Flat Snitches: Episode 1 / The Plasticman


Welcome to a new section of Flatmattersonline that has been brewing, not unlike the cuppa right next to me right now as I get ready to drop this first episode. After a lot of talk back and forth with Pete Brandt, “Flat Snitches” is born and dedicated to help educate the flatland community on the history of trick inventions and most importantly showing some love to the architects that came up with each trick along the way, not to mention the evolution of each move with other riders putting their twist on it.

Who came up with what trick and when, is sometimes a grey area, but myself and Pete Brandt after all our years of experience are as best placed as anyone to attempt to do this.
We Kick off Episode 1 with the Plasticman, and talk to the trick creator, Jesse Puente about the tricks history and evolution into another move entirely.

When I think about Jesse Puente, his energy springs to my mind. I always recall when he commented “You bust, I bust” back when we both rode for KHE in the late 90’s, his energy was contagious. Always thinking about new tricks and concepts, he made me want to have new tricks every time I would see meet him at contest across the globe. Jesse’s energy brings me to the plastic man and his desire to create something fresh.

Jesse, rolling the OG Plasticman in Shimersville, PA back in 1994. Photo: Sean Parker.

Origins of the Plasticman.

The original plastic man is with the non balancing foot over the bar, like a gliding switch foot no handed freak squeak position right Jesse?
“Yes, I have my foot over the bars cross footed counter balanced, to keep rolling. It’s a pumping action to keep rolling continually, it’s not often I do this because too many people do it incorrectly and I wanted to surprise people with a more difficult version.”

“When did you start doing the Plasticman? And what about in a contest?
“In 1988-89, I remember doing a plastic man at the Armoury Tacoma contest into scuff whips cross footed. But it wasn’t until I met Richard Zabzdyr (R.I.P) that I learned to roll cross footed over the bar for like a circle and half, that’s the most difficult when it’s pumping.
With Richard, he smiled always and said it could be more difficult. We always pushed each other to make tricks impossible to learn. Richard had many tricks, that riders cant copy to this day.”

Early developments of the Plasticman.

Back in 1988-89 a young JP was experimenting with a lot of chick whip variations, and by a happy accident like a lot of Jesse’s riding he stumbled across a new concept which began from scuffing a no handed switch foot freak squeak to gliding a no handed xft freak squeak. Jesse quickly figured out that by extending his left foot over the bar he could coast into the “Plasticman” position longer no handed in inside circles returning to the xft freak squeak after coasting, and very quickly this developed into riding directly into the classic “Plasticman” position that many of you will know today.

First sightings…

I asked life long flatland friend, Pete Brandt when did you first see Jesse do the plastic man?
“I remember when I saw it, we were riding at the Long Beach convention center back in 1990. He was doing the plastic man, as well as switch footed opposite elbow glide in a big circle. That’s when we started to notice the older pro riders started to take bits and pieces of tricks that we were coming up with. At the time it was normal for the pros to copy, and use what was out there.
I feel confident in saying RL copied that elbow glide variation from Jesse, and got in Freestylin’ magazine with it.”

Reality TV Part 2 by Chad Johnston.

Effraim: From across the pond only having knowledge via magazines and later on Reality TV Part 2. Jesse Puente first debuted the Plasticman on an unexpected crowd at a AFA local contest in Oregon in 1990 on board a chrome sticker less Haro Ground Master, little did Jesse and everyone present realise the impact this trick would have on Flatland for years to come.
Chad Johnston of Intrikat fame was on hand, and documented the move go down, and the trick first appeared on Reality TV Part 2 in a quick cameo appearance with riding homie and life long friend, Pete Brandt. That was the first time many of us across the globe saw the Plasticman, and you could already see possible variations of the trick where he combo’ed in and out of xft’ed freak squeaks/chick whips.

I remember sat in awe watching Jesse and Pete bust out on Reality TV Part 2, certain moves we would read about in the US magazines at the time and all wonder what each trick was, and one of those moves was the Plasticman. The impact was massive on a whole new generation of flatlanders across the globe.
When I first saw the move on Reality TV Part 2, I had no idea what it was, I remember being hugely inspired by Jesse (and Pete’s) creativity/image during that time period. Chad Johnston deserves a lot of respect for helping push the artform side of flatland with his videos over the years.

Jesse added: “At the time most riders were just copying tricks from us. I remember at that time of coming up with the Plasticman I had just met Richard Z, and we were trying to make tricks that were much harder for people to copy so easily.”

Screengrab of Jesse dropping the Plasticman at the Ride Contest, January 1991.

Debuting the trick more widely at the Ride Contest held by Pete Kearney.

The Plasticman wasn’t widely recognised until January 5th, 1991. When Jesse had refined the trick further and was coasting it for a circle at Pete Kearney’s Ride contest in So Cal. Chad Johnston was on hand to document the creativity otherwise many of us, wouldn’t have seen trick for years to come. You have to remember not many riders had seen the Plasticman until Reality TV Part 2 dropped. Jesse went onto the have a full interview and get the cover of GO Magazine in September 1991 (see photo above), further cementing his legacy in flatland forever…

Jesse comments: “At the time most riders were just copying tricks from us and I had just met Richard Z. We were always trying to make tricks up, and get to a point where it was harder and harder for riders to copy us.”

