Kevin “Spanky” Long Am Spotlight

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Kevin Long Am Spotlight

Take a long hard look at Spanky’s photos. Notice anything? Hint: the eyes. They exude such a calm, cool, and collect, display of confidence that it’s almost scary. Investigate closely and you’ll notice Kevin Long rarely gazes down at his board when he’s skating—it’s like he knows he’s in control and only looks at where he’s going. This unique style and determination has ultimately put Kevin in the position to make some hard choices regarding sponsors, school, and life in general. But true to his style, it appears Kevin has been handling these decisions just like he skates—calmly looking towards the future.

Allright, do you think you’re ever going to grow out of this Spanky nickname, like how Stevie Williams was over being called Lil’ Stevie.

(Laughs) Yeah, I can’t really imagine being called Spanky forever.

How did it start, anyway?

That started a long time ago, way before I skated or anything. One of my brother’s friends just decided to think of a nickname for me and that just came out—for some reason it stuck. I’m not bummed on it, but I was never really that psyched on it.

Let’s try to put your perspective of skateboarding together from when you started. What was the first skate video you ever saw.

The first video I ever saw was Toy Machine’s Welcome To Hell. I just remember being really psyched on Jamie’s part. That was the first skateboarder who I knew their name, besides Tony Hawk. I liked the tricks Jamie was doing—it stood out to me.

What were the first magazine photos on your wall?

When I first started skating, I would just hang up any random photo. There’s some of them I still remember—like Sergie Ventura, and there was also a Remy Stratton photo. Then when I got really into skating, I just went crazy and did my whole walls. When I was sick one day I took all my magazines and had little shrines for everyone—Andrew Reynolds, Jamie Thomas, Geoff Rowley, they all had one.

Who was the first pro you actually skated with?

I went to a demo at Skate Street skatepark in Ventura (California), and there was all sorts of people there. But the first pro I remember really talking to was Tim Brauch because I had a camera. We were just skating around, and I asked if I could film him. He was just super nice to me and was like, “Follow me.” I followed him all over the course and remember being super psyched on that. I watched the footage and was just fanning out so hard.

So you grew up skating in the Valley.

Yeah, actually I grew up skating in Agora Hills, which is just north of the Valley.

A bunch of good kids came out of the Valley at one time. Like you, Paul Rodriguez, Mike Taylor, and Van Wastell. Did you know each other and skate together before you were sponsored?

Yeah, fully. When we were coming up the sessions would be all of us.

You guys skated together then started getting hooked up?

I actually remember seeing Paul and Mike blowing up and at the time I wasn’t really skating that much. All my friends kind of quit skating, but then once I started skating with them every day and every weekend, I started to get better.

Do you think skating with people who are motivated and taking it to the next level can have a huge impact on someone’s skateboarding?

Oh, definitely. There’s no easier way to progress than seeing people next to you killing it. I feel really lucky to skate with those guys.

You originally skated for Sixteen, how did that come about?

It actually happened when there was a contest at Skate Street in Ventura. It was the first contest I was in, (laughs) and this sketchy crew came out of a van, and it was Neal Mims and Rodney Johnson. So, that’s where I met Rodney, and he started sending me stuff when he became the team manager of Sixteen.

Then you got on City Stars?

Well,he whole idea behind Sixteen Skateboards was kind of weird, and it seemed to kind of fade out for me when Rodney went to World (Industries). At that point I was still skating, living at home, and going to school. I didn’t really have anyone to skate with, I was just getting flowed from World. But thankfully, I started skating with Mike Taylor and Paul Rodriguez. And Mike was on City Stars, so he helped me make a little tape and gave it to Kareem. Then Kareem started hooking me up with boards.

What’s it like to grow up putting photos of Andrew Reynolds on your wall, watching videos of Ed Templeton, and then they both ask you to skate for their teams?

