Soundings: Season 1 Episode 2

Tony Alva

The Dogtowner on the surf-skate connection, the power of the “I am going to crush you” spirit, and knock-kneed style.

Light / Dark

“Tony Alva is skateboarding.” I’ve heard this pronouncement many times. OG Dogtowner, original Z-Boy, vert pioneer, one of the first skaters to blast a frontside air, first pro skater to launch and run his own company (Alva Skates, 1977)—his accomplishments are prodigious.

I first encountered Tony in the pages of Skateboarder magazine. A style icon on the board and off, he rode banks and pools as if they were waves. Under hedges and overhangs he’d duck as if pulling into the tube. Turns out Tony’s first love is surfing. I have a fond memory of watching him saunter up the beach at Malibu with a board that had “Fuck the public” sprayed on it.

Tony and I spoke on the sylvan deck of the Neutra-designed house he shares with his partner, Katy Rodriguez. Having invented terrain for his entire skateboarding life, it made perfect sense that he should live in such a well-appointed home. Trim, fit, bearded, laser-focused, Tony oozed an aspirational vibe. We talked about the surf-skate connection, manipulating gravity, his mentor Bunker Spreckels, and the “anything is possible” ethos. We also got into his skateboarding fame, sobriety and spirituality, pulling his first aerial, the pros and cons of ego, and the knock-kneed style.—Jamie Brisick

Follow Tony at @thetonyalva1957.

Producer: Jonathan Shifflett
Music: Little Wings

Feature image by Patrick Trefz.