Was that a dream come true?

Oh yeah. I got to skate with all the boys. Leo Kakinho rode for them.

The guy from Florianópolis a city 300 miles south of São Paulo, Brazil?

Exactly. He was a little kid – like a little Danny Way – who everyone looked up to. He was ripping and winning contests; big dudes would be pissed at this little rat taking the contest. It was cool. I probably made like 50 bucks a month, but I was just stoked to make money.

When did you turn pro?

I turned pro when I was fourteen. There was a pro contest, and I qualified first for the finals. I figured, if I won the contest, I would get some money, so I might as well just turn pro. I ended up taking seventh – I didn’t win the contest, but I turned pro anyway. I didn’t sit down with a company and say, “Okay, we’re gonna put a board out.” Between the prelims and the finals, I just told the guy announcing that I was pro. He announced, “Yeah, we got a new pro.” It was funny because one of my friends turned pro, and then I just went, “All right, I’m pro, too. Okay, we’re pro. Yeah, we’re pro!”

How much were you making in the beginning?

I remember making 150 bucks a month – that was a lot of money in Brazil. That’s why people live with their parents so long. There’re people who live with their parents until they’re 30 or 40. When you go to peoples’ houses, their whole family lives there.

So, I lived that way for a few years, then I decided to go to Vancouver and actually enter the pro contest without having a board out. After the contest, I got on Anti-Hero and had a board out. Finally, I was able to live off skateboarding, and then I really considered myself a pro skateboarder.

What year was that Vancouver contest?

That was ’95.

And you won it.

Yeah. I had visited California in July of ’94, when I came over for a month and stayed at Ruben’s Orchin, team manager of Spitfire house. Those guys took care of me. Joey Tershay, team manager of Independent took me to all the places. He took me to Independent and Deluxe Distribution. I got to see the whole scene, and I was just amazed at how in touch with skateboarding you were in the States. I could see what the actual life of a skateboarder was out here.

I went back to Brazil to finish school and get back over here as fast as possible. That was like the critical point of my life – the skateboarding career. It came right when I was finishing high school, and I wanted to get my degree and move to the States. I had to do about 60 tests to get a diploma – kind of like the GED General Education Diploma in the U.S. but on a gnarlier level. I was twenty tests away from finishing, when I ran out of time. So, I just moved away – I didn’t get my degree – and right when I got here, I went to a city college and got my GED.

Did you like school, or were you just doing it to get by?

I was into school. I was into math. I was really stoked to go to school, get back from school, eat lunch, get my pads, go to Prestige a local skatepark, and skate. I like having a routine. When you have to do certain things every day, you begin to appreciate the time when you’re on your skateboard. If you only have two hours a day to skate, you’re gonna make the most of those two hours. So when you’re not in school, you have to occupy yourself. Skateboarding only takes up so much of your day. Plus you get wrecked if you skate all day, every day. Especially on the professional level.

While you were growing up, were there other goals you wanted to pursue?

Well, I was into geometry and I was into skateboarding; I always wanted to do something for skateboarding. So, I thought about doing architecture – designing ramps for skateparks. If I would have continued in school, I was probably gonna move out to the States sooner or later because of my dual citizenship and the opportunities it presents.

But I had no idea I was gonna skate for a living. Evenhen I went to Vancouver, I remember not caring. I went to Prestige, and a couple guys were like, “Are you going to Vancouver?”

I was like, “I don’t know, whatever.”

I went, and it all … unfolded.

Did you think you’d win the contest?

Oh, not even. I just went. I was staying with Mike Frazier and Max Schaaf, who I looked up to a lot. I was just living my dream, that was it. But I stayed on in my run, and it all worked out. When I finished my final run, I thought I’d gotten fifth or maybe forth. I was thinking, “I’m psyched, I made the finals.” I remember Jim Thiebaud looking at the scores, then looking at me and going, “Oh my god!” I thought “Oh my god!” meant third.

Like many Brazilians, you’re a really strong contest skater. Is there something you would attribute Brazilians’ contest abilities to?

