Teddi Bennett is a part of the Bones Brigade legacy. Many skateboarders remember him as the long blonde haired sidekick of David Z in the old Powell Peralta advertisements. They may also recall his head high BS airs, flowing style and big ollies. Teddi grew up a surf rat in Huntington Beach. His mom raised him but as Teddi recalls – “I was raised on the beach. I grew up surfing and skating around town.” Teddi told me that he quickly found the Sidewalk Surf skate park in Fountain Valley and just as quickly found himself riding for a local skate shop & Vans shoes. “Everett Rosecrans was the manager and I rode in demos with his sons. We did demos up and down the state. We also performed demos at Knott’s Berry Farm & Magic Mountain all through my Junior High school years around 1976 and 1977.” Teddi was skating at Skatopia weekly and competing in contests. Towards the end of the Hester Series, he found himself competing at the Upland skate park. It was a Pro-Am contest and Teddi remembers receiving 6th place.
Shortly after that contest, Stacy phoned him up. Teddi recalls – “I knew that Stacy seemed to choose guys in pairs. On Powell Peralta, he had Foss and Caballero, McGill and Gelfand, Godfrey and Jesiolowski… he invited me and David Z to come stay with him in Los Angeles before the next contest. We went and stayed at Stacy’s house and then drove to the Colton keyhole contest together. I received 3rd place at the contest. David Z fell–i think–as he was just going bio! We both skated like that. We never skated conservatively. We tried really hard.”
Shortly after that contest, Teddi found himself on the Bones Brigade. He doesn’t really recall the specifics. He told me off-handedly that one day he just realized that he was on. Teddi told me that the team traveled together to contests. He has awesome memories of the Bones Brigade showing up at a park or a contest — in Stacy’s Volvo — and going in to shred. “Being in the Bones Brigade, I felt validated. I felt like I belonged. They were a big part of my extended family. Stacy was so positive and optimistic. He always said that we had to look at the bright side of things.”
Powell Peralta made some pretty neat advertisements for the Bones Brigade. C.R. Stecyk III was a visionary and played a huge part in the aesthetic… he is a master at deceiving the eye. He makes you want to see the story behind the story. The Bones Brigade ads were unique because many of them had nothing what-so-ever to do with skateboarding at all. Teddi spoke of an early one that he was involved with. “I recall that we drove pretty far one day. We went to an old military base that Stecyk knew about. We drove through the afternoon and pulled up next to a huge fence. There were big airplanes and bombers on the tarmac and we saw a hole in the fence. We walked through and Stecyk started shooting photographs. It was Tim Scroggs, Scott Foss, Stacy and Caballero and me. After awhile, this guy cruises up in a golf cart and he asked- “How did you guys get in here? What are you doing?” Stacy answered and the guy then calmly pointed to a nearby line on the asphalt and stated tersely “Good thing you didn’t cross that line. You could have been shot!” We were like…. damn!”
Teddi told me of Bones Brigade contest trips. He related a story about going to Del Mar to stay with Kevin Staab. “The team was pretty much complete. Stacy went to a Swedish skate camp but had put Jay Smith in charge, mostly because he had a car & could drive us all. We went to San Diego for the Oasis contest in Jay’s Malibu. It had our surfboards on top. It was myself, David Z, Foss, Caballero, McGill and Godfrey… we were all crammed in, sitting on top of each other. Jay had neon-blue hair and we kept getting pulled over… chaos! Jay always made Stacy and the rest of us laugh. He was pretty crazy! ” Teddi laughed at the memories.
I asked him to talk more about the contests. Teddi told me that at the time, the Gold Cup contests were going on. He also remembered that they had to do compulsory runs. He said – “Although I was too young to really understand the way contests were run, I always thought it was strange that guys like Steve Olson and Steve Alba had to do compulsory runs. I mean, Steve Alba won the first pool contest ever, had lines in the Combi that nobody else could even do…. and someone wasn’t going to let him compete because he might not be able to pull an invert in his compulsory run!? That just never felt right to me at all…. ”
Then came the down turn. Like so many others from that golden era, Teddi found himself witnessing the closings of parks, friends disappearing from skateboarding and the general demise of a once-wonderful thing. He sadly related that – “At one time, I would be competing against twenty riders and I soon found myself against maybe eight skaters. Parks were closing. It was sad. After Marina closed, I started having to go to Whittier to practice. It was difficult to get there sometimes. My last contest was actually at Whittier. It was a Turkey Shoot contest. It was only a few Ams like- Blender, Lance, me and some others. The parks were finished, contest participation was dwindling and the industry was going down hill. One night I drove to the Whittier skate park. I arrived after dark and padded up. It was virtually empty and I carved around a bit. I went up and did a tail tap and my tail slid out. I slammed and found myself laying on the bottom of the bowl looking up at the night sky. I recall wondering what I was doing. The scene was done and the energy was gone. I took my pads off and went home.”
Teddi Bennett barely rode for the next few years. Being a surfer from an early age, he began surfing competitively and watched skateboarding from afar. Periodically, he would see Ray Bones Rodriguez or Steve Olson in the water and they would talk about skating. It was always the same. No skate parks, scattered backyard ramps and an industry virtually no-existent. Teddi moved on.
Teddi eventually went to college and studied biology. He moved to northern California to further his education at Berkeley and finished his studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. He studied film there and has completed some feature film work and has participated at film festivals in the U.S. and Europe. He has led a varied and introspective life… unencumbered by possessions, his past or a worry about his place in the grand scheme of things. He currently delves deeply into Buddhism and maintains physical fitness and tranquility with yoga. He resides in San Francisco.
Thank you to Teddi Dean Bennett for the images and the memories. Skate- Ozzie