(continued from part 2) By Sean Mortimer
TWS: Brian, was there a point when you wanted to leave the Zen Monastery in Hawaii and skate again?
Lotti: It was really an accident. I [left Hawaii and] was living in Northern California in a pretty rural area, an off the grid area. I was practicing painting a lot. I took a trip to Southern California and met up with Kenny Anderson.
TWS: But for three years while studying Zen Buddhism, you didn’t have a board?
Lotti: Yeah. Dune gave me a board [after I left the monastery] but where I lived there were only dirt roads. I skated Grass Valley sometimes. I hooked up with Kenny and we skated downtown [LA] at night. The view of the city from the top of the hill … I’d been in the mountains for so long that the view of the city made a big impression on me. That was the beginning of thinking about making a film about it.
TWS: That was First and Hope, right? How was it getting back on the board?
Lotti: I hate to say it, but it was unintentional. I wanted to shoot the film but when it came down to it, nobody else wanted to do it, so I thought, I’ll do it. It was really the pursuit of something not skateboarding that got me back into it. It was a little funny. People were coming up to me, “Hey! That’s Lotti!” People thought I was cool or something.
Mariano: When you take breaks off of skating—after my last big break—I felt like I had an edge on people who had been doing it constantly everyday, going on tours, doing it for so long—they’re burned out on it. This time I was psyched. I was pumped. When we were going to Barcelona [for Fully Flared] with Ty and the team, I was psyched! Every one else was just like, “Oh yeah, Barcelona.”
Sometimes, when things are taken away and given back, you become a little bit more grateful. To be back on a roadtrip that’s paid for and you’re getting per diem, to be in another country, to get a chance again to experience how great skateboarding is and how fun it is and to travel the world with your friends and have good times—if that’s never taken away or you don’t take that away from yourself and give it back, you can’t appreciate it for how fun it really is. People who have it now, they could care less. You know what I mean? They’ve been doing it for 25 years nonstop. You lose the appreciation. I don’t think that people should not skate for four years to get that feeling. Sometimes if you spend some time away from something you love, you have a greater appreciation for it when you come back.
Lotti: It’s a charmed life.
TWS: Coming back into skating did you guys lose that peer pressure that’s so prevalent in skating where certain tricks are out of style, even certain methods of doing certain tricks are frowned upon? Did you guys just blow it off and skate whatever way you wanted?
Mariano: It started off that way and then I created it all back by myself.
TWS: The peer pressure?
Lotti: The self-pressure.
Mariano: My vision—my crazy head.
Lotti: That’s the nature of the artist. It’s never good enough and out of that pressure comes those few and far between moments of perfection. There is satisfaction or we wouldn’t do it.
Mariano: Then it gets to the point where you’re just backing the same thing, pushing your skating onto people. I sat down with a close friend for dinner and he said, “I’m sick of seeing you skating. Every time I pick up a magazine, you’re in there with an ad. Chill a little bit. Hold back and come out strong with the Chocolate video.” Skateboarding likes to be surprised.
TWS: Is it harder for you guys to do that now? How old are each of you?
TWS: What do you guys think about being older skaters.
Mariano: It hurts.
TWS: It used to be the mindset that to be a hardcore skater, you have to only skate, never take any breaks or have few other interests. Did that play into the pressure you guys felt?
Mariano: Sometimes as a professional skateboarder you think that this is what you have to do: skate every day. It is a lifestyle but when you become a professional and get older, it [also becomes] your mortgage, your car payment—it’s sad to say, but it’s our job.
Lotti: that’s the lucky thing. I don’t know if it’s sad.
Mariano: It’s lucky, but to me skateboarding is more than that. So many lines are broken and you learn so much through skateboarding. It’s not about the paycheck, but that can be a part of it towards the end when it’s fading out and you’re not getting that paycheck. It’s scary.
Lotti: Or it’s not. It’s done with that onto the next. I see it as an opportunity.
TWS: Do you think that in order to skate for decades on end, most skaters need a break? Back in the day, a pro’s career only lasted a few years—you were done by your mid-20s.
Mariano: You know what makes a big difference? If you’re having fun doing it. I know there are guys out there [who consider skating] strictly as a job.
TWS: Then there’re skaters like Lance Mountain who have charged for over three decades straight. Not to mention Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen.
Lotti: Lance is really an exception.
Mariano: He’s having fun doing and he loves it. But there’s only a handful of Lances out there.
Lottie: Less than a handful.
Mariano: Lance gets psyched for other people and skateboarding when it breaks ground and some other people only get psyched when great things happen to themselves. Lance has always tried to school me ever since I was young. I’ll tell this story: I was starting Royal trucks and told Lance how I wanted to start a company so that when I was older, I wouldn’t have to worry about money, blah, blah, blah. Lance was trying to break it down for me, talking about why you start things in skateboarding and it’s not for those reasons. At the time I was too ignorant to understand what he was talking about. It was probably no surprise that I faded out of skateboarding, Royal didn’t end up panning out for me, and Lance is still in the position where he’s loved.
Lotti: I’ve been thinking about Lance a lot. He was in 1st And Hope a little bit. It’d be fun to work with him again.
Mariano: There are a lot of companies trying to treat skateboarding very business-like and as long as we have people like Lance in skateboarding then it’s not going to take that crucial turn into some Xtreme thing.
Lotti: He’s one of the old guards and there’re a lot of people like that. Even the kids in the TransWorld video—I saw a lot of love in that video. For people that know skateboarding, that spirit is there. That’s the tie that binds us all. It’s so worthwhile. It’s not just Lance, but we can talk about him, he’s a sober dude.
TWS: What do you guys see down the road?
Mariano: I can say this is probably the beginning of the end for me.
Mariano: It is. I’m getting older. I don’t want to be like a nuisance to skateboarding. I’m in a period right where I have to think of something. I’ve invested so much of my life into skateboarding—I want to do something to make skateboarding better. That’s what Brian is doing [with his films]. He’s probably giving people a better vision of skateboarding.
TWS: Lotti’s videos focus on that skate feeling more than just a catalog of tricks and your Fully Flared part inspired people because of your history as well as the tricks. Let’s end this by discussing how winning the heavyweight belt felt after being written off by yourself. There aren’t many second acts in pro skating, forget ones where the person wins three TransWorld Awards.
Mariano: The people from my era were probably more psyched than the younger guys because, “it was one of us up there.” Skateboarding was giving me another opportunity and I thought, Don’t sh-t on skateboarding. It’s given me a chance and an opportunity.
TWS: Was that something you consciously thought about while filming?
Mariano: Definitely. After doing a trick, I thought, Okay, I’m not going to be satisfied until I get that next one. That’s never stopped. It’s still the same thing going on in my head. But what’s sad is that with age and injury that will slow down.
Lotti: But you can always parlay that drive to the next thing.
Mariano: It’s hard to find something that’s going to get you hungry. I just had a minor surgery on my foot and I couldn’t skate for a while and it’s given me that hunger again—something to fight for. It’s so hard to find something that’s going to keep that hunger for [a long time].
Lotti: It’s a gift. It’s not something that people can contrive. It’s either there or it’s not.
Sean Mortimer has written books with Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Daewon Song, Steve Olson, Mike Vallely, Chris Haslam, and more.
Hawk: Occupation Skateboarder