Ten years ago, to try and make his love for New York skateboarding translatable, Alex Corporan (with the help of Ivory Serra and Andre Razo) published Full Bleed: New York City Skate Photography, a hefty book of photos with no text, chronology or page numbers.
When you open Full Bleed, each photo has such strong associations and connections that a story starts to develop as you turn the pages. This story is aggressive and brutal one moment, then tender and communal the next. There are instances of grief, elation, spontaneity and triumph, but whether you pore over every image, or passingly look at a page or two, the book most effectively serves as a reminder that New York City is constantly redefining itself, and that the only way to make the most of it is to walk out your door and live in it, preferably with a skateboard in hand.
This month, Alex is publishing a 10th anniversary edition of Full Bleed with 96 extra pages and an introduction by Tony Hawk. I sat down with him to chat about his extensive skate history and get his take on the 10th anniversary reissue.
You’re a downtown guy, but you’re from uptown, right?
I grew up in Washington Heights and my crew was all uptown kids. I grew up with Freddy Valerio, Gizmo, Justin Pierce, Loki, Mike Hernandez, and a bunch of others. We called ourselves SES posse, which was the “Sleep, Eat and Skate” posse. We were so young so it felt cool to be in a crew. We would meet up at my house on 186th street, hit the hills a little, and then skate Bennett Park and Fort Tryon Park. But in less than a year, we started venturing down to the Harlem Banks and soon enough we found out about the Brooklyn Banks, which was where everyone came together from all the boroughs.
It didn’t seem like the Brooklyn Banks belonged to any single crew like some spots.
It was almost too perfect for any one group. We showed up from uptown and were amazed like, “How is this here?” I would see perfect ramps in magazines, but they’re all in California. It was a given that we were never going to have anything that good. But then you go downtown, and, like magic, there was this perfect brick wave that looked like it was built for skateboarding and, on top of that, there were all these other skaters.
There are great photos of the Brooklyn Banks in Full Bleed. Can you tell me about the Rodney Smith photo of him trying to grab the guy’s tail?
Rodney did this thing called chase the tail and would do that to everyone: go right behind you and try to grab your tail. Rodney’s energy was always to skate fast and do a lot of carving and look good doing it. They always seemed so much older to me; Bruno Musso, Rodney Smith, and Big Jim seemed like giants. We’re only like three years apart, but back then they seemed like full-grown men to me.
Rodney Smith and Mike Kepper by Bryce Kanights, 1989
Full story 'Full Bleed' 10yr Anniversary on-