In Part 3, there are anecdotes from Lucas Healey and myself.
Lucas Healey is one of the most prominent and talented skateboarders to come out of Coventry in recent years. With an effortless style, inventive and creative tricks, and the ability to skate all-terrain, I never understood where he got his inspiration from. Turns out it was from literally down the road…
It was realising who had influenced me the most when I first started skating which inspired this whole series of blog posts. Seeing a video part or a photo which completely changes your attitude toward skateboarding, and having it be the basis for where you go from that point onward. For this reason, I wanted to detail my most influential skater.
Lucas Healey – Connor “Duffman” Hills
There are so many people that I could mention who have influenced me. When I first ventured into Coventry City Centre to skate, I started to meet more and more people, many of which have influenced me in some way or another. I have always been stoked on Terribleco and Ade Cottrell, who I think was the first person I filmed a part with. Jim The Skin is an influence no doubt, the dude has always supported me and hooked me up at times of need, so massive shoutout to him! It feels wrong not to mention Ryan Stanway, Danny Guinan, Matt Hingley, Andy Clare, Andy Scott, Martin Orton and Dave Hall, who I used to skate with a lot when I was growing up.
There is one skater who stands out more than any other though. It was really early on when I could barely roll on a board. I was going up to the local shop, board in hand when I ran into an older kid who asked for a go on my board. I let him have a go and he did a kickflip, and I remember being amazed. Not only at the fact I saw my first kickflip in person, but also that there was someone who lived near me that was into skating too. That was Connor Hills aka “Duffman”.
Skip to 17:18 for Duffman’s video ender in Terribleco’s Sorcerers Of Shred.
We skated together loads after, and we still skate together to this day. I probably would have never gotten into skateboarding if I hadn’t seen that kickflip. He remains influential to me to this day, he still smashes it on and off a board.
Ade The Terrible – Anthony “Ragdoll” Scalamere
There are a lot of skateboarders who have influenced me in the 18 years I’ve been skateboarding: Jason Lee, Louie Barletta, Jason Adams, Mark Gonzales and Dan Drehobl all sprang to mind when I thought about the skateboarders who had a lasting impact on me. However, the skater who influenced me very early on was Anthony “Ragdoll” Scalamere.
One of the first brands I remember really liking was Black Label. I was really into the punk rock side of skateboarding when I first started, and I would seek out videos with that aesthetic. My first skate video was 151’s “Too Loud For The Crowd”, followed by Anti-Hero’s “Cash Money Vagrant”, so my penchant for transition skating and the style of video editing I enjoy kind of came from those early on. Black Label stood out as a similar company, so I picked up “Label Kills” and was instantly a fan. I went back to my local shop and picked up “Blackout” and “Label Live” – and found my new favourite board company.
Blackout opened with a part from “Ragdoll” – a dude from Las Vegas wearing a velvet blazer and checkered slip-ons, who could literally skate anything, but wasn’t necessarily doing “cool” tricks at any of the spots he skated. Ragdoll’s part blew my mind. He had a totally unique style and didn’t conform to the street skating or transition skating styles I had been exposed to previously. For him, there were no “rules” for how you should skate. Grabs on street, jumping from one board to another, firecrackers down stairs – this all seemed new and creative and widened how I viewed skateboarding.
There was a confidence in how he skated and the tricks he did that made me realise skateboarding is what you make of it, and not what it tells you to do. Long before The Berrics made No Complies and Bonelesses “dirty”, and Nyjah was complaining about #faketricks, here was Ragdoll giving a firm “Fuck You” to anyone who puts restrictions on skateboarding.
I watched Ragdoll’s part so many times that many of the tricks are burned into my brain. I learnt firecrackers because of that part. I had no shame in doing beanplants or bonelesses at street spots because Ragdoll had inspired me to just do what I want, not what is considered “cool”. One time I was at Epic Skatepark (now Creation) and saw his pro deck in the shop there, and I used my last 50 quid to buy it. There was even a short amount of time where I rocked a blazer when I skated street because, for 18-year-old Ade, Ragdoll was the coolest motherfucker on the planet.
Over the past 20 years, there have been a lot of unfavourable rumours about Ragdoll. When he disappeared, I was sad to think this dude who had inspired me to skate more might’ve gone for good. I started following his Instagram about a year ago and began to think about his inspiration in my early years of skateboarding. I was stoked to see he was still skating, and his recent Nine Club episode shed some light on a lot of the stuff he had gone through. Dealing with mental and physical health over the last few years, he dispelled the rumours about him on the podcast and came across like a rad guy. His recent “comeback” has inspired me to continue to skate how I want and reminded me of why he was so influential for so many skaters.
On the surface I don’t look or skate anything like Ragdoll, and I’m not sure if he ever thought of being the kind of skateboarder to influence generations after him. But the spirit of his skateboarding – to do the tricks you want, make skateboarding your own, do what is natural to you, and play by your own rules, is something that stuck with me and influences me in skateboarding and in my day to day life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t seen that opening part in Blackout.