Sidewalk Skateboarding Lucy Adams - Interview - Sidewalk Skateboarding

Lucy Adams – Interview Lucy Adams – Interview

It is a great privilege to introduce this Lucy Jean Adams interview.

When I first heard of Lucy all those years ago in Horsham she was almost mythical; I didn’t live in the town, I lived in a nearby village and had only heard of Lucy and how good she was from envious skateboarders that couldn’t get to grips with a girl being better than them at skating - something I was guilty of as well once I did skate with her.

It was very different world 20 years ago, skateboarding had not received the same level of mainstream attention and celebration it has had in current times. It wasn’t cool to the masses - it was still very much a sub culture.  At that time getting to see the latest videos or magazines was only possible by going to a skate shop or going to the bigger WH Smiths in the neighbouring town, hoping to find the latest issue of Sidewalk - something that seems unfathomable in current times where you can't move for skateboarding; it’s everywhere.

I think being a girl who skated at that point in time was really unusual, let alone being a female skateboarder in a small suburban town in West Sussex. If I am honest I don’t think this has ever fazed her, if anything it made her love it more.

I didn’t know Lucy when she started skating as it was before my time, but it all began with Lucy turning up with roller boots at Crawley skatepark after a swimming lesson as the park was behind the leisure centre. Luckily for Lucy she was met by Trevor Wedd and told to get out and come back with a skateboard.

It’s safe to say that at the time Trevor never thought that she actually would do just that, let alone still be skating to this day.
The most impressive and inspiring thing about Lucy is her constant drive and dedication to skateboarding, it’s still exactly the same to this day as it was when I first met her, which is admirable on many levels. She’s never done it to be cool or changed with trends – Lucy (like a lot of us) was influenced by great things, all under the watchful eye of Trevor and others at Crawley.

She has always revelled in late 90’s skateboarding: all the good stuff like shiny tracksuit bottoms, éS Koston’s, Axion Mariano’s and various DC’s, and that shines on to this day.  She has always taken skateboarding seriously – something that her family’s sporting influence has to answer for. With an almost professional sporting approach to skateboarding, she would think nothing of getting the first train to be at Crawley Skatepark at 7am and probably get the last train home after doing the same tricks all day until they were perfect. Perhaps her diet did swerve the professional approach a little though as, most of the time, she’d be fuelled by Dr Pepper and chocolate bars.

The other great thing about Lucy is that she doesn’t skate like a girl. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way to other girls, but she just doesn’t. Lucy has her own style - precise and smooth, and that’s something you can’t fake. Style is a huge factor in skating - you could be the best ever but if the style is bad...no one wants to see it. She's certainly competitive but not for the wrong reasons like just wanting to be sponsored: she just loves skateboarding and wanted to be good at it for self-validation.

I hope you enjoy the photographs and stories in this interview as I know it means an awful lot to Lucy – as her long time friend I feel very proud to be introducing her to you all.

Lex Kembery 

Back in 2003, in the early days of the Internet your name appeared on a Sunday Times Rich List. You were listed alongside people like Keira Knightley, young web entrepreneurs, and a bunch of other people who RBS had forecasted to become multi-millionaires by 2020. Explain please…

(Laughs), yeah – that came from someone called Philip Beresford who worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland at the time and compiled the Sunday Times Rich List each year.

It was a predicted Rich List and the media made a fairly big deal of it. Somehow they’d found out about me and I guess looked up my number in the phone book as you had to do before the Internet made everything easy. I’d get home from college and there’d be messages on my parent’s answer machine from these people and I’d just ignore them. Eventually my mum told me that I couldn’t just keep avoiding it, you know from a parent’s point of view it was probably pretty exciting. “Lucy, they think you’re going to be rich – you should at least ring them back.”

One day I got caught out and answered the home phone without thinking and it was the woman who’d left all the messages.

I explained how I didn’t really understand what they wanted me to do or say – I was only maybe 17 at the time, so it was pretty heavy…

It was all a bit weird; I’d heard of Keira Knightley, but everyone else on the list were just names that I knew nothing about so I couldn’t even really put it in context.  She kept mentioning all these ‘young entrepreneurs’ as if I’d know who they were, (laughing). Actually, thinking back there was one person on there who I’d heard of, the BMXer Shanaze Reade, but obviously I didn’t ‘know’ her, which is what this woman expected. So basically, I got talked into allowing the Beresfords to include my name on this list – mainly so they’d stop calling me all the time, (laughs).

Did you expect it to blow up the way it did?

