John Worthington: Goin' Fast and Blowin' Glass

John Worthington Interview Stale Fish Stale fish     Photo: Atiba

John’s one of the best pool rippers in the game. When he ain’t attackin' the backyards, you can find him fabricating a skate-inspired bong—trucks and all. Get the lowdown on all things bowl burning, straight from the pages of our February, ‘21 mag.

Eight minutes of pure backyard carnage, you can’t miss John’s Dystopia part

What’s up, John? What are you working on today, any new glass-blowing projects?
I’m just getting warmed up for the day, but yeah, more glass.

What’s on the list?
Some wheels, miniature pool sculptures, some of this, some of that.

How long have you been blowing glass?
About four years.

How did you get into it?
A couple of my friends blow glass in Midtown Sacto and they were bugging me, trying to get me to learn. They opened up their shop to me and let me come practice. My friend Blaine blows glass every day so it’s easy to learn from him, figure out some new techniques. It’s been a cool progression learning how to sculpt and form glass.

John Worthiington Glass work and portraitArt and artist

Your glass pieces are skate themed and they’re really cool. What inspires your work?
I’m just always thinking about skating, even when I’m not skating, so it was just a matter of time before I made something skateboard themed out of glass. But yeah, the imagery and subject matter I’m most interested in is definitely related to skating.

What’s your favorite thing to make?
I really like making the wheels and trucks ’cause once it comes together it just looks really true to form. It’s satisfying to finish it off and look at it and see a truck with grind marks or a spinning wheel.

Totally, it looks incredible. The details are amazing. I’ve heard something about not trusting green glass. What’s that all about?
I just had a string of bad luck related to green glass, but I’ve been overcoming that obstacle. I’ve been making friends with green. We’re currently on good terms.

DZA John Worthington Backside Tail Sept 2020From deep to steep, backside tail     Photo: Zaslavsky

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Encinitas but grew up in Auburn, California.

Is it true you have a college degree?
Yeah, I have a bachelor's in mechanical engineering from Sac State.
How long did it take to graduate?
It’s a four-year program.

You gotta get the degree in when you’re young.
Yeah, I’m super stoked that I did it, just to have it and to learn about what is really out there.

What is really out there?
Just a bunch of engineering.

John Worthington Backside 360 over a bank channel    Photo RhinoAn engineer’s gotta know his angles and degrees, ollie-oop over the channel    Photo: Rhino

Does any of that apply to your glass blowing?
A little bit. That was more of a study on theory and this is more on the application side. I get to see a little bit of the theory at work in what I do.

How long have you been skating?
My dad skated so pretty much as soon as I could walk I was messing around on his skateboards, but I started to skate a lot more and passionately when I was in middle school.

Do you remember your first board?
The first board I had was just a mini banana board that had a little robot on it, but the first legit board I got was a Shorty’s logo board.

John Worthington FSA Paradise Ca Dillon 2000pxThe Muska would approve of this FSA     Photo: Dillon

Does your dad still skate?
Yeah, he still skates. His life’s passion is surfing but he’s been into skating his whole life amongst other passions. He was in the Coast Guard and he’s got a VW dune buggy that he’s been blasting around the Joshua Desert and surrounding areas.

And he recently got to go to Tony Hawk’s vert ramp, right?
Yeah, that was an awesome epic session. He was super stoked.

Do you skate vert, too?
A little bit. I just haven’t skated enough to really be on my game, but I can skate a vert ramp a little. It’s super fun.

John Worthington lipslide from love seat to hipLipslide into the hip    Photo: Rhino

How does it compare to pool skating?
You get to go a lot faster and let the wings spread—let the eagle fly.

I’ve seen you skate really fast in pools.
It’s a lot more change of pace—fast and slow. It’s fun to try and go fast but you gotta slow down at some point, but on a vert ramp you can just go and go and go.

It’s two different beasts. So every pool is totally different. What’s your ideal pool scenario?
The pool’s already empty, I’ve never been there before and it’s got a stair set that’s doable.

