Going sideways with Steve Kong

King Kong tells us about his love for techsliding, the Earthwing family and predicts the evolution of big skateboards.
Hello Steve, where are you from?
I hail from Brooklyn, NY. Born and raised.

When did you start skating?
I picked up a board when I was about 15 years old, which would make me… Wow I’m old!

Is it easier to skate as an ‘’old’’ person?
Hahaha. I definitely wish I started earlier. I know I’m nowhere near what’s considered “old”-(I’m only 23 by the way)- but I’ll see these 11 year olds bounce off the ground from a bail and pick up tricks that I’ve been learning for weeks/months in just a few runs.

You could do a voldermot and steal their youth!
Don’t give me any ideas.

What made you start skating?
I sort of fell on hard times. I didn’t have many friends. I’m not exactly sure what prompted me to pick up skateboarding but I remember just seeing this one kid in my neighborhood doing ollies on and off the sidewalk then bombing a hill doing little check slides and stuff. It was very cathartic.

Do you have friends now?
Does Facebook count? Hehe. But seriously I think I can count the actual friends I have on two hands and maybe two feet. Thats all I really need.

Did skating make it easier to make friends?
Absolutely! Skateboarding is responsible for the most of the friends I have now. Perhaps even my girlfriend! Hahaha.

Does she skate?
She knows how to push around. She can hold her own in getting from place to place, but she doesn’t really skate. I’m just fine with that.
Where did you start skating?
I started skating at this local park in my neighborhood, Mount Prospect Park. There’s a hill that leads out to the sidewalk that I would just roll down till I got wobs and ran off.

What sort of skating was the young Mr Kong into?
At that point, I was just pushing around. I don’t think I had the patience to learn street tricks or perhaps I just wasn’t interested. I can’t remember. Now I’m heavy into Techsliding. I’m pretty alright at it too which makes it all the more enjoyable. I would like to explore more disciplines but I think I put too much time into techsliding. Transition skating is where it’s at. I can only carve the bowl for now but even that is just thrilling in itself. Downhill and freeriding are things I’d like to explore as well but NYC has virtually no hills and I don’t have a car. Skater problems.

Is techsliding something you do with tech decks?
Ha! Techsliding is a type a skateboard that generally requires hard wheels(very hard) and a double kicked skateboard. Having hard wheels allows the wheels to break free easily to do all those fancy spinny maneuvers you see them all doing.

How hard?
Like “My hot 7th grade Math teacher just called on me to solve a problem on the board and I can’t get up” hard.

Does size matter?
I don’t think it does. It just gets a bit more difficult to slide around when they’re smaller. We’re still talking about wheels, right?

When did you start techsliding?
I believe it was around 2007. That was when I met the Earthwing team.

What attracted you to this facet of skateboarding?
I started skating with a couple of friends that had their own boards. After school we would go the park and bomb a hill AGAINST the flow of all the bikers and runners. Needless to say, they all hated us. We were pretty dumb about it too. We didn’t have any sort of safety equipment. We didn’t even have gloves. We were, well… shit! We were a bunch of kooks! Anyways, my friend told us about some skate team that comes out to the other side of the park every Friday. We were pretty stoked out by that. So we went that same Friday and met the Earthwing riders. We sat across from where they were all chilling and watched these guys (and a girl) doing these ridiculous tricks we’ve never seen before down a hill. I think we were hooked from that point on.

WHEN DID YOU STOP BEING A KOOK?
Hmm I don’t think there is a specific point where I stopped being a “kook”. I just learnt the do’s and don’ts of skateboarding. A lot which is common sense. The rest is learning as you go, from people more experienced than yourself. We simply lacked common sense and experience hahaha. I’m actually not clear on the history of the word. I think it was a term surfers used, then skateboarders began to use it too. “Kook” can have different meanings to different people. Also, why are you YELLING AT ME?

I’M SO STOKED!!!! What are the do’s and don’ts of skateboarding?
I’ll make it more specific to downhill skateboarding. I am by no means an authority on the do’s and don’ts, but one big flaming pile of don’t is blowing up a spot. Since downhill skateboarding requires one to be on a hill for a few hours, skateboarders cherish their spots. Which means you have to respect the spot. Another big one is cleaning up the spot after you skate it. That’s just common sense but you’d be surprised how many people just leave their trash on the hill. Then there’s respecting the people who may live on the street and the authorities that may drive by in that area.

