Alex Carolino Roll Call

Words by Mackenzie Eisenhour

Photography by Oliver Barton

Around 2001, JB Gillet had been crashing on our couch for a few years every time he came to the States, and we (the roomies) became good friends with all the dudes at Lordz Wheels and Aeon Shoes. I had known Bastien, who was never around in those days, since he pushed mongo from summer holidays back in France, and we all would spend nights speaking French, rolling Euro cigarettes, and drinking the beer of choice for a Frenchman overseas, Heineken, often to the dismay of some of the non-French-speaking members of our L.A. “skrib (a.k.a. skate crib).

Somewhere in the mix, I remember Benoit, the Lordz/Aeon team manager, pulling out his laptop and queuing this Brazilian kid’s footage he was claiming they’d hooked up with, and how good he was, and how much pop he had, and how cool he was, and all the rest. By then I knew Benoit pretty well, and I knew he had that team-manager disease called “My guy’s God’s gift to the planet Earth, but I nonetheless watched as an edited part ensued and made some of the label slide off my beer. He was right. The Brazilian kid was damn good. His name was Alex Carolino, and he’d been sitting in the corner of my apartment, quietly, without saying a word since they’d gotten there. Turns out, Alex has a lot to say. Actually, with two-and-a-half hours’ worth of interview on tape, I think it might be safe to say he has more to say than any person I’ve ever interviewed. The biggest problem was that most of what he said was amazing.

How did you get on Seek?

Well, Flo Marfaing was already on, and I guess one day Josh Kalis and Rob Dyrdek were watching some 411 with European contest footage and they asked Flo, like, “What’s up with this guy? They started sending me some boards, I liked the boards, and eventually the whole team came to Europe on a tour. I met up with them, and from then on I was basically on.

Where are you from?

I’m from Curitiba, in the South of Brazil. My city is cool. It has a lot of parks and places you can go chill out. I’ve been to so many big cities around the world, and they really ended up not being so big.

Was it weird skating with Josh Kalis and Rob Dyrdek all of a sudden?

Well, no, not really. I know some people feel that way, like, they see people in the videos, magazines, and then they see them in person and run up all crazy to people they really don’t even know at all and have never even met, asking a million questions. I’m not really like that. Like, I was skating Barcelona with Danny Way, and I knew of him from the old videos and all that, but we just kind of skated. I met him just like everybody I meet, then I got to know him just like anybody else, and he turned out to be a really cool guy, you know. Everybody I’ve met has kind of been the same for me. I don’t really look at them any other way than I would another kid at the spot. I mean, I’ve seen some fools come all crazy, and it shows. It’s not natural.

How did you get from the Alien Workshop family to Santa Cruz?

I was in China after Seek closed up, and they started talking about it. Then in L.A., Lee Smith was talking about it more. We ended up going up to San Francisco and along the way stopped at Santa Cruz. Jake Jones, the manager, gave me some boards, and I liked the wood and everything. We talked some more, and I went back a second time to the warehouse, met Jeff Kendall and those guys, and they wanted me and Flo and Lee, so it kind of just happened. I just felt like it would bring more hype to have all of us together because we skate together, we’re homeys, and it’s like a legendary company—it felt right. I think with the rest of the team, we’re gonna come real hard. They’re gonna hear about us.

Did you skate Derby Park yet?

No. I got to hit that place up next time and check it out.

What happened to Baptiste Mysor?

Well, yeah, they kept him on Alien for Europe, and he still skatefor them. You know, the skateboard industry, it’s like the job market. You have some people that skate so good and nobody pays attention, and then you have some other people that don’t really skate at all and they’ve got everything. Life goes on either way.

Did you know about Santa Cruz from back in the day? How old are you?

I’m 23. I mean, I knew a little bit from being a kid. But lately, I watched the three first videos (Wheels Of Fire, Streets on Fire, and Speed Freaks) on DVD.

How does it feel to fill the shoes of Jason Jessee, Eric Dressen, Natas, and Salba?

It’s crazy, you know? I don’t know, man.

When was the first time you met Lee Smith?

I met him in L.A. the first time I went with Lordz. We got a little room for everybody for like three months. Then we just skated all over there and ran into everybody. Lee was always super cool, so we became friends.

What’s the biggest difference between riding for an American company and a European one?

I think honestly, there’s not that much difference. I mean, the work is the same. You film, you turn in ads, you skate. Then again, it comes from the U.S. Like a lot of things—music, sports, film, or whatever—skateboarding is from there, so I see that as a difference. Also, the attention you get in America is so much bigger. There’s more pressure to have some sort of image or something. Me, I just do what I feel like doing and don’t really try to be somebody I’m not. Some of the companies put a lot of pressure on these young kids, you know? I think if those kids like what they’re doing, then it’s cool. Flo and me just skate what we want. You just got to be yourself, and that’s pretty much it. Don’t do what you think people will like, but do what you actually like. Feel it.

What about the attitudes?

Yeah, that’s a crazy one. I flew into Barcelona one time, and this cab driver starts asking me questions like, “Oh, you skateboard? and all that, and then he told me they have commercials on television in Spain telling kids to come skate Barcelona. I was tripping out—I never saw the ad, but it was like a tourist commercial for skaters to come skate Barcelona. That kind of thing you don’t see in San Diego. I think as skaters, we bring life to so many spots and places that nobody else uses. I never skated Love Park, but from watching videos you can see that it was the skaters that made it an international tourism spot. They brought creativity to something that only homeless people pissed on or junkies used or something. And businesspeople walk by and think the skaters are the ones causing all these problems. And, at the same time, they’re mad because they walk to the same job every day of their lives and will never get to skate in a park with some friends in the sun.

