VG#4 gives us Joe ‘Joey’ Albillar, one of Ping! and Ho’s buddy from way back. Joey has skated all the legendary places and shares some insight from AZ’s first generation of skateboarders with Ho from this April, 2008 interview:
1. How many years have you been skating?
If I count from the time I got my very first metal wheeled skateboard around 1967 and began sidewalk surfing with one knee on the board and the other leg pushing along, it’s 40 years. Ive never not owned a skateboard since so that could count. If I count from the time I was addicted in 1975 with my first taste of urethane wheels, it’s 33 years!
2. You skated in Mexico City in the 70’s. How did this come about?
My family moved to Mexico City in 1974 because of my dads job and we lived in a hilly part of town. It was a new section and there was new development all over the place. The new roads they built were so smooth and perfect for downhilling. The board I had at that time had clay wheels. Believe it or not clay wheels on a smooth asphalt road was a good ride. They tended to slide out on turns so if you if you werent trying to slide – watch out ! Other than the downhilling wed bring our boards to school and ride freestyle on the tennis courts at lunch. Some of my friends had these awsome new wheels made out of this space-age material called urethane. I had my sights set on one of those boards since the downhill session was eating up my clay wheels.
The end of that board was like Fred Flintstone getting a flat on his stone wheeled car. Remember how Fred’s cartoon stone wheels would just disentegrate? Thats what happened to my clay wheels in the end, they just chipped apart where I couldn’t ride them any more.
3. You grew up with (Ping!) Steve Pingleton, is he the person who got you into skating?
If anybody got me into skating it was my mom. She outfitted me with my 1st metal wheeled skateboard, 1st clay wheeled skateboard and 1st urethane wheeled fiberglass hawaiian print board with a kicktail that looked like a ramp that went up to vert. Those early boards were all like 5 inches wide max ! Trucks were probably 2 inches wide too ! My mom was totally cool on skateboarding. My 1st ramp was one sheet of 1/4 inch plywood bent up to vert. We used metal shelf brackets and screwed the ramp to the carport wall. She didn’t even have a fit the few times a board got away and shot up to put a hole in the carport ceiling.
I’d say Ping was the one friend I started skating with that never quit. That was the awesome thing, ‘cauz before I’d hook up with some friends that skated and over time, they’d quit and I’d hook up with new friends that skated and so on. I met Ping at High Roller skatepark in 78 and we’ve been close friends ever since. Thinking about it, Ping is my oldest continuous friend who I’ve never lost touch with – hey 30 years this year ! He moved away to Seattle way back in the early 90’s but his mom lives here in AZ so we skate every once or twice a year at least when he comes back. Ping always had the connections to the hot pools and secret places to skate. I wouldn’t have skated most of the rad spots around AZ if it hadn’t been for him. Back in the day you could buy beer at 19 years old and Steve scored us lots of 6 packs on the way to the Dead Cat Pool sessions. He was a grade ahead of me and is responsible for my beer cravings to this day!
4. You skated the legendary dead cat pool in the 70s and the 80s, any good stories to tell?
Dead Cat was one continuous good story. For those that don’t know the pool, it was made of a type of whitish concrete that didn’t chip away like most plaster pools. It was huge, you could pour at least 6 regular size pools in it and had the lights on the side walls so the face wall was free of the light hole. Also it had four love seats. Two of them were long like a 10 foot bench on the side walls. And best of all, not a bust ‘cauz it was at burned down mansion house out in the boonies and didn’t have many close neighbors.
During rainy season years in the spring there used to be these little micro beetles that would swarm the area and lots of them would end up in the pool. They would literally cover the whole bottom. You’d have to sweep them up and fling them out with a dust pan. Once you got as many as you could, it was then ridable but the beetles you did run over would make the bottom and your skate wheels so slippery it was dangerous so you were limited to carves and risk it on a kick turn. I must admit though we pulled some crazy Cess Slides ! After a while the pool walls would be marked with tracks of beetle slime.
The last time I rode Dead Cat before its demise in 87 the Sheriff arrived to bust us about two hours into the session. The funny thing was that we pretty much just ignored him and kept on skating. There were about 15 of us skating and we talked to him and gave him every lame excuse in the book why we should be allowed to stay there and it was at least a half hour later when we packed it up and left. We got the whole thing on video tape, it’s funny to watch and see him pacing back and forth on the pool deck and us just keep taking run after run !
