MIKE VALLELY • Most Metal Athlete
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

“When I was in sixth grade I fought Cesar Gaona and lost badly. I knew I’d lose, he knew I’d lose, the whole school knew I’d lose, but I fought that motherfucker anyway. That’s about all you really need to know about me.” – Mike Vallely

In Nathaniel Hawthorn’s, The Scarlet Letter, a young woman named Hester Pyrnne was adorned with the mark of an outcast among her Puritan village – a letter “A” that was to forever be present on her attire as a symbol of her indiscretion for all to see. It was a mark that identified her place in population for the remainder of her life – and as the story ends; the letter “A” was ultimately inscribed on her tombstone to remain for eternity

Since the inception of his career in professional skateboarding in 1986, Mike Vallely (“Mike V”) has also worn a letter for his unorthodox style of skating – the letter “V” that not only identifies his uncompromising nature, but also displays his relentless appetite for skateboarding and inner-pressure to evolve as both athlete and man. Mike’s letter is a letter of respect – from his peers, from those who follow his footprints, from his fans. His proven evolution has taken the once prodigy skater who created many of the tricks and fundamentals that have paved the realm of skateboarding into a league of his own. Mike has lived a successful career by remaining true to his spirit as both soulful street skater and competitive athlete. His success has contributed to all facets of today’s sport from competitions, industry, and into the streets. Mike stands alone in his category but represents all of skateboarding. Those who wish to bear a symbol of independence, authenticity and pride can wear the letter “V”.

Most Metal Athlete – The third annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards presented at Club Nokia in Downtown Los Angeles recently awarded Mike as Most Metal Athlete for his epic career in the sport and his undeniably-metal and assertive approach to life. The event included performance including Avenged Sevenfold, Alice Cooper, and DevilDriver with a special vocal appearance by Mike. Highlights from the Revolver Golden Gods Awards will be broadcast on VH1 Classic on Saturday, May 28. Revolver will release a special Golden Gods issue of the magazine on May 24. The Golden Gods issue will include exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and interviews, most notably Mike Vallely’s post-acceptance speech interview where he had a run-in with Star Trek’s William Shatner, also acknowledged for his honorary Metalness.

“I had just won the award, performed with Devil Driver and then walked off the stage and saw William Shatner. I was on Cloud Nine, man. He walked right up to me and said, “You look like you’re in top form!” I really was.”

Fans chose the winner by voting online prior to the event. Nominees for Most Metal Athlete were:Chris Cole (pro skateboarding) Dan Hardy (Mixed Martial Arts) Toni Lydman (NHL hockey) The Miz (WWE wrestling) Jeremy Shockey (NFL football) & Mike Vallely (pro skateboarding).

“I don’t win a lot of shit. So, to be acknowledged and then win at the age of forty was pretty fucking cool, man. It meant a lot to me. I took it as something very significant, an acknowledgement of a lifetime of commitment to a certain vibe and attitude.”

GORUCK Challenge – Winning Most Metal Athlete has inspired Mike to continue pushing himself beyond his limits by training and participating in the GORUCK Challenge – a nationwide Green Beret led challenge that will span 15-20 miles and include a collective of mentally and physically exhausting conditioning routines. Some of the proceeds go the Green Beret Foundation. Mike attributes his readiness for the challenge to the ability of his personal trainer Scot Prohaska to provide the conditioning he will need to complete the event. “By the time he completes the GORUCK Challenge,” said Prohaska, “there won’t be anything that those Green Berets can do to Mike that I haven’t already done to him.” The GORUCK Challenge will take place on May 27, 2011 in Las Vegas, beginning at 6:00pm.

Publisher’s Note: Revolt In Style feature-writer Eric Hendrikx will be doing the GORUCK Challenge with Mike Vallely as well as writing a feature on the event for an forthcoming lifestyle piece to be featured in Revolt In Style Magazine. Hendrikx has been training with Vallely in preparation for the event.

By no means does Mike’s Green Beret training indicate a shift in his passion for skateboarding. In fact, at age 41, he will reenter the world of competitive skateboarding this summer with scheduled appearances at contests in Italy, England and Prague. As a street skater, Mike stands alone, as his reentry into the competitive arena at his age is unprecedented.

“Competitive skateboarding, although never my forte or where I chose to put the emphasis in my career, has been something I actually have always valued. I think my stance on contests has been misinterpreted through the years as I’ve purposely moved away from them. But as a skater who still strives to push himself, I see the competitive arena as a place where I would like to return again for myself individually and also where I feel I can once again add something to the story and where I feel I can still contribute. With that being said, I’m really looking forward to getting overseas and making the rounds again, it’s been a long time. I only skate because I love it. I don’t feel any external pressures making me feel like I have to do anything. I don’t allow those kinds of pressures to affect me. But I do have internal pressures to push myself. That’s just me. I always have to put myself in environments and arenas where it’s balls to the wall.”

Mike has appeared as a major skateboard character in the highly successful Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game series, in which the fifth game in the series was based on Mike’s career.

Mike appeared in the movie The Hangover as Alan’s friend Neeco, delivering tuxedos from a van on the freeway.

