(continued from part 1) By Sean Mortimer
TWS: How did you get out of that slump?
Mariano: [Getting on] Girl got me out of that slump. It was a long time … I was just a hanger-arounder. I was hanging out at the beach, I was hanging around—I was skating but not being productive. It would be normal for me to travel from spot to spot for a whole day and just sit at the spots.
TWS: Sounds like skate depression.
Mariano: It was a skate depression.
TWS: When did you guys decide to take a bigger break from skating, like ditching everything and going to a Zen monastery?
Lotti: I got hurt for half a year straight and finally dislocated my shoulder and I was like, “F—k it, I’m going back to school.” I was 21. Skate depression.
TWS: Did you make a clean break? Did you tell your sponsors you didn’t want to be pro anymore?
Lotti: Yeah, I just wanted to totally leave everything. I told [Steve] Rocco one day and I think [Mike] Ternansky was there and I said, “Man, you guys, I just have to say that I’m going to quit. I don’t want to be a pro anymore.”
Rocco was like, “What? Okay …”
I think Mike was a little more tripped out.
Mariano: Not a lot of people would do that. You usually drag it out until the bitter end, until it gets resentful and someone is saying, “We have to let you go.”
“Because you haven’t been skating for 17 years.”
The only other person I know who did that [officially resign from the pro ranks] was Tim Gavin who told Rick [Howard].
TWS: Brian, what was it like after that official resignation? A huge part of your identity was instantly wiped off.
Lotti: That’s the thing—I needed that. I needed to develop myself. It was totally gnarly because I didn’t know how to relate to people. I was really socially awkward and it freaked me out. When I stopped skating I could finally start to take in the way the world is.
Mariano: I think this is what happens: As a skateboarder, you’re so comfortable in this bad situation, but you know it and you’re comfortable within it. And then to take that next step … you fear the unknown—what will I become if I drop this title and just become “Brian Lotti?” I think once you do take that step, it’s freedom. As a pro skateboarder, you’re somewhat of a celebrity in our small industry, and to put that aside. …
TWS: It’s harsh to just drop that personality because we spend so much energy and years stamping that identity onto ourselves. When did you leave for Hawaii and the Zen Monastery?
Lotti: I tried going back to school and that wasn’t right. Just not right. I was reading a lot of books, I was searching for something and I was freaking out at the same time. It was a breakdown/crises. I stayed in my stepdad’s cabin for a little bit and was trying to learn how to meditate and was thinking, “What’s this whole enlightenment thing? F—k, I want to be enlightened!” It was ridiculous. It lasted a month and I visited some Zen centers and started sitting [meditating] with this one crew and it was really good and that led to checking out this place in Hawaii. It’s a Zen temple for people that aren’t monks or nuns. People go to study. It’s a retreat center. It just worked out that I was one of the few people who lived there. I stayed there for a couple years.
TWS: What was your daily routine?
Lotti: Wake up at 4 a.m., meditate for two hours, little breakfast, little bit of chores, meditate for three hours, little bit of lunch, little bit of rest, meditate the whole afternoon, little bit of dinner, little bit of rest, meditate until ten at night. Boom! Do it all again.
Brian Lotti made this video exclusively for skateboarding.com:
Mariano: Skateboarding is something that takes a mental and physical energy while you’re doing it and it gives you a high that is so hard to find in anything else in life, so to find your next passion after skating is going to be hard. You can find something very mental or very physical, but to find something that has the both of those—I think that’s what every skateboarder struggles with. It just takes it all when you’re doing something physically and mental and spiritual.
Lotti: Absolutely, man. It’s a total high.
Mariano: Money is going to give some sort of feeling, but it’s not going to give you all three. To get that combination—it’s tough.
TWS: That’s why skating can affect people so much if you really get into it. Once you make that dedication it’s with you even when the physical aspect of skating might be at the same level.
TWS: Guy, did you go through a period similar to Brian’s?
Mariano: I’ve had so many burnouts. I’ve probably had the most burnouts. People might tend to look at it like a plan: ‘Oh, he skates and then he doesn’t.’ Actually, I’m just a human going through phases in my life. Girl was a fresh start but I was 17, 18 and I was bummed on missing out on summers. I had friends who didn’t skate and they were all going to the beach. I wanted to just do that. I focused on getting a solid girlfriend—I wasn’t going to be out skating every Saturday. And I wanted to party a lot.
This isn’t something that I would suggest to people, but skateboarding needs to be balanced and I’ve never been good at balancing stuff. Right now, I’m all skate, but it’s hard because I just had a surgery on my foot [note: all healed up now] and I’m messed up because I can’t skate. What do I do with myself?
