An interview with Joe Ayers (aka JR). This interview took place over several occasions during the
Winter of 2017 by Tim Morris
1.) So take us back to your roots… how did you first get into skating and who were you skating for
in those early years?
I had seen someone riding then asked my dad if he would buy me one. He bought me and my
brother both plastic generic boards which were the only boards available to us at the time. I got
my first “real” (wooden) board after I started hanging around a local skate shop called Firefly
skates. The first team I got on was “East Coast Skateboards” that was in College Park MD. We
were skating all kinds things back then – ditches, ramps, & freestyle – we skated everything.
After that I met Dorsey Truitt who owned Atlantic Skates – he then put me on his team. From
there I skated for an Ocean City MD skate/surf shop called Sundancer, then Walker and into
1980 I did a short stint with Variflex.
2.) I remember you and I going at it at several local contests back in the mid to late 70’s. You had a
very quick, smooth style that centered on footwork, flip tricks, shove-its as well as a few unique
tricks of your own – notably the “Joe-Spin.” Tell us about who influenced you early on, how
your style evolved and finally how DID you come up with that “Joe-spin?”
Of course back then (1970’s) it was all about the mags. I studied photo’s, tricks, style etc. from
them. The contests always helped, seeing other skater’s styles trying to create my own as to be
as original as possible. I always admired Alva and Dennis Martinez. The first thing I used to do
was open the mag and search for the Alva ads – he was always unique. I first saw Dennis
Martinez at an event called “Skate America” that was held down in Baltimore at the Civic
Center. Dennis was good all-around skater – he was good at ramps, freestyle etc. He was also
the first freestyle skater I had seen in person. From that point on I was hooked!
As far as Joe Spin, it kind of evolved from the toe spin we used to do. I thought, ‘what if I could
do this with the board spinning instead of the skater spinning?’ Plus, back then I was a bit of a
hell raiser… so when I came up with this trick used to see how close I could spin the board at
someone’s ankles… sort of a way to mess with other skaters.
3.) So before being picked up by Walker, you skated for a Maryland surf/skate shop called
Sundancer. They made a freestyle deck for you that was pretty unique at that time (1978). In fact I
want to say that your design which was a rockered double ended freestyle board was among
the first, if not THE first, of that particular shape. Tell us about your thinking behind the design
of that board and what, if you remember, did you have it set up with.
I wanted a deck that was the same on both ends. Unlike the traditional decks, I didn’t lose any
valuable time turning my board around over and over again in my routine.
It was a Sundancer deck set up with Sundancer wheels and ACS trucks. ACS was my truck
sponsor back then.
4.) Tell us about some of your contest experiences… I remember when you went down to
Clearwater and blew everyone away – taking 2nd the first time then 1st the following year.
What was it like to venture out of your home state to compete against national competition?
The first time in 1978 our Sundancer team drove down together. I was nervous as hell but knew
this was a big chance for me. There was Huck Andress, Rodney Mullen, Jim McCall and, of
course, Tim Scroggs. After seeing these other skaters – they were all really good but I
remember saying to myself, ‘Hmmm, I might just have a chance at this.’ I entered the Pro-Am
division and placed second. I took the prize money and that was when I “turned pro.”
The second year, 1979, I went down skating for a different sponsor – Walker Skateboards. After
the first contest, I was so impressed with Walker because his team seemed to focus on
freestyle. So when I got back from the first Clearwater contest I called Bruce to ask about
getting on his team – short while later he called me back and welcomed me to the team. He
flew me down to the ’79 contest. That year I placed first! Both years, the Florida skaters were
friendly and gave me a lot of support.
Of course, there were many local contests back then and they were always fun. One thing I do
remember was that you were always on my heals and I considered you my main threat. You
were the only one I used to worry about!
5.) This last question I’m going to make open ended… thinking back to the early days in the 70’s….
the mid 80’s… then the 2000’s…. tell us about your fondest memories tied to skating.
In the mid 70’s, it was going to the Skate America show at the Baltimore Civic Center – seeing
Alva, Dennis Martinez, Chris Chaput and others with my brother.
In the late 70’s & 80’s, skating at the Concrete Surf Skatepark in Rosedale MD and riding for
Bruce Walker were great times!
Recently, getting back on the board and travelling to the 2015 Florida Skateboard Hall of Fame
ceremony – seeing old friends and meeting new ones – that’s what it’s all about!