We grew up skating a lot of skateparks. We skated a little street, but there’s not much street to skate in Brazil. I mean, you can’t just jump on your board and go street skating; you have to drive around searching for a spot to skate. So the whole scene pretty much revolves around skateparks. I grew up at Ultra Skatepark. I went there every day. There were a lot of beginner and amateur contests, so I was always around contests. I got over the nervousness of being in front of the crowd and being in the spotlight – that really helped a lot.

Now, I have the chance to make money at contests, so I just try to be smart. I take contests seriously; that’s how I survive. Even though contests don’t determine who’s best in the world, it’s a way to put results out there for people. I think every sport needs a first, second, and third place. As sorry as I am to say it, skateboarding needs that.

How do you deal with having such a hectic schedule?

I try to deal with it in a not-so-stressed-out way and make the best of it. You want to be motivating people in every part of the world, you know, to keep the sport going. And that can be stressful if you don’t get any time off.

I look at Tony Hawk; he’s always going. I know he’s probably tired, but he just keeps going ’cause he loves skateboarding, and he knows how much of an impact he has on the sport. He knows that as long as he’s seen out there, he will draw attention to skateboarding. So he’s out there as much as he can be. I respect him a lot for that. He travels so much I can’t even believe it. I just started doing this two years ago, and I’m already tired. Tony’s done it for probably like fifteen or twenty years. Sometimes I want to stay home and kick it, but then I remember that’s my job; that’s how I make my money, and I’ve gotta look at it as a job.

Sometimes you’re hurt, or your body isn’t in good working condition and you still have to skate, but you gotta make the best of it.

What keeps you skating?

The fact that I’ve come so far, and it’s taken me so long to learn what I learned, and being able to drop in on a vert ramp and do a backside air and then do another air. I mean, that’s awesome. If I ever lost my tricks and had only backside airs, I would still be psyched. I love the feeling of skating vert.

When I go to parks, I see kids trying kickflip noseslides, or hardflip nosegrinds. They try it 100 times. How much fun are you having doing that? Then I’ll see another little kid being laughed at doing little kickturns on the vert ramp just feeling the flow of the transition, kind of surfing the ramp. He’s the one who’s having the most fun, because he’s not getting frustrated. That’s what I think is missing in skateboarding – the freedom to go out and do what you want.

That’s not just in skateboarding. I’ve seen it in the United States a lot. Kids grow up and go to school, and they have to look a certain way or else they’re gonna be laughed at by their friends. But all that doesn’t matter. When kids are stoked on whatever they’re doing, they’re way better off than worrying about what’s cool.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to try 360 flip crooked grinds to shove-it out. If you have the skill to kickflip nosegrind, then try to shove-it out – go ahead, keep trying. Whatever you want to do is what counts. But if you’re the one trying something over and over, and screaming bloody murder, and bringing negative energy to the session, just sit down and stop skating. I’ll run over you.

Do you like skating vert better than street?

There’s fun in everything. I love street skating. I love the feeling of going down a rail. There’s nothing better than knowing you just slammed super hard, and then you went back and made it. I don’t like ollieing stairs or gaps, because I like having my knees in good condition to be able to go skate the vert ramp. I see more fun in that. I already had my days where I’d chuck myself off gaps just to do it.

What is the future of skating?

I’d guess, people who skate everything are gonna be the ones who will take it further. I think there’s a whole new category of skateboarders coming up. They’ve always been called “street skaters,” but what they really do is skate obstacle-course contests. But you can’t call it “street skating” if it’s not street skating. People are upset because the X-Games holds a “street contest,” but when everyone gets there, it’s all ramps. Why didn’t they call it an “obstacle-course contest?” Then the skaters would know what to expect, and it wouldn’t give the public the wrong impression. ESPN has such power in the media, I think they should definitely call it obstacle skating. That would open up a whole new category.

Who are you psyched to skate with?

I always get psyched when I skate with Lincoln Ueda. He’s just a really humble person. I love hanging out with him. He loves skateboarding. He doesn’t do it because he thinks people are gonna think this or that of him, he just goes out there and skates. That really makes me want to skate. I love skating with Max; he’s another person who cares about skateboarding. Chris Senn, too. People who go out there and charge with no reason other than having fun. It’s just awesome.

