Brandon Bonner, aka Bonestalone, mastered the art of skateboarding in the historic town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Stalone got on Natural Koncept in the summer of 2007 and quickly moved up from the back of the van to sitting shotgun all all U.S. tours—turning pro in 2013. AriZona Iced Tea created an official team and upped the ante by taking the squad on global tours giving Brandon the opportunity to throw down NBDs in cities like Paris, Mexico City and Santo Domingo. I’m honored to call Bonestalone one of my best friends and by far the gnarliest skateboarder I’ve ever witnessed in person. Stalone and I hopped on a call to chat about some of his wildest tricks over the past 13 years.

Interview by Josh Zickert

How you doing this evening Stalone?

I’m a little stoned and a little sleepy.

That seems like a good zone.

But I’m also healthy and low stress.

That’s nice. Have you been getting a chance to skate during this pandemic at all?

I’ve gotten out a couple times, but more of just trampoline skateboarding.

Cool. Didn’t you go to West Virginia recently?

I did go to West Virginia to get away from the population.

Did you guys find some good spots?

It was tight. I want to go back to Morgantown, West Virginia because the spots there for skateboarding look just ridiculous.

Wow, cool. I kind of just wanted to jump right into the Canadian embassy. How did that come about? Did you just drive over to to D.C. and handle it? What happened with that history-making Ollie?

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Photo Credit: Justin Reiff

The first to conquer the Canadian Embassy stairs in Washington DC.

The Canadian Embassy came about just from watching older skate clips of local shredders and shit. There was a bunch of people trying it and everybody knew I was a hucker, so my boy Patrick kept bringing it up to me that I should go for it. I kept joking around saying I was gonna try it. One day we were hanging at Magic Bullet and I said I was gonna try it and Patrick kind of bucked back and said, “I don’t think you will.” I ended up having to step up that day. We rode down there on a whim, and I rode away second try.

Damn, that’s unreal. Who moved the gates and stuff?

My boy John LaVeck had the tools so he handled the gate while I got all amped up at the bottom and did my own thing around the corner while everyone set up their cameras and shit. Then they got it all set up and I was just ready to jump right in there and do my thing.

That Ollie was heard far and wide. You and your crew definitely know how to handle these types of one or two-chance epic spots.

It was definitely a surreal situation, people lined down the block watching and shit.

Yeah, the footage is unreal.

After my first attempt everybody on the street was like, “What the hell is going on?”

Did you land on your board?

Yeah, I stuck it, and I just fell forward because I got wheel bite.

And so you just regrouped, ran back up and just landed it?

Yeah, my adrenaline was going. Immediately after the first try, I went right for it again and it worked out.

Did you just drive back to Fredericksburg after that?

Yup. I drove back and went to work.

Wow.

Yeah, we drove back, and on the way back we smoked the victory blunt, and then went right into work. Than I got sent home early because my leg gave out—my adrenaline was pumping so much, so my left knee kept giving out on me while I was working, so I had to go home.

Gnarly. Hey, let’s talk about that pop shove-it at Love Park. Was that the final day of its existence?

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Photo Credit: Tim Snyder

Pop shove-it on LOVE’s last days.

I think that was like the final day. The last week for sure.

Because in the footage I saw Tyshawn and Strobeck there too, so it seemed like quite a day to be in Philly.

A bunch of people showed up from the adidas team to get in the final moves on that joint, it was definitely a big session.

Tim Snyder shot the photo?

Tim Snyder did shoot the photo, one of the last skate missions Tim was on.

That’s so sick. Did you go to LOVE with the idea of doing the pop shove-it? What were you thinking on that four-hour drive to Philly?

I went there with the idea of trying to do a fakie trick down it because I was pretty sure no one had done a fakie trick down it. I Ollied it first try and immediately went for a frontside half-Cab and almost took my teeth out on the bottom step. I clipped my toes and barely made it to the flat and did this gnarly rollback and fucking flew backwards. This one dude was like, “Dude, that was impressive.” I was like, “What the fuck?” He’s was like, “I know you fell, but dude, the fall was amazing.”

