Charlie Thomas Interview
Ever since I personally first met Charlie Thomas I’ve hit it off with him. He came up to me on crutches when he was the TM for the Tum Yeto family at some Tampa Am many, many years ago and introduced himself. I already knew who he was…he rode for H-Street back-in-the-day and that was a team that everyone paid attention to. Since I’ve become better friends with Charlie I’ve grown to respect and like him personally as I do equally for his skateboarding ability. Plus, he’s one of the few men that I know that sends Christmas cards to Skatepark of Tampa signed, “Love, Charlie.”
So what’s new with Charlie Thomas?
Traveling the last three weeks - doing some skate camps. Went to Hawaii for a week….an Air Force base there…Hickam Air Force base. Then we went to Eielson Air Force base in Fairbanks, Alaska. Then came to Anchorage, Alaska for the last skate camp. Other than that, trying to get a board company going with Kris Markovich called Crimson, which will be out soon. We will have a booth at the trade show.
Exactly how did you get involved with the Air Force skate camps?
This company Premise that I have done some other work for, demos and stuff, contacted me and asked me if I would be interested. I imagine that the Air Force is one of their clients and they were looking for guys to come out and teach their camps.
Describe a typical day for yourself.
A typical day? Lately? Lately it has been get up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, go to the gym, work-out, come back and check emails. Then just kind of go skate for a while. At night time it is just chill and do other work on the computer.
How long have you been a vegan?
I’ve been a vegan for like seven years. I just gave up eating meat one year for Lent and then didn’t crave the taste. I felt physically better, so I just stuck with it and read up on it and like the principles of it. It physically makes me feel better and I like the benefits of being vegan.
Who are some of you favorite skaters?
Kris Marcovich, Natas Kaupas, Gonz, Koston, Mark Johnson. Rune on vert…Chris Miller. I had the pleasure of seeing Chris Miller skate at the Vans Pool Party like a month ago - it was the only reason I went.
Zero TF is really fun. Washington Street park is really fun. It is a bit of a challenge - definitely different. All over I just like traveling and skating different spots. A good concrete park is always fun.
What was it like being on the infamous H-Street?
That was cool…at the time they were one of the biggest companies. You don’t really think about it that way when you are involved with it, like, “Wow I’m on this really big, crazy team.” Now looking back in hindsight it was one of the most influential teams and they really made great videos. They made street skating, showcased it to where you had really gnarly video parts. It was great, Man. I got to be on the same team as Koston, Mike Carroll, Sal, Matt Hensley…tons of great guys that came from that era. I also got to meet and work with Mike Ternaski, which to this day is of the nicest guys I have ever met.
Which came first…Hurley or Hollywood?
Hollywood definitely came first. I was team manager for Tum Yeto for about two and a half years for all the brands that they had. So it was Pig, Foundation, Toy Machine, and Ruckus. Then Hollywood came about and it was Kris Markovich’s creative direction. He gave me a pro team manager model - it was something that no one else was doing. He was just kind of hooking me up. Then we were going on tours skating with those guys and I got my own board, a regular pro model. Then there was an opening at Hurley for a team manager spot and the time it looked like something that was going to be have a little more longevity. It looked like something where down the road I could have a career. So I never left Hollywood - I just switched over from being just a team manager at Tum Yeto to just a team manager at Hurley, which was only one team instead of five or six.
What are your current sponsors?
Scarecrow Skateboards, Independent Trucks, and Active Ride Shop. I get flowed shoes from Adio and wheels here and there from whoever likes to give me stuff at the time.
How did you get on Scarecrow?
Frank Hirata approached me. I skated with him a couple of times with Chris Markovich. I was kinda’ into Frank and he told me that if anything ever went down with Hollywood and if I wasn’t satisfied or I was looking for something else that he would love to have me on Scarecrow. I got on and it was been great ever since.
Who had the idea of making a unique video like Agents of Chaos?
It was all pretty much Frank’s conception. He knew what direction he wanted to take it, so he talked to all the riders about our own little skits and what we wanted to do. He and I personally sat and scripted mine out and went out and filmed it. I spent a weekend at his house and we filmed and edited it. It was actually one of the most fun videos that I was ever in. It was really good direction by him.
How long have you been riding for Independent?
Wow, probably on and off since ‘92. I rode for Venture for a while and I got some Indy’s and I was like, “Man, I love them trucks.” I talked to the guys there and they were like, “Yeah, we’ll put you on the team.” I haven’t look back since then.
I know that you have been to the Make-A-Wish Jam that SPoTlight Production helps put together. Tell me about that.
It always remains as one of my favorite events. It’s for such a good cause. I don’t see why anyone who has the money doesn’t do this. You couldn’t ask for a better venture to go skate.
I understand that you have been to the Tampa Pro in the past. Do plan on hitting it tnext year?
I hope so. I have gone to the Am every year but the last year. I just love going out there. Those guys - Brian and Ryan and their whole crew - they put on such a great event. Not only the Park stuff that is going on either. They make sure that there is nightlife. They talk to all the bars in Ybor City and make sure there are Video Premieres. They really know how to do it. They set the standard of giving to skateboarding. If I can be there I will be there.
Travel or stay home?
Any last words?
Keep the dead raccoon out my truck, please.
Interview by Rick Keene