Who were the boys and girls you saw that first Friday?
Some O.G. guys from Earthwing: Mike D, James Soladay, Jonathan Tea, Jeff Stephens, Kaspar Heinrici and Jessica Corchia. Then there were a few others just learning how to slide or cruising down the hill.

Who is Jessica?
Jessica Corchia is the techsliding queen. She has some of the most creative slides I’ve ever seen. She’s a SICK drummer and a party animal. For the past few years she’s been the driver to a lot of the local events we go to on the east coast. We’re pretty close. I pretty much consider her my big sister.
 What is Earthwing?
Earthwing is a skateboarding company based out of Brooklyn. Earthwing offers decks and wheels for street, techsliding, downhill, you name it, we got it. Brian Petrie is the founder. I have a ton of respect for that guy. He’s worked his ass off to get his company where it’s at and now its finally paying off.

Where is earthwing now?
Earthwing is in a nice little place in the longboard community. The company has established a strong standing. I never hear anyone talking shit about E.W. products. In the past few years it’s been expanding. We’ve moved into a bigger space recently. Soon we’ll need an even bigger one.

How is earthwing different from everyone else making longboards?
We’re different because we don’t make longboards: We make big skateboards.

What is the earthwing philosophy?
Earthwing’s philosophy: to spread the word of Skatan and make sure everyone praises Steezus. Lol I dunno really?

Who else is on the team?
There are quite a few of us on the team. We have a pretty big family. Me, Andriy, Ed, Mac, Jessica, (New) Brian- we used to call him New Brian because there was already Brian Petrie-, Bryan, Connor, Yoni, Nick, Kaspar, Cliff Coleman, Adam, Jerzey, Max Dubler’s Moustache and Will J.

Anyone from outside your country?
We have Yoni, Yoni Ettinger. He skates street and transition on a muthafuckin’ Hightailer.

What did meeting them change for you?
We were ridiculously stoked out. We wanted to do all that crazy shit they were doing. The next time I met up with my friends we bought some cutting board and gardening gloves to make slide gloves. We then used my friend’s butane torch to melt the haphazardly cut pucks onto the gloves. We went to the next session to learn how to slide. We made it a habit to try and make it to every session they had.

Where were you riding those days?
We went to the sessions they had every Friday night. It was called the Friday Night Rip. People would come to learn how to skate and slide. A lot of hanging out would go on too. We eventually sacked up and started going to their sessions at the spot called Watchtower. Watchtower is this somewhat steep, single lane straightaway near the Brooklyn Bridge. The name Watchtower comes from all the surrounding buildings being a Jehovah’s Witnesses Headquarters. Also there’s a section of building with the word “WATCHTOWER” painted on it. I think it can be seen when you take the train on the Manhattan bridge.

Are there any skateboarding Jehova’s Witnesses?
Hahaha. The building we were closest to had a high traffic of employees going in and out. We actually did see this one guy skating to and from the building at times. He would talk to us, see how we were doing sometimes. They were all really nice to us. They saw that we weren’t wrecking anything or skating on their property so they let us skate on their street.

What was the first thing you learnt about sliding?
I learnt from the Earthwing guys that it was originally created as a method to stop, but then it became a way to do tricks and maneuvers with style. I remember it being described to me as “falling with style”. People were mostly doing hands-down slides back then anyways. I think it was mostly the Brazilians and the Faltown crew that had standers in their runs. The first slide I learned was pretty much what everyone should learn when they get into any downhill discipline. The Coleman slide. Kids these days get right into “stand-ups” and can’t even perform a proper Coleman slide.

Don’t you know, standups get you pancakes!
Don’t talk about pancakes. I really want some pancakes.
At that point,  who was influencing you?
It was mainly Brian Dencklau and Jessica. It was Brian most of the time, because Jess couldn’t make it to every session. I tried to learn every trick he was doing but he was just too good. That didn’t stop me from emulating him and taking in all of his advice. I would also take a break and photograph sessions from time to time.

Who were the Brazillians and Faltowners you were watching?
I think Youtube was in its infancy then. There were videos here and there with Brazilian shredders filmed on these really low quality cameras. I mean REALLY low quality. I shit you not, some of these videos were like 3 frames per second hahaha. One of the most notable Brazilians I remember seeing was Sergio Yuppie. There was a cut of his video part from Gravity’s Flow DVD. To this day i think its one of the best techsliding videos on the internet. Period. As for the Faltown guys, I remember going to their website all the time trying to learn those tricks from the Slide School section. I still do not how to do pressure spins hahaha. The Art of Going Sideways was rad too.

