Virgin Blacktop: A New York Skate Odyssey
Nobody told these Rockland County kids how to find something cool to do. They figured it out. They met up in and around Nyack in 1977, with nothing in common other than their passion for skateboarding. They formed a funky, self-anointed skate team and called themselves ‘the Wizards.’
Their story is captured in a documentary film entitled Virgin Blacktop: A New York Skate Odyssey. The film will be screened outdoors under the stars in Nyack’s Memorial Park on Friday, August 19 at 8:00 pm. Admission is free. A rain date is set for Saturday, August 20. Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome.
Nyack’s Memorial Park on the banks of the Hudson is the perfect location for this outdoor event. It’s where the Wizards got their start, skating on the basketball and tennis courts -- and now where skaters can ‘catch some air’ on the 5,000 square-foot state-of-the-art skate plaza completed by the village in 2015.
Acclaimed action-sports photographer Charlie Samuels directed and produced Virgin Blacktop; the film has won several international film festival awards. Before the screening begins, Nyack Village Trustee Donna Lightfoot Cooper will welcome the audience and introduce filmmaker Samuels and other Wizards who will be in attendance.
Samuels grew up in the Hudson Valley rivertowns and was a driving force behind the original Wizards. Ranging in age from 7 to 16, the shaggy crew hailed from Nyack, South Nyack, Grand View, Upper Grand View and Sparkill (Samuels’ hometown) – kids from vastly diverse economic backgrounds, races and cultures.
In the skate world, the Wizards were often viewed as “outsiders” due to their creative, freelance styles. Undaunted and with Samuels at the wheel (barely of age to drive), the Wizards traveled the country to compete in skate events in the early days of the sport.
“We placed in state and national competitions, and one of us of us went on to be the first pro skater in New York City,” said Samuels.
Now, over 40 years later, the Wizards remain friends. Their lives have followed dramatically different paths – from board rooms to jail cells…and much in between. Their individual journeys are sometimes uplifting, sometimes heart-breaking. But in the end, the Virgin Blacktop story is about kids skating across boundaries -- what some may see as insurmountable ‘differences’ -- to form life-long bonds of love and respect. For many who view this film, that’s the true story.
More to enjoy: The free showig of Virgin Blacktop caps off the 10th annual Nyack International Film Festival -- five nights of fun, intriguing and thought-provoking films showing from August 14-18 at the fabulous Hotel Nyack.
Visit nyackfilmfestival.com or go to Nyack International Film Festival for the full schedule of films and to buy tickets.
Hear from the Virgin Blacktop director and the Wizards: As a follow-up to the August 19 screening, interested film viewers can dial into a discussion with director Charlie Samuels and members of the Wizards – to be held on Zoom, on Tuesday, August 23, at 6:00 PM. Registration is HERE.
The screening and Zoom discussion are presented by Rivertown Film in partnership with VIRGIN BLACKTOP and Nyack Film Festival, with thanks to important funding from friends of Visit Nyack.
Community partners for this free screening include: The Village of Nyack, Nyack Chamber of Commerce, Visit Nyack, ACADA, The Nyack Center, Nyack Merchants United, and Nyack NAACP