Getting Loose With Lee // The Dean Dickinson Interview

Photo: Jason Enns

When Dean was 14 I caught him at the local indoor park riding the wood bowl by himself taking runs like he was in an empty pool. I thought it was one of the weirdest things ever. In the the years after that I got to watch Dean take his weird, quirky way he looks at BMX and turn into into his own personal expression. That is something I think that is lost a lot in BMX. So it is nice seeing someone who lets that shine through!

–Shad Johnson

What is a shralp burger? What even is a shralp? I’m not really sure, but there is a Team Shralp and Mean Dean Dickinson is the leader of it. You wouldn’t expect a BMX historian and pool scholar like Dean to lick frogs and make out with bums, but he has. These days, since his school teaching and tech magazine modeling careers have taken off, the only weird things Dean does involves draining abandoned swimming pools and motor boating through the silent air on his bike. An extraordinary being he is. His obsession for finding and riding empty pools is notorious, as are the moves that perhaps only Dean has the skill and courage to complete. But aside from being an incredibly original character in the BMX world, Dean gives back to the community. Not just to the BMX community, but to the world at large. There aren’t too many riders these days that put in the cashless efforts that Dean has to help improve the world.

Before you cross Dean off as a Bone Deth Bone Head that is useless to society, recognize his efforts as a humanitarian.

Dean Dickinson is an absolute ruler.

–Sean Burns

Interview by Lee Sultemeier

Photo: Pat Burkin

Before we talk about the new Bone Deth DVD and other things, talk about your birthday party bowl jam that happened this past weekend in Portland, Oregon.

It was a total blast. I’m in the process of making a video edit of it right now. We had it at my buddy Tobin’s private indoor bowl that he built about ten years ago. It was a great setting and a great atmosphere. Lots of good energy. Everybody was ripping so hard.

Photo: Ryan Barrett

Who all was involved in helping make it happen? Sponsors and stuff like that.

It was a huge collective effort. Big thanks to my best friends Spencer and Austin McCabe, as well as Phillip Sheldon and Matt Stroud. The whole Schralp crew really helped out a lot. And our sponsors definitely came through with big time help. Bone Deth was a big supporter, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was a sponsor, Subrosa and Shadow Conspiracy helped out a lot, big thanks to Ronnie Bonner for that. Odyssey was also a big help, and Filmed by Bikes, which is a local film festival was really supportive as well. The Ranch helped out a lot also. Like I said, it was a big collective effort and big thanks to everybody that helped make it happen.

Awesome…Now, let’s talk about The Dirty Sniff, the new Bone Deth DVD..It’s obviously amazing..No jib jab crap in that vid at all.
Ya’ll really brought the hot sauce to the party for this one.

(Laughter)..Yeah, it turned out super rad.

Considering Bone Deth has team riders from, literally, all over the world, the logistics of filming and gathering footage had to be somewhat challenging. Talk about that and, in general, how The Dirty Sniff came together.
Well, after our previous DVD, Surfing for the Ugly Broads, was released, we basically all started filming again immediately.
We wanted to keep the vibe and energy going, and Burns is always full of energy and direction, so he kept us all stoked and fired up to keep filming. After Surfing was released, I flew out to Boston and we got started on filming for Dirty Sniff.

Dirty Sniff was, what, 4 or 5 years in the making wasn’t it?

Yeah, right around 5 years of filming and production. And, like you said, we have an international team, so that presented certain challenges. We have Jay in Austrailia, Kert in Estonia, and Waffle and Bungay in England. We also have riders scattered all over America, like Robbie Nelson in San Diego, and riders in Boston, and riders in Austin, and the list goes on. So yeah, Bone Deth has riders all over the place. And like I say, Sean Burns always keeps the fire lit and inspires everyone on the team to keep ripping.

Photo: Leo Furmansky

Hell yeah…Now, talk about how your epic roof drop into a pool corner that is featured in your part in Dirty Sniff came about.
Tell me about how that magical radness happened.