“I got sent home early because my leg gave out—my adrenaline was pumping so much, so my left knee kept giving out on me while I was working, so I had to go home.”

But you were able to get relatively good speed and a decent fakie pop out of it?

Oh no, it was horrible. I went for it twice, the second time was even worse, I almost got bodied bad, and then I was like, “Okay.” Then I went for a straight up fakie Ollie, and I damn near fakie Ollied it first try.

Damn.

I clipped my front truck and took a minor spill. I was like, “Maybe I should try the pop shove.” I went for the pop shove-it and damn near did it first try, so I was like, “Oh shit, this is happening.”

Just like that.

I think I got the pop shove third try.

Wow, that’s insane. It was so cool to see that footage finally get released last fall in the Natural Koncept video Steady Creepin’. Shout out to Patrick Brastrom for that footy. Looked like Chris Mulhern from adidas got the fish eye angle. Still waitin’ on that clip.

Hell yeah, it was good to see it on the screen.

People were trippin’ on that clip at the NYC premiere. Moving forward on the topic of Stalone-style stunts; at the beginning of the High Class Creepin’ US tour, I guess you and Patrick flew to New York. I’m not sure, but you had arrived in New York, the whole team was hanging out at my Brooklyn apartment, we had the premiere that night in the LES at Anthology Theatre. Then the following day when we were gettin’ ready to leave NYC you Ollied that massive over the rail to stage gap at the Herbert Von King Park.

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Photo Credit: Justin Reiff

The “Brooklyn Leap Of Faith.”

Yeah.

How did that happen?

The spot is across the street from the apartment, and we’d always be out there bullshitting and joking about jumping over it. Then one day, it was just me and Jose skating around, and we were just both way too hyped up, and just decided to hit it. Jose and I both started jumping it, and it was kind of like a battle to see who’d get it first.

Basically, you guys were just hyping each other up.

Yeah, it was one of those things where you get way too hyped and you don’t even think about it.

Yeah, the footage is insane. Without a doubt NBD. I remember thinking “Oh shit. We’re about to go on a 30-day tour across the country, just hoping everyone can stay healthy. We’ve got demos practically poppin’ off pretty much every day from here to California.” Definitley a landmark New York trick, for sure.

Yeah. The Colombians always get me hyped.

Recently you came back to the city and Cabbed that schoolyard spot in Brooklyn.

That Tekashi Curb Nine?

Yeah, looked like it was pretty easy for you.

Yeah, that wasn’t bad because it had a nice amount of room to get a good swoop in.

That was pretty insane.

Just kind of a nice, mellow feeling whenever you’re in Brooklyn.

“Yeah, I got paid. I think me and my boy both got paid 150 dollars each from Ridiculousness.”

Solid. Yeah, and clearly you and Jose have traveled the globe together, but you guys are always pushin’ one another.

For sure, whenever we’re together, the energy gets crazy and then we start snapping off.

In fact, you went to Colombia for a week or so in 2016 for the Chimba De Parche Tour?

Yeah, Colombia for eight days in November of 2016. That was one hell of a trip, definitely a lot of monumental tricks went down on that one too.

Is that the first time that you got to skate with Juan Pablo?

That was the very first time I got to skate with Juan Pablo, and just like Jose, he’s a hell of a skater.

Yeah, the VR Bros are the truth. You guys produced so much footage on that trip. We released like five episodes and a full length from that tour. Shout outs to Camesagi for filming like a G.

Oh yeah, it was nothing but a good time, skateboarding every day and chillin’ with the homies.

For sure. Let’s talk about the Trucos y Tacos Tour and that heelflip at golden hour at the Statue of Cuitlahuac.

Right there in the middle of Mexico City?

Yeah.

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Photo Credit: Blair Alley

Heelflip off the statue into Mexico City rush hour traffic.

That was a hell of a heelflip into traffic, there was definitely a lot of car-watching going on, and you had to find the right time to jump into the cobblestone street. But with Jose on the scene, we just pushed each other to go the extra mile to get one more trick on it. That Ollie wasn’t good enough.