5. Skating the desert pipes really prepared us for the high roller pipe; don’t you wish Arizona had a full pipe to ride these days?
Actually for me it was the other way around. My first pipe I rode was the blue fiberglass one at Christown Mall. I think it was around 16 feet across. They had a mobile skatepark that was there for a couple weeks. This was probably 1977 and when High Roller opened up in 1978 the pipe quickly became my favorite sesh spot. We had the most extreme sessions there with Shelton, Morgan, Kenny, the Ping brothers, Don Ho and lots of others. It was toward the back of the Park so it doubled as a great party spot to make sure we didn’t wear ourselves out too much without taking a break ! And yes… I wish AZ had a full pipe to ride these days. They just opened up a decent one in Vegas though that I rode a couple months ago. We need to do a road trip !
High Roller though was awesome, that’s the only place I ever rode in contests and in the pipe during one of the contests I couldn’t believe I scored perfect 10s from all three judges during each of the three separate runs that night. Come to think of it out of the grand total of maybe three local contests and the AZ State contest held there, I never took less than 1st place ! Wooo Hoooo my place in history ! ! !
Ping introduced me to the desert pipes which were so smooth and sooooo big. Memories? Big scary downhill runs, walking through the pipeline from the far side to avoid security. At least 10 minutes in pitch black. No flashlight of course. Luckily no face plants into equipment or falling into some bottomless pipe hole, Best memories of all is at the Hassayampa Pipes running from the security guard back into the pipeline blackness while those who didn’t run got busted and then later that same day running from the sherrif and hiding in the river bed while those who didn’t run got busted. Skating – Love it !
6. I never did get to ride the Love Bowls, but you were featured in Thrasher Magazine riding them. Who took the photo?
I don’t know about “featured”, but a picture taken by none other than Steve Pingleton took the photo and Brian Brannon wrote a cool article titled Phoenix Skate Town. September 1988 Thrasher Mag. It’s got a lot of old skoolers pictured in it. Todd Joseph, Steve Shelton, Me, Chicken Butt, Brian Cook (Wrex), etc. Any Phoenix skate historians would do well to dig up a copy of that issue ! I’m raging over it right now – glad it survived the last 30 years in my sacred box of skate mags. Primo story by Brian about Phoenix Skate History. Brian – you are the best skate writer – hands down.
7. You have been shooting skate photos since the 70’s, now you are shooting skate videos. What is the title of your maiden project?
My maiden project is Mission Unstoppable. A video of our downhill crew bombing South Mountain road ! Matter O fact, I’m burning some more copies as I’m answering this here question. The DVDs go fast and we pretty much give them out for free to our friends and bros we meet skating. We shot it over this last summer in 07 after being clued into an extreme beautifully paved 3 1/2 mile road at South Mountain AZ. It drops over 1000 feet ! It’d get so hot in the day, we were getting up at 4:00am to get skating at 5:00am. Been getting rave reviews, it’s got your nearly fatal crash from Holbert lookout and a Bootleg Live BucketHead Zeppelin Riff Set timed to some major video effects etc. etc. etc. I could go on and on but you just have to see the film !
8. We both fell out of skating for awhile, now we are back better than ever. Aren’t you glad we got back on our boards?
Definitely!! Lots of people think I’m crazy ‘cauz I’m a Viejo Guerrero and should be sitting on the couch getting fat and having a mid-life crisis, but with all these parks popping up here in the North Phoenix Locale and good friends to sesh with I’d be missing out on my second childhood. I’m skating with friends that I’d fallen out of touch with 30 years ago. Viejo Guerro is in the blood. I’m just glad that the wave of skateparks didn’t happen when I was like bedridden in some rest home or something. I would just have lost it and probably cruised my wheelchair over to the GoodYear Bowl deep end and done a roll in to end it all !
9. You’re a fast learner, you are the only person I have been able to teach front side berts to. Were you always a fan of surf style?
Actually you’re getting me into surf style now. You, Don Ho are the surfiest skater I’ve seen. When I was a kid I could never do good front side carves and now you’ve helped me learn them along with front side berts. So basically I’m new to surf style and you’ve been a good teacher. Thanks !