It’s completely unreal. It’s unexplainable. I feel like I shouldn’t be so lucky as to have that choice. That was the first time anybody had asked me to be on a company without me trying to get on. It was crazy because Baker and Toy Machine are my two favorite companies. So yeah, it was good situation, but it was a hard situation.

Most people will choose to skate with friends and the people they feel comfortable with. Is that part of the reason you chose Baker over Toy Machine?

It did a little bit, because I went on a trip with Baker and the whole team was there—it just seemed too right. I felt too comfortable with all the guys. I think most people in general would rather skate with their friends, that’s why I stayed on City Stars so long—skating with my friends.

You seem to be really patient and have a laid-back attitude, which is a lot different from kids out there who are completely obsessed with being sponsored.

Actually, I feel like I worked pretty hard but not just to get sponsored. I like progressing in skateboarding more than anything, and it just so happened that it worked out. I think if I never got sponsored, I would definitely still be skating every day. I think if you skate as much as you want and keep trying hard, things will just work out.

You’re at the age where some kids get caught up in the partying side of skateboarding, have Grecs and Reynolds ever given you advice about that kind of stuff.

Oh, for sure. Because they’ve lived through all that stuff and right now they’re doing really good, setting a good example for me. Those guys are actually really caring dudes. It’s a good feeling to know they have your back.

What’s Jim’s latest gear looking like?

(Laughs) Grecs is so out of control lately it’s great! All of a sudden he just appears with gear like some kind of superhero gypsy or something. Just crazy gypsy gear. I don’t know where he gets it, but I’ll just look over and he’s skating with something flying off his body. Plus now he’s out of control with getting tattoos. He got one and as soon as he got home from the tattoo parlor he went back that night to get more on his other arm.

What kind of tats did he get?

He got a bunch. He got a L.A.M.F., a Baker tattoo under a rose, and a huge panther. It’s amazing because he’s almost like he’s not even thinking it out, he just likes the act of getting the tattoo itself.

What’s it like skating with Reynolds? Does he just blow your mind or what?

With Drew, all I have to hear him say is that he wants to do a trick and it’s done. As soon as he wants to do it, it’s almost too easy once he tries it. I can’t believe it.

How old are you now?

Eighteen.

Do you have a driver’s license?

(Laughs) No, I’m working on that right now. I’ve had my permit like three times, but I never have time to practice because I’ll seriously be home like once a month.

So, your brother is a professional race-car driver?

Yeah, he’s working his way up to Formula One racing cars in Europe. Right now he’s racing some series with Jaguar.

Did that kind of pave the way for your parents being okay with your skateboarding lifestyle?

Yeah, I think that it had a lot to do with it. My brother kind of went through the same thing that I did, but it was way gnarlier for him. He moved out of the house when he was fifteen to go to Europe for racing. He really went for it, and my whole family are racing fanatics.

And you don’t even have a license.

Yeah, I trip out on that.

Have you shown your Emerica video part to your family?

Yeah. They loved it. My parents were really proud. They showed it the whole extended family at a St. Patrick’s Day party. My family’s Irish, so they like to get crazy. It was the over-40 video premiere—it was funny.

You’ve traveled outside of the U.S. a lot this year, right?

Yeah, all over.

How does traveling change your perspective on the world?

It definitely gives you a better view of the world in general. I’ve had a lot of conversations with kids in different countries, and there’s a lot about America that I’ve never realized because the world has a real different view about us, and it’s not just France. It seems like most of the world likes us as people, but government-wise they think we’re f—ked. It’s pretty rad to travel and learn that because I would never have realized that from just watching the nightly news.

With all your traveling, what’s your school situation?

I started homeschool, and then I was traveling too much to even do that. So my homeschool teacher told me I should just take my G.E.D.

Straight up, what’s the deal with homeschool?

