Since the beginning days of NY Skateboarding we’ve had nothing but 110% support by New York OG Alex Corporan. So we’re stoked to announce that Alex is now part of the NYSB family! Alex’s endless list of involvement in the New York skateboarding community throughout the years is inspirational. From being one of the first skaters in NYC to film, to growing Supreme, to putting together the best NYC skate photo book, Full Bleed, to organizing countless events… he’s truly done it all. We sat down with Alex for our latest Q&A interview. Read what he had to say below.
RS: You grew up in Washington Heights – have you been over to the new skate park yet?
AC: Yeah, I was born in Brooklyn – Greenpoint Hospital – and raised in The Heights…
The new park is super rad. It’s about time we have a skate facility to play with, especially for the new generation. It’s still not officially open but it’s being used very well by up and coming skaters.
RS: How is it different skating NYC today vs. back in the day?
AC: Back then when I started we were not cool. I was called so many names, but I didn’t care – all I was focused on was skateboarding with my friends and having a good time doing it. Today, being a skateboarder you’re a rock star in everyone’s eyes. Back then during my days, the only skateboard rockstar was Hosoi hitting the east and west. Now a lot of these kids are rippers, but there is a group that play the rockstar part without necessarily skating like one.
RS: You filmed some of the earliest NYC skate footage. What was it like filming back then?
AC: Besides skateboarding, filming was my other passion. My parents had bought a family video camera, but I immediately bogarted it from them, because the love I have for skateboarding – I had to document it. One of those moments in life where I was, “I can’t believe were doing this!” I just had to film every moment of skating.
RS: The late Keenan Milton was a good friend of yours growing up. For the younger generation, can you explain Keenan’s place in New York skateboarding’s history?
AC: Keenan was a staple of New York – when you talk about style, that definition was made for him. His skating was so smooth and graceful that it looked like he’s dancing the whole time. Lance Mountain nailed it in his quote he put on this print I own of Keenan – he did “Infectious Laughter, Loved by All”.
RS: What about Harold – can you explain his place in New York skateboarding’s history for the younger kids as well?
AC: Harold Hunter was the Mayor of New York skateboarding. He touched people’s hearts within seconds, where I’ve seen people almost fight trying to claim they were his best friend. That’s how amazing Harold was. He was the go-to guy to have a good time skating – comedic and super charming. Harold had one of the smoothest Nollie Heel and Backside 360 ollies. If Harold was still walking these streets, I can see him have a successful Skating TV show on the travel channel.
RS: Tell us a little about your role with Rockstar Bearings.
AC: My role with Rockstar is being the head of marketing. Adrian Lopez started Rockstar with Harold Hunter a couple of years ago. After Harold passed the company kind of slowed down for a bit. Now we’re building the company back up with a great support team and group of riders.
RS: Growing up being sponsored, any words of advice for kids on the come up these days?
AC: The best thing I can say is have a good time skating. Go out there for the love of skateboarding. Don’t go with that “I’m going to get paid” attitude, because you always need something to fall back on. You’re going to get sponsored naturally if you just enjoy it. I’ve seen people in the past forcing their sponsor me tapes to companies and never even get flow. Just take road trips with your bros, meet new people from other states or around the world to skate with, and keep a positive mind.
RS: Can you remember your first time ever skating the Brooklyn Banks?
AC: Funny thing – I actually don’t. It feels like when I started skating I automatically got beamed to the banks.
RS: What’s the craziest trick you’ve seen go down at the Brooklyn Banks?
AC: That’s a hard one – there have been so many. Let’s see… Mike Valley’s ollie over the wall when they put up the fence and he knocked the tip of the fence off. Steve Rodriguez’s ollie over the wall with a car right by it. Mike Kepper’s ollie over the highest part of the wall. Eric Koston’s nollie bs 180 heel the wall; Spencer Fujimoto’s nollie bs 180 kick flip over the wall, which I believe was the last trick that went down over the wall before the fence went up. I can go on for days. Damn, I miss the Banks.
RS: Max Fish was like your living room – how has life changed since it closed down?
AC: Max Fish was the airport hub for skateboarders. Since the Fish shut down it left everyone scattered. It felt like someone burned down the tree clubhouse.
RS: What’s your fondest memory at the Fish?
AC: Way too many – if those walls could talk it would be scary in a good way.
RS: A few years back you injured your knee, what exactly happened?
