Mark Gonzales is in a world all his own, and he’s been there for the past thirty years. Trying to anticipate, or even keep up with his next move is next to impossible. His unpredictability has made him an enigma—a continuous story unraveling, one that we’ve become fascinated with. Coming up with a superlative to describe Mark is difficult; there’s no parallel in the world of skateboarding, and finding a comparison in any other sport is equally as impossible. But, if Olga Korbut and Bobby Fischer ever had a love child, and that child was raised by Muhammad Ali, then given life and art lessons by Pablo Picasso, you might be getting close—just maybe. He’s without doubt the greatest skateboarder that’s ever lived, and the most influential by a mile. Fifteen years on adidas, and a lifetime’s contribution to skateboarding, it’s The Gonz.
What adidas shoes do you wear?
What is free is good.
What is it you like in a skate shoe?
Soft leather is the best cave.
Do you stick with the same shoe or will you change it?
I normally skate on impulse, so whatever I am in is good.
Cup or vulc?
I think I like vulc.
Are colors important?
Yes red is my favorite color, but I try to avoid it.
How long will a pair of shoes last you?
I normally will thrash a shoe out in about a week from jumping around. And I don't normally have a board, so I just go off in whatever I have around.
What size board, wheels, and trucks do you ride?
I ride whatever.
What made you decide to make the change and live in Europe?
I like Napoleon, and Florence is home to the greatest art. I love to be around people, so wherever I am at is good.
Is there anything you miss about American culture?
What is the biggest difference between life in Europe and America?
People in America like to classify.
Can you speak French fluently now?
Have you always been nomadic?
Kind of, I like muff.
In your Transworld Spotlight, you mentioned that you have a high pain threshold, how much has that helped you as a skateboarder, does anything scare you?
Ear noise. Sucks when the big people play with sound. They can throw you off your board by a sound rather than by a speed bump on the road. Military intelligence is no joke. Don't f--- with the masters.
What's the longest you’ve spent learning a trick?
Time is for people that are bored.
Is there any trick that you couldn't learn?
540’s and 900’s.
What has been the highlight of your fifteen years on adidas?
Chilling beside Martina Hingis, and Muhammad Ali’s daughter, and Paul McCartney’s daughter, Stella McCartney, at the adidas convention. At our team get-together in Florida, I had Mic-E Reyes as my chaperone, he posed with a pic of Muhammad Ali—I knew better, he is too great a man to have a pic with scum like me.
Do you still write poetry?
Yes, all the time. The latest is “drop dead i ain’t black ’n RED.”
Is everything art?
No, religion is more than art, but the two are constantly mixed up.
Is there anything that cannot be art?
What's left to do on a skateboard?
If you had an unlimited budget, what would you build?
Three people to take on a dream session, who are the three and where would you go?
I'm dead stale.
When you were skating in the 80s and for Blind, did you think that what you were doing would have such an influence on modern skateboarding?
I wanted to work with my big brother doing construction—at the time I felt old, but had a young chick.