The evolution of the Plasticman.

For many years the Plasticman laid dormant, with Jesse occasionally busting one out mid freestyle at a contest. And it seemed many riders forgot about this trick until around 2004 when Martti Kuoppa released his solo video entitled “Moments” where Martti experimented heavily with linking the Plasticman. With lines such Tea kettle to boomerang to plastic man to pedal squeaker boomerang to plastic man. Also, around this time period also on board a KGB like Martti, Alex Jumelin dropped a two footed xft’ed inside circle in the same position as the modern day Plasticman a’la Matthias Dandois.

As with any trick it seems in flatland, it only takes one rider to re-ignite the flame, and make that trick cool to do again and it opens the doors and imaginations of riders across the globe. From Jesse the creator, to Martti Kuoppa, and now in the modern era riders such as Matthias Dandois have changed up the style of the trick, carving the trick without the foot over the bar so it’s now a switch footed inside circle no handed hang 5, the balance point now is close to the Messiah and the original x-ft freaksqueak type balance point has gone.

Non of these things are possible without the original trick, much respect to the architect Jesse Puente who has continued to help shape the artform of flatland during the early 90’s and beyond with his original ideas and trick styles. This was episode 1 of FlatSnitches. We hope you learnt something out of this short piece…. Till the next episode, weeeee outtt!!!!

As Jesse would say: “You push me, I push back homie…..”

Video reference:


32 thoughts on “Flat Snitches: Episode 1 / The Plasticman

    • He really is Lalo, and im firm believer in showing some love to the architects of our sport. Feels good to start this today after about a month of going back and forth with Pete and Jesse. He inspired a whole generation and continues to do so….

  1. I must admit that I didn’t know about that foot detail of placing the balancing foot in front of the bars as it is the right way for the plastic man…I must learn it the right way and I just got an idea watching the photos to try a dark side version of the plastiman.!Long live Jesse the OG legend…

    • That’s one of the reasons why myself and Pete thought we would start this series, helping educating the flatland community. We are certainly off to a good start, really hyped on the feedback and general response we have had to this.

  2. Great read! Jesse’s invented some of the best looking tricks in flatland. I’m so happy you’re doing this series, Effraim.

  3. I to think it’s a great series and the positives that can transpire Effraim. I still have trouble with the back end coming into steam position too soon & noticed that with some other riders. Maybe I’ll try having my balancing foot past the bars, as Giannis said.

  4. Have to say …….Im SO friggin stoked on THIS ! Gracias ,Effraim / Pete . Yall are spot on ….ALL riders NEED / SHOULD know just where tricks came from , and the CREATORS / ORIGINATORS really SHOULD / NEED their respect and props from the flatland community as a whole . Im like the biggest bmx flatland nerd when it comes to this kind of stuff . Posters , pictures all over my walls , head board , closet doors , at one point …even my DOOR KNOB …..all of bmx stuff ranging from 1984 till….TODAY . Magazines , V.H.S. tapes , zines , etc ,etc ….from 1984 till TODAY , also , haha. Jesse AND Pete photos above my bed since March of 1990 ….Puente in a x-leg guillotine , mid-line ….and Brandt in an switch ,head tube grab junk yard , also……mid-line . Sometimes @ random times , I ll just stop , look , take in all these historical posters , photos ….before a sesh , or even just to start my day . I CONSTANTLY comb the net for bmx flatland videos from EVERY time era , flip through magazines , etc . Im always stoked when I learn find out about ANY new piece of history . For instance……I recently found out that Stephane Clark from ,I think ….Sascakachoon …think I spelled that wrong , Canada …. that he did , I think the FIRST tomahawk 360 bar flip to right cross E-squeak , and that Kerry Gatts , O.G. riding partner was one of the first to do left to left switch-Bs , annnnnnd that no one to this day ..has done ,M.O.C. campeon , John Yulls the first right to right switch-B ……..also , haha……….Eddie Egawa from Chicago …he was the first to nail ….pull through , between the legs wheelchair to chicken , which THAT concept open up a TON of other tricks …….I think , not sure ….buuuuuut…. Kuoppas crack packer , pull through between the legs , bar flip to hiker in summer of 1999 , and Ryoji Yammamotos , I think cross tea kettle , reach , pull through between the legs , bar flip to Karl exit , back in July of 2004 in an older K.O.G. final in Japan !! Seems like I get schooled…….every other week , finding out about more and more AND…..MORE …..bmx flatland history ! Its really motivating , riding wise ! O.G. -F.F.=Jesse Puente is a bmx flatland IMMORTAL ……I ll NEVER forget , first watching Reality T.V. Part 2 , by Chad Johnston in 10th grade ! His switch elbow glide , drop to X-LEG HIKER and PLASTIC MAN …..blew my mind to the friggin milky way , haha. My bmx crew back then ……BEFORE I met some of the SOUTHSIDE San Antonio ELITES ….like BOBBY BURGE ….that’s ANOTHER story , haha. My original crew of friends……..we were still trying to dial……….switch foot P-cades , staple guns , regular stick-Bs , flails , crickets , backwards smoothies , via infinity rolls , and half -lashes to smoothies , NOT even FULL whiplashes , haha. When we all sat down , watched THAT section of Puente…….ALL that ROLLING trick insanity ….we ALL looked at one another , speechless …..as if to say…….Yup , we are SO not with the times , haha. THATS WHY , like 3 of us would ride like 6 miles on the weekends to ride with Bobby Burge …..and THE REGGIE FALCON …….ask ,JAMES WHITE about REGGIE FALCON …..James posted a lil tribute to him on his Insta account ! Anyway …RESPECT , TIMES 7 to Puente for ALWAYS creating , innovating , pushing COUNTLESS concepts , tricks from DAY ONE in bmx flatland………I mean….CHECK…THIS …….Jesse Puente goes D.L. from 1997 ……to…..2003 ……just casually turns up @ the Woodward West C.F.B.,X-GAMES Qualifier in Califas , the La Revolution Metro Jam , in Canada , the Flatground event ,in Amsterdam , etc ,etc ……….WITH ……NEW- N.B.D. moves and just COMPLETELY …..CHANGED THE FLATLAND GAME …….AGAIN.……..RE-UPPING , PROGRESSING the art form ! Talk about ALL walk and ZERO talk , Jesse is destined for the BMX HALL OF FAME , seriously , bruv………AGAIN , Effraim / Pete …….really digging this new addition to flatmatters !! Viva Jesse Puentes contributions to bmx flatland …….NUFF said……..

