VIDEO VAULT: JAFFA CURTIS

‘Vandals’
Blank TM
2001
Words: Morgan Campbell
Video: Chris Middlebrook

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s there was a skater who was stepping to the bigger obstacles in Melbourne town with no hesitation what so ever. His name was Jaffa Curtis. He left fresh marks on what were previously untouched spots, and leapt off the larger sets and gaps in M-town. He even had moves for the tetanus inducing metal vert ramps scattered around the burbs. Jaff’s actual name was Luke, but as a junior he donned an orange helmet and due to his dark complexion some of his peers pointed out that he resembled a Jaffa. Yep Aussies youths are known for their cruelty, but hey… despite being colour-based he ended up with a pretty good nickname right? Anyways Jaff was a part of a skate gang known as the Blank Team. They all slayed it on the old whizz plank, and names like Ronnie Roberts, Will Stoyles, Jason Ridgway, Spencer Eagles, Dale van Iersel, Mike Martin, Jason Echazar and Ben Mclachlan were all synonymous with polished technique and progression. The founders of Blank were Rafael Rashid and Danny Young: both masters of multiple trades including music, design and photography. Their baby: Blank was a testament to their well roundedness in multiple scenes. These days Raph is known for his photography and his burger and taco trucks and Danny is making massive waves as a drummer and tattooist. During the Vandals era, Blank’s lens guru Chris Middlebrook was coming into his own and you can safely say that Blank was at its peak. Large to the degree where bootleggers were including Blank in their clothing ranges alongside Nike and Hilfigger. Jaffa quite rightfully had last part in the video, and as you will have seen it is an absolute humdinger of a section.

After some sprinklings of footage and photos of Jaff and his then baby son Jay, the part gets cranking with some 16mm footage. Yep even back then Middlebrook was at the forefront of Aussie skate video production standards. The actual VX footage starts with a banging tre followed by a crooks to fakie up the majority of the Vermont up ledge. He then noseblunt slides down an aluminum picnic table combo that would have made Dae Won jealous. You may recognize the configuration from the late great Lewis Marnell’s first Aussie interview. After the nose blunt sizzle things get heated. Fat stair sets are hopped in the following methods: fakie mute grab, fakie stalefish and then a switch melon! The epic section then takes the viewer to spots in Queensland, Australian Capital Territory and Adelaide. You can be guaranteed that Jaff was turning noggins and creasing foreheads in all these locales. At around the half way mark the handrail assault begins. This is an utter pleasure to watch as it was Jaff’s forte. Some of the standouts include the steep 50/50 on East Melbourne’s Vic Pde (see video thumbnail) and the confined hubba 5-0 behind the Uni-hospital across the road. The narrow run up followed by pole, pillar and BBQ avoidance make this one a gnarly hit to this very day. He also takes a nosegrind and bluntslide to the chubby Collins St rail that is now known as the Jaffa Rail. This spot has sadly been long since demolished. The part closes out at the infamous Country Road set where he set new standards with a switch ollie, a kickflip melon, a backside 50/50 followed by a … wait for it Sal Flip. Yep … not often you see a Sal flip down a thirteen stair. These days Jaff is quite the underground shredder but whenever he steps back on a board the magic continues. Hats off to one of Australia’s finest.

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