Skip to main content

March 3, 2017

After two-and-a-half years of interviewing, filming and editing, Richie Wolfe is ready to share his documentary on the history of skateboarding in Kansas City.

The full-length film “The Line” will be shown from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, in the CoLab (OCB 100) at Johnson County Community College.

Wolfe is an alumnus of JCCC and a current employee in Video Services. In his job, he shoots and edits video for college projects, but “The Line” was his own freelance project that arose from a love of skateboarding.

“I’ve been skateboarding all my life,” he said.

He moved to Kansas City in 2009 and met skateboarders from across the metro area.

Skateboarding as symbol

Wolfe realized a bigger story – one that led from separation to unity – existed in KC’s skate culture. “The Line,” then, traces how the state line of Kansas and Missouri factored into two skateboarding groups, one on each side of the boundary.

“A subplot, if you will, is how they’re now all together,” Wolfe said. “That split doesn’t exist anymore, and people go back and forth from one state to another.”

The divisiveness of the ’70s stretched into the ’90s, and in between, skateboarding hit the highs and lows of pop-culture popularity. In the early ’80s, five national companies dominated the skateboard industry, Wolfe said. By the late ’80s, skateboarding had lost its “cool factor.” But by the mid-’90s, the rise of smaller, neighborhood shops led to a skating renaissance.

Telling the local story

Today, Wolfe said, Kansas City has a cohesive skateboarding community with excellent skate parks and a vibrant culture.

“Plenty of other people can tell the story of skateboarding in California,” he said. “I wanted to be specific about how it happened in Kansas City … This is the Midwest. Like the coasts, we’ve had our share of problems, but I think we’re in a great place, and we’re going to keep getting better.”

He said he hopes people attend the JCCC screening as much for KC history as an interest in skateboarding.

“I want to have it received by someone who loves Kansas City,” he said. “It really does tell a deeper story.”

Next stop: bike ride for charity

Wolfe said he plans on entering the documentary into film festivals, but perhaps not right away. That’s because one week after the JCCC screening, he starts a six-month bicycle tour of the perimeter of the United States.

He’ll start in San Diego, head east through Phoenix, Arizona, and Austin, Texas, stop in New Orleans, then head up the East Coast before zooming through Michigan, Minnesota and Montana.

Wolfe saved for two years so he could afford to go. He’ll be staying with friends and fundraising for Restoration House, which helps women recover from addiction and sets them up with jobs and housing.

Both the documentary and the bike trip are items on his “bucket list,” and, as he said, “It’s now or never.”

For more information

For more from Wolfe, check out his YouTube Channel.