Neckface: People I've Known
For years, Neckface's identity was shrouded in mystery. He was able to lurk and creep (and don't forget sneak) all over the world without being noticed. At some point the mask slipped a bit and now he weaves in and out of the spotlight as he pleases while always leaving his mark behind. Neck has stories for days.
He gave me the cover. An artist on the cover, approved by Jake and Fausto? A dream come true for a little skate rat from nowhereville. I did miles around the world with the Old Man. Jake would call and tell me the craziest ideas to draw for the mag—demons, blood, graves and fire. Right up my alley, Old Man! At his funeral, one of Jake’s old friends told me he would always talk about me saying, “I got this kid. He’s good. Every fucked-up thing that I come up with in my head he can draw.” For me, that is the highest honor I could get. This shit is forever, Jake! He still visits me in my dreams and shit. Spooky.
Vans asked about ten artists to do shoe collaborations for the first Simpsons movie and we all got drawn as Simpsons characters. That’s some bucket-list type shit. During the red-carpet premiere of the movie, all of the artists got introduced to Matt Groening. He shook everyone’s hands like it was nothing and then said, “Alright, which one of you is Neckface?” I raised my hand quick as shit and said, “Right here.” Matt shook my hand again and then gave me praise like he was bowing down to me. Real recognize real, man.
Dustin Dollin and I were getting food at In-N-Out Burger and we saw Whitney walk by us on her way to the soda machine. She was looking rough as hell. I mean, we weren’t in that good of shape either, but she had us beat. Five days later she’s dead in a Beverly Hills bathtub.
I met him in front of Max Fish when he was working the door. He always said I could go in whenever I wanted because I was underage, but I wouldn’t. I’d just hang with him out front and we’d talk about metal, skating and graffiti. Years later I went in and they couldn’t get me outta that fucker. Tino asked me one time, “Did you fart?” I said, “Nope.” He replied, “Did I?” It’s still one of my favorite quotes.
I moved to NYC in 2002 and became friends with Harold through skating and dirtbag shit. One day we went to pick him up at his crib AKA the projects. We knew how to get through the front door without getting buzzed in—just yank the shit out of the door. His roommate let us in their unit, but Harold’s room was locked. We were banging on the door and heard, “Hold up, yo!” He finally opened the door and told us he was jerking off. The room was dark, only a night light lit up his face. There was trash on the floor and the photo he was jerking off to was just a picture of a normal girl—no skin showing or anything. A Sears underwear catalog would’ve showed more. As he was getting up, he saw an old chicken bone on the floor and said, “Oh snap, son.” He picked it up and nibbled the rest of the chicken off the bone.
When Neck first came out, everybody wanted him to do a board. I said “Hell no!” to everybody. I was holding out for a legend. Then, in NYC, Gonz rolls up on a bike with no seat. “Hey, Neckface, I like your work—the hairy arms and stuff. I want you to do a board for me.” I’m fuckin’ down! He told me to get in touch with someone at Deluxe and rode off. The conversation didn’t last a minute. Good shit happens to those who wait.
When I did my first Baker board I got a call from the guys at Supreme LA. Dave went in there and specifically asked for “the Neckface Spanky board.” They were sold out but my friend Jeff hooked him up with one from his personal stash. Years later I actually met him and he told me to “Keep up the good shit.” Yeah, no shit, Dave. Also, bet you didn’t know that Rowan has set up a complete for Dave as well. Legends on legends.
One night at Max Fish, I see a blonde trainwreck leaving the bar at last call, grabbing every half-drank cocktail off the tables and downing them on her way out. Even Neck don’t do that! I end up at an after party at Mary-Kate Olsen’s house. Yeah, it was one of those nights. Anyway, we are sittin’ around a fire and in comes the trainwreck from the bar. She sits down all sprawled out and everybody notices that Mary Jane ain’t wearing no panties! She must have traded ’em for a drink or somethin’.
The original Old Man and the creator of this here mag. Jake asked me to do the cover in ’05, but we had to run it by Fausto first. Jake gave me a pep talk: “Don’t fuck up. We got this.” As Fausto came out, a wave of nervousness washed over me—I don’t get nervous for shit, but this is Thrasher. This was the biggest deal of my life! Jake went behind Fausto as he was looking at my cover and was flipping him off behind his back. I was trying not to pay attention to Jake as Fausto was about to approve my cover. “Put a black logo on it and run it,” he said and walked back into his office. Jake’s punk ass punched me in the chest and he said, “We did it, kid!”
In China, during one of the biggest brawls of my life (so far), it was everybody versus everybody and we needed all hands on deck. I heard Kenny Anderson try to stop Baca from jumping in the fight: “Sammy, you’re about to have a kid. Think about that,” to which Sammy replied, “He ain’t born yet.” He then proceeded to rabbit punch some fools in the face for the team. The next morning Baca said, “My shins are fucked up.” I asked, “What happened to your shins, Sammy?” All he said was, “Faces.”
