The Chuck Dinkins Interview in Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine!
When did you first pick up a skateboard?
I received my very first skateboard when I was living just outside Kailua Hawaii when I was in fourth grade. Being born in 1966, I would have been nine years old in 1975. My first board was a crappy Black Knight board with these weird clay wheels, which I think my dad got at the PX at Kaneohe Bay Marine base. I loved that damn thing and learned how to ride it pretty quick so my dad got me a second board with urethane wheels that year for Christmas along with a Six Million Dollar Man action figure. You know the one, with the roll up skin on the arm and the built in telescope in the head. I have to say it was a pretty dope Christmas that year; but I digress. My friends and I were limited to tic-tac’s, and bombing the nearby hill. Oddly enough I was the only one my age who would go from the top without running out in someone’s lawn.
Your skills developed pretty quickly, who influenced you the most in your skate youth?
My youth was filled with influences. Once I moved to El Toro / Irvine California in 1976 skateboarding became a completely different animal for me. My initial influences were the locals in my neighborhood. They took me under their wing and let me ride their hill and a shitty back yard ramp with no flat or platforms. It was just a true half pipe. There was also this big drainage ditch called the “Tunnel” we rode bikes and skateboarded there. You were a bad ass if you could carve over this 8’ high opening to a tunnel that ran the entire length of our neighborhood. Needless to say I could do it on my skateboard but had no problem on my BMX bike. I soon discovered Skateboarder magazine and after school I used to go to a local skate park in University Park in Irvine. I took a couple of trips to the Big O with friends but was nothing more than a grom being shell shocked by the massive talent there.
From the magazines I looked up to skaters like Tony Alva, George Orton, Ray “Bone” Rodriguez, Steve Cathey, Steve Olson, Bruce Logan, Duane Peters, Jay Adams, Shogo Kubo and Stacey Peralta. However, I was especially fascinated with Marty Grimes because he was really the only other black skater I was seeing on that level. I think early on seeing Marty skate indirectly influenced me to not have race be a barrier in skateboarding. I had their pictures taped to my wall and started to mimic things I was seeing in the mag. High jump over my friends bicycles, downhill, and I even built a bank to wall in my garage out of my dad’s ping-pong table….He was not stoked. I once built a Skirkcle (I think that was the name), a round skateboard just so I could have my feet side by side and pump around the neighborhood. I had a Logan Earth Ski with Lazer trucks and power paw wheels, A Bonsai Pipeline aluminum board with ACS trucks and Variflex George Orton, pizza grip, Bennett trucks and Road Riders. I was big into the quiver even back then. It was mostly backyard ramps, surfing and BMX in the 80’s after moving from Cali to coastal North Carolina. This is where I met Reggie Barnes and the Duong brothers (Mark and Billy) for the first time at Wacky Golf’s skateboard park. Back then a skate park had to go with something else…miniature golf and skateboarding…made a ton of sense, right? Little did I know Reggie Barnes would have more to do with my skateboarding career than a chance meeting at a skate park.
You had a lot of early success in contests and you were noticed by Bruce Walker and then sponsored by Walker Skateboards, when did that take place?
Back in 1985 I was working at a skateboard shop in Memphis Tennessee and had a shop flow sponsorship from BarFoot (Chuck Barfoot’s skate/ snowboard company). In the spring, Cheapskates sponsored and arranged two pro skaters to come into town and do demos in conjunction with a weekend of music and sports festival, at the Mid South Fairgrounds. It was more of a county fair with some circus acts thrown in for shits and giggles. Motor cycles in the metal ball cage thing, trapeze, high wire acts and skateboarding. Billy Squire played that weekend along with a slew of 80’s pop rock classic acts. I think Molly Hatchet was there too. Anyhow, we arranged to have Reggie Barnes and Jim McCall come in and do some flat land freestyle demos because they would not let us build a ramp outside of a small launch ramp. Jim and Reggie arrived and killed it. I had never really seen freestyle too much in person and was super stoked to have those guys come up. Both of them were super cool and professional. They even invited me to join in and I got to skate and showcase my flat land street style, plus launch ramp skills. 360 Boneless-ones, Airs, Japan’s, Mutes, Judo’s, Ollies, all the crazy ass jump ramp stuff. I was skating with pros and had to step up my game. McCall was throwing down 360 Method Airs etc. Reggie was smooth and stylish with Ollies, etc. throwing in sweet G-Turns etc. I’d say on the whole we killed it. I didn’t know how impressed they were with me until a few weeks later, when I got a call at the shop from Bruce Walker offering me a full sponsorship simply based on the word of Jim and Reggie.
Chuck Dinkings flying twisted.
