Graeme Gaughan, founder of menswear brand Tourne de Transmission and SANE partner, on the significance of the 1992 skate film
“It will last a couple of weeks and fall apart due to lack of good management. It doesn’t really have a chance…. the teams not that hot either…”
And so goes the call to arms and opening segment of one of the most important films of my early teenage years. The year was 1992, and all I could think about was skating, music and girls – in that order… Still seen as an underground movement and a nuisance to many, skating back in 1992 was not the global corporate cash cow it is now, but already the rot of corporate procedures and pro-riders being exploited and worked hard by their employers, almost to the detriment of their creativity, was becoming the norm.
“This film ushered in a new way to skate… it completely changed the face of skateboarding globally”
Skateboarding company Plan B was founded by the late Mike Ternasky, who was already looked upon as a father figure and legend to many of a new generation of street skaters at the time, through his previous company H-street with Tony Magnusson. Ternasky saw the future of skateboarding and sought to adopt a similar approach to the NBA and create a dream team of new generation skaters, taking the best riders from H-street (Mike Carroll, Sean Sheffey, Rick Howard etc) with him – much to the dismay of Magnusson. This film ushered in a new way to skate, a new way to run a skateboard company and it completely changed the face of skateboarding globally.
Given the freedom each team rider had to do their own thing, you can see why this strategy was so effective and why Ternasky was so loved by his team. It was a generation of hugely talented skaters doing it for themselves! A completely DIY approach and we, the skatingcommunity, lapped it up on mass. It was everything we lived for, raw energy and talent channeled through one concise message of ‘just do your own thing’ and never be held back.
I can’t really put into words the impact that this video had on me at the time it came out, and how it not only changed my outlook on skateboarding, but also on music and fashion. The ‘Questionable’ video had possibly one of the best soundtracks ever to grace a skate video. Each track was curated perfectly. To the opening Pat Duffy section with Primus fading into The Doors’ ‘Riders on the Storm’ as Duffy descends down a huge rail in a school yard in the pouring rain – rare sight in LA and skate videos in general. The ever graceful but hugely complicated and visionary work of Rodney Mullen was beautifully set to ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong and ‘If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out’ by Cat Stevens. Again, the kind of track that you would never have heard on any previous skate videos.But it’s the opening segment to Mike Carroll’s section that sticks out in my mind the most, with the intro to The Beastie Boys’ ‘Time for Livin’ blasting out over an aerial scene of the now redeveloped Embarcadero area of San Francisco, a mecca at the time for skaters worldwide, and much loved in a South Bank-esque way. As the lo-fi intro of the track changed into a raw twisted melange of cyber hip-hop punk, Carroll’s aggressive and hugely complex style of skating was now on a different level to anything perviously seen from him. He was my favourite skater at the time by a mile, and he also bridged the gap musically from skating’s default ‘Punk with everything’ musical agenda to a more open and hip-hop influenced spectrum.
His personal style of massive baggy cut off pants and chapped down high top sneakers – low top skate sneakers were not the norm in those days – became the de facto uniform for every skater between theyears of 1992-95. And when you look at the cover of the Beastie Boys’ Check your Head (another personal favourite), you can see how this style from New York had intermingled with a part of the US skate scene and spread globally through the medium of film.
On a recent re-watch of ‘Questionable’ for this piece, the film still, to this day, evokes in me the same sense of excitement and need to get out and skate over 20 years on. It was the blueprint for me and will always be the most progressive and ground breaking skate video by far. The ideals and mentality still have a huge influence on how I channel my thoughts and ideas into my work today…