I was at a house party in LA and this chick with fucked-up teeth was telling all these wild Hollywood stories. I was faded and calling bullshit on everything she said. I even said something to her about her teeth. She laughed and everyone was trippin’ that I was talkin’ to her like that. The next day I woke up and my friend was like, “Damn, I can’t believe you were talkin’ to Alabama Worley like that.” I was like, “Huh? That was her, from the movie True Romance?” That was my childhood crush and if I knew it was her I wouldn’t have said shit like a punk! Thank God for liquid courage.
After doing some research I discovered that LA had two of the steepest hills in the world and one of ’em was skateable! Nuge was on a hill-bomb kick that year and at a Vans party I called him over to Burnett. “Hey, Mike, Nuge said he wants to bomb the steepest hill in LA.” Burnett says, “Shit, I might give you the cover if you do that.” Nuge, in awe, not knowing what hill I was talking about says, “Fuck it. Let’s go.” Another Neck call out and the rest is history. It ended up being a Contents page because the hill was so long it woulda been a five-page pull out.
Drehobl and I were talkin’ about some bullshit at Max Fish in NYC when he brought up his new favorite TV show called Lost. It was the hit TV show at the time and everybody was obsessed with it. I couldn’t believe he was into it so I convinced him that the whole show was about Scientology. I knew enough to make it sound convincing. Dan just replied, “Fuck, dude, that bums me out.” Sorry, Dan, I actually don’t know anything about that show.
We were backstage interviewing him for the mag and he kept trying to push his weak-ass beer or some shit. I told him, “Nothing goes better than Slayer and skating,” and he said, “Well, a lot of people play Slayer, even people in the army.” Right then I didn’t give a fuck about Kerry King and his tribal tats. I stole a bottle of Jäger from his trailer
Believe it or not, I was at Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday party at the biggest mansion in Bel Air. I went with Koston. Someone introduced me to Stevie Wonder in the elevator. He said, “Nice to meet you, young man.” Later that night after 300 drinks, I see Stevie gettin’ walked out to go home. I yell, “Later, Stevie!” and he looked around in all directions and said, “Bye, Neck!” He recognized my voice.
I was at Shepard Fairey’s print studio and I met this young kid. He told me that I’d probably seen his dick before. I was like, “What?” Then the kid told me, “Yeah, even your mom has probably seen my dick.” Right before I was gonna sock him in the face he told me he was the naked kid on Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover. You got lucky there, kid.
Stone would always say I was one of the only people who could ruffle his feathers. I would tell him the grilled chicken was undercooked. Everybody knows you don’t say shit to Stone about his BBQ. On Skate Rock Africa, P-Stone was fuckin’ with me to the point where I thought the only way to get him off my back was to punch him. So I went up while he was filming and punched him as hard as I could, square in the face. Nothing—he didn’t flinch. Uh oh. He put his camera down, grabbed me and hit me three times in the face. I was knocked out for a second and was leakin’ blood from every hole. Less then a minute later he said, “Neck, let’s go get shots. This shit is over.” We did shots and were having beers in the Indian Ocean the next morning. Love you, Stone.
I’ve known him since we were 18. The first Baker board I designed was for him. I slept on his couch for a whole year, pissed that same couch, threw up on it multiple times, hid old nachos under it for seven months, I even lit him on fire and sent him to the hospital. Now I’m the godfather to his daughter. Some things just work out.
At the Atlanta five block Bust or Bail, they called in Matt Schlager from the infamous 13-flat-13 video (slam). Schlager is down for the mag and when I met him he said he was a big fan. Same, Matt, same. Phelper told him after the Star-Spangled Banner played, he needed to set it off with an ollie. I told Jake, “He’s gonna slam.” Jake said, “Perfect.” The song was winding down and Schlager hucked himself down the five block and had the most perfect slam to set off the Bust or Bail. It was beautiful. And Neck don’t say shit is beautiful, either.
When Phelper died I went on a rampage, writing his name on everything in sight. I told Andrew I was gonna do the car wash and we should film it for the Baker 4 intro. I did it and we filmed it, but after that just seeing Jake’s name on the spot got people so fired up. Gonz even jumped out of a car and skated it and I don’t think he’d touched it since he shaved his face off there. Milton got so fired up that he skated it after breaking his leg on it years earlier. He kickflipped into it, sealing his fate as Skater of the Year. He came up to me at the party and said, “Thanks for writing Jake’s name on the car wash. That made me do it.” I was like, “Thanks, but I think it was just seeing that name alone that fired you up.”
