15 Things You Didn’t Know About
words: Brian Peech
photo: Ben Colen
1. Eric Dressen was only 8 years old when he received his first skateboard, a Super Surfer with clay wheels. His first experience with professional skateboarding was watching the Pepsi Team Demo.
“I was just trying to skate around with those guys,” he says. ”I guess Stacy Peralta just realized how into skating I was and he gave me a T-shirt.”
2. Dressen’s dad worked for Free Former Skateboards and Eric became a skateboard tester for the company when he was 8. That same year, Dressen entered his first contest at Steve’s South Bay in 1975.
3. Dressen was discovered by ’70s pro Laura Thornhill while skating a backyard pool in Torrance, California and she helped him get sponsored by Logan Skateboards when he was 9. Thornhill also introduced him to Skateboarder magazine’s Warren Bolster, who photographed Dressen’s “Who’s Hot,” exposing him to the skate world at age 10. That same year, Dressen broke his arm three times, keeping him in a cast the entire year. Up until 2005, Dressen was the youngest person ever to get a “Who’s Hot,” narrowly nudged from the distinction by 9-year-old Nyjah Huston.
4. Dressen was the California State Pool and Halfpipe champion when he was only 10 years old. That year he’d moved to Santa Monica from Torrance and was asked to be on the original Alva Skates team and entered his first pro contests when he was 13 at the Lakewood Halfpipe Pro and the Marina Dogbowl Pro.
“I always skated with those guys, so it’s not like I just came out of the blue. Sure I was a kid, but no one treated me like on,” he says. “The only problem really was that I was so little I had a hard time climbing to the top of the pool.”
Dressen received his first pro model on Dogtown in 1987.
5. Dressen’s “Who’s Hot” opened the doors to his first on screen gig. When fast food chain McDonalds was looking for someone to be the skateboarding stunt double for the Hamburglar for an upcoming TV commercial, talent scouts scoured through Skateboarder and found Eric’s profile. He was just what they were looking for and he got the job.
“I was on a long board with Ronald McDonald racing through Ronald McDonald Land,” he explains. “We had to go under this low bridge and I ducked down to get tubed. And Ronald just jumped off and flew away.”
6. Dressen went on to appear on screen numerous times. Not only was he in ’80s skate flicks Thrashin’ and Gleaming the Cube, but he also appeared in Tapeheads, Sidekicks, The New Gidget Show, a Suicidal Tendencies music video and a Kudos TV commercial.
In 1988, while skating for Dogtown, Dressen actually quit his day job at the Fred Siegel Deli in Santa Monica to sign on for a six-month stint working on Gleaming the Cube. After one day of shooting the director didn’t need him anymore and he was sent home.
“It turned out to be a good thing,” he says. “It gave me time to skate every day and start traveling and touring. That’s when I really started concentrating on my pro career.”
7. After filming a whole day for the Thrashin’ LA Downhill scene, Dressen was surprised to see the footage edited down to him buttboarding down the hill with a yellow helmet and sunglasses on.
8. Dressen is a descendent of the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers team manger Charlie Dressen.
9. Dressen was nicknamed Pony Boy, not from the movie The Outsiders, but because someone called him out one day for having pony legs. The name stuck, and many of his acquaintances and friends’ parents now only know him as Pony.