Mark Short sighted this same video, what about it blows your mind?
That Sergio Yuppie video, what he was doing seemed literally impossible. Like, I would never get anywhere near that level. I still feel the same today. To this day, I have yet to see anyone go as fast as he does on hard wheels. I’ve seen him skate in person at Gravity Slidefest in ‘09, Baltimore Slidejam last year and a slidejam I hosted last year. All eyes are always on him whenever he flies down the hill doing noseblunts and those uncountable stand-up 360’s he always does.

Do you enjoy photographing skating as much as doing it?
I can’t say that I do, because eventually I can’t resist skating during sessions. I believe I was getting better and better at shooting but there was this constant struggle between both the whole time. Skateboarding got the better of photography I guess.
 Have you met any of your international idols?
I’ve met Sergio, his sons Fernando and Junior, Cliff Coleman, Will Edgecombe, and Brad Edwards. These are the guys I look up to.

When did that happen?
I met Sergio and Cliff for the first time in ‘07. It was for the 1st Annual Central Park Race in NY. This is pretty funny, actually. At that time, I actually didn’t know I met them both until Brian Petrie told me. I was pretty giddy like a schoolgirl when I found out. I met Fernando when I spent a week in San Diego for Gravity Slidefest. I don’t think he knew a word of English then. I believe it was his first time in America and the only English he knew was a “thumbs up”. We crashed at the same place and in the mornings I’d say hi to him and he would smile and give me a thumbs up hahaha. I met Brad during my stay in San Diego as well. As for Will and Junior, I met them at techslide jam, I hosted during the Broadway Bomb. It was rad.

You also do distance?
Oh no… I mean, I did, at first when I was learning how to slide. My friends and I would go to the Central Park Race and the Broadway Bomb. We would actually try and place then. But we sort of just fell off of it. The level of competition in distance/push racing is ridiculous now. There’s that and I just don’t have the stamina for it any more. Also, I’m probably too lazy for it. I’m more inclined to go up and down a hill all day than push on and on. It’s not that I have anything against it, it’s just not for me. NYC is actually home to one of the fastest pushers around, Kiefer Dixon.

Is it something in the NY water that makes so many New Yorkers fast?

I suppose it could be all the sewage.

Do you do any other types of skating aside from tech sliding?
Not really, I’ve been riding soft wheels here and there. I also hit the bowl every once in awhile but I can’t really do anything special. Recently I’ve been doing more and more freeriding. Freeriding is awesome but i think we, in NYC, just don’t have the terrain for it, really. We pretty much have to travel outside of the city to get to more places with actual runs and turns and junk. I’ve recently placed in 1 or 2 slidejams on soft wheels. I was pretty shocked by that… but I did pull some tricks that I usually do on hardwheels. I guess I was able to impress the judges! I rode soft wheels on what was usually my techslide deck, so it was extra-sketchy, but the kicktails allowed me to crank out bluntslides, which are my favorite tricks to do. I think more and more freeriders will begin to ride longboards with double kicks… or pretty much a big street deck haha. Kody Noble is doing it right. He is such a boss with the street he brings into his freeriding. Kody Noble Shreds the Streets of San Francisco is one of the sickest videos out there.

What’s a bluntslide?
Bluntslides, in the context of downhill sliding, are slides in which you would lift up the nose or tail of the board while sliding.

Where do you see the evolution of freeriding going?
I think that freeriding will consist of people riding big street decks down hills. Or maybe everyone will quit freeriding and techslide hahaha (just kidding (not really though)). Then again I could be completely wrong. Maybe everyone will be riding Donkboards.

You secretly want a Donkboard for Christmas don’t you?
…no…

What changes have you seen recently?
I’ve been seeing more companies give their board small kicktails. I apologize if I’m a jerk for saying this, but I think some companies are beginning to re-invent the wheel. How so? Well, first we had people with a bunch of big boards, not really doing anything crazy but mostly freeriding, bombing hills, or doing freestyle stuff like Adam & Adam from Loaded. But people are doing gnarlier stuff everyday which require things like tails, so they’ll put small kicks on the ends of the board so people can do ollies and crank out all sorts of new tricks you couldn’t do without the kicks. If you continue to make the tail bigger and bigger and the shape more functional you will end up with a street deck! But that could be just my opinion. Maybe even a little biased.