I had just moved to Austin, and was working on organizing the 3rd Texas Toast contest. I was driving around checking out potential venues for Toast and noticed a motel right off the freeway that was still open for business, but looked like it was on its way out. It was just all decrepit and falling to pieces. So I figured there might be a drained, or soon to be drained pool there. And sure enough, there was a pool about half full of green scum water that I could tell, just by what little transition I could see, would be a rad pool to ride. So, over time, I just kept my eye on it, and would periodically check on the status of it. And then I took Burns over to check it out one time and we climb up onto the roof of the pool shed and we both are like, “this is totally possible, we gotta get this thing empty. Somebody has got to roll in off the roof into the corner.” I lived not too far from the pool, and I would seriously go there at night and just sit on the roof of the pool shed just envisioning myself rolling in off the roof into the pool corner.

That is so fuckin’ awesome..You were just sizing it up.

Yeah, and then one day I cruised by the motel and it was completely closed down. It was fenced off with a notice on the fence from the city saying it was closed for good. And I thought to myself, “It’s on.”
And within a few days me and my buddy Joe Dirt, who’s a badass old school pool skater from Houston were there with a gas powered pump, pumping out the water.

Nice…Keep talking.

What’s funny is, the way the pool was located, all the scum water we pumped out of the pool was shooting out into the access road of I-35. Just gushing out and practically flooding it. (Laughter)

Hell yeah…Get-er-done..(laughter)

Yep, once we started pumping out the water, we just went for it.
There was no stopping us. (Laughter). We got it drained, bucketed out and dried off and I was able to take a few runs. And the awesome thing was, right after that, I broke my bike down and got on a plane to California to go ride the Nude Bowl with Jason Enns and Keith Mulligan. It was a crazy day for sure.

Photo: Jeremy Pavia

That’s amazing..I had the pleasure of riding the Nude Bowl back in the early 90’s..Such an amazing pool..Lots of history there..Now continue with the story about the roof drop into the pool corner that happened here in Austin.

Okay, so, I get back to Austin from the Nude Bowl trip a couple weeks later and sure enough, that pool is still drained. And I tell Burns, “Okay, the spot is still running, I gotta make it happen”
And what’s rad is, on the day that I did it, I had just gotten done participating in a charity event that I helped put together for the Rosedale School, which is a school for special needs children in Austin. We had a charity bike ride and then a BMX show that had Brian Hunt, Morgan Wade, and Ruben Castillo riding. The entire event ended up raising a ton of money for the Rosedale School.

After that event was over, I was so stoked and jazzed up that I went to the pool and rolled in off the roof into the corner. It took a few runs to get fired up to do it, but I did it that day.

That is an absolutely amazing story. So awesome.

Yeah, that entire day is so memorable for me. It was a great day.
What makes it even more awesome is that there was a motorcycle club that had all pulled over right out in front of the motel where the pool was, I guess to wait on one of their pack or whatever, and they spotted me on the roof of the pool shed taking run up runs. They could tell what I wanted to do, and they all started cheering and telling me to go for it. I ended up doing it and they were all cheering and stoked. It was an amazing day for sure.

Hell yeah, that’s so rad…Now, let’s talk a little bit about the book that you were the subject of. It’s been out for a while now. It is titled “You Won’t”, and it’s photos and story’s about you riding 100 pools in what?, 10 years?

The book is a little under 10 years worth of photos and story’s about me riding 100 different pools. It turned out amazing and was such a fun project to be involved with. I was able to collaborate and work with Mark Lewman, Ryan Davis, Jared Souney and Mike Dailey, so it was pretty much a dream team. It was an amazing experience. Huge thanks to Ryan Davis for designing the book, and Justin Kosman for producing it and helping get it out there. Justin was extremely instrumental in the whole process of getting the book done. Big thanks to Chris Moeller at S&M, as well as Pro-Tec helmets also.

Photo: Jeff Allen

While we’re on the subject of pools, talk a little bit about the legendary Pink Motel pool out in California. You had a big party and jam there a few years ago.