What’s your favorite pool to skate?
It’s hard to say; it depends on the day. It’s a lot of fun skating the barges ’cause you’re trying to skate it 100 percent the whole time you’re there since you don't know if you’re gonna get one second or 30 minutes. Usually it’s one second so you’d better get it. But that’s how you should skate pools anyways ’cause they come and go so fast. If you don’t get it all in when you’re there you might not get it at all.

John Worthinton portrait Paradise Dillon Photo: Dillon

Kinda like the other day when we went back to that one pool we hit.
Yeah, we went out to a pool in an abandoned zone, but the owner of the property was there trimming the bushes and he was not stoked. He started yelling at us straight away.

I remember looking in the mirror and all I saw was this big dude with a saw in his hand and I could hear him yelling at you.
Yeah, it was pretty intense. I stepped out of the car for one second to look around and there he was. We had to turn around and drive back real quick.

So the pools come and go; they don’t last forever. Even the permission pools won’t be there forever.
Nothing lasts forever. Normally a pool is full. If you have a house with an empty pool, something weird or fishy is going on.

DZA John Worthington Backside Disaster Sept 2020Deck-bashing back D to keep it spicy     Photo: Zaslavsky

It’s always an adventure. It must be a trip having people knock on your door asking if they can skate your pool. What’s the most epic part of the pool?
Whatever is spicy and new and looks interesting.

Do you remember the first pool you skated? When did you feel like it was your thing?
I had skated a couple of pools as a young teenager, but I definitely realized how few and far between they are. But then as soon as I started going on some trips down the central California corridor into Fresno, I got to skate a stack of them and really figure out what was going on. As soon as I started getting out to that area is when it all started to come together.

John Worthington pullquote If It's low-hanging fruit, we pluck the fruit
How does the finding and grinding happen?
Everybody just has their eye out looking for anything suspicious or low-hanging fruit. If it’s low-hanging fruit, we pluck the fruit.

What about when we knocked on the door at that one house?
That was a funny one. There was a big, janky house on the side of the road and we knocked on the door and the lady who answered was super stoked on the idea of us cleaning out her pool. She let us come back and skate it and hang out all day. We could’ve had a BBQ if we wanted.

You never know how good the pool is until it’s fully drained, right?
In that situation, the pool was half full of black water and the top half of the pool wasn’t looking too good, but we gave it the benefit of the doubt and cleaned it out and the bottom half was looking worse than the top. We waited for it to dry and skated it just that one time. Then we hung out with the homeowners and they wanted to show us around and fire up their Ranchero and give it some revs. We just hung out and enjoyed the scenery for a little bit then took off to never return.

John Worthington Backside Ollie photo by RhinoBackside ollie big enough to pluck the fruit    Photo: Rhino

That’s how it is sometimes. It took four hours to clean out and it was so gnarly. Skate it once and then you never go back.
In my area the pools aren’t so good so that seems to be the program a lot of the time. But it still had something that I wanted, so I’m super stoked that we got permission and were able to skate it.

How many hours do you think you spent bailing pools?
I probably clocked at least a full work week just cleaning out the spots.

That was a good time. Where are the best pools?
In the wasteland. Sometimes it’s closer than you think, sometimes farther than you think, but it’s a great place to be.

One minute you’re in a meth house, one minute you’re hanging out with the owner, one minute you’re getting chased out by an angry homeowner with a saw—the adventure never ends.
Yeah, for sure. I just like to try to skate them all and give them at least one chance.

John Worthington quote I have skated a pool fabled to be the best pool ever
Is there a pool that is the best pool ever, or is every pool the best?
I have skated a pool fabled to be the best pool ever. I can’t say it’s my favorite pool ever, though, so I’m still looking for the next one and the new fave and my new least fave—and the deepest and shallowest and just whatever is out there.

What are the essentials you need in your truck for pool missions?
You’re gonna want at least one square bucket, a broom, dustpan and a swamp blanket—that’s bare minimum.

I’ve seen the boots and the pump in your truck.
That’s phase two when you’re actually ready to handle business, then you’re gonna need a pump, boots and shovels.

John Worthington Body Jar Sacramento DillonThis body jar might not be in the best pool, but who’s gonna complain about a 12-footer with that view?     Photo: Dillon

You see some wildlife when they’re not drained.
They’re like wildlife exhibits sometimes, for sure.