No, not at all – honestly I just agreed and then thought nothing else of it. Then one day the national press just picked it up – it was in The Times first, with all the other newspapers reporting on it after that. It was at that point that I realised that other people on this list with me were, well ‘a bit of a thing’, (laughing). Wayne Rooney was on there, Keira Knightley as I said.

The day it blew up I had all these people, like distant relatives etc, calling up my mum going, “Oh we saw Lucy on the news this morning – she’s rich!”

All assuming that I actually had this ten million that was being discussed: it was a nightmare. There’s a street in Horsham where I lived at the time, the main shopping street, and as I was walking home from college people were just randomly coming up to me and talking about how they’d seen me in the paper or on the news: just so weird. I was a girl skateboarder in a small town so people knew me anyway, but as soon as I was apparently “worth ten million” it was non-stop.

Did you ever find out where the ten million figure came from?

They said, “We’re basing this on Tony Hawk’s earnings currently but we think that by 2020 female skateboarding will have kicked off, it’ll be in the Olympics and you’ll be worth £10 million”. (Laughs). Funnily enough it looks as if their prediction of the Olympics was right after all…

Maybe it’s not too late then? You’ve got four years left to bag the ten million…

I’m still pretty confident, seems fairly achievable to me, (laughing).

You knew it was bollocks though, surely? Or were you expecting to be getting dropped off at The Level in a helicopter by now?

(Laughs), yeah I knew. That’s why I ignored the whole thing for so long because I knew it was so stupid. It’s a good anecdote though. “You may remember me from the Sunday Times Rich List 2003…”

It’s still out there, on the Internet, forever.

So lets go back a bit Lucy – how were you initially introduced to skateboarding? I’m assuming that there weren’t any other female skaters around Horsham when you were a child…

Well we had a couple of steel mini ramps outside the Leisure Centre in Horsham and I had roller-skates as a kid, Bauer quads, I’d rolled backwards and forwards on the mini a few times when I was really young, so I was sort of aware of skateboarding on that level.

Some time after that I got pretty heavily into swimming, swimming for Crawley Swimming Club. Out the back of the Crawley pool these timber structures started appearing and each time I’d go to swim there would be more. One Friday night I decided to take my rollerskates with me to swimming – the ramps were still not finished but there were a couple of guys skating some bits of it. So I went in through the fence with my two friends who were twins, and we were all just lippy teenage girls so we just climbed into the park.

Funnily enough, one the guys in there skating turned out to be Trevor Wedd, who I ended up becoming really close friends with later.

Trev was on the ramp, probably showing off, and he did a blunt fakie and even now I remember thinking, “I can’t actually believe what I just saw happen, that must’ve been magic!”

Right after that, Trev goes, “go on then, you can have a go now”. Obviously I was a bit nervous after seeing him skate but I had a quick roll up and down with my friends giggling at the side. Then as I finished, one of the guys said something like, “You can skate here any time you like but next time you’ll need a skateboard” and because of what I’d just seen happen it just clicked in my head, “Yeah, you’re right, I do really need a skateboard”. My dad turned up to pick me up and asked me if I’d had a go on the ramps and I said I had but explained how I definitely needed to get a skateboard.

One of the guys who worked in his butchers shop had a board and he said he’d ask him about where to get one for me. His mate ended up giving him an old board so a couple of days later, that was it – I had my first ever skateboard.

Were there any other girls around who you saw skating back then?

No, not for a good few years: Only me.

But that wasn’t an issue?

No not really. I just wanted to do it so I did. A lot of the other skateboarders at the park were older than me, like four or five years older, which when you’re 13 is a massive gap. The skatepark itself was new when I started though, so that brought a ton of new people there which meant that there were loads of people learning from zero like me, which definitely made it less intimidating as a beginner.

At that time the rollerblading boom was in full swing too, so most of the people my age were into that but I’d already decided it was skateboarding for me and that “I needed to do a blunt fakie”, (laughs). I remember seeing Trev ollie up onto the flat bottom of the mini ramp one day fairly early on as well. At that point I thought skateboarding was just mini ramp, I didn’t know there was anything else to it, completely innocent as to what it was beyond going backwards and forwards on a ramp doing grinds and what have you. Then I saw him ollie and I had no idea what was happening, (laughing).

Stu from Lovenskate asked me to ask you about something you and he have discussed before – about how social conditioning seems to work on young women when they get to a certain age and might dissuade some girls from getting into something like skateboarding. What are your thoughts on that? Was your conditioning different?

