New York City: 1986 − Crack cocaine and decades of neglect have turned the streets of New York into a war zone of burnt out buildings, homeless lunatics, and graffiti ravaged subway cars. Not the most likely place for one of the most important steps in the history of skateboarding. But yet, much like their forerunners from the ghettos of Venice Beach, this exact environment was the birthplace of the first 100% street skateboard company.
SHUT Skates − Living and skateboarding within the urban blight of New York at this time, Rodney Smith and Bruno Musso could not relate to the Californian suburban beach boy attitude that saturated anything and everything in skateboarding. Their world had very few backyard ramps, no plethora of empty pools, and virtually no vert skateboard heroes. The only thing these skate punks had was New York City and its endless supply of streets, banks, curbs, and ledges. This is what they mastered.
Soon, dissatisfied with boards designed for vert skating that would crumble under the punishment of their urban playground, Rodney and Bruno got a hold of some seven-ply maple wood skateboard blanks, dragged them up to the roof of their friend Alyasha’s, building in Brooklyn, got out a jig saw and some spray paint, and made their first run of skateboards. Skateboards designed specifically for street skating. Rodney and Bruno gave these boards to the best skaters in and around New York City. These true street skaters had never rode anything like these decks before. This team of tougher-than-nails street skaters joined up with Rodney and Bruno, and SHUT Skates was born.
Within a short time, the legend of the street team from New York City got back to California, and before they knew it, every pro in the industry came face to face with an east-coast force to be reckoned with. An entire posse of bad ass street kids that skated as hard as they did and were ready to shove it down everyone’s throats. The SHUT team was Jefferson Pang, Sean Sheffey, Jeremy “Bobo” Henderson, FELIX, Coco Santiago, Chris “Dune” Pastras, Billy Waldman, and Barker Barrett. This happened at the NSA Finals in Arizona around 1988. And skateboarding was never the same.
After that, there was no board more prized than a SHUT board. Unlike anything else available and near impossible to find, every true street skater was ready to kill a man to get one.
Realizing that SHUT had nailed it and that skateboarding was moving away from back yard half pipes, the rest of the skate industry scrambled to keep up. Then, in a tragic turn known all too well from those familiar with the Z-Boyz story, the rich and powerful skate industry lured away each member of the highly prized SHUT Skate team, one by one.
Down, but not out, Rodney picked himself back up, joined with the kid who drew the original SHUT logo, Eli Morgan Gesner, and his business associate, Adam Schatz. These three men found a run down old warehouse in New York’s Meatpacking District and started the legendary Zoo York skateboard company. Not willing to make the same mistakes twice, Rodney, Adam, and Eli took Zoo York from a tiny home grown operation to one of the most important and influential skateboard companies of the last twenty years, selling in over 40 countries world wide.
This success, however, was double edged. The bigger Zoo York grew, the further away from the point it became. Soon, Rodney, Adam, and Eli found themselves in charge of a successful fashion-streetwear clothing line and not the core New York City skateboard company they had set out to create. So, in 2006, with the twenty-year anniversary of SHUT Skates upon them, Rodney, Adam, and Eli decided to get back to their roots. They sold Zoo York to the clothing empire, Ecko Unlimited, found another dirty warehouse, and started SHUT back up. With a vengeance.
So now you know. You know the story of SHUT. And in turn, you know the story of skateboarding in New York City. And if you skateboard, well then, now you know a little bit more about your self as well.
SHUT Skates . Established 1986 . New York City