Mike has been lead singer in several bands since 1985 including Mike V and the Rats, Revolution Mother as well as three solo albums.

Out side of skateboarding, Mike has held professional career in music, film, television, stuntman work, professional wrestling and FHL hockey.

Mike is a board member of the Tony Hawk Foundation, which helps fund skateparks nationwide.

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

By Eric Hendrikx

Last week while packing my bags for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico I loaded my carry-on with the sun basking essentials: trunks, sandals, a pocketful of Mexican pesos to tip a margarita slinging waiter, and the perfect book to find solace in my literary bubble surrounded by salty azure waters. I picked the latest book from Neil Strauss – Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead; a collection of twenty years of celebrity interviews he conducted during his tenure at the New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine. From Snoop Dogg to Johnny Cash, Madonna to Led Zeppelin, Mike Tyson to Paul McCartney (the staggering list of celebrities goes on) Strauss reveals deep moments of truth found within the words of his interviewees, painting imagery of their anger, comedy, confusion, vivid notions of death. These moments of validity, path, and enlightenment thread organically throughout the book and materialize just when you need them to.

Amply-packed and standing by to board a south-of-the-border bound flight I got on the phone with Neil to talk about his newest literary endeavor. Amidst his promotional book tour he spared time to highlight the extraordinary span of his books’ themes.


HENDRIKX: You’ve written six going on seven New York Times bestsellers. What has been the most thrilling book for you to write?

STRAUSS: Marilyn Manson’s book was definitely the most fun to write because there was a ton of fucking partying and craziness surrounding him all the time. I was writing for the New York Times during that period and I would wake up on the couch each morning with the remains of excess and decadence all around me.

HENDRIKX: To what extent did you integrate yourself into the band when you wrote your next book The Dirt?

STRAUSS: Completely. And not just on tour with them but also with each member of the band and their own personal world – interviews with Vince Neil in the Vanna room, with Nikki Sixx at his place, with Mick Mars at his place on the outskirts of Los Angeles, with Tommy Lee at his post-Pamela place in Malibu. I would see each of them individually and then as they came together as Mötley Crüe. Of all the biographies I’ve written, that one took the longest because they were the most dysfunctional.

HENDRIKX: The Dirt reads as four completely separate biographies because each chapter is told by only one member of the band.

STRAUSS: The challenge was that I had to do an autobiography of a band and yet I had never read a band autobiography before. So I reached out for a book as my literary model, which I do for all my books. For The Dirt my literary model was As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, where each section of the book is written by a different brother on this inane journey to bury their dead mother. Along the way you see it from each different brother’s perspective, whether it’s the headstrong brother who was kind of like Nikki Sixx or the more layback brother who is similar to Tommy Lee.
I had rules that everyone had to abide by to make it work. One rule was that you can’t read anyone else’s section until it was done – they could only read their own sections. The other rule was that once you had the chance to read the entire book you could not change anything in anyone else’s section. However, you could respond to it in your own section. They stuck to the rules I laid out and I think that’s one of the reasons why the book carried that integral conflict that is truth to how a band relates.

HENDRIKX: Most memorable moment during the writing of The Dirt?

STRAUSS: I’d say it was before I started the book, the moment I first met them and also the moment they got arrested. I was walking backstage to greet the band for the first time and the security guards were calling the police on them because of some violence during the show. I ran back to warn them but it was coincidently Nikki’s birthday and he thought it was a birthday prank. The police came and arrested them; Tommy Lee was still in his leather shorts from being on stage. And as they were being led out, two things let me know how cool this band was: One was that Vince Neil did not stop blow drying his hair throughout the whole arrest. Like, that’s just how often they get arrested. And secondly, as they were being walked out in handcuffs by three or four police officers, two fans came up to them with a copy of Shout at the Devil and asked the guys to autograph it. Like, they were so used to seeing them in handcuffs that it didn’t deter them from asking for an autograph.

HENDRIKX: And you kept the rockstar theme by rolling right into a biography with Dave Navarro?

STRAUSS: Yes, I lived with Dave for a year while he was basically shooting up cocaine every fifteen minutes and doing heroine every three hours. That’s a dark fuckin’ book, man.
HENDRIKX: What was the most memorable moment while working with Jenna Jameson?

STRAUSS: Sitting in her place in Scottsdale, Arizona while she was telling me about her acting abilities in porn films. Then, sitting there with Jenna and watching her porn films as she fast forwarded through all the sex scenes so that we could watch her acting parts. In fact, while working with Jenna, I actually wrote a porn script for her that won an award for Best Movie of the Year at AVN.

HENDRIKX: In The Game, why is it important to insult a girl after giving her a few compliments if you’re interested in gaining her attention?

STRAUSS: The Game is the most misunderstood book I’ve written. Insulting a girl is not important. What is important is that if you approach a woman who is often hit on and she is not already attracted to you, then it is highly important to actively demonstrate that you are not hitting on her. If you are a male approaching a super attractive woman in a bar or nightlife situation, there is a fine line to walk in order to show her that you are not hitting on her, where she might feel like getting away, or more likely, her friends would try to protect her from you hitting on her. The correct approach is to be more comfortable and treat her more like how an older brother treats a younger sister. It sends a message that you really don’t give a fuck, even though you really do. Insulting her would be stupid. An insult to a beautiful woman is the same as a compliment – it’s just a guy trying too hard.