Phelper got us backstage passes to see King Diamond and Slayer. I jumped in the trunk of the car with Fatty and off we went to the show. Forty-five minutes later I hop out of the pitch black trunk and head backstage. Jordy and I go to interview Slayer for the mag. I was like, Fuck Slayer. I just gotta see the King up close and my life will be complete. Sure enough, there he is coming out of his trailer and he’s walking right by me through a big-ass crowd. He sees me and does a double take, looks back and gives me the horns! The King knows, man. The King knows Neck.
I had a show in London when I was 19. He came up to me and said he liked my shit. I was already going out every night painting and he said he wanted to come with me. He wrote his number on a piece of paper and told me to call him. Later that night I got to my hotel, grabbed the paper and threw it in the trash before heading out solo once again. Sorry, dog. Neck rides alone.
The guy who drew Iron Maiden’s mascot, Eddie, is named Derek Riggs. Eddie is one of my favorite heavy-metal characters. I was at a convention and Derek Riggs called me over. “Hey, Neck, I really dig your work,” he said and signed some shit for me. Number of the beast, bitch!
During Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, all these actors jump out at you dressed up as different monsters and shit. I was walking with a big crew and a scary lookin’ werewolf jumps out at us and before he can even scream he takes off his mask and says, “Neckface?” I laughed as he asked for a picture. I told his ass to put his mask on and get back to scaring people. Neck’s got fans everywhere.
Fom Zero’s Thrill of it All, one of the gnarliest pole jams ever done, Wade Burkitt is an Aussie legend. When I first arrived in Oz, a friend of mine was like, “We’re gonna meet Wade.” He was out of the spotlight and had gone underground. “How are we gonna find him?” I asked. My friend said, “Be at Bondi in the morning. Wade skates alone before anyone gets there.” Sure enough, 7 AM, long hair and long sleeves, he rolls up to the park, longneck in hand—Wade Burkitt. He proceeds to rip the park up and as soon as some other skaters arrive he’s done. I get introduced and from that moment it was me and him for the four years that I lived there. I would tell other Oz skaters that I was out skating with Wade and nobody believed me because they thought he stopped skating. Wade is still out there, skating before you even put Vegemite on your toast in the morning.
A friend and I woke up at a house one New Year’s Day, not knowing what really happened the night before. Still half drunk, we decided to bail. We wandered the Hollywood streets not knowing where we were for an hour, probably going in circles. Suddenly a street looked familiar: “Dude, Carroll lives around here. Let’s go to his house and see what’s up with him,” my friend said. We get there only to realize it was the same house we woke up at. Carroll knows how to party.
I stayed at his friend’s house for a week—slept in the bushes outside, woke up and whooped everyone at Mortal Kombat. Drinkin’ and talkin’ shit, KB became my good friend. I took his ass on Skate Rock Mexico and seen him do a lil’ Mexican dance that even I can’t do—and I’m Mexican. Phelper, Stone and Hubbard all vouched for him even more after that trip. Turns out that would be the last mission with all three kings. Kev is down for life. I handed him the keys to The Kibitz Room. Only a few have opened it at 10 AM and closed it at 2 AM. Kev is one of them.
I met this bastard a couple of times, even shook his hand once or twice. One time when death was certain and our time was supposed to be up was on Skate Rock Africa when our van was on a steep dirt road with no brakes and all the top skaters in the world inside. It woulda been a sad day for boardin’ as Jake would say. Our van was picking up speed, kicking up dust, we were dead meat. A fork in the road: to the right—pure death. To the left—a small hut with a lady sitting in front breastfeeding. And in our driver’s seat—Nuge. Quick thinking and big balls, Nuge takes the left. We crash through a metal fence, which goes flying. Chickens and donkeys are running out of the way, the lady with the baby jumps away at the last second—BOOM! We crashed headfirst into the hut and Nuge saved the day. We’ve been on bonus time ever since.
Check out these other "People I've Known":
1/25/2021Jake Phelps swerved the Grim Reaper for decades. His near-death experiences only made him stronger. In a twisted tribute that Jake would have loved, Neckface celebrates some of Phelper's brushes with death.
1/21/2021Thrasher's 40-year legacy of print, video and digital content involves thousands of people and spans the globe. There is a San Francisco home base which is a key part of this system of stoke. Here's an inside look at the HQ in action.
1/20/2021Gerwer and Schmitty get Carroll to set the record straight on Kelch kicking T-Dogs out of EMB, spider bites on the road, club tracks and Phelper stories. Nerd out with one of the greats.
1/05/2021Last year was the worst, which means we’ve got an extra-stacked pack of T-Eddys for the skate world’s gaffes and god-awful moments. Plenty of praise in there, too! Don’t get pissed if you made the list.
12/25/2020While the COVID orders and security were stricter than ever, the GODSPEED guests still brought unprecedented hype to the drive-in. See the stars, the cars and the three strikes that got everyone the boot.