Manual Magazine

Revealed: Gus Curwood

Posted by manualmagazine on Wednesday June 8 2016

Revealed: Gus Curwood

Gap to 50-50, Dunedin.

What do post-earthquake Denny’s parties, Bam Margera, Ashvegas and Old English tattoos have in common? One legendary Southern skateboarder.

1. Gus has some great tattoos; more time-and-place mementos than great artwork. At the age of fourteen, Gus got his first ink to rep his crew, the APC (Ashburton Potato Crew). Pretty badass for a badger. A few years later he got himself a 2Pac-style stomach tat saying GUSTO in an Old English font. The best bit about it is that he’s now willing to change it to read GUTSO when the boys believe that his gut has reached an appropriately ample size to be adorned with the tat. Along with a few other bits he has a Reefton Ramble one as a tribute to the best and messiest of rambles.

2. Growing up in Ashvegas on a pig farm, Gus was always a city boy in a South Canterbury farming town. He switched onto skating young with his crew, which included the legendary Bernard Foo. He spent his days skipping school to skate at the racecourse, and film and edit VHS footy, hooking two or more video players together. All this, plus hitching up to Christchurch to skate from a young age, shaped Gus into a streetwise, switched-on young skater.

3. Along with now-architect Phil Redmond, Gus went about designing and getting Ashburton skate park built. On top of that they got now-international graff artist Guy Ellis (Dcypher) to do all the artwork on it. The park was arguably the best in New Zealand for its time. It had a feature article in Index video magazine (New Zealand’s version of 411) and loads of subsequent footage in big New Zealand vids. The park brought skaters from out of town and, along with the existing street spots, put Ashvegas on the map. It was New Zealand’s first streetstyle park for its time and set a precedent for skate parks from there on out.

4. Having OCD, Gus is extremely particular. Things have their place and order. As a side note, he can’t leave the house without coins in his right pocket and the keen eye will notice at certain times Gus taps them while out skating.

5. Gus loves a good punt. A huge poker fan when living in Christchurch, once everyone had retired for the night, Gus would turn to the poker tables at the casino and play a form of the game called grinding, often till well after sunrise. He’d rarely leave with less than he’d entered with. Understanding percentages and outcomes makes him one hell of a Five Dice player to boot.

6. Gus weathered both of Christchurch’s big earthquakes. His natural reaction to the first one was to go to Denny’s and throw an impromptu party to wait it out. The second wasn’t so forgiving, as he was working in the centre of the city at the time. In the heat of the moment he ran out of the shop, witnessing building facades topple and crushing those less fortunate. “Seeing the city I loved fall.”

7. A massive documentary fan, Gus has a broad and at times obscure understanding of the world. He can always converse on an interesting topic or relevant issue, which makes him great company to share a pint with. Ask for a recommendation; Fire in Babylon is my favourite to date.

8. Gus went on a road trip with Bam Margera when he was in his prime.

9. A massive music fan who knows more than just the lyrics and what the song’s about, Gus is well read on the music he enjoys.

10. Angus always has gems. Catching up with Gus sometimes entails watching a cringeworthy spono tape he’s acquired, something like Josh Harmony’s acoustic CD or just an amazing YouTube video. Gus always has his own brand of entertainment.

11. Being an outsider to Christchurch himself when he was younger, once he’d relocated to the city, Gus always had a couch for people passing through; weekenders or sometimes slightly longer stints. From Geoff Campbell and Arthur Kay, Cade Wilson-Russ, Mark Barber and Nigel Roberts, Gus always hooked it up and is the host with the most.


Text by Andrew Pope
Photograph by David Read
Published in Manual #60