A lot of people are going to live their entire life complaining, and then one day they’ll be old and realize they didn’t even live their lives—they spent them complaining. You got to live life to the fullest, man. Everything you do, you got to do with love. The world is so beautiful, and there’s so much to learn out there. You have to love life and make yourself happy. A lot of people have nothing, and a lot of people have things. But you might not have a car and some other guy does. So don’t hate the man who has the car. Instead, work for your own things and only take what makes you happy. Basically, don’t be a hater. Instead, love what you have.

Well, money, power, and jealousy can mess a lot of things up.

Yeah, sometimes I get so mad, even talking to my father. If the government really wanted to make a democracy here and make all the people happy, they could do this in the blink of an eye. They could have world peace tomorrow if they wanted to, but they prefer money. They make money from war, poverty, and misery. I don’t know if it was Socrates or Plato, but one of them said something like, “If the people in charge of a democratic government lived like the actual people they make decisions for—with just enough money to live, eat, and for a place to sleep—poverty, starvation, and homelessness would be finished tomorrow. But, of course, that will never happen, because they are greedy. For me, a lot of people will read this, and this is important to me. You read so much bullshit in interviews. But I have to be true. All this—it’s bigger than skateboarding, but at the same time, it follows the same philosophy. All I can say is smile—because every day could be your last day. So enjoy every second. Today will be yesterday tomorrow.

On a lighter note, you got married a while back right?

Our wedding was really chill. We went to a super nice hotel on the beach and really relaxed—super relaxing and mellow. It was just really nice to get away from everything. I always come home and see all my friends and hurry, and this was just a break from everything. Just to reconnect with nature and feel good—like totally recharging your batteries.

What do your parents think about your career in skateboarding?

They think it’s cool. They see me travel to so many places all over the world, and they see me in pictures and videos. They respect my work—they see that I can live off my skateboard and even help them. I mean, they really appreciate it. They’ll talk to me about it like, “Yeah, this trick was cool, or something. They really enjoy it because they see what it can do for me.

How did you feel about France versus Brazil in the World Cup final in ’98? (France won 3-0.)

Oh shit (laughs). That was a long time ago. No, you know, me, I love to watch football—here in Brazil or in Barcelona or wherever, and I enjoy it, but I never really feel bad or get mad because of it. It’s like, I skateboard for fun and everything in my life is kind of the same. If I watch sports, it’s for fun, too. Everything should be for fun. Like, I don’t like contests. I don’t think that’s what skateboarding is for. I don’t think any sport should be for that. Some days you win, some days you lose. But it should never take over the fun of the sports.

Okay, this is a serious one: How the hell did you get such pop with such skinny legs?

(Laughs) I think everything is about technique. A lot of it is mental, I think. But you put your shoulders a certain way to go high. And it’s foot placement. If you want to do a trick high, you need to bring your body high, and then you just need the technique to bring your board high. I’ve got skinny legs, but they’re strong. You just have to know how to use them. I do lots of stretches, and I really care about my board. I’m not going to say never, because, like anyone I get hurt, but mostly I see my board as part of me. That’s kind of my technique.

I’ll give it a shot. But I’m not so sure if my switch heels are going to be chest high—technique or no technique. e actual people they make decisions for—with just enough money to live, eat, and for a place to sleep—poverty, starvation, and homelessness would be finished tomorrow. But, of course, that will never happen, because they are greedy. For me, a lot of people will read this, and this is important to me. You read so much bullshit in interviews. But I have to be true. All this—it’s bigger than skateboarding, but at the same time, it follows the same philosophy. All I can say is smile—because every day could be your last day. So enjoy every second. Today will be yesterday tomorrow.

On a lighter note, you got married a while back right?

Our wedding was really chill. We went to a super nice hotel on the beach and really relaxed—super relaxing and mellow. It was just really nice to get away from everything. I always come home and see all my friends and hurry, and this was just a break from everything. Just to reconnect with nature and feel good—like totally recharging your batteries.

What do your parents think about your career in skateboarding?

They think it’s cool. They see me travel to so many places all over the world, and they see me in pictures and videos. They respect my work—they see that I can live off my skateboard and even help them. I mean, they really appreciate it. They’ll talk to me about it like, “Yeah, this trick was cool, or something. They really enjoy it because they see what it can do for me.

How did you feel about France versus Brazil in the World Cup final in ’98? (France won 3-0.)

Oh shit (laughs). That was a long time ago. No, you know, me, I love to watch football—here in Brazil or in Barcelona or wherever, and I enjoy it, but I never really feel bad or get mad because of it. It’s like, I skateboard for fun and everything in my life is kind of the same. If I watch sports, it’s for fun, too. Everything should be for fun. Like, I don’t like contests. I don’t think that’s what skateboarding is for. I don’t think any sport should be for that. Some days you win, some days you lose. But it should never take over the fun of the sports.

Okay, this is a serious one: How the hell did you get such pop with such skinny legs?

(Laughs) I think everything is about technique. A lot of it is mental, I think. But you put your shoulders a certain way to go high. And it’s foot placement. If you want to do a trick high, you need to bring your body high, and then you just need the technique to bring your board high. I’ve got skinny legs, but they’re strong. You just have to know how to use them. I do lots of stretches, and I really care about my board. I’m not going to say never, because, like anyone I get hurt, but mostly I see my board as part of me. That’s kind of my technique.

I’ll give it a shot. But I’m not so sure if my switch heels are going to be chest high—technique or no technique.