Photo by Soma mag‘s prodigal son, David Tura
(Disclaimer: The following intro was written over two years ago, when speculations were going full blast about who would have ful parts in “that new Chocolate video,” and when Gino’s shop Poets was happening. -Seb)
That was a a few months ago. When asked how filming for the Chocolate video was going, Gino Iannucci bluntly stated: “I’m getting to the point where I’m like, ‘Alright Gino, do you really want to do this? If that’s the case stop fooling yourself.’ Video parts and skating for yourself is a whole different mind state.” Since then, his stance hasn’t changed much and the great thing about his is, well, at least to be able to admit it instead of hanging in a world of make-believe, making the descent into post-professional skateboarding longer, more painful for fans and awful shoe companies-clad.
Maybe Gino still has it, maybe he doesn’t, but who cares? He still skates every day for himself. Away from the cameras’ voyeuristic eye, never in the limelight as he’s always done it. Which in turn reinforces a “legend” status he’s been working so well on running away from, unlike others. “The only way I will know that I have achieved legendary status is when my peers say I have,” Ryan Sheckler humbly states on his own website. Gino has, for a good fifteen years. That’s why having him pick his five favorite boards was such a treat.
Black Label I love NY (1993)
Art by John Lucero
I think Lucero showed me the graphics first, or maybe he told me, “You know the I Love New York bumper sticker? I was thinking it could be used for your first board.” From what I remember, which is not a lot, when he presented me the idea of me having a board, he had that idea right then and there. There was no like me going out and looking for a graphic for myself.
It must have been at least a year and half after I got on Black Label. I didn’t know about turning pro or anything like that. There was no time for thinking about stuff for a graphic, but Lucero knew I was always down to represent where I came from and he recognized that. I know my old friends in New York were excited when the board came out. This was my first pro model so of course it’s at the top of the list.
101 Gza (1994)
Art by Gino Iannucci
I guess I’ve always been pretty much a die-hard Wu Tang fan, ever since U-God was passing out the first single they made, “Protect Ya Neck / Method Man,” out the trunk of his car at St. Johns University. My friend Jon Buscemi (Gourmet) was attending St. Johns at the time and got the tape, brought it home, had me listen to it and immediately went bananas! I think the one line in “Method Man” that sold me in using it for Snuff was the line “You don’t know me and you don’t know my style”.
Plus, GZA happened to be my favorite lyricist from the Wu, better yet my favorite out of anyone out there today or yesterday, hence the idea of the board. It was just, I don’t know, thinking of the music and looking at the logos all the time. It wasn’t even that deep but I just liked it cause I’m still a GZA fan and a Wu Tang fan. I remember that year we did the 101/Menace tour, and on that tour the Raekwon purple tape was out and we’d listen to that the whole tour. Wu Tang on the brain 24 hours a day.
I don’t know if the Wu Tang guys ever saw that board, but I heard that some of them went into Supreme and saw some board graphics that were taken from their graphics, I’m not sure if it was my board or some Menace boards, and that’s how they got their idea to make their own skateboards.
101 Panther (1996)
Art by Kevin Ancell / Natas Kaupas
The Natas panther board was Natas’ idea, he just presented the idea of giving each of us one of his old graphics, there was the kitten and the original panther one, which is the one I got, and then there was a gnarly, crazy looking cat that Clyde Singleton got. One of the most influential skaters ever, allowed us to bring back three of his classic graphics.There was no way in hell I was gonna say, “No, I don’t wanna do that.”
He was one of my favorites growing up, this was a great honor because of the amount of respect I always had for Natas. That was it, we just said, “Hell yeah!” and that was it.There was no real story or reason.
Chocolate adoption (1997)
Art by Daniel Dunphy
That was originally an idea that Rick and them came up with a few years before for Keenan for his first Chocolate board, and on that graphic Keenan was being welcomed into the house with rest of the guys being there already. And then when I got on, they said, “Let’s do the same graphics,” cause Keenan and I were really good friends, but this time they decided to have Keenan already inside the house looking out as I am getting adopted, coming in. I thought that was a really awesome idea, and it’s just a sentimental graphic as well nowadays, you know. This board is most special and to be honest, this graphic gets me emotional.
Chocolate Poets (2009)
Art by Gino Iannucci
It was pretty simple: Poets is my shop and a big part of my life now. The stripe pattern that’s on the board is like the one that’s on umbrellas they’ve been renting at the Jones Beach in Long Island since the ’40s and ’50s. I grew up going there all the time but these days I tend to stay away being that everybody at field 4 is orange now… We’ve been using that pattern a lot, we used it on a Blazer for Nike, stuff like that.
Then I used the shop logo, which is actually the highway logo in Long Island, it’s the highway over here, we just replaced the highway letter with the letter “P” for “Poets”. The name itself comes from the neighborhood I grew up in Westbury, Long Island, and the neighborhood I lived in was called Poets’ Corner because every street was named after a poet.
I just thought it was a cool board to talk about ’cause that’s what my life is about right now, my store. It’s just a chapter in my life.