That was truly another epic moment with that perfect catch and the ride away. That was actually the beginning of the tour, which was pretty incredible. In Paris you pulled off a finger flip acid drop into the bank along the Seine. One of my favorite parts of this trick is you saying “It’s the champagne talking.” as you went for it (laughs). I tried to highlight that audio clip in the tour footy, because clearly it wasn’t the most dangerous trick in the world or whatever, but it ended up being the perfect trick to end the AZ City of Light De’ja’ Vu tour.

Oh, there was some champagne in the mix.

Yeah, there was, it was the final day of the tour, at sunset and Jose was gettin’ hyped to do the nollie tre into it. It was the perfect trick to set off the session.

Yeah, that idea just came up right on the spot, it kind of happened after the whole minivan thing happened. There was a clip I posted on Instagram where I run up the back of my minivan and do the finger flip acid drop.

Oh yeah!

Over the hood and than off the back. That trick came to me in a dream.

Cool, cool.

I don’t know if it was a daydream or a dream when I was sleeping, but it definitely came to me and I was like, “Damn, you could do that,” and then I woke up and I did that shit.

Yeah, that trick was just a lot of fun to witness.

It’s a crowd pleaser (laughs).

Earlier that day, I think we might even call it another NBD, the blue wave spot.

The champagne slide (laughing)!

That’s two NBDs in a day.

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Photo Credit: Blair Alley

The “champagne slide,” only in Paris.

The laid back champagne slide. You don’t get two NBDs in one day and just be able to walk away from it (laughing).

That was another very impressive day, between that and the finger flip, it was pretty incredible. Moving forward, another trick that I wanted to talk about was the recent kickflip on the roof gap in Santa Domingo. Tell everyone a little bit about how you found the spot.

We were just cooped up at the hotel one morning waiting for rain to pass, so I decided to go walk around and see what the hotel had to offer and see if there was a way to get on the roof. Come to find out we had some sort of sporting complex, track-style thing on the rooftop for all guests to enjoy. So I went up to look around and ended up finding one of the most amazing kicker-to-kicker roof gaps ever over like a nine-story drop. It was just surreal.

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Photo Credit: Blair Alley

When the gnarliest spot of the trip is on the roof of your Air Bnb. Brandon Bonner, kickflip nine stories up.

The following day I kickflipped it. But I remember that night when I got the Ollie, we were all out there together. I remember looking around and getting ready and being like, “Okay, is everybody ready?” Everybody was dead-ass silent and pointing their cameras, and I was like, “Okay, yeah, everybody’s definitely ready.”

Yeah we could see a family eating dinner through a window one story below. Everyone was just trying to give you the power and stay silent. Of course you nailed it first try like boss.

Than we went out for a few Presidentes to celebrate!

Then on the following day as we were setting up, I remember Blair saying, “This could be one of the raddest photos I’ve ever shot,” and I remember feeling the same way, just trying to find an angle to film. It was really windy. In the footage, you can see your hat flies off while you’re just up there scoping the gap. Crazy.

Yeah, definitely going for the kickflip over the gap with the wind like that, my board was getting blown out of control so many times.

Yeah, that was such a heavy kickflip. We all knew you had it. No doubt.

It was definitely a moment that’s going to be hard to forget.

Later that day, you heelflipped that double set overlooking the Caribbean Sea. You were on a mission that day.

Oh yeah, right there on the water, right there on the old ocean, dropped a heelflip down the big ol’ double set. What was it, like a seven-flat or a five-flat-six or something?

It was big and long and beautiful.

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Photo Credit: Blair Alley

Heelflip, beach front in Santo Domingo.

And the cops showed up.

They did, which always adds some excitement.

A little bit of excitement, a little bit of cameo.

Let’s take it back for a moment and talk about Magic Bullet and Mark Eyestone’s influence over the years. Tell us a little bit about Mark and Magic Bullet.

Magic Bullet is a skate shop that’s in local Fredericksburg [Virginia] on Caroline Street. It’s been there for the past 17 years I believe. It’s a core skate shop that has always been the go-to for me and the crew. Mark’s an amazing skater, just always been very supportive about getting out there and getting down and coppin’ clips and being low key about it. Mark’s a legend.

