Connor Hills got the nickname Duffman because when he first appeared on the scene he would turn up to every spot and skatepark dressed in a Simpsons Duffman t-shirt. This became his superheroic uniform: appearing out of nowhere at every session and competition in a red Duffman t-shirt, shredding and doing the maddest shit.
He is so iconic that Coventry heavy hitter (and this week’s interview subject) Lucas Healey named Duffman as the skater who shaped him in a previous entry of this series. After many years, and outgrowing the Duffman persona that followed him for his youth, he still shreds the streets and parks of Birmingham better than most. Other than a Simpsons character who is a mascot for fictional beer, I wanted to find out who else shaped Connor into the skater he is.
Over the past 15 years that I’ve been skating, the first person that made me strive to be a skateboarder and who I highly admired, was Natas Kaupas. I was only ever able to get skateboarding clips from video tapes, which were either given to me by my mum from car boot sales, or given to me by friends. I grew up watching Santa Cruz’s “Wheels of Fire” and “Streets of Fire”, and not forgetting the H Street videos too. Everything I aspired to be was dated or considered retro, from an era I wasn’t even a part of, and Natas moulded how I wanted to skate, from his elegant, effortless surf style, to being able to Ollie over fire hydrants and picnic benches. Watching how he skated melted my brain.
Over the past few years, my influences have changed a bit. The person who influences me most now is, believe it or not, Lucas ‘Goose’ Healey. Me and Lucas have been friends for a very long time. One of my fondest memories of skating with Lucas, were the ridiculous winter sessions as kids at the old Ideal mini ramp. Venturing through blizzards of snow to go and get a skate in: even Bob Sanderson was amazed when we turned up with a trick list to learn!
Growing up and being able to watch him progress, pushed me and helped me through the darkest moments of my life, and he always made me see the skateboard at the end of the tunnel. Even when I thought about throwing the towel in on skating, Lucas was always there to give me that extra push.
I couldn’t have spoken about this without obviously mentioning Ride in Coventry, and of course the legend that is Jim the Skin: the guy with the best Frontside Smith and Backside Smith in the West Midlands. Without him neither me or Lucas would be where we are today.
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