In John Tesoriero, the owner of Papanuisays.blogspot.com
I'm a huge fan of old school skateboarding. Locals Only, the book of Hugh Holland about the Dogtown Z-boys is always open in my living room. We saw a lot of his pictures everywhere (since the movie Lords of Dogtown) showing the famous Stacy Peralta, Jay Adams or Tony Alva but the existence of the Aussie Z-boys was a bit confidential for most of us. That's why I'm particularly proud today to post these photos of Mr Tesoriero in the mid seventies, a respected vintage collector that I'm following for a long time now.
Who are you John Tesoriero? Where are you living and what are your occupations there?
I'm a surfer, artist and designer. I live on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia. I work a weekday job in retail management and in my spare time I paint, draw and design for my company Papa Nui Surf Surplus & Supply.
You were part of the Aussie Z-boys during the 70s right? Can you tell me more about that?
I’ve been fortunate over the years to be very present in the moment, as a teenager I lobed to surf and was an early pioneer of Australian skateboarding and the Aussie Z-boys and honed my craft under the watchful eye of Stacy Peralta, I was part of an elite crew who were the harbingers of a new sport that trailblazed bank and vertical surfaces.
Uptown top ranking! My favourite movie at this time was the Harder they Come, and this is my Jimmy Cliff-esque leopard shirt. Dread outta control!
Golden Breed Grace Bros Skate competition series was the catalyst for the sport to get a foothold in Australia. The promoters bought out Russ Howell, Stacy Peralta and Torger Johnson.Every month was a new round in a different suburb where there was a Grace Bros. This is one of my entry forms. Id already qualified in a different round and that why this one has not for finals written on it.
What does Papa Nui mean exactly?
Papa Nui is my persona and my brand and also a place. It's the outer reef break off Waikiki that only churns at 20ft plus and was named by Duke Kahanamoku in the 1930's, Papa means board and Nui is big so its literally named after the big boards used to catch those giant swells. Papa Nui is not a surf brand however, it’s a product selection that reflects my love of utility, military and surfing, the way its put together is uniquely Papa Nui.
Larry Bertlemann was my favourite surfer...go figure.
As low and as fast as possible was what we did.
Why the Z-boys of California were so famous and the Aussie Z-boys more "underground"?
The Z-boys burst onto the skateboard scene in the mid seventies and blew minds with their anti-establishment attitude and individual style that was based on the low slung pivotal surfing of Larry Bertlemann, they challenged every convention of the sport and reinvented it in their own image. As a young teenager in Australia it felt like I was living at the ends of the earth a million miles from where the action was. I lived and breathed through every photo and article that was ever published about the Zephyr boys and articulated this into my own style of riding.
Brother Paul sliding on my Zephyr.
David Hill took us up to this crazy arsed guy's house who had a go-kart track in his yard, so we skated it. This was our first experience on walls but not quite vert yet.
Still getting used to the crazy transition.
What about your relationship with Peralta ?
In 1975 Stacy Peralta came down to Australia to promote the sport and I had the opportunity to hang out and learn from a real Z-boy. At the time he was the junior world champion and he helped hone my particular style of attack and influenced my riding.
Front side wheeler. This photo was used in that tragic skate film tic tack to heel flip.
The invite of the final day.
Grinding one of the love seats that we later bricked up.
When began your interest for vintage?
In the early 80's I developed an interest in American Vintage clothing and bought collected and sold for many years, refining my interests to denim, military and Hawaiiana. This led me to a career in design working for several international companies and culminating with moving to live in Tokyo for several years.
Wheeling on my pig. Man that was a fat-arsed board but stable and fast, I called this board the Z-wailer.
Under the eastern valley way.
You were senior designer for Levi Strauss, how was it?
At times my direction was misunderstood as my focus was around authentic and original workwear, my shirts all had collar tabs, side seam gussets, and sweatproof cigarette pockets, all details gleaned from the real stuff, it was ahead of its time and some people couldn't understand the features. One idiot affiliate actually sent all my shirts to a tailor to have the collar tabs cut off. Can you imagine that? That detail alone is the calling card of just about every shirts on the market these days and a sign of quality and authenticity.
This is maybe the first day I was learning lay-backs, I was struggling for a while then I talked to Tony Mann and he set me straight, after that it was my all time favourite move.
