October 8, 2001 by Ryan Clements
Maybe the title is a slight stretch of the truth, but at least I had a short conversation with Muska at the ASR Trade Show in San Diego. Not that he knew exactly who I was or anything, but when I mentioned Tampa he did think that I was Schaefer and started talking about the Loop. The ASR Trade show is a three-day, bi-annual, gathering in Southern California of everyone who is anyone in the skateboarding industry. All of the owners, designers, team managers, salespeople, photographers, and of course professional skateboarders were in attendance, unless the show happens to be scheduled on the same weekend as the Gravity Games, which put a damper on the demos this year.
The trade shows exist primarily for the companies to showcase their hottest new products. Sales reps from all of the manufacturers set up appointments with the buyers from the shops and try to convince them to write an order for the product. What keeps the show interesting is that each company tries to outdo the next when it comes to booth appearance. Generally, they all come up with some type of gimmick to attract buyers to their booth and get people talking about them. A few of the best this year included massages at the Dwindle (Blind, Speed Demons, Enjoi, Tensor, Darkstar) booth, strippers and tattoos at the Evos booth, and several large screen TVs hooked up to video games at the Blitz (Birdhouse, Baker, Hook Ups, Firm, Fury) booth, all for free! One of the all-time classic booths that you can safely bet on to always be packed is Reef, but I’m sure it’s for the shoes and not the girls in g-strings and little tops bending over and signing posters for hours on end. All of the mayhem on the floor is broken up with periodic skateboarding demos on a halfway decent street course and a damn good vert ramp. The evenings are filled with video premieres and parties once again hosted by the companies looking for attention. We saw the City Stars and Adio videos, but didn’t manage to hit any good parties, although I heard that Rae Kwon was at the Circa party and CKY played at the One Step Beyond premiere after-party.
This trip marked my third or fourth year out to SoCal, but this time was different because I recently scored a gig actually working for ASR. Instead of wandering around aimlessly with a beer in my hand for three days trying to hustle banner space for the Skatepark of Tampa contests, Schaefer and I actually have something relatively important to do. My job basically consists of keeping the street course and vert ramp demos organized while Schaefer announces, which is as easy as kick turning on a bank ramp compared to working at the Tampa Am, but the ASR staff thinks we’re the best. It’s nice to be appreciated for what you love to do anyway. The work alone is cool because you get to interact with all of the pros and top ams, but the benefits include free meals and then beer at 4pm every day. So, needless to say, I try to be a good little worker to ensure my continued employment.
One of the bonuses that I enjoy at ASR is running into my childhood skateboarding heroes, and if you have a good eye, they’re all over the place. I’ve had the chance to speak with Bill “Nomad” Danforth and have gotten photos with Tommy Guerrero and Matt Hensley. On the business side, I was even fortunate enough to eat dinner with Grant Britain, Miki Vuckovich, Don Fitzpatrick, and Paul Schmitt, a pretty impressive line-up if you know what those guys have done/do for skateboarding.
I encourage all skateboarding enthusiasts to attend an ASR trade show if given the chance, but they’re not open to the public. So if you don’t have any sponsors or friends in the business, you may have a difficult time getting in. Although, as a skateboarder, I hope that you’re capable of pulling a little scam now and then when the situation warrants.