I guess so; my mum was a sporty woman. We have a game down here, a traditional West Sussex game called ‘Stoolball’ – it’s essentially women’s cricket, but with a round bat and smaller balls. My mum played in a team and it was a big deal locally with leagues and whatnot. Her team, and the one that she went on to captain, were one of the best teams – she’d be out doing that three times a week. Before that she used to play roller hockey, which is why I had the Bauer Turbo’s in the first place, and we’d go to roller discos regularly. So from a young age I was always doing stuff, playing sports, out on my bike etc. So yeah maybe, the social pressure to be ‘a girl’ in that way wasn’t really in my head…

But it is something that you think exists though? That conditioning that maybe puts certain girls off trying things like skateboarding?

Definitely, I was lucky through having my mum as a role model – she made it so it was acceptable to try anything I wanted to. She still thought that skateboarding was dangerous though and when I’d come home covered in blood, she wasn’t always happy. I remember the day I first tried to go over the spine at Crawley and I turned up back at home with my trousers ripped, blood everywhere, after pretty much throwing myself at the spine from 9am until it got dark, (laughing). I walked into the house and she goes, “Oh God! What have you been doing?” So she’d never come and watch me skate, but she didn’t try to stop me doing it.

These days there are a lot more women skating in general so does that mean that the social conditioning we’re discussing isn’t as pervasive? Or is it simply because there are more visible role models so more and more women feel inspired to try skating themselves?

I think there’s definitely that element to it. It’s easier to get into skating these days for sure, so that even though the conditioning is still there, there’s so much evidence out there of it being ‘okay to be female and to be skateboarding’ if that makes sense. Whereas back when I was first getting into it, that didn’t really exist. I wasn’t seeing Facebook posts about ‘Girl’s Nights’ at skateparks, or footage of girls skating. It was unheard of, even ten years ago…

Who were your early skateboarding influences?

As I said already, Trev was basically the local skatepark hero for a lot of people but he was never intimidating in that way. The stuff he did on his board might’ve been intimidating in the sense of it being way beyond what you could do yourself, but as a person he was always really forthcoming and encouraging to everyone. One of the key influential things about Trevor for me as well was that he didn’t smoke and he didn’t do any drugs and everybody else did. For me to see that at such a young age was really inspiring, like, “wow this man’s different” – it must’ve taken somebody really strong to do that because smoking cigs and weed was so rife at the park.

Did he influence you in that respect because you don’t drink or smoke or do drugs, do you?

The thing was that back then my school life and my out of school life were so different. I’d see things at the skatepark that just were not part of anyone’s life at school. I was at an all-girls school in Horsham so we were all pretty sheltered from real life. You know, maybe people drunk a little bit of Hooch at a party but that was about as rock and roll as it got. Then I’d go to the skatepark and everyone would be skinning up around me, (laughing). I learned pretty quickly what it was despite being fairly innocent. People would occasionally offer, out of courtesy more than anything, but nobody ever tried to push it on me. I was nervous being around people smoking weed because all the stories in the media at the time were of people dying from taking ecstasy, and at that age I didn’t know the difference: drugs were drugs to me. Drugs were bad – that’s what all I knew. I’d see people smoking weed and have to fight the urge to say something like, “Do you know you might die?”

Then because Trev didn’t do it either it and he was really cool, it just became easier to decide that I wasn’t into it.

Was there ever a point when you were skating with people like Trev, and then later with your friends like Lex where it was a case of you realising, “I’m a girl and they’re not” – or was it always fairly normal in that respect?

Yeah for most of the early years we were all just skaters and that was it. I’ll tell you a funny story actually, about the first time that me being a woman sort of became apparent to me. I used to hang out with this guy who we called ‘Fruitbat’ and one day he and I both had the same inset day off school so we were going to go to London and skate Playstation together. I think I was probably about 15 at the time. Anyway, it was Valentine’s Day that day, not that I even knew, so I got on the train at Horsham, and then he got on the train at Crawley with a rose in his hand. I remember thinking, “what’s he carrying a rose for? What a nutter…” Then he got on the train and gave the rose to me.

A skate date that you didn’t know about beforehand?

Yep, exactly – it was excruciating. I had to carry this rose and my board all day because I didn’t want to be a dick to him but I just knew straight away that, ‘this isn’t going to be normal now is it? We’re not going to be friends today are we? This is gonna be awkward’. (Laughing), like old couples looking at us sitting together on the Tube with me holding this rose going, “Aww, isn’t that cute”. It was horrendous.

