Here at the Bobshirt interview section, our main objective is to catch up with our favorite pros from the 90's, see what they're up to, and hear their views about skating's past and present. Some like to express their interest with in depth answers, others like to keep it vague. Bobshirt interviewee #10, Eric Pupecki, chose the latter route. A great read, just make sure you, as they say, "read between the lines."

intro & interview - Mike Regan

photos - Karim Ghonem

How did you get into skating? How old were you?

My mom bought me a Vision Shredder complete from the shed. I got a late start I think I was like 15 or so, it didn't matter it just became so much fun I never put it down.

What was your first 'proper' setup?

Who knows, the boards were so big and bulky back then that it mattered more about the graphic than anything. I bought a Santa Cruz Slasher that was hype for the time. But once I was in California things were different. I remember one time while on Fun I set up over 30 decks in a month. I was skating hard back then. Also we used to focus tons of boards. What jerks we were. Blanks from the World factory were like tasters choice. We used to get in trouble for riding boards with no graphics and we would all wear white T's with no logos.

board break Gonz Gap. Thrasher 1993.

What was it like growing up and skating in Providence?

It was a big punk rock influenced scene. There were lots of kids too. We would travel in packs from spot to spot and just rampage the city. Also the Sk8 Hut was a big deal. Rob Murphy and crew controlled that scene. It was like a skate punk wonderland, skate all day and night and party in the basement 'til morning. Tattoos by Fred Smith upstairs. The place was one of the OG skate parks of the East coast. If you ever been there you know what I'm talking about. The Watershed would run tons of contests, Peter Pan and his son Ted Pan. ''We run 'em and we win 'em'' those were the 80's days.

Got any wild stories about Sid "The Package" Abruzzi?

Go big world!!!!!

Do you have any early memories of the Brooklyn Banks?
Jeff Pang frontside kickflip on an assault vehicle with dyed hair and no grip tape way back!!!!!

Who was your first sponsor?

Watershed Surf and Skate Shop. When I arrived in SF I meet Jim Thiebaud and he took interest in me and started flowing me Real stuff and Thunders and Spitfires. Also James Kelch was a big early supporter, then Fun with Ron Allen. Fun could have been a big heavy hitter back then. We had all the best kids from the East. Huf, Keenan, Chris Keefe, Ben Liversedge. We had Gino on board but Deluxe didn't want to back it (Fun I mean). So we all moved on. I rode for just Deluxe for a while. Stereo was new and Real was relatively new. They didn't know what to do with me. So I just kept skating and doing my thing.

Thrasher 1993

When did you take your first trip out to SF?
I moved there right off the bat. I was nineteen and me and a friend and his girlfriend all jumped on a bus and headed to SF. I had a couple of decks and my clothes and I was off to seek my dreams of becoming a pro skateboarder.

Who was the first person to hook you up out there?
As soon as we arrived in SF, I dropped off my stuff at a friend of a friend's house and headed downtown to the infamous EMB. I think it was Aaron Meza, Nick Lockman and Aris who were chilling down there. I ollied the Gonz right away, it felt good to realize I was in Cali, everyone seemed real nice and receptive, do remember this was before the huge rush of T-dogs as everyone would say. Anyone new spent time as a T-dog. This is like '91.

What's your favorite memory EMB?

Just being able to show up and know there's going to be a session everyday. I was usually one of the first people on the scene I'd arrive at like eleven or twelve and then everyone would trickle in. Mike York was always down early too. Just a great place to skate, hang and do your thing for the day and watch a lot of progressive skating. That seemed like the center of the street skating world at the time. It was ''hella sick.''

How did you get hooked up with Element?
Aaron Meza was doing tons of video stuff around SF, and he knew I needed a sponsor so we filmed for two weeks and made the video you see in the Element video and some Fun footage I had. My board was never released for Element. They canned me after two months or so. I had a load mouth and upset the upper management. They expected me to be a pro for them and pay something like 500 or 700 a month. I told them I couldn't live off that and maintain a healthy lifestyle. So off I was, on to the next adventure.

scan courtesy of policeinformer

When you rode for Element, did you ever skate with Pepe?

We got along well. We meet in San Diego at Andy Howell's house. Andy Stone was also there and Billy Pepper. We all got along pretty well. It didn't last long, but we always remained cool. He was a butter skater. I thought he did his best work on the East coast. My last trade show I went to, he was there and we had beers and chilled for a while. It was sad to here about him. Big up Pepe anywhere you deh!!!!!