  5. Ooooops ……forgot to mention ….Kerry Gatts ..O.G. , New Zealand bmx buddy , his name was ……Paris ……I think THAT video of the 5 or 6 bad ass riders from back then ……on V.H.S. of course ,was called Sidewalk Dorks , haha…….It was a funny name for a SERIOUSLY …..WAAAAAAAAY ahead of the game flatland video , where they were REALLY up there with all the elite riders from ANYWHERE , around the time of 1996ish …..Scott Birbaum , a rad flatlander who used to session with Cullen Mcmorrow , another rad flatlander from the first generation of the A.T.X. bmx crew . He showed us all the video one late Saturday night , after the A.T.X. and myself , andthe other S.A. riders had a all night session @ the old Gouin garage sesh spot . Paris was DOPE as hell with his front AND back wheel lines ……SO good ! Hope Paris still rides ! New Zealand had some really skilled riders !

  6. Great piece! I love this new concept. I remember the beef between Martti and Jesse well, but like you say, it was different and Martti used the trick as a stepping stone to do so many different things. Martti has definitely done the most technical switches with the plasticman to date. I guess there are still more out there too. Most riders these days see it as only a first trick in a combo, but it’s so much more.

    • @Paul – Thanks Paul ,actually Martti is doing the original Plasticman the same as Jesse did, but on the other side. The trick changed a few years after that with riders like Matthias Dandois as mentioned putting their twist on it. There is a lot still to do with this trick, but it is a tough one to hold for a long time in the OG position.

  7. so so good idea to do that new section! Who doesn’t want to learn new things and history at the same time? 😀
    Make me think about the special few pages dedicated about flatland only or tricks only (with their history if known) on the old magazines bitd, THE ones you might can’t wait to read when you got the new issue on hand.

    if needed you might find some additionnal infos over there (big up to Eric 23 Rothenbusch) :

  8. One of my favorite all time tricks. Respect to Puente and the OG style – but personally – really love the Matthias style – held for a long time in several long circles. Claude Hickman also has this long held out style of plasticman on lock as well. Though Matthias isn’t holding them out for a long time these days (probably due to time constraints during run), still my fave. Only pet peeve is guys going into the truck quickly and taking hands off – only just for a second – as if for a picture right before going into a pumping front wheel line. Doesn’t due the trick justice and I’m assuming the rider actually can’t hold the position anyway. My opinion thigh! When I was riding, I could only get one longer circle, and it was hard!! Fun stylish trick.

    • @drew – actually the new school way isn’t a Plasticman it’s another trick as we touched on in the article. Interesting how it’s changed over the years. Take your point about riders not holding the position very long, valid! Thank you everyone for the feedback so far, been very motivating to see how FS was revived.

    • Want to acknowledge my two misspellings – “truck” = trick and “thigh” = though. Fat fingers on small phone keyboard! Thanks Effraim for giving us the history on this trick.

      • It’s all good Drew. I often type too quick and post and my writing it’s full of errors. I’m trying these days to slow down a bit and check my phone hasn’t changed any words. Don’t you hate that?! Glad your into FS, feels good to do this. Myself and Pete had a lot of fun putting the first episode together.

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