I’ve stumbled across enough couch-surfing skaters over the years to constitute a decently sized scraggly-haired army, but for whatever reason, Lizard King always stood out. We first met at the old Hellrose apartment in Fullerton; Neil Young’s Harvest was spinning on the record player, and this bedraggled looking lurker – half-burnt joint in one hand, shrouded in smoke and surrounded by beer cans – was lazing on the floor. Don ‘Nuge’ Nguyen introduced us: “That’s Lizard King. He’s from Salt Lake. Fool rips.”
“That ain’t Jim Morrison. What’s his real fucking name?” I immediately thought to myself, perplexed that not only one, but two Hellrose residents had adopted prominent rock star monikers.
This was about seven years ago, and while Lizard was sponsor-less, 700 miles from home, and living off PBR and foosball, Neil Young’s ‘Are You Ready For The Country?’ perfectly soundtracked the scene. Here we are now and I couldn’t give two shits what his real name is. Lizard King’s not only ready for the country – he’s ready for the world.
“If you just go all out, you’ll have fun,” says the 25-year-old. “You just gotta hesh it out. You just say yes – that’s what you do. There’s no other option. I even have ‘Yes!’ tattooed on my arm.”
It was this ‘anything goes’ attitude that brought Lizard to Southern California in the first place. Nuge remembers his precipitous arrival well: “He was friends with [skater] DJ Chavez. Me and DJ picked him up from the airport. Then we went to Hellrose and he didn’t leave for like three years.” But that’s how Lizard rolls; never planning his future, he takes what comes his way, even if it means crashing on a crusty cigarette-burnt couch for three years.
But it’s this unruliness that makes his personality so magnetic.TransWorld SKATEboarding recently awarded him the prestigious 2010 Reader’s Choice Award. It’s a formal indication of loyalty from kids around the world – Lizard amassed more reader votes than any other pro. But he’s not getting carried away with the hype: “It’s just tight that a bunch of fools voted for me. I think it’s nuts.”
And while Lizard’s rash antics and outspoken loyalty to Lucifer might make him the least reverent role model off the board (he’s got enough Satan tattoos to keep all but the most persistent of Salt Lake City’s Mormon missionaries from knocking), he undoubtedly kills it on the board. Check out his footage for instant reassurance. Frontside noseslide Hollywood 16? Kickflip firecracker Santa Monica Triple Set? If that doesn’t hush the skeptics, he even aired Bob Burnquist’s backyard mega ramp the morning after drunkenly claiming he could do it to Pierre-Luc Gagnon, all whilst hungover and coming down from ecstasy – just to keep his word. Can’t hate on that.
It’s easy for outsiders to view his hijinx as a desperate cry for attention, but in reality, Lizard’s just got too much life – like an Energizer bunny with a drug problem: “It’s like I’ve got a permanent battery in and it just recharges. As long as I keep moving, it keeps charging. When I stop, it gives me a jolt of energy and I just start going all over again.”
Perhaps pro skater Gareth Stehr describes Lizard best: “Lizard is as Lizard does.” That is, to know Lizard is to read his interviews and watch his skating – no more, no less. No contrived publicity stunts, no bullshit. Everything you see is Lizard through and through.
“He’s been the exact same since day one,” explains Nuge. “He’s always been a loose cannon.” And I can vouch for it myself; Lizard’s the same jovial, bright-eyed, piled-out kid I met seven years ago – only now he’s a suitable heir to Jim Morrison’s throne. That, and he can actually afford the round of PBRs. All hail the new King.