What's your earliest memory of Pep?
One thing I do remember was we tried to roll a blunt that was half rolling paper and half blunt wrap. It was huge and didn't burn well. Good times, I love it.

Moving forward to LA, why did you make that move?
Seemed like a natural move. Keenan and I moved down to Huntington beach to crash on Gino's floor and skate with him and Ben and we just started networking down there. That's where a lot of the companies were and the scene seemed to be shifting down South. We loved it. Gino was on 101 at the time so we had full access to the World Park and all types of perks. That's where I met Kareem. He told me that he was going to be starting his own company and asked if I would be down to rep it. I told him to let me know and it went from there.

When did you first meet Keenan?
In NYC with Huf and a friend of mine, Alex Punchak. Alex was in college and I was visiting from Rhode Island. We all hit it off right away. Those guys were going pressure flip crazy. Huf's nose looked like an arrow it was so worn down. This was around the time of the Blind Claudia Schiffer series. I think they were on flow for acompany called Life. Ahh. The Ron Allen connection. It was too cold those days, Keenan barely skated.

What's your best memory of living with Gino and Keenan?

Croft Street days. When we were all a bit older and well off. We would party and skate like there was no tomorrow. Just living the dream. Love those guys. We all helped each other. Good times. Big up Keenan anywhere you deh!

Talk about the early days of Menace?
I started the company with Kareem and the rest of us. We sacrificed a lot to ride for Menace, we barely got paid and we just did it because it fully represented all of our individual qualities and us. We felt we were keeping it real. Money didn't matter. Yeah, we wanted money but like I said, I guess we were prepared to sacrifice for the end result. Being a company that will never be forgotten. We set all types of trends and styles. Remember, this is before anyone was really getting paid. No contracts, no insurance just a little money and whatever you could put in your box every week. ''Nasty nine.''

While on Menace did you realize how popular the company was?

When we went to a contest in Germany and the predominate clothing was Menace, all the pros were wearing and rocking the gear and the boards. Like Jeremy Wray was always riding the stuff and he was on Plan B or something. We had a huge influence. It was a combined effort, everyone on the team appealed to different people. We ran shit for a minute but still, no money. Oh well.


Menace had a bad reputation for not producing much ("video coming soon, ads without skating, etc....")... out of all the original Menace guys, who skated the least? Who skated the most?
I was always producing. Ask Socrates he has all the old school documents. Get at me Soc, I need copies. Everyone was enjoying life, it didn't matter, sometimes blunts were more important, we did not care.

Who lived up to the Menace "thugged out" image the most?
Well I think Fabian was the craziest but we got along fine. He may be locked up at this time I'm not sure. Keep your head up Fabian. We were all crazy. Like I said, at the time we did not give a fuck.


Did you ever feel out of place on Menace?
Why because I'm white?

Eric Pupecki, Menace. 1997

Any crazy shit ever happen while skating Lockwood?
I only paid attention to the skating. You have to realize, Fabian and Joey grew up around there so no one would ever fuck with us. We ran Lockwood. Roll out the red carpet.

Who skated Lockwood the best?
What day ? We all ripped.

Do you still talk with any of the Menace guys?
I was in LA recently I saw Joey Suriel and Javier Nunez. Sometimes I talk with Billy on the phone but not in a minute.

What do you think are the biggest differences between skating now compared to 1993?

Money and natural progression of the sport. In '93 we were still inventing a lot of tricks and tons of stuff still hadn't been done yet. I call it the mid school or late-mid school. I can't tell. I'm not around it and I'm older and have different things going on in my life. I don't pay that much attention.

Gino once said, "I miss the times when skating was hated on." Back in the early 90's, because skating was so hated on, I think it took a genuine interest to get into it. As a result, skating in the early 90's felt more genuine. Do you agree? If so, why?

Do you still skate?
Yeah I still throw down when the setting is right. I'd like to keep 360 flips on lock for the rest of my life. Donny Barley is opening a skate shop in Providence called Fountain of Youth and they're going to a have a 'S-K-A-T-E' contest that I may take a whack at September 13, 2008. We'll see.

Did you take your time as a pro for granted?

What do you do now- work, hobbies?
Hustling and playing dancehall music in the clubs, riding track bikes and building bikes and stuff like that. Living with my wife Corey and daughter Cailee Lola. Life is good. No regrets. Enjoyed all the time I spent in the skateboard world. Big up all my fallen soldiers that have passed and gone. Love all of you.