All photos by C.R Stecyk or Susan Melanie Berry
I’m sitting here contemplating penning this introduction. It’s about someone I’m fascinated by, and my insecurity in my own ability to accurately articulate a cult icon lures me to type his name in Wikipedia. All that Wiki tells me is, “C.R. Stecyk III is a Southern California native. His life was portrayed in the 2001 award-winning documentary ‘Dogtown and Z-Boys’, as well as the film ‘Lords of Dogtown in 2005′ “. That’s all, it’s the worst Wikipedia entry I’ve ever seen. Alana Blanchard, a female surfer known for her ass and microscopic bikinis has a weightier Wikipedia than this culture shifter. I think back to the brief moments of time I’ve spent with C.R and it clicks. I’m positive he wrote his Wiki entry himself, after all anyone can contribute to Wikipedia. To C.R, it’s his perfect ‘About me’. It highlights the obvious accomplishments/achievements that can’t be overlooked, but it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all the things he would never want credit for. After all, C. R. Stecyk III is a Venice icon and if he ever decided to start a cult, he’d have thousands of followers instantly. Hell, I’d sign the 1 billion year contract the Scientologists sign if he was the leader. He’s someone responsible for making Venice the desirable place it is today. He’s a true visionary and although a household name in Southern California and the worlds’ skate community, he’d laugh at the notion. Locking him down for an interview wasn’t easy but when I finally did I was ecstatic and I had lured him in like the South African creep I am. People with Craig’s sense of humility don’t accept interviews if it’s about them. So I used a friend of his as bait. We’re making a short film about Jesse Martinez, who much like CR Stecyk, hates the attention and genuinely believes they’re just another regular Joe. CR agrees to the interview because he believes he’s there to help a friend. When he arrives, we briefly talk about the Jesse piece and then I tell him about the Men Of Venice series. I’m quick to let him know it’s only three simple questions. He stops me short and tells me, ‘My family technically is from Ocean Park not Venice which was like Abbot Kinney prior to Abbot Kinney. Born and raised in Ocean Park Heights, grandma used to tell me, you’re not from Venice you’re from Ocean Park. It was confusing at school because they would tell me I’m from Venice.’ In a lot more words we finally get down to the meat and potatoes of Men Of Venice. Three simple questions that have multiple scenarios in the way they can play out. C.R’s play out a little different to the other ones I’ve done. Enjoy.
What does it mean to you to be a man.
Well if you want to find out, you go to the toy store and you grab a Barbie. They’re anatomically at least approximate to what humans look like and the men have a bit of a bump, which the barbies don’t have and that’s how you know. That’s all I know about being a man, thanks to Toys R Us.
What does it mean to be a man in Venice.
Well you gotta learn how to mind your own business and not make claims about your prowess in Venice. You gotta be considerate to people and try to get a get along. Everybody supports everybody else down here, and the good thing about living in a place for generations, is if your family has a disagreement with one of your neighbors you kinda just figure out a way to get along and work it out, but if somebody from the next town comes over and has a disagreement with one of your neighbors, you might have a San Juan-style disagreement as opposed to a Westminster-style disagreement. The real men of Venice are guys like Cal Porter, he tells vivid stories of having to go to school on the canals, they used to have to paddle on a canoe or stand on a paddle board to get to school.
When have you felt most like a man.
C.R laughs hysterically but answers, “I knew my shit was done when someone called me sir. It was the peak of my manhood and the end of my youth. I used to be paternally sort of invariably optimistic, and someone called me sir in a liquor store. The cashier said to me, “Well we don’t need to card you, SIR.” I knew it was over then. Who knew in this country that twelve year olds were illegal?”