15 Things: Hosoi
15 Things you Didn’t Know About Christian Hosoi
words: Kevin Craft
1. Christian had an early affinity for heights. At 11 months old, Christian’s mom often discovered him poised on top of the toilet seat. By 18 months, he was horrifying other mothers at the park by climbing to the highest spot on the jungle gym. Stunned onlookers would accuse Christian’s mom of negligent parenting because of her son’s daredevil antics. He’d often stay up in the tallest tree all day at school and his parents would have to come and coax him down. Christian explains, “I always wanted to be in the sky.”
2. Christian’s first skateboard was shaped by his father, Ivan, an avid surfer and surfboard shaper. He shaped the board to resemble a Gerry Lopez Pipeline model surfboard. “It was red with a sharp nose and square tail and a silver lightning bolt,” says Christian. A friend of the family provided the wheels and trucks as a birthday gift. Ivan was also an accomplished artist who incorporated triangles in much of his work. He put this signature twist on Christian’s rising sun graphic, then replaced the sun with a circle to create the famous Hammerhead graphic.
3. Skateboard World in Torrance, California, was the first skatepark Christian ever skated. He and his father discovered the park when looking through Skateboarder Magazine. “We checked where the nearest park was and went there,” says Christian. “It was in ’77, before Marina.”
4. Hosoi’s father was the manager of the Marina Skatepark. Christian was 10 and immediately became the ultimate skate rat, murdering the park on a daily basis. With his dad in charge, Christian had free reign of the video games and snack shop, plus unlimited access to supplies from the pro shop. Essentially, this was his first shop sponsor and the place where he honed his legendary skills.
5. Christian was only 11 when he had his first photo in a magazine: a frontside ollie at the Marina Del Rey skatepark taken by legendary skateboard photographer Ted Terrebonne for the June 1980 issue of Skateboarder. He would go on to fill the skate mags, adorn numerous covers, win countless contests, travel the world and break many world records during the next decade.
6. Christian rode for the Bones Brigade before it became famous. While riding for Powell, he realized he was ready to go pro. Powell disagreed. Christian went on to get his first pro board with Sims.
7. Christian was the third skateboarder to own his own company while still competing professionally. Tony Alva was the first. Brad Bowman was the second.
8. Hosoi revolutionized skateboard design with his “fish” shape, then later with the unique Hammerhead shape. The Hammerhead design was sought by many and consequently bootlegged and sold by at least three different companies. Eventually, Christian created an ad with the slogan, “The Real Hosoi Hammerhead.”
9. In 1989 at the Lotte Cup contest in Japan, Hosoi won both the street and vert contests. He pocketed $14,400 for this feat, an unheard of amount of money and by far the largest payday for any skateboarder at the time.
10. During his heyday, Christian rented a luxurious hilltop estate off Sunset Boulevard, once home to movie star W.C. Fields, for $2,300 a month. “I was looking for a place, and my dad happened to see that W.C. Fields’ house was open, so we just did it.” Christian lived at the extravagant home for three and a half years.
11. In the 1980s and early ’90s, Christian was a straight-up celebrity. He would roll to the hottest clubs in Hollywood with 10 of his closest friends and never have to wait in line. Walking past models and actors, he would say his name and the doors would open.
12. Christian invented many moves, such as the backside crossbone air and the rocket air. The Christ air, a maneuver simulating the effigy of Jesus on the cross while flying through the air, was arguably Christian’s most famous signature move. Ironically, when he invented this move he didn’t know about Christianity or Jesus Christ, which are now the most important aspects of his life.
13. Christian never quit skating but fell into obscurity during the late 1990s due to legal problems. He wouldn’t attend demos or contests because he didn’t want to risk being taken to jail by bounty hunters.
14. Christian received his high school diploma while in prison in Hawaii on drug charges. He also completed many bible study courses and gained numerous certificates for his biblical knowledge. Christian got married while incarcerated and contributes his successful journey through the penal quagmire to his loving wife, Jennifer. “Her love kept me strong during the worst times,” he says. The couple is about to celebrate their fourth anniversary. Recently, Christian’s 7-year-old son did the math and told Skateboarder that Jennifer was in preschool when Christian was 15 years old.
15. Christian never sustained any major injuries during his pro career, but unfortunately suffered a knee injury while working out in prison. He didn’t know how severe the injury was until the pain continued to aggravate him after his release. Recently, Christian and Danny Way had knee surgery on the same day. The two are recovering and anxious to skate DC’s Mega Ramp together.