The goal is not to compliment her either but to buy yourself an opportunity to compliment her later. A guy walking right up to a girl and saying “You’re pretty” is the same as if he just walked right up to her and said “I want to have sex with you.” You want to show her that you’re not after her by carefully teasing her and ignoring her, just like you might in a group with your younger sister. And then later, after you get to know her and find out who she is and you talk a little bit and connect, that’s when you’ve bought yourself the credibility to pay her the compliment.

HENDRIKX: Jenna’s book came before The Game. Had you been developing any of these pick up techniques at that point in time? Was the temptation to use them on Jenna Jameson tempting.

STRAUSS: Right, I never used the techniques on Jenna for two reasons: One, since we were working together, I always respect that relationship. I always desexualize anyone I’m working with. And secondly, she was married at the time. I did use them on her pornstar friends and it worked out well. I would get them interested, get them into the friend zone, and then finally it would just work.

HENDRIKX: Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead comes off as a collection of celebrity interviews as well as an autobiography.

STRAUSS: Exactly. The book is covertly my autobiography of twenty years of my life as I was interviewing different rockstars and pop stars while traveling around the world to do so. At the same time, I keep myself out of the actual interviews as much as possible because I wanted to get to find out something about these huge icons and see who they are when their walls come down.

HENDRIKX: So you went through years of tapes of interviews and retranslated them?

STRAUSS: Yeah man, The Game was a really intense book and then I did another intense book about survival called Emergency, where I spent two years literally learning how to rebuild civilization by oneself if necessary. Both subjects were so intense I thought I would just do this book as a break, a collection of my favorite articles I’ve written, that I could toss together in like two months. Instead, I got caught up on this concept of finding these moments of truth within the interviews where we could really see into the soul and workings of each person I interviewed. The book ended up taking me two years to write. I had the transcriber notate every cough, every pause, any change in tonality, background noise, interruptions, everything. Then after going through them with a fine-toothed comb, I found these great moments, some of which I had completely missed first time around.

HENDRIKX: How has writing ELYWYD changed your life?

STRAUSS: What I can see is my own development, not just as a writer, but as a person. When I was doing these interviews I was asking a lot of questions that I was trying to figure out at the time. So like when I interviewed Led Zeppelin for example, Page and Plant actually, I was a really young and nervous reporter who had maybe slept with two girls in his whole life. To me these guys were just as important musically as they were sexually, because you know, I had read Hammer of the Gods. At one point during the interview Jimmy Page stopped me and asked, “Do you have any questions that don’t involve sex?”

I could see through the interviews the things that I was grappling with at the time. It was a series of interviews by a guy who went from being made fun of for being naïve and young to a guy that many of those musicians look to for advice on their careers and lives. It was really interesting and rewarding to listen to that transformation.

HENDRIKX: Is that evident in ELYWYD? What is the chronology?

STRAUSS: I leave dates out of my books because books are permanent. They’re not like articles which come and go. They are more about storytelling. I arranged all the articles in ELYWYD thematically and through connective tissue without regard for the timelines or dates. It’s not a rock history book. To me it’s about the people and humanity. It’s written so that even if a person who picks up the book doesn’t know a single musician in it, the hope is that they still find it  a page-turner.

HENDRIKX: I love Snoop Dogg interviews where you were riding along with him to go get diapers while conducting the interview.

STRAUSS: I like the Snoop Dogg interview because it’s just so honest and it’s a part of him that no one has ever seen. He’s so angry during the interview but it’s what was going on at the time with him and his business.

Also, you’ll see at the end of the book Act Ten is really poignant because I talk to a lot of people near the end of their lives, some just before death. I talked to musicians who found out they had cancer and only had a little bit left to live. I spoke to one musician who had just had a stroke and was only able to utter a couple of words. So yeah, the end of the book really gets to the heart of why we are here, what’s it all for and deeper topics like that.

HENDRIKX: Did your mom read the Marilyn Manson book?

STRAUSS: Yeah, the only book I was scared to have my parents read was The Game. I tore a couple of pages out before I gave them a copy. It’s one thing to imagine Marilyn Manson doing those things, because he’s not their son. Imagining me doing it is another story.

HENDRIKX: I’m headed to Mexico. Is there any advice you want to impart on me maybe from your book Emergency that might help me?

STRAUSS: You can get kidnapping insurance. [laughs] You should be fine man. In most vacation spots you don’t even know that there are bodies in the streets elsewhere. So yeah, enjoy your trip!

Books by Neil Strauss:

The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson with Neil Strauss

Don’t Try This at Home: A Year in the Life of Dave Navarro with Neil Strauss

The Dirt: The Autobiography of Mötley Crüe with Neil Strauss

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson with Neil Strauss

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss

Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss

Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead by Neil Strauss

Follow Neil Strauss on twitter @NeilStrauss

Follow Eric Hendrikx on twitter @EricHendrikx