Gator Mark Anthony “shreds.” He “carves.” He “gets vertical. " He is a household word to almost any teen-ager who owns a skateboard. The 22-year-old Anthony now ranks fifth in the world of skateboarders and is on the first leg of a 38-city tour called Swatch Impact Live, an elaborate skate-music-light show. Since he bought his first skateboard with his paper-route money at age 11, Anthony has traveled the world. He has designed a line of skateboards and receives fan mail regularly. He has starred in a video called “Psycho Skate,” where he proclaims he “lives, eats and breathes skating.” When he’s not on tour, Anthony makes tracks for his newly purchased “retreat,” a palatial mansion atop a mountain in Fallbrook. There, he lives quietly with his girlfriend, Brandi, and an array of skateboard paraphernalia. Times staff writer Caroline Lemke interviewed Anthony at his home, and Bob Grieser photographed him.
I started skating in the midst of baseball practice, football practice and karate practice. All at once. And, when I started being late and missing games, it was due to skateboarding--because I was out having fun on four wheels.
When I was living in Linda Vista, it almost seemed like something the big boys were doing, the bullies were doing. Nobody, in my neighborhood anyway, but the bullies rode skateboards. I don’t know whether it was subliminal envy of them, but I got a skateboard. I got my first one at FedMart with my paper-route money. It was a Duraflex.
I think I was influenced by surfing, the clothing, the OPs (line of active wear) with the lightning bolt, the long hair with the surfer bangs that were parted in the middle. I think I was attracted to the fashion of it. My friends were avid skateboard enthusiasts. I was just sort of breaking out of that sports-baseball stage, and I didn’t have much at first. I was kind of the underdog of them all for the first couple of years.
Then a skateboard park opened in Escondido called “Whirlin’ Wheels.” We often called it “Wobblin’ Wheels.” It was a really bad design. But that was my breeding ground for the first four years of park skating.
Sometimes in my career I’m traveling and doing appearances in such a flurry, one after another, that I can’t really prepare and, boom, here comes a contest. But, at least a day before the contest I take a piece of paper and a pen and write down in sequence a couple of the runs that I’m going to do, what tricks I’m going to do in sequence, and oftentimes I set it to music. If you’ve really practiced it for a while, you can put it to music.
I get such a sensation out of reaching heights in skateboarding. Feeling weightless with no strings attached and knowing that I have no brakes and no motor. That it took only my legs and my muscles and my heart to pump myself up that wall and catch 6 to 10 feet of air. It’s really a thrill. Oftentimes, from the top of the ramp, my breath is held, which is probably not a good idea, but it’s breathtaking for me.
I could probably count all my injuries on all of our hands and toes, but the major ones were both wrists breaking and both ankles breaking. They didn’t break at the same time. Those were all just from pushing my limits and sometimes being careless and not wearing wrist guards. The ankle injuries are almost as common as basketball ankle-twisting. My knees are doing pretty good, only a few scars. Lots of shin scars, though. Shins like to be racked up. In my pre-evolved days, I didn’t wear the pads. I was skeptical. I was more into style. I wanted to be more of a rebel.
It’s so addictive. I often get scared. Often. It’s a matter of pushing the limits. If you’re doing the same thing for years and years you get used to it and become accustomed to it, but me and my peers are always pushing the limits, going higher, faster, longer, and that’s what gives you your excitement, the fear factor.