Dogtown and the Z-Boys~ A Movie Review

Have you ever wondered where that front side air came from? Why people went from the surf to the land? Then “Dogtown and the Z-Boys” is a movie that should be added to your must see list. Directed by Stacy Peralta, one of the original Z-Boys, the chronology of the section of South Santa Monica, bordering Venice, named Dogtown; it is one step from the Jeff Ho/Zephyr shop to professional skate teams like the Bones Brigade.
Guys like Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, and Jay Adams were the guys that brought us the front slide and the front side air, the nosegrab, and would lend their talents to the beginning of vertical skating.

Peralta takes you from the days of Pacific Ocean Park Pier, where the true amusement started, and when it was closed, it was interesting to watch through how he talked to the entire team, not just Adams, Cullen, Peralta, and Alva, the guys that made the script for the “Lords of Dogtown”. What is interesting about this documentary is that he offers a true look into the change of skateboarding being a novelty thing, and ending into the culture that it now is today. The reason why guys like Ryan Scheckler, Rob Dyrdek, and Bob Berquist are stars in their sport is because Alva, Peralta, and Adams were sneaking into Bel Air pools in the drought of 1975.

It was the incorporation of why and how skateboarding emerged from the “Bert” created for the fantastic moves that Larry Bertlemann made in the ocean, these boys made on land. These boys were skating down asphalt and concrete alleys that were behind schools that were banked into canyons, just seeing stuff that no one would have ever seen before. The relative change between urethane wheels and the piece of crap clay ones, revolutionized things, and allowed the Z-Boys and girls to surf during the morning and skateboard for the rest of the day.

What Jeff Ho, Craig Stecyk, and Skip Englebom opened their shop, it allowed these kids, often from broken homes, to really have a home. Skip Englebom and Jeff Ho were more like fathers to kids that never knew what and often who their fathers were. When Skateboarder Magazine brought forth their second issue, Craig Stecyk’s Dogtown articles spun the skateboarding community on their heels.

This documentary also shows how quickly the success of the Zephyr competition team, was also their downfall. Various different Z-Boys went on to have extremely successful competitive careers with G & S, Element, and starting their own skateboard companies. By the time that Peralta was in his late teens, he had already seen the world a couple of times. Meanwhile, Tony Alva, definitely the Superman of the Z-Boys, gave it all up at 19 and started his own company, Alva Skates. Walking away from major marketing and sponsorship deals, Tony Alva still works and operates Alva Skates to this day. He can still be seen skating behind some shops, if given the right opportunity. He has appeared in countless movies, including the movie that came out of this documentary, the Lords of Dogtown. He was also featured in Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. Tony Alva will soon turn 50…if you can believe it.

Stacy Peralta is a filmmaker, and still skates to this day. He was the originator of the Bones Brigade, which competed under the Powell Peralta banner. The Bones brought us skaters such as Bucky Lasek (a local favorite from here in Baltimore), Steve Caballero, Colin McKay, Ray Rodriguez, Mike Vallely, and perhaps the most famous, Tony Hawk himself. This was the group that brought vert skating to the forefront, the ones that took what the Z-Boys did, and brought it to a new height…literally.

Jay Adams, who was considered by Stecyk as the “natural seed”, is now serving time in a Hawaii state penitentiary for drug and alcohol charges. His regrets include leaving school…and perhaps not taking the skateboarding as seriously as he should have. The character of Iggy Van Zant in Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland was fashioned after Adams. Jim Muir, Wes Humpston, and Bob Biniak now run Dogtown Skateboards, keeping the dream of Dogtown alive. Peggy Oki, the first Z-girl, the first Women’s Champion at the Del Mar Nationals, is now an artist and can be seen at www.peggy-oki.com. She still surfs and skates.

Skip Englebom, the co-founder of Jeff Ho and the Zephyr productions, can be found in Hawaii, still surfing and now fashions custom skate and surf boards. Glen Friedman and Craig Stecyk can still be found in Southern California, often making films just like Stacy Peralta.

This movie gives a brief step, a brief glimpse into the history that brought skateboarding from a landlocked novelty act, and moved it into the counter culture artistry icon that it is today. There is a reason why skateboarding is a multi-million dollar industry, and it started in Southern California…and part of that start…was the Zephyr Competition Team. This is a documentary that shows from one end to the other, the true meaning and history that is skateboarding.

Special thanks to Thrasher Magazine, Juice Magazine, IMDB, Dogtown Skateboards, and Wikipedia for research for writing this article.

They can found at:

Thrasher Magazine
Juice Magazine
Dogtown Skateboards

I figure those of you that read this can find IMDB and Wikipedia on your own. 🙂

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One Response to “Dogtown and the Z-Boys~ A Movie Review”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    Good review, M.

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