Yeah, Mark’s been holding it down in the streets and the shop, like you said for so many years. You must feel so fortunate to have had that, Mark and Magic Bullet, in your life.

Yeah, dude, I’ve been very fortunate, because like I said, at a young age we would go out skating all the time. He took me on the first skate trip really out of state that I’ve ever been on. I think we went from here to Knoxville, Tennessee. It was just a wild-ass trip to be 15 years old and supposed to be starting your first week of high school (laughing).

That’s so sick.

It was definitely ridiculous, and kept the skateboarding alive for sure.

Let’s talk a little bit about Arizona [Iced Tea]. There’s a pair of signature sweatpants on the design table at the moment, which is rad. It says “Bonestalone” along one leg and “Shinin’” on the other. Hopefully we’ll get the samples finished soon.

Oh yeah!

Looking forward to seeing that come out, but overall, Arizona has really supported your skating for the past ten-plus years. Let’s talk about Natural Koncept first because that’s what led into the Arizona support. Mark from Magic Bullet told me about this young kid who’d be perfect for NK prior to an East Coast tour in 2007. Blair, myself and the whole crew came through Fredericksburg, and got to witness a young Bonestalone shining hard. At the time everyone called you Boner. That’s where it all kind of began for us. Everyone in the van was just like, “That kid’s insanely good.” We basically had never seen anything like it. We gave you a board and a T-shirt after the demo. Two weeks later you sent basically a full part wearing the shirt, and had Natural Koncept shaved into your head. Is that pretty much how you remember it?

Yeah, I was pretty gung-ho on it, I was going for it, because I’d watched Natural Koncept videos at the shop since I was like twelve years old. Mark would hook it up and give me videos and shit whenever I’d roll through the shop. I was always watching Natural Koncept, and it was just ridiculous just to know that y’all were coming to Brooks Skate Park and I just had to go as hard as I could. I remember I brought the trampoline there that day and shit.

You murdered it.

Had my music going, definitely set the mood for the whole park.

The whole tour, we basically were convinced we needed to do whatever we could to get you on the team. Arizona had supported that Natural Koncept tour with beverages and some cash which saved the day! From that point forward we basically did a massive tour every single year and still to this day, multiple tours a year now. Arizona had shown a lot of support and that turned into Arizona starting its own skate program in 2014 and you as well as the other Natural Koncept pros were the foundation.

Yeah, for real, because they’d give us all the drinks and definitely help out with some funding and stuff for the tour, and clean clothes for sure.

We took our first AriZona team trip to the Transworld Park in December of 2015. One of the owners of Arizona, Spencer Vultaggio, came on the trip along with Moon Mehta, one of the main designers. I remember they were blown away specifically by you and Jose. That session in the TWS Park was next level.

Oh yeah, the trip to SD was a heavy one.

AriZona has been clutch. There’s no way I would’ve seen as much of the world as I have if Arizona Iced Tea didn’t send us on all these tours. It’s been awesome just seeing the world and being able to skate all these amazing spots around the globe.

Tell us about the ghost-ride kickflip that went viral. Where did you film that?

That’s this industrial park that’s like fifteen minutes south of Brooks Park, and it’s always been known as Route 17 Banks. It’s been a spot that everybody would go to back in the day.

So one day, I was thinking about it at the skate park, and I was like, “Fuck, I wanna try and ghost-ride my minivan and see what’s possible.” I just started off with ghost-riding and trying to do a stationary kickflip on top of it. I tried that a couple times, and I was like, “No, this isn’t it, like it’s kind of lame.” I was like, “Shit, I’ll try and kickflip off of my van.”

I started trying a couple kickflips off it and me and my boy started slowly realizing how it really could happen, and we were like, “Oh shit.” Then we set it up and got everything dialed. It worked out to our advantage.

Did it all happen that day?

Yeah.

Let’s take one step back. You were doing ghost-rides in the Linguini Lamborghini music video but you weren’t jumping off the top of the mini van.