That was the first time within skating where I realised like, “oh no, I’m different aren’t I?” Mostly I was just Lucy to everyone else and it was normal but I guess as puberty started to kick in, things were a bit different. I remember that as some of my skate mates who were all boys hit that age and the talk of girls started to be a thing, I’d be the one sitting in the corner, or off skating on my own, (laughing).

Were there any negative aspects to being a female skater once you started travelling to skate outside your local area where everyone knew you?

I’ve tried to remember this before because people do tend to ask about it but honestly, I can’t really think of anything in particular so I guess not. I mean there would be the odd comment but nothing particularly unpleasant, no.

I’d obviously get the classic “can you do a kickflip?” but then I’d just do a kickflip so it was a non-issue, (laughs). Honestly I can’t really remember getting any grief, beyond the odd dick asking me if I was a boy or a girl because of the way I dressed.

Twilight boardslide beside the seaside, beside the sea - Worthing seaside to be precise. Photo CJ

Twilight boardslide beside the seaside, beside the sea - Worthing seaside to be precise. Photo CJ

What were your earliest interactions with the wider skate scene? Did you enter contests before there were female events?

Yeah but only at Crawley skatepark really, plus those were usually team comps anyway. I think probably the first female skate event I went to would’ve been Jenna and Rolo’s one at Bay 66.

You’re a competitive person though, right?

Yeah.

So beyond the cultural importance of female-only events, they’re also important to you in a personal sense too?

Totally. Back then I was still influenced by my life at school, doing GCSE and A-Level P.E., playing loads of sports, swam for the county, etc, etc, and the whole culture of that was about winning or losing. Obviously I played sport to have fun but at the level I was participating in most of the sports, winning was the point to an extent. When I first started skating, it clashed with swimming, which I was already into fairly seriously, and with the skatepark in Crawley being next to the pool, that created some fairly amusing incidents at the time. I’d get dropped off at the pool by my mum, skate the whole night, not go anywhere near the pool, then dip my head in the sink just before getting picked up to make it look like I’d been swimming, (laughs).

My friends would be like “you’re so out of order, we’re gonna to tell you mum…” Nobody ever knew though because I was really organised, I’d have wet hair, I’d have run my swimming costume under the tap as well, (laughs) and go home and pretend. I didn’t want to go backwards and forwards in the pool and worry about winning any more, I liked skateboarding and I wanted to get better at it. So I guess I was still competitive at that point where I ditched swimming but it was more that I wanted to learn more tricks because I knew it’d be even more fun if I did.

Do you think female-only events and skatepark sessions like the She-shredders thing you run in Brighton are crucial to maintaining female participation in skating? Are these ‘safe-spaces’ necessary?

They are yes, completely necessary – especially right now, I think so at least, not every female skater agrees though. If you compare skateboarding to other sports, or look at the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, or look at any of the research that has been done into this, which I personally have because I work in this sector, it all tells us that this is what women and girls are saying. The drop off rate for girls aged 14 in any sport is twice that of boys of the same age. So if having an environment or a space which makes it easier and less intimidating to access whatever sport it is and makes you feel like you can do it – that’s what it’s about. It’s not different with skateboarding – ‘feeling like you can’ is what brings people into it. It obviously works – look how many female skaters there are now, compared to only ten years ago…

That’s definitely true…

I saw it first hand through doing the She-shredders night in Brighton. To start with we had really bad numbers, or we’d get crazy peaks and troughs and for a long while I had to constantly justify why we needed it. It took a while but it built and built where now we get new people coming every single week, all different ages, all different backgrounds and every one of them says, “Without this, there’s no way I’d be skateboarding”.

It’s intimidating going to a skatepark as a beginner full stop – now imagine how intimidating it is as a woman, even today where it’s a lot more accepted. We get people of all ages too – everyone from kids, to women in their late 30’s/early 40’s, so like I said earlier, I do honestly believe that women-only sessions are essential. A 40 year old woman, no matter how much she might not give a toss what people think, isn’t going to roll up to The Level as a complete beginner on a Saturday afternoon – it’s skateboarding, you are going to fall on your arse in front of people, (laughing). It’s embarrassing, we all know that – so what I’m trying to do, and what other people doing similar things are trying to do – is create a supportive environment where women feel comfortable taking those first steps. It creates a scene – it’s rad.

So people can get involved with She-shredders via Facebook then?

Yeah just find us on there – come along, get involved. Everyone is welcome.

You’re also involved with the new governing body ‘Skateboard England’ – can you tell us about that?