AC: It was one of those things that happen – hurting yourself on a trick you can do blindfolded. I was ripping up all day with Big Jim and my boy Will. We were done with our session and were super hyped about the day. We decided to go to the movies, and on the way I did a full speed F/S nollie 180 but I over turned with my one foot on the board and the other on the ground and fell back, snapping my knee sideways. Haven’t been the same since. Go figure, no insurance…
RS: As a staple figure in the LES, what’s your take on how things are changing in the neighborhood?
AC: It’s kind of sad because the flavor of the LES is pretty much gone – the punk rock, hardcore, skaterat, rock&roll, Latino crowd, dive bar feel is almost non-existent. Now it’s filled with college meat heads, girls in high heels like it’s a club at a regular bar, a bunch of button up, high rises, rents skyrocketing and lame hipsters dictating what LES is now. Not cool at all. That’s why Big Jim and I came up with our new slogan for the LES: “WELCOME TO THE LOWER UPPER EAST DOWNTOWN SIDE/IT’S SAFE NOW”
RS: You were part of the original Supreme crew, what’s your take on how big the brand is today?
AC: From seeing it from day one and running the shop, I’m stoked to see the brand grow the way it has. The collaborations that have come out have been amazing, considering it being skate shop/street brand on Lafayette from its time. At the end of the day, it’s all about growth and it shows because it has been 20 years now, so all I would expect is great things to happen.
RS: We commonly claim your photo book Full Bleed to be the best New York skateboarding book ever. How did that project come about?
AC: Full Bleed came about because throughout my skateboard career people that didn’t skate would always ask me, “Where do you skate in NYC?” and I would say, “Everywhere.” People I would talk to didn’t understand what everywhere meant. I would point to a curb, steps, a manhole etc. and I would tell them New York is our skatepark, and still they wouldn’t get it. So I sat at my friend’s restaurant one day and the idea popped in my mind to make a book to show people what I meant. I instantly started calling photographers asking them for their photos based on New York skateboarding. It didn’t matter where the skater was from as long as it was a documented photo of New York being represented as the mecca of skateboarding.
I started the project in 2008. It took me four years to complete the book. For three years I did it on my own, and then the fourth year I was tired and needed help to finish my dream. So one day I talked to Ivory Serra about my project, and he was stoked to help me and be my partner, but we still needed one more person. Ivory and I were going through people that could help finish this with us, and then he just said, “Let’s ask Andre Razo.” Andre said yes, and the dream team was complete. We were cranking immediately.
We met every week for a year working on Full Bleed. At one point we ended up with 19 versions of the book. We then started listing publishers to have meetings with to show the book. Vice was the very first one on the list. The first meeting was set, we showed them one of the versions of the book and they liked it. They told us that they would look into it and ask one of the higher ups. We walked out of the building and all 3 of us agreed to not do any other meetings with the rest of the publishers on our list. We had a really good feeling, and we were right going with our gut. Vice called us up to sign our contracts, and boom – it happened. We were so freaking stoked. Our meetings were now a couple of days every week to finish the book. We got it done and we got published. The feeling of finishing the book was unexplainable and everything that has gone with it, like book tours, collaborations, events, seeing it at bookstores around the world, people sending us photos showing that they purchased it etc.… We’re still going strong.
RS: Is there Full Bleed part II in the works?
AC: Yes there is, but first we’re going to work on the digital version of Full Bleed with some extra photos. So look out for it this summer for your iPads and all those other fun trinkets.
RS: What would you consider your top three skate parts of all time, and why?
AC: Anything Mike Carroll – his video parts are what you call pure street skating. You can’t copy his style, and he always has great music.
John Cardiel – TWS Sight Unseen. All I have to say is speed, adrenaline and gnarly.
Mark Gonzales -Blind Video Days. Watching his part is like staring at Medusa’s eyes – you get captured and stay frozen.
RS: You’ve thrown countless parties in NYC, any favorites come to mind?
AC: I pretty much like all my parties I throw, as long as people are having fun. That makes me smile.
RS: What’s in store for the rest of 2014?
AC: I always have something happening up my sleeve, but you can look out for some cool projects with NY Skateboarding, Mighty Healthy, El Senor and WERIDE Skate app.
Interview by Rick Sulz, feature photo by Joel Meinholz
More with Alex Corporan coming in Part II