I continued to compete locally and regionally making strong showings in most contests, and winning a lot of them. I spent time traveling around to skate anything I could in places like Little Rock & Jonesboro Arkansas, Lincoln Nebaska, , Atlanta GA, Nashville and Knoxville TN. I got to go to Chicago, plus hang with the Alva boys: Tony Alva, Bill Danforth and Jeff Hartsel in Dayton Ohio! Danforth had started coming to Memphis quite a bit doing demos and we became fast friends. He hooked me up with Bryan Ridgeway in Dayton OH and I got on Tracker after that contest. In the winter of 86 I came to Florida for the Surf Expo and met Bruce Walker (face to face) for the first time. He was super nice and supportive. He mentioned there was a Pro-Am street contest in Pensacola that weekend and suggested I try to make it and we agreed. Cheapskates shop owner Ron Hale and I drove overnight to get there hours before the start of the contest and I ended up getting 2nd. I got to skate with Venice OG Jesse Martinez, Per Welinder and a slew of other Pros that were in town. After the contest Bruce suggested I move out of Memphis to a place where I could get more exposure. He offered a job at Ocean Avenue Distribution and his couch until I could afford my own place. I moved to Cocoa Beach later that year and shit really started to happen. I’ve met amazing skaters and people in Florida, and won the ESA street championship in 86 then turned pro at the Savannah Slamma II in 87.
Chuck Dinkins piviot to fakie. Photo by Tony Misiano
Chuck you are one of those great all-around skaters, you do everything well, but your interest in banked slalom seems pretty high. Tell us about your New Mexico experience.
Thanks. It means a lot coming from you Bro. As far as my interest in Slalom; I have always been aware and respected the genre. Bruce Walker was big on supporting and pushing me to excel as an around skater. I guess slalom sparked when I mentioned it in passing, at being impressed with the discipline one day in conversation. Back in 89 or 90 in Cocoa Beach, Bruce introduced me to Keith Hollien and Mark McCree, and they invited me to run some cones. I got the hang pretty quick and had a ton of fun. I soon bought my own board and had parts donated by Bruce, Mark and Keith. I mostly used it for training. I would ride to the store or go around the block with only a few pushes. As a joke, I challenged a runner around a 1/4 mile track and to my surprise beat him in the last 1/16 of a mile. Things did not really start to click in the slalom and downhill arena until George McClellan organized a trip for a reunion of old school skaters to his place in ABQ, New Mexico in 2002. I was invited by proxy, via Chris Baucom, Reggie Barnes and Kelly Lynn. On that trip there was an amazing group of guys, the previously mention plus Alan “Ollie” Gelfand, Chris Homan, Edward Womble, Brad Baxter, Bruce Mason, Donny Myer, Paul Schmitt, Chris West and also joining us was Esha Chiocciho (daughter of the Sensation Basin owners).
Chuck Dinkins, high speed photo op in the desert
The trip was absolutely amazing, and I can say I fell in love with Albuquerque the moment I got off the plane. The best way to describe this city is it has the best of both coasts. The terrain, parks, pools and ditches of west coast fused with the skater attitude of the east coast. No pretentiousness just hardcore skating and fun. If you can hang then you are welcomed with open arms. I have a second home and family there. At that point, being an older skater, I think I truly started to see skateboarding in its purist form. I have never been around such purist technical skateboarders than hanging out with hardcore Down Hillers and slalom guys. I’m not talking in a trick sense but mechanically pure. These are some of the fastest guys in the world and I was stoked to be learning from these guys. I’m mad impressed with guys like Robert Palmer, GBMII, GI Joe, Jason Mitchell, Black Leather racing crew, Will Brunson, Steve Lang, Jeff Budro, the Sector 9 crew and the whole lot.
That trip turned into multiple trips annually. Kelly Lynn and I started competing in the Indian School Downhill Outlaw and Bear races the second or third trip to ABQ, NM. I mostly did it for fun but surprisingly seemed to place pretty high each time. I had a natural love for speed and downhill. The key was keeping my love and ability on the same page… I’m still not a serious competitor but I am serious about my love for the speed and my fellow skaters who enjoy that discipline.
You’ve been involved in Art for sometime, what medium do you prefer and do you think that your skateboarding creative juices influenced your Art or the opposite?
I have always been interested in art since I was a kid. My dad was a Marine, photographer and artist. I am a painter I guess. I prefer acrylics mostly because I don’t have the patience for oils. I have been dabbling in other mediums over the years though. Lately my forte has been more of an arts advocate. After 13 years of music promotions I moved into the arts and worked for a non-profit art organization in Orlando, FL. I am freelance now, but would like to find a way to fuse my love of the arts and skateboarding to work with kids, especially at risk kids. Art and Culture is an important part for kids to be exposed to as they grow and start to shape their opinions about life. Art helps you to not see things from inside a box.
