May 31, 2011 11:23 PM CDT
If there was a category for Underrated Am of the Decade, Joe Tookmanian would approach the acceptance speech podium to a g’damn standing ovation.
5boro Am Joe Tookmanian has been steadily hurting spots for years now, almost exclusively under the radar. He’s got serious ambidextrous board skills, isn’t afraid to step to burliest of spots and is currently on some next level filming missions for 5boro’s upcoming video.
CCS caught up with Joe to explore the existence of one of skateboarding’s most elusive amateurs.
So, I pretty much knew nothing about you, Joe. I Googled your name looking for past interviews of you. Nothing came up. I realized I know nothing about you. Well, I just had an interview in FTK about a month or so. Honestly, I guess I’m usually not that talkative when it comes to that kind of stuff. So they usually pick the other guys for those things, not me.
You’re from Patterson right? Yep, Patterson, New Jersey. I grew up there until I was around 18. And then when my parents moved to Wayne (New Jersey) I lived there for a little. And then I ended up moving out to Brooklyn and now I’m back in Wayne.
What brought you back to Jersey? I love New York and everything but I love New Jersey more. I like getting up, getting in a car, going to do what I got to do…all of my families here and I can see them. I mean I only live 20 minutes outside the city (New York), but I just like Jersey better.
Do you have a lot of spots in Jersey? Yeah, if you know your way around there’s some sh*t out there. But if you just come from out of town, there’s no way you’re gonna find anything unless you know somebody who can show you where to go.
Growing up did you skate mostly Jersey or did you make your way out to New York to skate? Well, at first me and my friend Darren would go to the Path Train and take it to the city every weekend. But to tell you the truth, growing up when I started filming, we mostly skated in Philly. It was seriously way further than New York but that was when the whole Love days were going on and Philly was the place to be. So we’d take the ride down there Saturday and Sunday every weekend. But we skated the city an awful lot too. We skated there during the week most of the time.
Did you guys skate Love a lot? We did skate there quite a bit but there was always the bust factor. And whenever you went there when there was a big seen at Love, there would be like a million people. So it was almost impossible to skate. You know a lot of people think that Love is completely gone and it’s not gone at all. You can still skate there today, as long as you know the times to go. I have friends that live down there and they skate Love like every single night until the cops come.
Really? I thought it was a bust, for sure. It’s ridiculous what they did. They won’t let kids skate there, but bums are allowed to smoke crack there and piss and sh*t everywhere. It really is ridiculous.
How long have you been on 5boro? I don’t even know the dates. It’s pretty much the first real sponsor I ever had. I mean I got boards from a rep for Expedition and then from that company Iota and then Vehicle. But once I got on 5boro I told everyone that I was going to go with 5boro and I’ve been with them ever since. Pensyl’s been on since day one. But after Pensyl, as far as the guys that are still on today, I’m probably next.
How did you get on? I used to ride for this skateshop in Jersey. And the owner there helped me send my tape over to Steve (Rodriguez), because they had known each other. And 5boro took me on a few trips and a few demos and then after that…I’ve been with them ever since.
5boro for a long time had a reputation for having more burly, transition dudes on the team. You’re super tech…have a serious switch game. When you got on did you feel out of place? Yeah, it was tough going to skateparks with them and it was tough skating spots afterwards because basically I was completely out of place with the stuff that we would skate. We would skate my type of stuff, too. Plus Westgate was on the team at the time. And he liked to skate the sh*t I liked to skate back then.
I know you’re not afraid to step to a rail switch. Switch Back Smith, Switch Back Lip, Switch Back tail…Before try a rail trick switch, do you try to roll away from it regular footed first? Nah, whatever trick I’m going to try, I might just boardslide the rail first and maybe grind it. Then I’ll just go for whatever switch trick I was gonna go for. But if I’m gonna Switch Back Smith it, I don’t do a regular Back Smith first.
Are there some tricks you have better switch than regular? On rails, not really. Every trick I can do better than I can do switch, but flatground I can do better Switch Tre Flips than I can regular. And Switch Back 360’s…I can do them better than I can regular. Yeah, both those tricks I suck at regular. I can do them, I just can’t do them as easily as I do them switch. I don’t know why, it just feels more comfortable. Certain tricks are like that. But for the most part, riding my skateboard is definitely easier with my right foot forward.
You also have a good switch push. Did you always push switch instead of “switch mongo”? Since I started skating I always had this thing of wanting to be able to skate as good switch as I could regular; which is almost impossible to get that comfortable on a board skating the opposite way. Since I was little I learned how to push switch and regular.
That’s crazy. You’re one of the few dudes in my book who looks completely natural skating switch. It’s almost like, if someone didn’t know you were goofy footed, they’d have a hard time telling which way you skated. What inspired you to skate both ways? Thanks, man. Growing up it was from watching New Jersey’s hero…Brian Wenning. Me and my friends loved Wenning and he skated a lot of switch. I tried to do a lot of things he did when I was younger. And also, watching all of the Girl guys skate.
So what’s up for the future, Joe? Right now, we’re filming for this new 5boro video. And I’m supposed to have an interview in The Skateboard Mag come out in the next issue. And that’s pretty much it. Maybe go out to Cali and shoot some more photos and hopefully go pro in the future sometime.
Skate shots by Brian Uyeda. Portrait Courtesy of 5boro.
Get the boards Joe rides now at CCS.