Pymple pool was the next stop. The Ozi guys told me about this one. I turned up first day with my Zephyr and said forget it. Came back with a wide board and spent the entire first day trying to get one wheel out, and yes it took me all day too!
Then after you worked in Tokyo in the 90’s for Real McCoys, the golden age of this brand…
At any rate I actually found more in common with the Real McCoys, so after leaving Levis I approached the McCoys and began consulting to their design team. My job was to research concepts for their product lines. I presented the 'reservation' style which mixed southwestern native american ideas with denim and workwear this lead to their Route 66 concept and then i toyed with 'Riding the Rails' and suggested a concept celebrating the American Hobo and dustbowl heroes.
Bert-revert wearing Fox's Marina Del Rey shirt.
I see a lot of quality japanese brand specialized in reproduction but It looks like McCoys lost a bit of it's spirit with too much stencils in their pieces even if they have great fabrics, what do you think about that?
After the McCoys partnership broke up I think the new incarnation of the brand lost its soul. Today the brand still does great leather but there is also a very commercial component which appeals to the japanese and this is the idea of 'Kawaii', or cute. So what you have is this great Military style that is compromised by silly cartoons and Disney characters. I can't dig it at all.
Getting air in the bowl at Manly using Biff's board.
Fox and i mucking around the walkways at central station. The PIL shirt was hand made as was almost everything we had, no instant cool in those days, couldn't just go out and buy a look.
Haha, I love Disney characters but only when it’s well done. McCoys is really doing too much, like the Japanese style in general I think… What is your favourite brand in this market?
I think at this moment in time the Bootleggers would be my favourite brand of all however there is some great stuff out there at present including the amazing John Lofgren brand and the individuality of the design that the boys at Rising Sun do, they have a unique approach that really appeals to me.
Board decor consisted of duck tape and a permanent marker.
Punk and alienated teenager. Year 12 1980. I did an art assignment which consisted of a series of boards, this one was based on Blondie's album parallel lines.
And if you have to buy a leather jacket, where will you do it?
If I had to buy a Vintage style repro jacket today I would probably look at the FEW, John Chapman or Eastman for military leather and for civilian styles, definitely Himel Bros Leather from Toronto or the Japanese brand 'Bootleggers Reunion'.
This is the first part of the layback just before you slide your trucks out along the coping and extend.
A great portrait of Stacy. He was probably too tame to be a Z-boy but he certainly was a stylist. In my opinion he did the best Bertleman turns of anyone I ever saw, he approached it as an art and had it wired.
Stacy loved WWII aircraft too.
Stacy was on board with the brigade and sending me these news letters.
Beautiful endless circles on the nose. I practiced for weeks until I could hold a nose wheelie indefinitely on a straight stetch of road.
At Artarmon, Fox and I visited this little ramp.
This was the day I learnt backside airs but I never really did much with them, I just like to fly.
The last days. Sessions at Ryde on my 31" Jay Smith. I loved going fast. My son often asks why I didn't learn this trick or that trick, but really I was only interested in going superfast and sliding. The bank sessions we had here were the stuff of legends, pushing our boards as fast as possible and then setting up for a killer slide right across the banked walls.
The promoters who organised the Skate comps and the tour also organised the Amaroo Park Bike races. Here is a rare shot of Russ Howell doing a hand stand at speed down the Straight.
I owned two original Zephyrs, both gone now, the other three boards are plywood z-boards that I made with rocker and zephyr outlines.
My quiver including the first issue Stacy Peralta model G&S warp tail. It was solid oak and a piece of shit, no wonder they went back to the drawing board and made them out of ply.
Gary Bird. He was my best friend and a complete natural. He had the best style hands down and was a candidate for one of the best Aussie skaters ever, but he just didn't give a shit and only wanted to skate on his own terms.
I'd just watched the Z-boys on some movie maybe Super session and was trying to do bunny hops like Jay Adams.
What is your ambition now?
Returning to Australia I went back to the beach and felt at home immediately. I love to ride logs and am fascinated by the hydrodynamics of Bob Simmons who utilised US Navy technology to build better surfboards. My ambition is to create the ultimate Papa Nui military beach kit and stay true to my influences.
My Core group at the boat ramp. Scott Conroy, Andrew Bird, Garry Bird, My brother Paul, me and Nicky Cobben. We all torn the shit out of the place, especially while wearing short shorts!
Thanks to John Tesoriero who allow me to post these incredible pictures of him.