Oh yeah, ghost-rides have always been a favorite around my parts, or at least with me, doing a little bit of ghost-riding is just a good way to let off some steam.

I remember I was visiting my family for the holidays when I got the clip. It’s at well over 15 million views the last time I tried to calculate it.

For sure. Let’s talk about the re-entry on that kickflip shifty. Is that a standard re-entry for you, or did that one just kind of shine hard that day?

The re-entry is a standard for me, it’s a nice head-turner and a good one to throw people off because nobody’s ready to see somebody running full speed and then launch into the window of a minivan.

They’re not. It’s very next level, it’s professional status for sure.

Because I got pretty good at it, I can dive in my window of my minivan and put my car in drive in under a half a second.

It’s by far the best ghost-ride skate trick ever done in the world.

Definitely encourage people to try it, but also to be safe.

Yeah. I remember being a little nervous to post it on @drinkarizonaskate. In fact, I remember I sent it to Spencer. I was like ”Hey, do you mind promoting this? Just because …” He’s like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” It was going to get out there anyway. When I sent it to Blair at TWS he was like, “Oh shit, this is going to hit hard.”

Yeah dude, and whenever we first got the clip we were like “Yo, this might be a good clip, like we’re pretty sure this is a good-ass clip right here.”

Did you get some cash from Ridiculousness?

Yeah, I got paid. I think me and my boy both got paid 150 dollars each from Ridiculousness.

Whatever, it was still so sick.

Yeah, it was either get paid $300, or $600 for them to fully own the video, and we were like, “Uh, no.”

Interesting, yeah, good choice.

Yeah, we were like, “No, just the three.”

You’re not going to own it for another 300 dollars.

I was like, “Yeah, what the … you own it forever for $600, or give me $300 for a one-time use?” I was like, “Yeah, you can just use it one time.” (Laughing).

Don’t get crazy, Rob (laughing).

Yeah, what am I going to tell Arizona?

What did you say exactly? You’re in the streets shining hard? It’s just so good!

Oh yeah, “We always out here shining.”

You’ve been back a couple times to the Route 17 banks since with additional ghost-ride tricks, do we have any other ghost ride variations brewing in your mind?

I’ve always liked the idea of ghost-ride tre flip, that would be a nice one. I’d really like to, for some reason, I’ve always thought about if I ghost-rode my van and if I ran fast enough, I could take one step and put my foot on the hood of my van and jump over the rest of my van either hippie jump style or caveman style, and land or do like the caveman and then Dukes of Hazzard slide across the top of the minivan, or maybe even jump-style. So like you hippie jump it and Dukes of Hazzard-slide across the roof of the minivan, and then back onto the board.

I can picture it—would be super rad for sure! Have you been making music lately? How’s everything else? The fam?

I’m still making music. Just haven’t posted much of it lately because I’ve just been keeping it on the down low and just waiting to put more of it out there whenever I’m ready for it. Just in my free time, I’ll go hiking with the family or go on a little adventure or just building something with my daughter, or even just any kind of athletic type stuff. I like to stretch a lot for sure, got to keep the body well.

Nice, Bone Stallone, that’s solid. Do you want to give any shout outs?

I’d definitely like to give a shout out to any of the homies that we be skating with on the daily, Christian, Shammy, Randy, Patrick, John LaVeck, we got the Ward brothers, we got Mark Eyestone, we got Baby Mama – Dominique, we got Avadella – my daughter, we got the whole squad, mom and dad, you know we definitely shouting them out. JZRadical and the fam – Grace, Lucy, and just the whole squad out there, Leo, AriZona, everybody holding it down from Natural Koncept, Jose, Juan Pablo, Carlo, JJ …

Hell yeah. Thanks B-Money. Looking forward to the next big tour! Talk soon.

All right, brother. Be safe.

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Photo Credit: Blair Alley

Flip and a twist in NYC during Arizona Iced Tea’s pop up shop in 2018. You can’t keep this man on the ground!

https://skateboarding.transworld.net/videos/arizona-iced-tea-pina-colada-tour-full-length-brandon-bonner-interview/

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