What new stuff will people be pulling in the videos/at comps in the near future?
Bluntslides, street tricks, downhill skateparks, and all that awesome jazz. I’ve been seeing Brian Bishop crank out blunts. Someone did a miller flip off the kicker at Boomtown freeride!

When did you start to compete?
I began competing shortly after I learnt a few slides. It was back in ‘08 at Earthwing’s Powerslide Jam. It was also the jam that I had my first sort of win in. I’m pretty sure it was Max Dubler who voted me as having the best style at the jam. That was pretty awesome.

For having a rad hat on?
Bahahahaha

When did you become a part of Earthwing?
I’m pretty sure it was the spring of ‘08.

Do you have airforce style uniforms?
Woahhh. That would be fucking awesome.

Is there a King Kong board?
Came out not too long ago. Super fucking stoked. I would have never thought that my name and likeness would be immortalized on a board. The problem is… now I have to live up to it hahahaha.

What’s your role in the family?
My role sort of became the team/event organizer. I would be the guy that gets the board, wheels, tees and stuff for the team and events we sponsor from Brian sometimes. I’d let Jess know of all the events going on in advance. I also organize slidejams from time to time.

How do competitions work in the sliding world, you guys don’t have a governing body!
This is true. There are levels of legitimacy involved in events. I’ve only been to a handful. It’s mostly kids hosting their outlaws with various ways of deciding winners. Sometimes there is favoritism, sometimes its decided by rider vote. Sometimes it’s decided by the volume of the crowd cheering and clapping for a rider. It’s kinda sketchy. That’s why I could care less if I place or not. It may be cliché, but we go to jams for fun. Whether it be the trip there, the hotel room, or the person’s house we crashed in the night before. It’s all good fun.

Is Jessica the only girl who slides?
Nah. There are few girls here and there. I see more and more at every event I go to. Eden Racing, a Massachusetts based company, has Laura Nocka. She does some techsliding and racing as well. When I went to San Diego, I met a few Brazilians that did some tech. They were really good. There’s also Alicia Fillback and Carmen Schafer. I’ve seen a few of their videos and they shred the gnar gnar. Amanda Powell’s pretty rad too. It’d be great if more girls would get into sliding. I think that there is a serious issue in the community with guys giving girls more credit than they do to guys for doing the exact same thing. It stifles the progression of girls that skate. It fucking sucks. Hmm it seems that I can’t give simple answers to the questions you ask hahaha. I keep going off on tangents. Sorry…

How do you think it stifles progression?

Damn it…you got me started. I should’ve warned you not to get me started. Everyone’s shredding, chilling and stuff blah blah blah. Then a girl (attractive girl mind you) goes down the hill and does a shutdown coleman… or a couple of 180 standups. Doing what she’s been doing all day. Everyone cheers for her, praises her, lifts her up on their shoulders and throws a parade because she did what everyone else has been doing the entire day. But because she’s a girl, we’ll treat her extra special. Maybe she’ll learn more slides here and there but she most definitely won’t get gnarly, because hey, everyone’s cheering her on, making her think she’s the shit so she doesn’t have to try hard anymore. I won’t dare name any names but there are quite a few girls out there who I think are being sponsored not for what they can do, but for their…*ahem* attriubutes.

You’re just jealous because you have small… *ahem* attributes.
: (

I guess the question here is, should we be comparing their perfomance against burly men or against their contemporaries?
Very good point. But I think girls can get just as burly as men. Skateboarding’s one of the few activities that does not require strength but pure skill. If guys would just stop patronizing women, women would just sack up and make their competition the guys. I think they would do a lot better. There is also the intimidation factor. I suppose most girls would probably feel more comfortable skating with other girls.

Where would you like to see the future regarding mixed skateboard competitions?
In a perfect world we would have mixed skateboard competitions because gender and sex would not be a factor in the issue. That’s how I would like to see it. But I’m not sure if we’ll ever get to that level.

