Speed Wheels Stories: A Conversation with Michael Sieben
Coinciding with are recent feature in our Fall 2021 quarterly on the Art of the Speed Wheels and the current exhibition, The Art of the Santa Cruz Speed Wheel on view at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History through January 2, 2022, we will spend the next few months dipping into the Santa Cruz skate archives and speak with the designers, artists, skaters and team managers who were influenced and shaped by the era and designs. Today, we speak with artist and Juxtapoz contributor, Michael Sieben.
Lee Charron: When you first encountered Santa Cruz Speed Wheels as a kid, what was your impression of what it was?
Michael Sieben: My impression of it was that it was totally disgusting which was exactly what I was looking for as twelve-year-old kid. I think that would’ve also been the time that I was reading MAD magazine and looking at Garbage Pail Kids. I loved anything that my parents would not like. I was really drawn to gross things like that. So, for me Speed Wheels were the wheels I wanted.
Was there a particular ad that you remember as a kid where you were like “woah, that’s disgusting.”
It was Ricky Windsor drinking an ash tray full of just vomit and mouse bones. That one for sure really stood out to me, I didn’t know if it was real or not, but I just thought it was so gross and so cool at the same time.
Yeah, because there’s also Roskopp puking minestrone soup. Did you ride Speed Wheels?
I had some Slimeballs, I was either Rat Bones or Slimeballs. I think my stepbrother had some OJ Street Razors.
They were putting out Hosoi Rockets also under Speed Wheels, OJ’s also under Speed Wheels, Bullet wheels also.
I definitely had Slimeballs, and I don’t even know if they were second hand, I definitely had some, it’s hard to remember where I even got gear back then.
It is interesting that the wheel playing field was so small, it was either you were riding Bones wheels, or you were riding Speed Wheels. How about the impression that the Speed Freaks video had on you?
At that time, my friends and I only had a few videos and that was one of them, so I literally watched that video no less than a few hundred times. I think Mike V’s part at that time was my favorite part and Natas. All the street skating stuff stood out from everybody, we had no vert ramps, so the vert footage was kind of whatever... for me.
Anything else about Speed Wheels you wanted to add.
To this day I’m a huge Jim Phillips fan so those wheels and just the ads and the art and everything about it. I was just really drawn to how detailed all of it was and I really like that there was a lot going on in the ads, like in the drawing. They were perfect because you could like really study the ads and look at all the cool drawings and illustration techniques and to this day I'll still go back and look at those ads, I just think they're really cool. It's crazy to think about in the modern age just spending that much time on an ad. There was so much effort put into each individual ad, I just appreciated how much time and energy went into those things. I was thinking about how crazy those ads were- there’s people vomiting and maggots and razor blades and they’re just so gross and to think about what your average skateboarding ad looks like now and how tamed ads look now compared to that. What I liked about those ads is that they were so gross. Again, my parents would’ve hated those, so I thought they were so cool.
The Art of the Santa Cruz Speed Wheel will be on view at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History through January 2, 2022. Throughout the fall, go to Juxtapoz.com for exclusive stories from the skaters, artists and brand managers on the history of Speed Wheels.