Lotti: Just keep asking yourself that question.
Mariano: That’s when your head starts getting crazy. You get all these weird feelings: insecure, anxiety—skateboarding is tough, man.
TWS: Was there one period off your board that impacted you more than others?
Mariano: I started filming for Mouse and got really psyched. I found that structure within myself. I wanted to do it again [after killing it with Video Days and then burning out after Gonz left Blind]. I did Mouse and got some success and after that I was drained and wanted to enjoy myself. I started partying. I was about to turn 21. I started going to clubs, got caught up in the Hollywood lifestyle. I got caught up in the addictive lifestyle of partying. I wound me up in two dive bars on Hillhurst—the Drawing Room and the Rustic Inn where I spent probably four years—every day at those places. Along with that, I got into other things too.
Skateboarding isn’t stupid. Companies aren’t stupid. The kids aren’t stupid. If they don’t see you, it’s whatever and from that point the paychecks started dropping. I was thinking I was having fun, but I was living in hell. I was too scared to take a step out of it. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t think there’d be another chance of trying to skate again. I knew I was done with skating. You can’t show people nothing for five years and then expect them to think that you want to do it again for any reason other than getting another paycheck.
TWS: In your head you were done with skating, but you continued to let others believe that you were still “a skater”?
Mariano: I’d already quit. I didn’t officially quit. I didn’t say, “Stop sending me my small paycheck.” I didn’t go Brian’s route. I wasn’t man enough to do that. I was hanging on by a thin thread in every area of my life—mentally, my relationship with my fiancé, my friends. I totally cut myself off from my friends that I’d grown up with or from anybody who would have stepped in and said, ‘Chill out, man.’
TWS: What did it feel like to think of yourself as a nonskater?
Mariano: I can honestly say that even though things were so bad with my life, it was a relief to not have to keep up with the times in skating. I’m sure when Brian said, “I don’t want to be a pro skater,” he exhaled. There was an “Ahhhhh.”
TWS: Were you skating at all?
Mariano: I skated to the store. I shot some photos with Atiba—that lasted a week. Partying had its claws in me. I’m sure some people can balance out those two, but not me.
TWS: What got you out of the funk?
Mariano: My fiancé, who was my girlfriend at that point. She said she wasn’t going to live with me like this.
TWS: What made you realize you had to change?
Mariano: Love—you know what I mean? The love for her and I guess I started trying to love myself a little bit. What’s so funny about skateboarding is that you can be on the top of the world and it can all be taken away from you so quick. Skaters don’t realize it. As quick as you came up is as quick as you can go down. And nobody in this game is going to retire just off of kickflips. Tony Hawk is not retiring off the physical act of skateboarding—he’s marketing himself, he’s working, he’s running companies. Rick Howard is running companies. Just dressing up in the monkey suit and doing tricks—you’re not going to retire off that.
It starts at a young age when you’re given all this money and on top of the world. I’ve had the fame and the money and had it taken away at least three times in my life. Here I am in the same position right now and it’s so frightening: ‘OK, when are they going to take it away?’ [Laughing]
Lotti: But it’s a good lesson because in the end you see that it’s all temporary.
Mariano: My girlfriend would be the only one who knew how scared and fearful I was of everything. She was like, “Do whatever you want to do, but just don’t be the guy you are right now.”
It was all fear-based feelings. I remember asking Rick, “Maybe I could do something at Girl if you could hook me up with a job.”
He said, “Why don’t you try to skate?”
It was just. … [Mimes holding his stomach with a stressed look and laughs with Brian] I thought, This is going to be so tough.
Lotti: Looking back now, was it as tough as you thought it might be?
Mariano: I think the toughest part was being hard on myself and the fear of what other people would think of me. It was being scared of what skateboarding is going to think of me when actually no one really cared. I thought I’d be a laughingstock.
Lotti: I dig that, breaking through all these ideas of who you thought you were, but how did it feel getting back to the level where you felt comfortable and connected with your world?
Mariano: I spent a lot of times at the Berrics. Let me say this: When I was young, I would say I had a natural talent for skateboarding, but this time around I had to work for it. It was two different types of skating. It was an adjustment. I remember being at the Berrics and my best thing was crooked grinding the five-stair rail and I was “Okay, feeling good.”
I spent a lot of time with Felix and Reda. Reda was really rad, really supportive of me. It really got me pumped. Girl is a really tight family and always supportive and that kind of stuff helps. It sounds cheesy but it works.
Finished in Part 3 coming soon.