Photo by Friedjof Feye for Solo Skate Magazine.
Jim Thiebaud, cofounder of REAL and one of the nicest men in skateboarding, recently had a very interesting interview with Solo Skate Magazine covering topics such as politics and using his business interests to improve other’s lives.
One of the moments covered in Thiebaud’s chat is the original release of his "Hanging Klansman" pro model in 1990 (with artwork by Kevin Ancell and Natas Kaupas). The controversial graphic has since been rereleased in support of leukemia care, but its initial run made Thiebaud the target of death threats—like, actual letters written on paper and mailed to REAL HQ.
Undeterred, Thiebaud remembers how he and REAL cofounder Tommy Guerrero made a brash decision to take a trip through Klan Kountry as an F-U:
Tommy and I thought it was funny to do a tour to the Deep South in the U.S. right when it came out. So, our first tour was to put it right into their faces. I am not saying everyone from the South is racist—you just go where you think it is kind of hot.
REAL is well-known within skateboarding for using its considerable reach for activism and supporting those who feel as though they don’t have a voice. It’s cool to see that the company’s head honcho also walks the walk, death threats be damned.