The Pink Motel pool is obviously an iconic spot. It’s been there forever, since like the late ’70s or early ’80s. The Dogtown / Z boy skaters used to go there back in the day when it was still called The Fish Bowl. And then, of course, Powell-Peralta used to film a lot there with the Bones Brigade. It’s been featured in tons of skate videos, music videos, and magazines over the years. So, after I rode my 100th pool for the book, we wanted to have a big BMX pool party, blowout session somewhere. So, after a bunch of phone calls and stuff, we finally made it happen there. It was an amazing session and party, but the only bummer was that Ron Wilkerson and Chester Blacksmith both slammed really hard. Ron knocked out one of his front teeth, and Chester blew out his shoulder. My buddy Jason also took a gnarly slam to the face. But, other than that, it was a super fun event. Mike Dominguez was there, Eddie Fiola was there, Xavier Mendez was there. There were tons of people there. Jimmy LeVan was the MC. So yeah, it was a crazy fun event for sure.

You have obviously lived in Portland, Oregon for a long time and been a big part of the scene there. I know you have been involved in a lot of events and fund raising for Burnside. Everything I have ever heard about Burnside is that the old school skaters that helped create that place have, traditionally, been very anti-BMX. How did you bridge that gap and become accepted into that scene?

Well, I think first of all, you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem. Regardless of what the scene or situation is. Burnside is exactly like a set of BMX trails or a surf spot. If you’re just showing up to session all the time without actually helping out with maintenance, or not going to the city council meetings, you will not be considered a part of that scene. I don’t think the OG Burnside skater guys are necessarily anti-BMX, they just don’t like people who session the place and don’t help out in any way.

That’s understandable. And I think you comparing Burnside to BMX trails is a great comparison. It’s totally DIY, and if you ain’t helping, you are hurting.

Exactly…I’ve been involved with the Skatepark Leadership Advisory Team for Portland Parks and Recreation since my late teens, and I’ve been involved with a lot of the design aspects of the local skateparks in and around Portland. So, I think that goes a long way as far as the Portland skaters knowing who I am and knowing I’m involved with actually helping out with stuff.]

Well said….Now, as we wrap this interview up, speaking of the Portland scene..Talk about Shad “Shadillac” Johnson and his bike shop / mail order business Goods BMX and how important he is to not only the Portland BMX scene, but to BMX in general.

Shad is, obviously, an amazingly awesome guy. And he and Goods BMX have been the hub of the Portland and Northwestern BMX scene for a long time. He is a big time contributer to not only the Portland and Northwestern BMX scene, but to BMX in general.
People like Shad make BMX an awesome scene to be involved in.
He has such an amazing sense of community. He’s just awesome on so many levels.

Photo: Jeff Zielinski

Yes he is…Now, in closing, we’re gonna talk about your involvement with the Austin, Texas music festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest.
You were the primary organizer and manager for both the skate and BMX ramp demos for 2013, 2014, and 2015. Talk about being involved with that, and how awesome it was.

Well, first of all, I have to thank Brent Humphreys at Project Loop for getting me that gig. Brent was really stoked on the work I did with putting Texas Toast together in 2013, and he hooked me up with Fun Fun Fun Fest. Brent is an amazing guy and big thanks to him.

Hell yeah…I’ve never met Brent, but I know he and Project Loop do a lot of great things for skateparks in and around Austin, and I know he’s a big reason why Fun Fun Fun Fest had all those epic skate and BMX demos…Graham Williams, who was the creator and main dude for Fun Fun Fun Fest, is also a big supporter of the Austin BMX and skate scene.

Yeah, Graham Williams is definitely a big supporter of BMX and skating.

Yep…Its great to have people like that being so supportive of the scene. Graham and his new company, Margin Walker, have started a new music festival called Sound on Sound. It’s named after an old Big Boys skate song. I was granted media credentials to cover their first year this past November, and it was killer.
I had an absolute blast. I’d like to see the Volcom Super Collider ramp be brought out to the Sound on Sound venue next year.

Yeah, that would be amazing.

Well, Dean, I think we about covered everything. Big thanks to you for doing the interview. This was a lot of fun.

Thanks to you, Lee. I have always enjoyed reading your interviews and articles.

Hell yeah..Thanks, that means a lot…Cheers!

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One Response to Getting Loose With Lee // The Dean Dickinson Interview

  1. dean palacios says:

    rad dean remember learning vert riding

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