I feel art and skateboarding go hand in hand just as music and skateboarding or action sports do. A person who seriously skateboards or participates in action sports, seems to approach life from a different point of view. We are built a bit differently than most. We seem to be a bit more creative and look at things from multiple angles. It is kind of like skating a pool or any street obstacle. We seem to contemplate all of the different ways to hit it and different tricks to do on it. Art is the same way and so is life. Skaters as artists by the sheer nature of our mindset want to look at situations or ideas from non-traditional points of view. Which I think is a good thing. Skateboarding has never been about status quo. It has always been about progression and always taking things to a new level.
Chuck's over the stairs SOUL TRIP.
Chuck I want you to know that I was going to go with an Asian Chick on my board graphics until I saw that you had already hit that angle with “Soul Trip”. How did your involvement with Soul Trip come about?
Soul Trip has actually been around since the early to mid 1990’s I believe is was started in 1993 with Bruce Walker and I as an offshoot of Walker Skateboards. At the time, I was not too stoked with the direction of the industry. Certain companies were leaning towards a more anti-authority ideal and were promoting it within the industry as a marketing trend. Skateboarding by its very existence is a fringe sport which questions and pushes authority.
Also at that time, I was really over competitive skateboarding from a personal sense, and was really looking to re-discover the heart of skateboarding purely for skateboarding’s sake. I was going through some personal challenges at the time including physical issues and really just wanted to focus on the purity of it all. I was skating with my buddies Ed Lay, Pat “Splat” Soloman, Brad Baxter, Kelly “Cabbage” Cavannah and the whole Brevard county beachside crew. When I decided to stop being Chuck “the Pro” and was just Chuck “the skater” and rolled with my boys, I began to skate better and see inside of it all, you know? Things started to slow down and I started to find a bit of clarity. The concept of Soul Trip was simple. Skate because you love it. Not for fame or glory but just because. My boys I hung with did just that. They were not Pros or even Sponsored. They had regular jobs but fucking ripped when they got off work. They helped me fall in love with skateboarding again. Then I blew out my knee for the 4th or 5th time…I was so sad I just put it down for about 6-7 years. I walked away from Soul Trip, went back to school and moved to Orlando. In 2001, I got a call from one of my old Soul Trip riders Clay King and Bruce Walker about wanting to resurrect Soul Trip from its dormant state. They did not want to do it without me or at least my approval. I agreed and a year later we added Kelly Lynn to the fold. I think my time off really helped me see more about a real Soul Trip. It turned out to be more than skateboarding, bigger even. Anyone can be on a Soul Trip. The bottom line is, we all have to get from point A to B in life regardless of our mode of transportation (talents), career or mindset.
Whatever it is you do when you get to point B whether it is painting, photography, gardening, surfing, digging ditches or skateboarding. That is your Soul Trip. Everyone has one, it is a gift given to you from the creator. It is beautiful. In a sense, Soul Trip is about my friends that are not Pro, not Sponsored, not anything but skaters. They do it because they love it. That is why I (we) do it. Why after many years of not skating, the moment I started again my heart smiled. I found my Soul Trip. Was I so lost for so long? Who knows? This is why we really don’t push Soul Trip as a competitive company. We just make boards for whoever wants to ride one. The company takes care of itself. We are going to go more old school with real shapes and stuff though. I want to stay true to what we are; a bunch of old sucka’s who ride skateboard because we love it. Nothing more, nothing less- We are all on a Soul Trip.
What skaters are a part of your original skate crew and what spot were you a local?
Geez, that is a hard one to answer. It’s changed so many times over the years. I see everyone I have ever skated with, or shared a friendly hand shake and introduction, as my crew. However, to put some names on people I have consistently skated with that are my boys back in the day and now. I would go with the following; Scooter N, Ed Lay, Vincent P, Ryan G, Brad Baxter, Jim McCall, Reggie Barnes, Pat Splat, Kelly "Cabbage", Mark Lake, Lonny Reiter, Chris Baucom, Tate Clair, The Hell Brothers in Gainesville and every person I have ever skated with. Thanks for your time of sharing your space on the ramp or street.
Where are you skating at mostly these days, and do you have a current favorite skate spot?
I mostly skate with my old school Orlando, Lake Mary and New Smyrna beach homies. They call when there is a session and I try my best to show up. Whether it is at Orlando Skate Park, Oviedo, OMB’s. CS2theD’s or Joel’s backyard ramps. I go where my friends are and I appreciate that they take the time to call me and want me to be a part of the session. I still have a special place in my heart for Albuquerque New Mexico and the crew out there. I will go until I can’t walk any longer.
