Pioneer: Bob Burquist, Full Interview—Antihero to the Mega

As the first Brazilian to truly become a global skate superstar, Bob opened the doors for an entire country. Along the way—Bob’s skating itself, on nearly every terrain imaginable (and in every stance) since his recruitment to Antihero in ‘96—has seemingly followed only a single constant, changing what is deemed possible on a skateboard. From the Hellride crew to the Mega ramp, here is the story of Bob.

This is the full interview text from Bob’s Pioneer Column in our December 2012 Issue.

Intro by Julien Stranger:

“For a long time he was just one of us, Hellriding, crusting around being a skate rat. Those were some great times for all of us for sure. I still hate the way things happened at the end of him riding for Antihero. That was complete bullshit. And I know he was pretty disappointed in us for not following him out the door. We’ll never know what might have happened. Bob had real responsibility with his sister and mom and I understand why he wanted to move down south and pursue some more commercial opportunities. I guess for me personally and in our friendship—both of us are pretty sincere dudes and that was kind of our connection aside from the skating. Northern California skaters were generally really sarcastic and just full time hecklers so for me it was nice to hang out with someone without the constant bullshit.

I gotta say too that going to some of those bigger vert contests in the 90’s and being in the stands and just screaming for Bob, a dude who I was on the same team with and who was just mopping up everyone switch, and who for me was the most exciting skater out there at the time, that stoked the shit outta me and all of us on the Hellride. He was always so on edge and he still is and I still get stoked.”

ME: When did you pick up a skateboard? First contact?
Bob: Well, as a Brazilian guy I played soccer. I had let my friend borrow a soccer ball and he had lost it. So he was like, “Well, I don’t have the ball anymore but you can take my skateboard.” So that was basically how it started.

Bob couch skating at age 11.

Your dad was American right?
Yeah. He was born in Taft, California. My mom was Brazilian.

Did you travel to the States as a kid?
A little bit. I went to Kindergarten in Pleasanton, and then we came back to Brazil. We were moving around a lot when I was younger.

Had anyone you knew from Brazil made it before in the US? Lincoln Ueda?
There were definitely a few guys that came before me that we knew about. Lincoln (Ueda) was the first one to break the top 5 in US contests back in ’89. That was huge. I remember that clearly. When we saw one of our own like Lincoln, and the other International skaters actually make it, we started to actually start believing it in Brazil. I was in a cab or something and saw it in a mag. I was so stoked. Brazilians were getting more and more respect. They had a hard time in the beginning because of all the bootleg brands here in Brazil too. By the time I started making my story, there were just more and more of us gaining respect.

I feel like the first wave of Brazilians got pigeonholed as contest skaters too. You sort of became the first guy that was on a cool company (Antihero) and the media treated you like a US pro.
There were definitely different phases to it for sure. The evolution of Brazilian skateboarding—where it’s at now—I never thought it would be possible.

Early ’90s raw footage of a teenage Bob street skating.

Was your first sponsor a local brand in Brazil?
My first ever sponsor was a Brazilian clothing brand called “Angular Moments.” I was with a buddy of mine in the park skating a miniramp and they came and told us we could get free clothes.

First board sponsor?
My first pro board was an Urgh! Board. They are the shoe company that just collaborated with me. They are an old brand in Brazil and the owner and holder of the brand is a partner of mine here in Brazil. The board had my name “Bob” on it with this little drawing. They made the kneepads Lincoln and all those guys wore back in ’89 too. Urgh! Has been around for almost 30 years.

How did you get from Urgh! to the US brands? Was it mostly people traveling down there?
Obviously from speaking English and Portuguese, when skaters came to town and showed up at the park I skated I was able to talk to them and translate for other people. So when Joey Tershay, (John) Cardiel, Julien (Stranger), and Jake (Phelps) and those guys came down to Brazil, I interacted with them and skated all the different spots with them. That was basically how I connected to the crew up in SF. So when I went to the US after that, I spent time in San Francisco. That was pretty much how I broke into the scene. I was already pro in Brazil and then became an am for Real. That was a trip because I would go home and skate in the pro contests then be an am in The States.

Early Antihero ad from Brazil. Circa ’96. Friends Forever.

I finally went to this Vancouver contest and Urgh! had helped pay for my ticket along with Deluxe helping me as a Real am. This was before Antihero. I remember I had an Antihero shirt that Julien had made but the board brand wasn’t launched yet. So I rode for Real and connected with all those Deluxe guys. That was when I kind of broke out of the Brazilian scene right there.

They swept you up in the Hellride?
Yeah. Exactly. But even before any of that I really remember when Christian (Hosoi) came down too. He came down and skated the outdoor bowl and all that. Any time the American skaters came down, I was in the scene so I would end up interacting with them. I remember Mark Gonzales came down too for one of the contests. I got to hang out with him and he gave me a board. I was super stoked. I think he gave me his kneepads too which was awesome. But Christian was pretty much the pioneer of pros coming to Brazil. Christian loved it here and he was always down here. It made such an impact on the scene to have this huge legend in your country.

Another Antihero ad from Brazil. Ollie to fakie, ’96.