Invented Skateboarding Tricks
In the days before skate parks, youths such as Peters and his friends liked to practice skating in empty swimming pools. Breaking into neighbors' backyards, they skateboarded in underground pools until the police chased them out. In pools and empty half-pipes, Peters honed his skills and started inventing his own signature skateboarding tricks. Like his idol, motorcycle stunt rider Evel Knievel, Peters often injured himself, earning the nickname Master of Disaster. At 16, practicing in a 14-foot pipe, he perfected an upside-down, 360-degree loop, a stunt that seemed to defy gravity. With this trick he caught the attention of Skateboarder magazine; soon he was offered money to perform in skate shows, and even made a skateboarding appearance on the 1970s television show That's Incredible! A regular winner in skating contests, Peters had developed a reputation in the skateboarding subculture.
In 1978, Peters, then 17, discovered punk rock. Hearing a recording of punk band The Ramones, he took an instant liking to the music. Soon he was collecting records by such punk groups as Generation X, the Dead Boys, and the Sex Pistols. Peters and some of his friends cut their hair in punk styles and started frequenting punk clubs such as the Cuckoo's Nest in Costa Mesa, California. Eventually Peters and his cohorts started forming their own bands and performing in Southern California clubs. Out of the skateboarding subculture, a new punk-skate subculture was born, with Peters at the center.
"A lot of us were from broken homes," Peters told John Roos of the Los Angeles Times. "We were freaks and misfits. That's why we found punk rock, and it took us in.… We suddenly had somewhere to go."
Influenced by drug-using punk-idol Sid Vicious, Peters and his friends started experimenting with heroin. It didn't take long for the skate-punker to become hooked. For the next 15 years, he struggled with addiction, spending all of his skateboarding prize money on drugs. As a junkie, he was often in trouble with the law, charged with drug possession and trafficking. In and out of jail throughout his 20s and 30s, his time behind bars amounted to six or seven years. Peters quit using heroin in his mid-30s, substituting alcohol for drugs. When he developed liver problems, he eventually quit drinking, too. Living a clean, drug-free lifestyle, Peters became more active in music and skateboarding.