You were inducted into Florida’s Skateboarder Hall of Fame, how did that feel and when did you find out?
WOW! Totally Freakin honored to be a part of Florida’s skateboard history. There are so many heavy skaters that came before me and so much happened in Florida skateboarding before I moved here in 1986. For these guys to take me an adopted Floridian, a black skateboarder and to publicly say I made a difference makes it all worthwhile. There was so much I wanted to say when I got inducted. So many people I wanted to thank. I got caught up in the emotion of it and totally forgot any prepared speech. Bruce Walker and the entire Walker team is owed a load of gratitude from me. If not for Bruce taking a chance on me and my antics, it would not have happened. If not for all the wonderful skaters and supporters of the sport in Florida taking the opportunity to look past race and to just see a skater, I would not be here. There is nothing bigger than to be recognized by your peers for something they truly understand. It is an absolute honor to be in their presence.
Please select one of the following completes.
A) Sims Taper Kick, Gullwings, and Sims Conicals
B) Powerflex Bobby Valdez, Indy 109’s and Powerflex 9’s
C) Alva Pig, Tracker FullTracks, Alva Wheels
D) Logan Earth Ski Dura Wedge, ACS Lites, Park Rider 5’s
E) Caster Series IV, Gull Wing Wide Pros, and Wing Wheels
I’m going to have to go with C) the Alva Pig with Trackers because it best describes my roots in the informative years of me really skating.
If you could resuurect any skate park in the world from the past and skate it, which park would it be?
I would say, the “Big O” simply because when I went there as a kid I was a total snot nosed clueless grom. I was shell shocked and sometimes still have dreams of being able to skate that place with the skill and knowledge of my hey day.
If you were building skate parks today what feature or features would you make sure to include or exclude?
A snake-run with coping and tacos! I think the idea of a snake run needs to be revisited with a modern twist. I would actually like to see the snake run and the old J run at Kona be updated. That back J-run with fresh concrete, pool coping, a slightly over vert taco at the turn and ending into a capsule would be SICK!!!!
Also when I die, I want my ashes mixed with concrete and poured into a skate park…(you listening Team Pain?)
Looking back on your skate history is there anything you would’ve done differently?
You know, I could go down that path of “coulda, woulda and shoulda” all day but in the end our past defines our present and our future. Sure there are things I wish I could have done differently and with more maturity but in the end the decisions and choices I have made make up my reality. Any regrets dictate my choices as to try and learn from the past. My past shapes the very existence of my kids, friends and loves. With that, I am going to have to go with NO.
Where do you think skateboarding is headed and how do you want to fit into that future?
I think skateboarding will continue on its current path of mass cross-over appeal and acceptance by the masses as a sport, but skateboarding still has a way to go in mass appreciation. Skateboarding is still seen in a somewhat circus light. It takes a special person with special skills to do what we do. So there will always be a line between us and them, so to speak. As skaters we will reap the benefits of new public and private parks due to the mass appeal. So I guess unless there is some sort of genetic break through that will allow the common person to obtain the skills needed to be a good skater I see it always in a sense of being “us” and “them”. The difference is the “them” is not out to get us.
I see myself continuing to try and make a difference in all of this. I want to be there for my son as he continues to grow as a skater. I want to help him make the right decisions and to uplift my friends and my sport. I want to keep skating as long as this body of mine will allow me to do so. I want to leave a positive legacy in skateboarding so people will look back and smile while saying kind things about me on a board.
Any shout outs or thanks you’d like to express?
My hat is off to all the FLA old school skaters still holding it down. Big what up to my boys at OMB’s
ramp and OSP; Bob, Craig, Denny, Matt, Dirty, Tommy G and the crew, The Lee Road Crew, The Lake Mary Crew. The NSB crew; including Kelly Lynn, Garr Poe, Tony, Smitty and Joel. St. Pete boys Tully and the crew, the Cocoa Bch/Brevard county boys Scooter, Bruce Walker, Mike Rogers, Lonny, Bob Umble etc. SPOT for continuing to do right by all of us. Steve Marinak and Floridaskater.com, South Florida, Allan “Ollie” Gelfand, Dave B etc. Marty Ramos and the Ramos family for keepin Kona alive all these years. I can’t forget my west coast homies, Dave Duncan, TA, Eric D, Holmes, Texas boys, RIP Jeff Phillips, Dogtown crew, Alva crew, Danforth, Ridge, Larry B and the tracker family (whats up Linda). Everett Rosecrans and Vans for all the help back in the day. Shucks to many people I have mad respect for. If I forgot you, you know who you are and much love.
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