Contenders: Thomas Bonilla

04.07.10 –

Contenders: Thomas Bonilla

Thomas Bonilla, 180

Frontside 180 To Bank. Photo: Shad

Text by Shad Lambert°

Photography by Shad Lambert, Matt Price, Dewey D.°

What do you think would happen if you grew up hanging out with a bunch of pro skateboarders from dusk ’til dawn? Maybe you’d be one of those kids who gets caught up in the party lifestyle and is washed up by age 21. Or perhaps you’d become a full-on nerd who bores chicks with skate talk and plays too much Call Of Duty.
Well, somehow, Thomas Bonilla turned out pretty damn awesome. His secret seems to be not getting too caught up in the dark side and always keeping the skate stoke level high. Keeping it classy and letting the good times roll is what makes him a perfect Contender. Yeah, Tamales!

Let’s talk about your hood. Where are you from?
I’m not from a hood, but I live in Rosemead.
So you’re not a gangster?
Nah, not claiming any of that.
Rosemead seems to have a lot of good skateboarders?
Hell yeah. It’s just like fifteen minutes east of downtown LA. Some good skaters came from
here, Daniel Shimizu for one. But I got mad homies that I skate with out here.
What’s up with the Toast video crew?
Oh, these guys are killing it, man. They’re gonna have a sick-ass vid.
Yeah, the first one was so good, and you guys are about to drop another one?
Actually, I’m not gonna have a part in Toast 2 because I’m saving my footy for the
Bummer High vid. I had a part in the first one.
Okay, well we’ll have to plug that in here for you then.
Good looks.
This reminds me about the question everyone wants to know; have you ever smoked with Ethan Fowler and gotten a bummer high?
Ha! No we’ve had some good times though, man.
Thomas Bonilla, Wallride grab

Wallride Grab. Photo: Dewey D.


Nice, are you still messing around with that tattoo gun?
Yeah, for sure. Doing some ink on the homies, myself, make a couple bucks here and there, you know?
That’s cool, what other homies have you done tats on?
Wow, all the homies. I gave Richie [Belton] all the ones on his leg pretty much, and one on his chest and arms. Gave him The Simpsons tat and the giant Bart on his shin. That one is sick. Bart’s spray painting “El Barto Was Here” on a wall. I gave Lizard a couple too when I was staying at his loft. Gave him “I Am The Devil” across his back, “SALT LAKE” on his knuckles. Let Richie use my gun to give Lizard a Green Room tat—that was funny. I’ve given one to J. Roy, DJ Chavez, and Daniel Shimizu. Shimizu got his cat’s name, Gretel, on his arm, and a tear drop on his finger. Damn, just realized I haven’t tatted Nuge yet!
Any face tats yet?
Nah, I’m not trying to do that one.
So what’s up with your little gas-powered beach bike gang?
Not a bike gang, just a bunch of homies that put together some motorized beach cruisers and been jammin’ around town.
Thomas Bonilla, Varial Flip

Varial Flip. Photos: Matt Price

We can cruise all the way to Long Beach from LA on the river, man.
It’s sick.
Thomas Bonilla, Pop Shove-it

Pop Shove-It. Photo: Dewey D.


I’ve seen you cruising those, how do they work?
It’s just a little two-cycle engine, and we can go like 35. We’ve been hitting the LA River and just jam on the concrete. We can cruise all the way to Long Beach from LA on the river, man. It’s sick.
’Cause the cops think it’s just a normal bike, right?
Yeah, you just turn off your motor and pedal it like a normal beach cruiser by the coppers, chill. It’s got a kill switch on it.
How many miles to the gallon does it get?
Oh man, at least 80 easily. I fill up my half-gallon tank for $1.50.
That’s insane! What’s next? You’re gonna have to step it up and get a motorcycle?
Yeah, it’s pretty much a poor man’s Harley. Until then, this is what I got.
Okay so you were like the fourteen-year-old kid who used to kick it at the Hollywood Hellrose house back in the day right?
Yeah, dog.


Thomas Bonilla, Boardslide Transfer

Boardslide Transfer. Photos: Matt Price

You got a favorite Hellrose story?
Hellrose stories? Wow. The whole time that house was there was a story, but to think of one right now off the top of my head … oh! The giant trash balcony, it was the biggest trash pile, it was nuts.
How did that happen?
Well the front balcony of the house just eventually turned into the dumpster. Mountains of empty beer cans, pizza boxes, cigarettes, the worst trash ever.
Didn’t Richie pass out in the trash heap once?
Oh yeah. It got so stinky and bad finally me, Richie, and J. Roy went to Home Depot and bought gloves and masks to clear it up. We
went to work on that shit, stinkiest and dirtiest cleanup of our lives. We found a ton of burnt boards too because we used to burn old decks to stay warm because we couldn’t afford heat, and at most every party another window would get broken out. We were freezing; sometimes we’d have to burn some new ones.
You want to tell the story how you were my driver for a year or two?
Ha! You’d come back from the bar and be like, “Hey, you’re not drunk, give me a ride home.” So I was like, “Hell, yeah!” Then drive that shit like 90 down Sunset.
Then after you’d been giving me rides home for two years, what happened?
Ha, one day I was like, “Hey guess what, I
I’m not from a hood, but I live in Rosemead.

just got my driver’s license!”
Yeah, though I was being responsible and turns out you didn’t even have a license. So awesome.
Good times.
More to come, fool! Give me a list of your current sponsors.
Bummer High is the main one. C1RCA Combat has me flowin’, homies flowing me at KR3W, and Transitions Boardshop for sure.
All right, Thomas, keep it street legal out there.
Never! Just wanted to say good looks to all the homies too, thanks.