The Boss can decide whether he shaves or not
In the skateboarding world, few people command the respect that Andrew ‘The Boss’ Reynolds does. And no, he’s not a Springsteen-freak, he just literally is the boss of skateboarding. Chris Moran investigates…
Some people are just born to skate, and after picking up his first board aged 11-years-old, Florida’s Andrew Reynolds rode so much that by the time he was seventeen he’d turned pro, moved to California, and changed the face of skateboarding. Not bad for a kid who didn’t even have any face fuzz at the time.
So how did he do it? Instead of adding complications to his tricks, Reynolds simply went bigger, fell harder, and did jumps with tougher consequences than everyone else. Not that he’s a stuntman: every trick he threw was done with the flair and style of a pencil moustached-era Dali.
Skate film maker Patrick O'Dell says that "no one who can skate big stuff like him as stylish as he does. He'll do an ollie or a heelflip down all these stairs and it looks like nothing."
Like giraffes and wildebeest parting for The Lion King, the pro skateboard community moved out of the way: the Boss had arrived.
In 1998, Reynolds won Thrasher Magazine’s coveted Skater Of The Year award, the highest accolade on four wheels.
"He's like a spiderman,” said Thrasher editor Jake Phelps. “It's all in the legs, he'll be doing it forever."
Alongside his profile, Thrasher added a fun fact: ”Andrew is currently growing a wizard’s beard.” it said. This hair-induced magic obviously worked: following on from his win, legendary skater Tony Hawk asked Reynolds if he’d be a character in his forthcoming Pro Skater video game (he’s since been in each of the 6 sequel games) and the 6-foot-two-inch skater got not one, but eight different pro models with the skate shoe company Emerica.
A Hollywood mansion - complete with its own skatepark followed - and one can only imagine the parties that were thrown, but after having a daughter in 2005, Reynolds decided to quit the rockstar lifestyle and went back-to-basics, buying a modest apartment, selling most of his belongings and cementing his place in skateboarding folklore. His biggest tricks, he felt, were yet to come.
With a post-30-year-old body, maintaining the heavy-duty skateboarding he was famous for was a challenge.
"I ride an exercise bike, I stretch every day, I drink water, take vitamins, have protein shakes,” he says.
“I tell younger kids all the time, 'You better start stretching now, because you are gonna get sore and gonna be hurting later."
Along the way, he shaved his head, tried out several beard combos, finally settling on the smooth-as-a-cueball look. Perhaps it helps when sliding face first along the concrete. Not that he’s afraid of switching it up:
I can get a pretty good beard if I want,” Reynolds told Transworld Skateboarding, almost talking himself into the challenge. “Maybe one day I will?”
In 2000, Reynolds started Baker Skateboards, frequently releasing team videos - including the Boss himself - featuring skaters throwing themselves down huge staircases, over enormous concrete gaps, and showcasing their balls-out attitude.
"Baker was punk,” said Reynolds in a recent interview. “It was about holes in our clothes and partying - we didn't care.”
The kids loved ‘em, and Baker boards flew off the shelves, making Reynolds a skateboarding star, and a rich man. “Maybe there’s something about me that the kids can relate to,” he says, “I'm just a skate rat, the same as them."
Today, Reynolds is skating harder than ever, realising Stay Gold in 2010, hailed as one of the greatest skateboarding video parts ever. And in recent years he’s talked openly about his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, claiming that his ritual tappings and pre-trick checks - The Madness as he calls it - have helped him overcome the fear associated with leaping off huge precipices.
"It comes on really strong when I'm really scared,” says Andrew. “I have to do three things, three times, normally taps or shoe scrapes.”
It’s a routine that’s served him well. Ask any skater who’s the best there ever was, and it’s most likely that Reynolds name will come up. And all he’s achieved has been without the X Games, Olympics or large skate events, something the hardcore in the sport admire even more. It’s easy to see why, he prefers the non-competitive side of the sport himself.
“I’m just a fan of skating,” he said in a recent interview. “I’ve never met a young skater who says their favourite rider is the one who wins a contest.”