I know you ride mountain bikes and you’ve ridden with Cardiel. How was that?
It was one of the funnest experiences.

John Worthington dirt jump bmx DuvalCards' influence is apparent, big whip on the dirt hip     Photo: Duval

He rides exactly how he skates or snowboards—he’s flying all over the place.
As soon as we got to the downhill he’s gone—full speed. It works exactly as you’d expect.

I’m staring at the cover of his backside air at Ripon on the 40th Anniversary issue. When you look at that photo, what do you think about?
I just think about how fast he was going and that he’s trying to hit the moon.

John Worthington Backside Noseblunt Paradise DillonBack noseblunt in the wild      Photo: Dillon

Who are some of your influences?
Obviously Cardiel is a rad influence and it’s cool to see all the spots that he hit around Northern California that are still untouched right out in the open. Sean Blueitt gets me super stoked to skate. He’s a local ripper in Sacto and one of my best friends. Hewitt, too. Too many people are killing it.

What’s your favorite music?
I like a little bit of everything, but I really like fast, crazy, dystopia Brujeria-style music. I like to have that stuck in my head.

Is that what keeps you fired up for the session, ready to ping-pong around?
I love to just be somewhere stoked to skate, standing on the deck, having a double bass stuck in my head, ready to light the fuse, let the rocket go and let it hit every spot in the pool!

John Worthington Wallie to wallride Palozzolo Letting the rocket go from wallie to frontside wallride      Photo: Palozzolo   
Let’s talk about the part. You have a couple street clips outside the pools that made their way in there. Is it hard getting those?
I mean, street skating is ten times more frustrating than you'd ever think. It's kind of hit or miss—usually miss. The street clips are a struggle to get. I do really like to skate street, but not really in a spectacular type of way, more like manny busting and low boardslides.   
How was it skating that tall pool with the gutter?
It's insanely hard to skate. That pool was just super deep and slippery. It's pretty deceiving because it looks like a vert ramp but it is so much steeper than that. It really skates more like a wall. So instead of sliding and having it be fun, it's a lot more brutal—more jumping to flat and exploding.
John Worthington Nollie sugarcane stall in the deep end     DuvalJohn avoids the splat with this nollie to sugarcane over the gutter     Photo: Duval
Speaking of exploding, what’s the heaviest slam you took while working on it?
I mean, the heaviest slam didn't even make the video. It was from skating down that dirt hill next to a spot and I just exploded when I hit the ground. I had a hard time standing up for a minute.

That was awful. What would you say was the hardest trick to get?
That kickflip at the end. That was the hardest thing, guaranteed.

That’s one of the best-looking spots. How was it getting to skate it?
It's one of my favorite spots near where I live. It's a monument near a state building. It's normally not possible to skate because they have security guards on every corner of the courtyard, ready to yell at you and run after you as soon as you walk up with the skateboard. This year was kind of a special opportunity where we didn't get kicked out and could go back a couple of different times. I finally got to skate it for a couple of hours on multiple occasions, and that's what it took to do the kickflip.

So you've recently made it onto the roster over at Creature. How did that come about?
I've gotten to know some of the guys that ride for Creature, like Cody Lockwood and Chris Russell. They're all super cool. And I guess they just hyped me up to the right people. It’s cool getting to know Sam Hitz ‘cause I’ve always been a fan.

John Worthington Ally Oop Wallride Market St DIY Alley-oop spinner in The City     Photo: Palozzolo
Who are you most looking forward to skating with?
I just love watching Milton skate and being around him on a day where he's on, because he's just like a little kid in a candy store. The other day, instead of getting back in the van to go to the next spot, he just followed the van—skating and skitching the whole way. And then when he got to the spot, he went right to skating the handrail. It was a monster rail and he just ate it up like it was nothing.
He's incredible. Any last words?
Thanks, everybody, for the support. Wheels and glass on fire—until the wheels melt!

John Worthington KickFlip Sacramento Landi Get there while you can. Kickflip from one of many lucky sessions       Photo: Landi
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