It’s the national governing body for skateboarding in England. Initially it came about via Jerome Campbell and a couple of guys he was working with – they got a chap called James Hope-Gill on board who had a lot of experience with governing bodies in sport, mainly in football – someone who had the necessary experience to actually do this properly. I’m aware that it’s not for everybody, and that for some skaters even the idea of a governing body is objectionable but I genuinely think there is a need for one, especially now…

Why now?

For lots of reasons: not least the Olympics potentially being on the horizon. But on a smaller, more nationally relevant level too because despite it being 2016, sub standard skateparks are still being built and public money is still being wasted – it’s stupid. That’s one of the major reasons behind setting Skateboard England up – to try and combat that.

Who is involved and how were you approached?

Jerome (Campbell) had already started the process as I said, and had already got James (Hope-Gill) on board as the CEO. They then started talking to some of the people who had been involved with the UKSA before, put feelers out to see who might be interested in being involved in this, and basically spent a year or so travelling around the country meeting people and consulting. My name came up, they came to meet me, I was keen to be involved and it went from there.

The list of directors are Wingy (Steve Wilkinson) and Nic Powley who were previously involved in the UKSA, Jerome Campbell, Ricardo Magee (who works for Brighton and Hove Council as a Skatepark Development Officer), Paul Regan, Russ Holbert and James Hope-Gill. So there’s a good cross section of skaters and people with different experience within skateboarding. I was nominated for the Chair at the first board meeting, people voted ‘yes’, so that’s currently where we are, (laughing).

Are you working with accreditation routes for skate coaching as well? That is an area that offers real job opportunities for skaters but always seemed a bit ad hoc in England to me…

Absolutely – that is a huge part of what we’re trying to do. That’s been our focus recently as it goes. As the number of indoor parks has grown and more and more local authorities have accepted skateboarding, the need for qualified people to teach skateboarding in a more formal and structured way has arisen. Obviously there are people delivering skate coaching all around the country but there’s no real consistency so we’ve developed a qualification, which has been recognized by an accredited body called First for Sport. That will start being delivered this year.

Thus creating genuine employment opportunities for skateboarders?

Exactly – people will be doing it in all different capacities: self-employed, working for youth services, working directly with skateparks – all kinds of different modes of delivery and all kinds of different styles of teaching. All this qualification is meant to do is to formalise certain aspects of the coaching process, things like the safest way to teach, etc and to create conditions where skate coaching is regarded as a genuine need and a skill that is rewarded appropriately in terms of careers etc.

I guess it’s a case of – if skateboarders don’t do this for themselves, somebody else will…

Essentially that’s it. There’s no avoiding it, skateboarding in this country is on its way to having to deal with organisations and bodies like Sport England and if skateboarders aren’t involved in this process and non-skaters end up becoming the recognised governing body then the nuances and specialness of skateboarding will be forgotten so that it’ll fit into the predetermined ‘sausage machine’ of sport, if you like. So we’re trying to do just that, keep our culture safe whilst doing what needs to be done to push things like coaching accreditation and skatepark standards in a wider ‘official’ context.

If people want to find out more about Skateboard England and get involved in whatever capacity they can go to skateboardengland.org

From your perspective are there any physiological reasons why in the future female skateboarding can’t be at the same level (at least trick-wise) as male skateboarding?

Well it’s still untested really isn’t it? That’s what makes it exciting. These days you’ll see things on Facebook regularly, you know, ‘4 year old girl front boards a handrail’ so I don’t see why we’re not going to see a whole new generation of female skaters killing it at the same level. Not that there’s a set way to ‘be the best’ in skateboarding obviously, but I do think that we’re going to see the level get higher and higher as time goes on.

What about equality of opportunity for female skaters?

Well, at the moment you’ve got people like Lacey Baker and Vanessa Torres who are considered to be ‘the best’ and are doing the big comps alongside the guys. A while ago a group formed and managed to get the X-Games to pay the men and the women the same prize money, which I thought was brilliant.

Then more recently, you’ve got Street League including women, but only paying us a third of what the chaps get. Obviously it is undeniable that there’s a difference in the ability levels right now but I don’t think that necessarily means there should be a difference in the prize money for something like Street League. It’s a spectacle isn’t it? It’s for the viewing audience and I’m pretty certain that there are enough people tuning in to watch the women on Street League to justify paying them the same money to compete in it. It’s different maybe from how you’d be treated by a sponsor – something like Street League is about attracting viewers, and having women doing it does that, surely? With the exception of Leticia, the women competing in Street League are getting paid nothing really, contest earnings is pretty much all there is for women skating at that level. I’m pretty shocked by that to be honest – like the best of the best basically get nothing. It just doesn’t seem right, looked at from that perspective, that something as big as Street League would pay them less. They pay their own flights to and from these events too – Vanessa even did a GoFundMe to get to that Kimberly Diamond comp in South Africa recently.