What was the first event you organised?
It was the Earthwing Super Sessions. It didn’t really require much organizing but I used this event as sort of a test run for future jams. The basic idea of the Super Sessions was to have a slidejam with no prizes and no judgement. Just pure shredding. We had a pretty good crowd and we had a lot of fun. The cops drove by at some point, saw that everything was cool, and left. We’ve established a good relationship with the police in that area. We clean up all the trash after we’re done and respect everyone there.
 What do you enjoy about organising events?
I think I have somewhat a glutton for punishment thing going on. I mean, I do like organizing the event, but I think what I mostly enjoy about it is the aftermath. I enjoy that each event I throw goes off without a hitch and everyone usually goes home happy. It’s not totally difficult to get sponsors for a slidejam. All you do is send some nice little emails to some companies and they send you the product. The hard part is the actual event. As the organizer, you have people coming up to you every second asking you stuff, you have to figure out your format, you have to make sure your format won’t take the entire day and stuff like that. It took me a few tries to get it, but I think I have it down. We’ll see for this years slidejam. Last year, for the techslide jam I threw, we had more than a few celebrity appearances show up which was amazing. Since the slidejams are usually the day after the Broadway Bomb and the Central Park Race, a lot out-of-towners will stay in town for the weekend. The absolute best was getting to judge alongside Cliff and Sergio for the techslide jam I hosted. For last year’s Broadway Bomb we had Cliff Coleman, Sergio & Junior Yuppie, Louie Pilloni, James Kelly, Max Dubler, Matthew Kienzle, Jeff Budro, Marcus Bandy, Dave Tannaci, Marisa Nunez, Max Myers, and many more big names in downhill show up. It was rad and kids were stoked out. Are there any tech-slide ‘’celebrities’’? Sure! Theres the Yuppie family, Will Edgecombe, Mark Short, Kyle Martin, and Fernando “Batman”  Bhathman. I don’t think many know of Batman besides brazilian techsliders but he’s been a huge influence on techsliding since the ‘80’s.

Do you guys sponsor events outside NY/America?
Yes. Brian Petrie would get emails and decide if the event is legitimate enough to sponsor. He would also tell us to give him a heads up for any events we might want him to sponsor.

Have you skated outside NY?
Mostly up and down the east coast. I’ve also been to California. In California, I went to San diego, Malibu and San Francisco. When I went to San Francisco with Josh Wright, one of my really close friends, we stayed with Cliff Coleman and his friend and rode the hills that sliding was invented on. They were pretty gnarly.

Is there anywhere in the world you’re jonzing to ride?
HELLMUTHAFUCKINYEA! I’m itching to go to Brazil and shred with the gnarliest techsliders in the world and of course I want to come through to England and shred with Mark Short and Will Edgecombe. Then theres California. Oh man, California.

Yeah that’s fine, I don’t want to see you when you come to England either.
Uhh i mean uhhh and above all meet Gbemi!

What do you do when you’re not skating?
Hang out with my girlfriend and dabble in photography a little. I’m taking some some classes now so hopefully this will take off!
Pick 3 numbers between 1-39.
4. 27. 35. Please tell me I win something. PLEEEAASSE.

4 – Who is the best person you’ve seen skating?
The best person I’ve seen skating is Andriy Dashenych. He’s one of the riders on Earthwing. He’ll learn this crazy slides in a day then begin to do insane variations of them in a few more runs. He’s really creative and pretty humble too.


27- What did you do last weekend?
Friday we had a session at our frequented spot, Darktower and we filmed Andriy doing a blunt over Ed’s face. We do a lot of dumb things. Then I chilled with my girlfriend for the rest of the weekend.

35 – Mason McNay asks: Are you on the sex offenders register?

Mason is a jackass. Tell him I’ll see him on the streets.
 It has been awesome talking to you bro! Thanks for the fun times.
I, Stephen Kong, have greatly enjoyed this and promise to bring you some IHOP when I come to England. Hopefully I’ll be able to go across the pond and meet up with you somewhere down the line! I’m not calling chips, crisps, though.

Any thank yous?
I’d like to thank sweet baby Jesus, Brian Petrie, and most of all my girlfriend for being awesome.

Links
and now for some obligatory whoring hahaha These are the companies I’m proud to ride for!
http://www.earthwingskates.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rewind-Board-Shop/131109726986337?ref=ts
http://blackvelvetslidepucks.com/home.html

and my friend’s skate photoblog… real good stuff! http://plankss.tumblr.com/
My tumblr:
http://58d.tumblr.com/

A long time ago my mom told me that theres the delicacy some people eat in the U.K. called Blood Pudding… Have you ever tried this… Blood Pudding?
Black Pudding? Maybe when I was in boarding school, when I was turned into a vampire.

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