You cannot mention the New York skate scene without bringing up Jeff Pang's name. Jeff is etched in the history of the City's 80's and 90's skateboarding era including the Brooklyn Banks, the beginning of Supreme as well as Zoo York. He currently manages the Supreme store in Brooklyn and whilst the majority of stores in the City have still not opened the doors or have been damaged in the riots and protests, Jeff caught up with Neil MacDonald of Slam City Skates for an in depth interview.
Jeff talks about everything from how getting into a fight with a Russian got him into skateboarding, the 1995 movie Kids, magazine covers, his favourite shoes, the beginning of Zoo York, the future of the Brooklyn Banks and meeting Guru.
Alright, going back a bit… Zoo York started in 1993, but then within two years Kids was out, a shop called Supreme had opened, the first Wu-Tang album was out and then Mayor Giuliani gets in and starts switching everything off. Can you even describe how much things changed in such a short period?That’s crazy… Well, during the time of Kids, when they were filming, I was living on the Upper West Side right next to the Museum of Natural History with Peter Huynh. Then he moved out, but my other room mate was able to cover the rent with me, which I think was $800 at the time, because he was Justin Pierce and they were filming the movie Kids. Justin was such a fucking amazing person. There was just nothing fake about him, he’s never gonna act like he’s something else other than himself. He’s very similar to Harold. During the filming of Kids he got arrested for some argument he had with his girlfriend, so he couldn’t film, then there was another time when we got arrested together because we were smoking weed in the park… 40s in paper bags were always acceptable, smoking weed was always acceptable, then Giuliani came in and suddenly it was no beer in the bag, and if you’re smoking weed you’re coming in and you’re getting a summons. That was the thing that was really noticeable. There was this cop that was always harassing the skateboarders in Washington Square Park. Once the Giuliani thing kicked in, it meant he had the green light to arrest people. He used to always harass us, but now he’s the guy who can send us to jail. As far as seeing a change to society, we weren’t really seeing anything outside of our skateboard lens. Whatever you weren’t supposed to do, we could still do it at the Banks or we could still do it at Astor, where cops don’t really fuck with you and you can see them coming. If they’re on the way we can just hide our shit. The script for Kids was based on exactly how we lived our lives, then it’s sensationalised with this dude who has HIV and wants to have sex with virgins.
You and your friends were kinda part of why New York got so fashionable then, and is as fashionable as it is now. What do you think of new New York?Oh boy. Well, you can see what’s happening with the campaign to save the Banks, and to me that’s what skateboarding is in New York City. It’s things like that, it’s not the Lower East Side park or any of those parks, and it’s not necessarily about being born and bred New York. Hmm… Who exemplifies the New York skateboarder… I mean, Tyshawn is from here and his skills are above and beyond anybody on the planet, he’s just super-human. That type of skateboarding makes me proud to see what’s coming out of New York. As far as how big skateboarding has gotten in New York, it’s a great thing.
Check the full interview at Slam City Skates here