So you’re saying that as these contests are created for TV, they need women involved but for whatever reason they’re not prepared to offer the same prizes or support?

Exactly that. The way I see it is that Street League needed women because that’s the ISF’s perspective of how a sport is going to join the Olympics – which, let’s be honest, is exactly what Street League wants. Whoever was there negotiating on behalf of female skateboarding ought to have stuck to their guns and refused to do it until the money was the same in my opinion. They needed us more than we needed them – no women, no Olympics. I feel really let down by it to be honest…

Vanessa Torres had an interview on Jenkem recently which created a fair bit of conversation online – one of the things she talked about was the idea of an almost separate female-oriented skate industry with woman-focused brands and all the rest. What’s your take on that?

I think that idea and those kinds of brands have a right to exist and they do give people a platform, but I don’t think we need to be segregated by gender really. I know the reason why brands like Meow started, and why Mimi and co started Hoopla in the first place – because there were no opportunities out there so in a sense, why not do that? Thing is, and maybe something that I forget, is just how big skateboarding is in the States – so big that even brands which seem really tiny (in comparison to the major ones at least) probably still have fairly large audiences over there.

I guess girls over here see that and it’s inspiring because it’s a platform isn’t it? Within female skating, people like Lacey Baker are the best undeniably, so surely they want sponsors that are actually pushing them. If that doesn’t exist within the skate industry already then of course they’re going to go and create it for themselves. Then you can have video parts to work on, shoot adverts, all the stuff that top-level skaters do. So from that perspective I can see what Vanessa’s saying about there being more scope for female coverage and I guess female-only brands can help with that but, in my own opinion, I don’t think it needs to be totally separate. Do we have that in other sports or whatever? Like completely separate women’s industries? I don’t think so…

Vanessa also talked a lot about the representation of LGBT people within skateboarding and how there are no ‘out’ male pros, whereas gay female skaters seem to be accepted as part of the culture and nobody really makes a big deal out of it.

It’s implied in her interview that it’s almost a duty for a male pro to come out, isn’t it? What do you think about that?

I wish it would happen for sure. It’s a cliché how we all pretend that as skateboarders we’re all so inclusive and open but it’s not like that at all, especially not in terms of ‘the industry’. You’ve got the cool guys who have to ‘back’ something before everyone else is allowed to say it’s cool or ‘legit’ or whatever. I wish we were more like we pretend we are. The stats are there, if 10% of the population are gay then clearly there are gay pro skaters but nobody has openly said so. It’s the same in a lot of sports though, this isn’t exclusive to skateboarding; it’s still considered a big deal if a football player comes out, or like that rugby player who did recently.

Surely it has to happen eventually though? It’s always discussed in terms of ‘well maybe it’d be career suicide if they came out’ which I suppose is something only the person involved can know…

At this time would it really be that gnarly for somebody’s career though? I can’t see it if I’m honest, just because I know that there are hundreds of thousands of people who would stand up for anyone who did it. It probably only needs one high profile pro to come out and it’ll be a non-issue anyway. There are plenty of gay skater groups on the Internet these days, there’s a community; it’s not hidden. Does anyone even care about what sexuality people are any more?

Saying that, I don’t personally know any gay male skateboarders…

Some of the online chat about this issue does get heated, almost as if people make it someone’s responsibility to come out, whether they want to or not – surely it’s their business, regardless of whether they’re a public figure or not?

Totally, hounding somebody to come out because everyone wants it to happen is definitely not the right way to go about it. It’s a person’s own choice but let’s not pretend it’s not interesting. I want to know about certain people myself, but like you say – it is up to them in the end. It is odd to think that there are fairly high profile people out there, totally ‘out’ in their own life but still kind of ‘in the closet’ in terms of their public persona. What a strange situation to be in.

Why isn’t it an issue with female skaters being out?

I guess it’s because of the other stuff that comes with being a gay woman and doing any sport – say how you’d be seen as maybe more of a butchy kind of type. It’s almost like fitting into the stereotype on some level so it’s not such a big deal. It’s not so much of a cultural leap for people – if you were a female footballer it would hardly be shocking to people to find out that you were gay, a lot of people would probably assume you were anyway.

