411vm // History of the 90s VHS Drop

A significant milestone has passed. A new leaf has turned as I begin to spiral into the distant memories of a life before easy internet access. Before you could dive into the intricate lives of others there was a certain difficulty in getting something creatively curated or specific to your interests. As I reminisce, I can clearly see the changing tide and I can identify it with ease. I am now old. It feels awesome thinking about the “Good-ole-days” of monthly release skate videos and it is hard to completely describe why. Surely this must be the final nail in coffin for my youth and how skate vid drops worked backed in the day.

I had never actually skated any traditional skatepark in the summer of 1996. I was moving to Orlando and had previously only had access to a few small loading docks and poorly poured concrete culverts to pretend were half pipes. At my new school on the first day, I had found the skater kids and the courtyard bench they claimed and more importantly, the underground blackmarket of traded VHS skate videos that came with it. Before this moment my only contact with the world of skateboarding was either Thrasher or Transworld Skateboarding and the newly formed X-games. What became a pursuit of info about my favorite hobby, turned into the plug line for being cool, first.

Here are some old school tricks mixed with a few new ideas. I grew up doing stuff like this, It’s basically my roots.

-Rodney Mullen // 411vm Best of #4 (1997)

Every 411 video magazine edition brought us what was cool and new on the complete other side of the country. California culture was not the center of our world but it rivaled New York and Seattle with all of the new music and clothes we used to separate ourselves as skaters. Between every Skate section of video contained exclusive ads for skate and clothing companies whose ads would have otherwise never seen the light of day. Every sections accompanying song was a deep or rare cut we had never heard before. You can tell from this playlist the kind of eye opening music being instantly put on rotation after a single listening.

411vm was just a subscription service for monthly skate content but it felt like our only lifeline to new skate culture and news. With everything so readily available on the internet & social media, the curated monthly VHS drop seems like something from the stone age. But when I think about it now, I remember the feeling I had seeing it in the mailbox, the pride of being the first in our scene to have the new release, and the philanthropic feeling of making copies for my closest friends.

In the era of getting exactly what you want whenever you want it, this type of content and release more closely resembles an exclusive collab drop or an invite only initial release. The days of cornering the market with quality content seems completely lost in the modern goldrush of first to the tok creation. Realizing that there could never be this sort of content drop again makes me sad, further confirming I have transitioned out of my youth. Todays creators never will have the need to compromise or compile all their content together for a chance to maximize viewership. In this world of live, life to table media, everyone is reaching to be the next big thing and that is ok too.