The Life of a Soap Shoe Pro in the '90s Was as Ridiculous as You'd Think

"Girls would be like, 'Oh, how do you sneak this in?' And we're like, 'These are Soap shoes,' and they're like, 'Ah, this is so cool!'"

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Remember Soap Shoes? The concave-equipped kicks, which were hot for a brief period in the late '90s, emulated the feel and fun of inline skating without the wheels. Now, one of the brand's former pro riders, Ryan Jaunzemis, is spilling the Soap scene's secrets in a new interview with Vice.

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According to Jaunzemis, being a pro "Soaper" was essentially a non-stop party, especially as a 17-year-old kid bringing in $1,000 per day. "It was amazing. There was a lot of house parties back then. That was a time when hip-hop music was in its prime... My video was playing in stores in Pacific Sunwear and Journeys all over the country. It was super cool," Jaunzemis said.

These days, he earns his keep by working as a pro pickup artist in Las Vegas, but Jaunzemis says he's had a way with the ladies long before the days of social media. "I would take all the Soap stickers and I would write my phone number on the back. And then I'd hand 'em out to the girls," Jaunzemis said. "We'd have a whole ice chest full of beer, and then we're like, 'OK, the party's in room whatever,' and there'd be all these little Soap groupies there like, 'Oh my God, that's so cool, your shoes are so awesome.'"

And the exploits don't end there. During a period when rave culture was at an all-time high, Jaunzemis remembers using the hidden plate on the sole of Soap Shoes to sneak drugs like Ecstasy into nightclubs. "Girls would be like, 'Oh, how do you sneak this in?' And we're like, 'These are Soap shoes,' and they're like, 'Ah, this is so cool!'"

Unfortunately for Jaunzemis, his career in Soaping came to an end after an ill-fated email in which he vented his frustrations with the company was accidentally sent to his co-workers. Still, he has fond memories of the shoes which he says offered more accessibility than rollerblading and skateboarding.

"I can wear Soaps, and I can grind on the sinks inside the men's restroom. I can slide across the marble sinks, and stuff like that. I grinded on one of the slot machines over there, that was kind of fun. And they were like, 'What are you doing?!' And I was like, 'Oh, nothing, I just drank too much.'"


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