1983 Allen Losi Deck


Iconic image of the great ALan Losi

Iconic image of the great ALan Losi

My first skatedboard was the 1983 Variflex Allen Losi deck, featured above alongside Lance Mountain’s and John Lucero’s decks.  I was a huge fan of Losi (I was also a fan of Mountain, but who wasn’t a fan of Lance Mountain?) in the early 80s, and the video below of Losi at the Del Mar Skate Ranch in 1985 is a good indicator of his style. I would imagine by today’s standards some of his fluid, handplant-rich style might be consider quotidian. He was a grinder, his sets were full of backside bonelesses, lap-overs, fakies, 50-50s, and interspersed with blasts of air. And why some of these tricks might seem unremarkable given how insane the sport has gotten, for my brother and I they were awesome. We revered lesser known skaters from the 80s like Neil Blender, Lester Kasai, and Jeff Phillips. The joy of wathcing them was not necessaily the precision of their tricks, but a sense of style and fluidity that made it all seem real and human. As much as I love Tony Hawk, I mean he is the best vert skater the sport has ever seen, and he’s nothing short of a trick machine. At the same time, his mechanics were less than exciting in that you knew he was going to make it, his precision left little to the imagination. Awesome, but not all that human. Skating was a subculture in the early 80s, premised on illicit halfpipes, hijacking backyward pools, punk rock, and transgressive spirit that made the celebration of precision somewhat hard to reconcile.

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7 Responses to 1983 Allen Losi Deck

  1. Matt says:

    That brings back a lot of memories. My first deck was a Variflex Ramp Rat. Somehow I got a black one instead of the usual white ones that were everywhere… and today most people won’t believe me that there was a black version! Style was often ignored by those that wanted higher airs, more twists, crazier combinations, etc. Have you ever looked at the Thrasher magazine archives? They have every cover online, but if you go down to 81-86, they have whole magazines scanned in there. Reminds me of when skating was less commercialized and a lot more dangerous:


    • Reverend says:

      One of the things I really loved about Thrasher is that it really documents the late 70s, early 80s urban blight. The city and suburb became a space to create from the ashes. Movies like Suburbia and Clockwork Orange and bands like Agent Orange, The Faction, and The Ramones. It was part of a particular culture, it actually had a subculture frame for understanding the late 70s and early 80s that is absolutely part of my vision of New York City and Brooklyn growing up as a suburban Long Islander. It is bizarre how it started has something with an ethos not predefined by corporations. Maybe we’ll go for a skate in Arlington in December 🙂

      • Matt says:

        Yeah, you could really feel that subculture, that ethos is every one of those issues. Transworld tried a few times to copy Thrasher and just didn’t make it. I remember you would go to Transworld for the nice, glossy pics to rip out and hang on your wall, but you went to Thrasher to feel like you were reading a journal of your life. I mean, I remember reading an editor that the guy wrote in the bathroom describing his activities in there while also ruminating on how to best attack some crazy street obstacles he found and how that all related to feeling like he was touching the face of God (which I think was a reference to that poem they used to play on some networks late at night before they used to sign off).

        Oh, and those tape comps they used to put out? Insanity! The good songs were awesome, and the bad songs were so bad they were awesome. Skatemaster Tate doing the skate rock rap? Crazy. But McShred, Slammin’ Watusis, Agent Orange… great stuff. I need to dig out the mp3 rips of those I found a while back.

        Now I am wanting to see skateboarding ed tech zombies attacking Dr. Oblivion for your UTA keynote 🙂 Or something similarly crazy.

  2. Scott says:

    Nice post. I am an old school skater also. First Pro deck was a John Lucero when he was riding for Madrid pops got it for me at PD’s Hot Shop in Vancouver when we were visiting in 1986 for the World Expo. Hoping you have seen Bones Brigade Doc and Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi nice to step back.

    BTW seem like you could be related to Thrasher Editor Jake Phelps http://www.vice.com/en_ca/epicly-later-d/jake-phelps

  3. Reverend says:

    Nice, Madrid is a something I haven’t heard in regards to skateboarding in a long time, so good. I’ve seen the Bones Brigade, but Rising Son is new to me—thanks for that. One of my favorite was the Vision documentary with Gator Rogowski running out of his house saying “yeah, yeah, yeah!” My second or third deck was a Lester Kasai, so that Vision doc was awesome because it was one of the few places you could see Kasai skate.


    As for Jake Phelps, he is a hero of mine, in fact Thrasher was one of the great 1980s documents of the skate mentality of burnt-out urbanism, and the hardcoore mentality it lost in the 90s and 00s.

  4. Garret says:

    Sorry to be so late to the party, but I would like to comment. I skated waaaaaaay back when, and I was born and raised in Rialto, CA (Losi’s hometown). I was a diehard Powell guy, my first deck was a Brite Lite, followed shortly after by a McGill. Losi came from the well-to-do side of town and my friends and I always assumed he was some spoiled rich kid who’s mom and dad owned a skateboard company. Then one day when I was in High School, we had a print shop class together. He came up to me, called me by my name and started talking to me as if we were buddies. He was one of the coolest guys I ever had the pleasure of hanging out with. Anytime you went out with him, it was always an adventure; he loved to clown around, his catch phrase was, “why does everyone take life so seriously?”
    Anyways, I’m starting to ramble. I caught up with him a couple of years ago, he’s been though some stuff. He has diagnosed with a painful disorder called CRPS and is struggling to get by, it is kind of sad.

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