So let say a high profile male pro came out publically, would that be a good thing for skateboarding as a whole?

Yeah I think so. There must be plenty of younger male skaters who are gay who will be thinking ‘oh no, there’s nobody out there like me’ – at least in the sense of role models who are famous within the culture. Whereas for me, as a gay woman, there are loads, and always have been. But for a young boy, it’s not visible or acknowledged, which must be a lot harder.

Are you famous within the LGBT community as a skateboarder?

(Laughs), a bit yeah, I’ve been interviewed in a lesbian magazine before so I guess so.

What about the stuff that Vanessa Torres said about Leticia Bufoni and the marketing around her in that interview? She seemed to kind of imply that Leticia was either being manipulated, or was happily allowing herself to be manipulated. What did you think about that?

Vanessa basically said that the main problem was that Leticia had a male agent, and that if she’d had a female agent then she wouldn’t have been doing half the stuff she has done, the naked shoots and all that. My problem with that is this – an agent is an agent, they’re doing their job to get money and contracts, both for themselves and for their client so I don’t think that Leticia having a female agent would’ve made any difference at all. If Brazilian Men’s Health magazine had approached a female agent with an offer of 100k for Leticia to do a naked shoot I’m fairly certain that the end result would’ve been exactly the same. Take your top off, pose with your board, take the money. An agent is an agent, that’s why people have them. I think Vanessa was being a bit sexist there to be honest, trying to blame it on a man making Leticia do something she didn’t want to do. Once you accept the situation where you have an agent, these kinds of things are all part of it so maybe it’s a bit patronising to suggest she’s being manipulated. I don’t know her personally, but I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s doing…

Am I allowed to ask about your homophobic neighbour?

Yeah. How do you know about that?

I heard you basically live next to Alf Garnett.

The Italian Alf Garnett, yeah, we do. He’s just got mad beef. We live in a terraced street so obviously everyone can hear everything that everyone else does. They’re retired but not that old. The original falling out was because my sister and Emily’s sister used to use our parking spaces whilst they were at college, which was totally legit but he came out one day and told Emily’s younger sister that she wasn’t allowed to park outside our house. There was more to it than that though, Em’s sister kind of said, “well I can” and I think this guy went too far – started shouting and swearing at her in Italian and Emily got wind of it and went ballistic. Back then, when we’d speak to the neighbours they’d always refer to Emily as ‘my friend’ and we’d say no, we live together because we’re in a relationship together but they’d just ignore it and refer to each of us as the other’s ‘friend’. So that went on for a while until one day when we were having a fence put up to replace the shrubs which had acted as the boundary between the gardens previously. He had laid some crazy paving himself in his garden and it came over our boundary so when it came to putting our fence up, this became an issue – such clichéd British neighbour beef, (laughing).  So we had to ask him to move his paving so we could put our fence up and he just wasn’t having it. The guys who were putting the fence in couldn’t deal with this guy because he was out there, on their case every day that they were working, just being a nightmare about his paving. It went on and on until one day he followed Emily up the path shouting and swearing at her and that’s when it all came out. “You need a cock up your arse, you need sorting out by a man”, all this shit.

Bloody hell…

Yeah I know. How she didn’t just knock him out on the spot, I’ll never know. It’s just gone from bad to worse ever since. He won’t let his wife talk to us, I think he’s afraid we might touch her, or seduce her or something, (laughing). He’s lost it basically. It’s pretty funny from our perspective to be honest: we’ll pull into our driveway and he’ll just be standing there in his house staring at us so we’ll go with it, calling him a wanker, giving him the V’s, snogging in the car in front of him, (laughing). He must be in there just gritting his teeth, (laughs). It’s comical really.

Ticking the British winter box with an indoor carpark rocket noseslide - keep it waxy. Photo CJ

Ticking the British winter box with an indoor carpark rocket noseslide - keep it waxy. Photo CJ

It’s probably time to talk about Nyjah Huston and ‘that comment’ in his Thrasher interview about how ‘skateboarding isn’t for girls’. You were pretty vocal about how much that pissed you off at the time.

Yeah I was, just because it’s so unacceptable to say something like that and then to get away with it on the level that he did. Obviously people challenged it and he got called a dick online and his agent made an apology on his behalf, but nothing really happened to him. Just imagine if Andy Murray said something similar in his post Wimbledon interview, “Oh yeah, I don’t think women should play tennis”. Do you really think adidas or any of his other sponsors would just let him get away with it? He would’ve been gone, and the country would’ve been in uproar. I know it’s skateboarding and it’s different, but still – it’s just bollocks. The fact that DC were all prepped to still release his pro shoe two weeks later and didn’t even acknowledge it, to me that’s mental.

