by Bill Batson
Before we had a skatepark, Nyack was home to one of the first skateboard teams in New York, The Wizards. Acclaimed photographer Charlie Samuels is launching an Indiegogo campaign to complete his documentary that will feature the Wizards and the Village of Nyack called Virgin Blacktop. There will be a fundraising party tonight, Tuesday, March 15 at Nyack’s Pour House, 102 Main Street from 6-9p to launch the online fundraising effort.
“It was the late 1970’s. I was 15 and in love for the first time with a magic device of artistic expression — my G&S Fibreflex skateboard,” Samuels wrote for nystakeboarding.com, where he is a contributor. ” Sometimes I’d lay my cheek on the blacktop and marvel at my translucent red “Road Rider 4” urethane wheels with sealed precision bearings. I skated alone in the Rockland Cemetery across the street from my house in Sparkill, NY, just twenty minutes from New York City. I was psyched when I found several diverse kids in the nearby Hudson River villages of Grand View and Nyack who shared my passion.”
“We loved skating on the basketball and tennis courts of Nyack’s Memorial Park. But when we saw pictures of skateboard parks in our Bible – Skateboarder Magazine – we dreampt of having our own right there. The setting is visually stunning: on the Hudson River with a view of the Tappan Zee Bridge. A few of us lobbied the powers-that-be and failed. Then, in 2010 Sarah Anderson created the ‘Nyack Needs A Skatepark’ Facebook page.” Samuels enthusiastically joined the effort to secure the park.
The Nyack Village trustees unanimously voted to support the addition of a state of the art public concrete skate plaza, of approximately 5,000 square feet, to Memorial Park in March 2013, after the community efforts of Nyack Needs a Skatepark to gather over 1,000 petition signatures and many Village Hall meetings packed with people of all ages and backgrounds.
Virgin Blacktop explores the lives of Samuels’ diverse skater crew that met in Rockland in 1977. “It’s been almost 40 years since we named ourselves the “Wizards” – we placed in State and National competitions and one of us went on to be the first pro skater in New York City. Now we are fathers and husbands and our lives have spun off in different directions, but we’ve stayed passionate about the sub-culture of skating.”
According the Sarah Anderson, there are many benefits to the four wheeled recreational vehicle that brought the Wizards together. “It’s outdoor recreational exercise and it’s really fun. You don’t have to belong to a team to participate, but it notoriously brings people together. It’s the 3rd most popular sport among youth ages 8-18, after football and basketball (SGMA study), but it is also inter-generational. In a time when we are all becoming increasingly sedentary and infused with our electronics, it is crucial that youth have a variety of healthy, social, physical activities. Skateboarding is one of them.”
Virgin Blacktop represents the culmination of 21 years of work for Samuels. After seeing some footage, Penelope Spheres, the director of Wayne’s World and Suburbia said “If your film has half the emotion of your trailer, you’ll have a festival darling on your hands.”
“Virgin Blacktop is a personal coming-of-age story about a crew of skateboarders from the New York City suburbs. We had almost nothing in common when we met in the 1970s — the amount of diversity we had on our crew was unheard of back then and we forged lifelong friendships,” said Samuels.
“I’m a professional photographer and filmmaker. I started my career shooting skateboarding and action sports for lots of magazines and I never stopped documenting the nine lives of the Wizards for this film,” Samuels said.
Click here to see the trailer.
To learn more or support Virgin Blacktop, visit Indiegogo.
There will be a fundraising party tonight, Tuesday March 15 at Nyack’s Pour House, 102 Main Street from 6-9p to launch the online fundraising effort. Clips from the film and slides from the 1970’s will be shown in the back room.
Saturday, April 2, there will be a throwback Hip-Hop party to benefit Nyack’s Skateboard Scholarship program at Prohibition River at 82 Main Street from 9p – 12a, $10 to enter, 21 years and up. DJ Stretch the Kid Chaos is guaranteed to get everyone out on the dance floor.
NyackNewsandViews, August 8, 2014 NYS Awards $100K To Nyack Skate Park Project
NyackNewsandViews, November 22, 2015 Nyack Has A Skate Park
NyackNewsAndViews, August 11, 2015, Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Skate Park
An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Sketch Log: Skateboard Wizards“ © 2016 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.