John "The Man" Reeves or "JTMR" came on the scene back in the early '90s and was part of the H-Street movement. John and H-Street came in hot but fizzled fast. John outlives the H-Street era and continues to shred just as hard more than 20 years later. John Reeves is the man!
What year did you become a professional skateboarder? https://skateszone.com/15-things-didnt-know-steve-olsen/
I turned pro in 1991. I was 17.
Did you turn pro for H-Street or Life?
It was for Life. But Hokus Pokus, a video by H-Street, was released in 1989, and it was the first video that I was ever featured in. I did well in contests then, and in 1990 I went all the way to the national amateur finals. I think that was when Mike Ternasky decided that I would turn pro, which ended up being when A Soldier's Story (a.k.a., The Life Video) was released. My first pro-model was released shortly thereafter, on Life, which was owned by H-Street and Mike Ternasky at the time.
Who was the original lineup?
Wow, that's asking a lot. Let me see if I can remember. Sorry in advance to any Life riders that I forget. Here's the off-the-top-of-my-dome list: Ron Allen, Jesse Neuhaus, Brennand Schoeffel, Sean Sheffey, Kien Lieu, Noah Salasnek, Aaron Vincent, myself, and the Texan Dave Donalson.
Did you ever fuck with Hurricane Helen?
Don't you mean Kick-Ass Katie? There were definitely some wild times at the H-Street house.
Who coined you as John "The Man" Reeves?
Well, this is a touchy subject. It is funny though. Originally it was Primo Desiderio. He had a demo team that I was on around 1988 and he had made flyers that said: "Featuring John 'The Man' Reeves," and we used to do demos at schools all around the Southern California area. I was only, like, 14, but he called me "The Man." I even got out of school to do a demo at my own junior high school. I think it was Tony Magnusson that said it in Hokus Pokus, and that's when it became immortal. I can't get away from it.
Did you ever have beef with Dan "The Man" Rogers?
That's funny. Nah, Dan is the homie. We even traveled Europe together and got pro-model shoes on 2 Fish. Ha!
Give me a good Sheffey story.
Ah, man. Where do I begin? Anyway, we used to skate and party all the time. Matter of fact, we used to bomb the hill to downtown SD almost daily. Sometimes Sheffey would go on his own missions and take the party to never-before-seen extremes. He used to like to decorate his apartment walls with original drawings and art. At one point, Sheffey got deep into paint guns. I believe he saw a deep potential of using paint guns as artists tools.
Well, one day I went upstairs to his apartment to see if he wanted to go skate and I saw that he had shot clear through one of his walls with a paint ball to the apartment next door. Needless to say, his neighbor and his landlord were not amused.
How about a T-Mag one for shits and giggles?
I wish that I had a good T-Mag story. Well, I remember when he had a vert ramp in his backyard in Scripps Ranch--I think this was before the mini-ramp--and I over-rotated on a backside air and took one of the gnarliest slams of my life. T-Mag had shitloads of Airwalks outside his sliding glass door. Tony Magnusson is a resilient Swedish-American.
How did Invisible come about?
After Life skateboards, I was on a team called Fun with me, Jesse, and Ron. Donger was on it for a minute, but he quit to ride for 777, which was basically run by handplant phenom Dave Andrecht.
Anywho, Fun was fun for about a second. It was distributed by Deluxe, and it seemed like they only cared about me while I was in SF. So, when I didn't get any packages sent to me when I went back to SD, I decided to talk to Brian Ridgeway at Tracker Trucks and I got on. The perks were the inside cover ads in Transworld and the fact that they were located in San Diego County. At the time, Blockhead skateboards was the premier skateboard company. It was distributed by Larry Balma and Tracker Trucks.
There was one point when I thought that I would ride for Blockhead, but after talking to Dave Bergthold and Laban Pheidias we decided that I would ride for a new company and its name was to be Invisible. Shortly after, my board rolled off the presses and I had the first pro-model on Invisible skateboards.
I heard you and Jamie Thomas bumped heads and he ended up quitting while you guys were on an Invisible tour. What actually happened?
Yeah, that shit was so ridiculous. We were stupid-ass kids back then. We were on the first Invisible tour and everything was going smoothly until we got to Madison, Wisconsin. The demo went pretty well in Madison. I remember that it was basically just a shop appearance with some clowning around the parking lot.
Since the locals were stoked that we were there and Madison is such a college/party town, they invited us to a house party complete with plenty of kegs and a fridge full of Old English 40s, just like in the Snoop Dogg video. Needless to say, I got obliterated. After the party, we all piled into Dave B's minivan and headed toward our next destination, the hotel. Somewhere along the way to the hotel, Jamie and I got into an argument. So, I started punching him and such.
When we got to the hotel, it was chaos. All I remember is waking up alone in the van the next morning. Everyone else crashed out in the hotel room. When everybody got to the van, Jamie said to Dave, "I'm quitting the team." So Jamie quit, and we dropped him off at the nearest bus station.
Anyway, later on that same tour we ran into Jamie in Philly at Love Park and I apologized and we reconciled. He might have already been on Toy Machine at that point. The last time that I saw Jamie it was cool. I don't think there are any hard feelings.
What was a pro's average salary in the early '90s?
I'd say a thousand to fifteen hundred a month from a board sponsor. But if you got paid by all of your sponsors, you could make a decent living like I did back then. I don't know; it all depends on the pro.
What year did you team up with the Donger and ride for Dynasty?
I believe that was in 1998. Dynasty skateboards was a great concept with bad direction.
After Dynasty, you started your own brand for a bit?
I made T-shirts and boards, but I never actually launched a brand. I just gave tees and boards to the homies. However, in retrospect, I would now like to get some of my ideas launched through a major distribution. I like TumYeto.
If you could do it again, what would you do differently?
I would communicate more. I would get to know all of the people involved with my sponsors, from the president to the sales to the shipping department. I would try to let everyone know who I was, not only as a skateboarder but also as a human. I would also get to know other pros more and not be so caught up in my immediate scene.
What do you do for a living these days?
I skateboard, make music and art, but my main money gig is as an equipment specialist at the largest fashion photo studio in the world. It's called Pier 59 studios in New York City, which is where I currently reside. It's a struggle, but I maintain.
Any plans for a comeback or starting another company?
Well, right now I skate, do art, and help creative direct Bodega skateboards. We have been filming a lot lately when the weather is good. If you want to call it a comeback, please be my guest.
Last words?Start young, have fun. And a special thanks goes out to everyone who's been helping me out since I've been out here in New York, especially Harold Hunter (RIP), Oscar Wagenbulcher, Joe Humeres, and everyone involved at Bodega skateboards, Jason Rogers at Autobahn wheels, Alex Corporan at Sole Tech (although I do need a solid shoe sponsor, so any companies out there that are interested get at me), Gonz for the inspiration and the Astor Place Friday night curb sessions when I first moved out here, Laban, Ted, and the American Misfits for coming to New York and filming me, J.
Grant Brittain, Rockstar Bearings, Ronnie Bertino when he was at Iron Horse, Mike Fitzgerald when he was at Osiris, the dude at Paradox griptape who sent grip tape out here from SD, Rick Howard and Sam Smyth for when they sent packages to me when I lived in Portland, I'm still waitin' for that Indy box, Andy Kessler (RIP), and last but not least, the Reeves and Kaiser families. see more: https://skateszone.com/effort-establish-support-public-skate-areas-current-future-generations-portlands-skateboarders/