Skateboarder • Vol4 • No9 • 1978

‘Maybe that helped move the Puerto Rico skateboard scene along.’


Puerto Rico

Guy Motil
Staff Photographer

March 2024

How did you end up working for the Skateboarder in first place?
I came on board at Surfer Publications in April 1976. I was primarily hired to work for Surfer, but my technical skills with sports and product photography and in the darkroom, soon had me doing work for all four of the magazines that Surfer Publications owned at the time. Specifically, I was the primary assistant to Steve Pezman and Art Brewer at Surfer and Warren Bolster at Skateboarder. The trip to Florida, Puerto Rico, The US Virgin Islands and the British West Indies was a fun month long marathon. We left LAX in late November of 1977, just three days after I got married to my first and still current wife, Gail. The crew and I got back to southern California a day or two before Christmas. For me, the assignment was to document the filming of a new skateboard movie by surf filmmaker Hal Jepsen, to be called Skateboard Madness. Warren Bolster and I had also planned four travel stories featuring the places we were going to. This series was to run in Skateboarder Magazine over the first four issues of 1978. I was chosen to go on the assignment because all the guys on the trip lobbied Warren to send me. I already knew most of the crew and we all got along really well. It was a great creative opportunity to show what I could do and, when it was all said and done, certainly gave my career a good boost it needed at the time.

You travelled to Puerto Rico in the late ‘70s for Skateboarder with Craig Halley and Stacey Peralta. This must have been one hell of a trip back then. Why did you guys pick Puerto Rico?
Actually both Hal Jepsen and I had been to Puerto Rico in 1968 for the World Surfing Championships. Though we didn’t know each other then, (we met a few years later at Malibu in California) we both knew the beauty of the island and the potential for film and still photography. It should be noted that Craig Stecyk wasn’t on this trip. The Craig mentioned in the article was Craig Halley, one of Hal’s cameramen. The crew was made up of Hal’s film team, Stacy Peralta, the Senatore brothers (Scott and Kent), pro surfer Greg Loehr and myself. The rest we met along the way.

Skateboarder Vol4 No9 1978

You hooked up with a local skater called Shaft Ramirez. How did you track him down and to eventually meet you when you got there without the internet?
I don’t know. Hal Jepsen’s crew made all the arraignments. Greg Loehr, a Florida resident, was our defacto guide because he had been traveling in the region for years and knew how to get around efficiently. And he knew all the secret surf spots. It should be noted that everyone on the trip were avid surfers.

Is there anything that happened that did not end up in the article?
Yes, there was a lot going on behind the scenes, but for now I’d like to get a better idea of where you are going with all of this before we delve into clandestine extra-curricular activities.

After your Puerto Rico, you headed to the Virgin Islands. How was it like there compared to PR?
Actually, the whole trip was a series of surprises. Florida, as we expected, was nurturing an exploding skateboard scene and the excitement of having Stacy and the whole crew show up was amazing. Ultimately, there was even more going on there than we expected. On the other hand, PR had no real skateboard scene to document. There were a few good skaters like Shaft but not in any numbers that we saw. When Stacy and the gang started a freestyle session at Rincon’s town square, on the west end of the island, a large crowd gathered and there was a lot of enthusiasm from the local folk, young and old. Maybe that helped move the Puerto Rico skateboard scene along. I don’t know. In contrast, the Virgin Islands had a thriving skateboard scene and the local officials were already enthusiastically supporting the sport. They had regularly scheduled race and freestyle events and had even built an impressive wooden ramp for the kids. It was a pretty cool scene. On the other hand, the British West Indies had no skateboard scene at all. We never saw another skateboarder there. However we got the best surf of the trip there and Surfer Magazine ran my article (co- authored with Surfer’s then new editor, Jim Kempton) on those islands the following spring.

‘For me, the assignment was to document the filming of a new skateboard movie by surf filmmaker Hal Jepsen, to be called Skateboard Madness.’

Shaft Ramirez • San Juan, Puert Rico • Skateboarder Vol4 No9 1978

I am sure you have some interesting stories to share from your time at the mag?
Yes I do. The skateboard scene in the 1970s and early ‘80s was full of incredible characters constantly doing insane things. The sport was still developing, still getting started. There were few rules. It was the wild west, unstructured, pretty raw and unpredictable. And it was always exciting! Of course, Skateboarder Magazine was in the center of all that was going on at the time. But those stories (and a few thousand photographs) are probably best saved for a future article.

What did you do after being on staff at the Skateboarder?
Two weeks after we got back from our Caribbean trip, I was promoted to the photo editor position at Surfer Magazine. That limited my future work for Skateboarder Magazine. I still produced a few articles but my work at Surfer came first. I have had a successful career as a pro surfer, photo- journalist, film producer and publisher.

Are you still in touch with the guys like Craig and Stacey?
We all remain friends, though our careers have taken very different paths. We usually run into each other at industry functions, movie premiers, music concerts, things like that. Craig Stecyk and Stacy Peralta, both, are two of the most talented folks I’ve worked with. Besides the work, they are wonderful people, great to just hang out with.

Stacey Peralta • Rincon, Puert Rico • Skateboarder Vol4 No9 1978