(Laughs) Basically I’d say homeschool is a bad idea for anybody—it’s just one step closer to dropping out. Because you have to teach it to yourself and it’s harder than it is at an actual school. Or at least my work was (laughs). But I saw Paul’s (Rodriguez) work, and it looked like kindergarten work or something. I was trying to do algebra two at home and teach myself, it was so f—ked.

You got any plans for the future?

I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and see how it works out. I’ve definitely been trying to not blow any of my money that I’m making.

It seems like you’re not in any rush. Some people are like, “Gotta move out of the house, gotta get a car!”

Yeah, but I was staying in Andrew’s apartment for a while and kind of couch surfing around. And now that I’m back home for a bit, I’m thinking about getting an apartment in Hollywood. I like Hollywood just ’cause all my friends are there. Plus, there’s always something open to go eat and stuff. Unlike Agora, where everything closes at eight.

You’ve probably got a little more money rolling in than theaverage eighteen year old, right?

Probably.

Are you going to pull the standard move and go out and blow it on some car?

Nah, I just need anything that will get me around. I don’t really care about fancy cars that much. I’d take one if someone was going to give me one, but I don’t see spending a lot of money on it.

You’re too damn smart. You want to give some thanks to people who have helped you out?

Yeah, thanks to Rodney Johnson, all the guys at IG Board Shop, Justin Regan and everyone at Emerica, RUCA, Baker, Ghetto Child, and of course everyone else.

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Yeah, I think that it had a lot to do with it. My brother kind of went through the same thing that I did, but it was way gnarlier for him. He moved out of the house when he was fifteen to go to Europe for racing. He really went for it, and my whole family are racing fanatics.

And you don’t even have a license.

Yeah, I trip out on that.

Have you shown your Emerica video part to your family?

Yeah. They loved it. My parents were really proud. They showed it the whole extended family at a St. Patrick’s Day party. My family’s Irish, so they like to get crazy. It was the over-40 video premiere—it was funny.

You’ve traveled outside of the U.S. a lot this year, right?

Yeah, all over.

How does traveling change your perspective on the world?

It definitely gives you a better view of the world in general. I’ve had a lot of conversations with kids in different countries, and there’s a lot about America that I’ve never realized because the world has a real different view about us, and it’s not just France. It seems like most of the world likes us as people, but government-wise they think we’re f—ked. It’s pretty rad to travel and learn that because I would never have realized that from just watching the nightly news.

With all your traveling, what’s your school situation?

I started homeschool, and then I was traveling too much to even do that. So my homeschool teacher told me I should just take my G.E.D.

Straight up, what’s the deal with homeschool?

(Laughs) Basically I’d say homeschool is a bad idea for anybody—it’s just one step closer to dropping out. Because you have to teach it to yourself and it’s harder than it is at an actual school. Or at least my work was (laughs). But I saw Paul’s (Rodriguez) work, and it looked like kindergarten work or something. I was trying to do algebra two at home and teach myself, it was so f—ked.

You got any plans for the future?

I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and see how it works out. I’ve definitely been trying to not blow any of my money that I’m making.

It seems like you’re not in any rush. Some people are like, “Gotta move out of the house, gotta get a car!”

Yeah, but I was staying in Andrew’s apartment for a while and kind of couch surfing around. And now that I’m back home for a bit, I’m thinking about getting an apartment in Hollywood. I like Hollywood just ’cause all my friends are there. Plus, there’s always something open to go eat and stuff. Unlike Agora, where everything closes at eight.

You’ve probably got a little more money rolling in than theaverage eighteen year old, right?

Probably.

Are you going to pull the standard move and go out and blow it on some car?

Nah, I just need anything that will get me around. I don’t really care about fancy cars that much. I’d take one if someone was going to give me one, but I don’t see spending a lot of money on it.

You’re too damn smart. You want to give some thanks to people who have helped you out?

Yeah, thanks to Rodney Johnson, all the guys at IG Board Shop, Justin Regan and everyone at Emerica, RUCA, Baker, Ghetto Child, and of course everyone else.