sort of gettin back to something simple and pure… like a tatoo, like some of the early 80’s late 70’s dog town. An icon… then I figured an Eagle was a bit the essence of western US… Then you simply loved it right away, and that worked… No! I’m not the one of the star+name!

  1. 1 Hensley Screened. « RADBALLS Trackback on October 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm
  2. 2 Matt Hensley ‘Memory Screened’ « Trackback on November 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm
  3. 3 Matt Hensley « Cleptomanicx Blog Trackback on February 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm

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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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