Didn’t you quit DC because of it?

Yeah, it was one of the reasons. I was fed up anyway as the styles I liked were never available to me and so I wasn’t skating in the type of shoe I wanted and at 30 that became less attractive eventually. The Nyjah thing was the last straw. I felt like an idiot; how could I just stand by after he had said that and carry on repping DC? What if they sent me a package of Nyjahs? (Laughs), I’d have had to burn them.

So this leads me perfectly onto – last night (Saturday 6th Feb) you were tagged into a Josh Kalis Instagram post – one of your skate heroes – about his new LTE DC shoe. What’s the background to this?

Well although I did leave DC, one of the chaps there whom I was always good friends with had always said that if there were ever any shoes that I liked that I should let him know. I’d seen this Kalis LTE thing coming up, and I’d had the original ones in red the first time around. They were my chillers, my best shoe; I loved them. The thing was they were half a size too small and they used to hurt my feet so I ended up giving them to a skater who was my friend at the time. I said, “don’t skate in them, just in case I want them back – they’re yours but they’re still mine”, (laughs). I lost touch with him over the years then when I did see him again he was skating in them. I was gutted. So anyway, they were gone forever and I regretted giving them away. When I saw that this LTE in red was coming out I hit my friend up at DC and said that I basically needed to get a pair as soon as they came out. Dave Snaddon works there now so he was on it, he replied and said he’d keep an eye on stock and let me know. So I wrote an Insta post saying, “I’m ready for the all red colourway when you are” and tagged Kalis in and he must’ve seen it and then posted a pair in red with me tagged in. That was wicked.

Knowing you, I can only imagine how stoked you will have been on it…

It was so rad. We were getting ready to go out to a birthday party when Kalis posted it, I think I might’ve checked Instagram in the toilet or something, and I was just too excited. (Laughing), like, “oh my God I don’t know how to cope with this!”

I knew that I was going to have to deal with real life people but that I’d need to be on my phone constantly as well after he’d posted, (laughs). As if Kalis did that though? What a cool guy. That is the thing about him; he is one of my favourite skateboarders but I think that the way he conducts himself on the Internet, the way he posts on Instagram, posting on Slap under his own name – he’s kept it 100% real.

Did you have to explain to your wife why you were glued to your phone all night, or does Em know how dope Josh Kalis is?

(Laughing), she’d already had a couple of glasses of red so she was flying anyway, but yeah; I was trying to explain to her how significant it was. That why I had to tag a few people in as I was surrounded by people who didn’t skate and I needed to talk to someone who knew how cool it was.

Is Emily resigned to her fate as a skate widow?

Yeah she loves it. There was a time when she’d come to the skatepark in the summer on a warm night and watch, which might have diminished a bit because she does her own thing as well, which is one of the great things about our marriage but yeah, she loves an event. She’s quite a competitive person herself too so she likes that aspect of it.

Okay Lucy, as much as I don’t want to, I think we’ll have to call it here – that’s nearly 3 hours of chat. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’ve got loads of people that I owe thanks to and I want to apologise first to anyone that I miss – sorry, but thanks! So, I’ll start with Trev Wedd who gave me the gift of skateboarding, this is what this whole thing is about after all.

Thanks to Lec for being the best, best friend and bearing with me when I’ve been a nightmare. Thanks to my wife Emily for her support and encouragement and all my family including my little sister Rosie whom I used to make skate regular to be like me, even though she was definitely goofy.

Thanks to all the Crawley Innit crew, new and old, thanks to Josie Milllard for the newfound street inspiration, Danni for everything she does with Girl Skate UK and the girl’s scene, Andy Evans for some great videos and great coaching! Thanks to Jenna Selby for working on some great projects, Hannah Bailey, Sam Roberts, all my Brighton She Shredders and all of the Lovenskate team. Big ups to you guys at Sidewalk and CJ for shooting all the photos! Lastly, thanks to all my sponsors Stu Smith at Lovenskate for the love and belief, Nic Powley at Skate Pharmacy, Alan Glass at Shiner for the Bones Wheels and Thunder Trucks, Bertand and Joseph at Carhartt for the gifts, Viktor at Cheapo and Nat at Thrashion! Oops, how can I forget the best female skate ever to do it – thank you Elissa.

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