Phil Shao, too, man. Phil was such a positive person, such an amazing skateboarder, such an impact on this world and on the skateboarding scene. The other day Jake Phelps, editor of Thrasher was saying how the world wasn’t prepared for someone that gnarly. Phil could skate anything, and it didn’t matter who you were, he would be stoked to session with you.

You are considered to be an innovator. You make up tricks, you bring back old ones; where do those ideas come from?

The first thing is not to stick yourself with certain tricks on the basis of what’s in or what’s out. When you’re skating, just be open to whatever comes to mind. Maybe you won’t make it, but who knows, you might come close. When I skate, I just go with the flow and whatever I want to try, I try – no matter what it is. Whether you think it’s lame or not, I’m gonna try it. I always try to visualize tricks before I make them – how it’s gonna feel and look like when I make it. That way I have an idea of how my body is supposed to move, and all that.

Where are you living?

I live in Daly City right now – it’s south of San Francisco – but, actually, I’m thinking about moving down to Southern California. I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while. I like San Diego; it feels right to be down there. There’s a ramp Encinitas YMCA, and I can go surfing. I like the atmosphere, I like the people; there’s more of a sense of community down there. It seems like people are more aware, more spiritual, and more conscious of what’s going on. San Francisco is a hip city, but it’s a pretty freaky place. I feel all kinds of crazy energies when I walk around. It’s cool, I can skate down hills and all that, but I need more than just skateboarding in my life.

I’ve reached the point where I’m like “Okay, what else? What’s next?” There’s gonna come a time when I’m not gonna be a professional s360 flip crooked grinds to shove-it out. If you have the skill to kickflip nosegrind, then try to shove-it out – go ahead, keep trying. Whatever you want to do is what counts. But if you’re the one trying something over and over, and screaming bloody murder, and bringing negative energy to the session, just sit down and stop skating. I’ll run over you.

Do you like skating vert better than street?

There’s fun in everything. I love street skating. I love the feeling of going down a rail. There’s nothing better than knowing you just slammed super hard, and then you went back and made it. I don’t like ollieing stairs or gaps, because I like having my knees in good condition to be able to go skate the vert ramp. I see more fun in that. I already had my days where I’d chuck myself off gaps just to do it.

What is the future of skating?

I’d guess, people who skate everything are gonna be the ones who will take it further. I think there’s a whole new category of skateboarders coming up. They’ve always been called “street skaters,” but what they really do is skate obstacle-course contests. But you can’t call it “street skating” if it’s not street skating. People are upset because the X-Games holds a “street contest,” but when everyone gets there, it’s all ramps. Why didn’t they call it an “obstacle-course contest?” Then the skaters would know what to expect, and it wouldn’t give the public the wrong impression. ESPN has such power in the media, I think they should definitely call it obstacle skating. That would open up a whole new category.

Who are you psyched to skate with?

I always get psyched when I skate with Lincoln Ueda. He’s just a really humble person. I love hanging out with him. He loves skateboarding. He doesn’t do it because he thinks people are gonna think this or that of him, he just goes out there and skates. That really makes me want to skate. I love skating with Max; he’s another person who cares about skateboarding. Chris Senn, too. People who go out there and charge with no reason other than having fun. It’s just awesome.

Phil Shao, too, man. Phil was such a positive person, such an amazing skateboarder, such an impact on this world and on the skateboarding scene. The other day Jake Phelps, editor of Thrasher was saying how the world wasn’t prepared for someone that gnarly. Phil could skate anything, and it didn’t matter who you were, he would be stoked to session with you.

You are considered to be an innovator. You make up tricks, you bring back old ones; where do those ideas come from?

The first thing is not to stick yourself with certain tricks on the basis of what’s in or what’s out. When you’re skating, just be open to whatever comes to mind. Maybe you won’t make it, but who knows, you might come close. When I skate, I just go with the flow and whatever I want to try, I try – no matter what it is. Whether you think it’s lame or not, I’m gonna try it. I always try to visualize tricks before I make them – how it’s gonna feel and look like when I make it. That way I have an idea of how my body is supposed to move, and all that.

Where are you living?

I live in Daly City right now – it’s south of San Francisco – but, actually, I’m thinking about moving down to Southern California. I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while. I like San Diego; it feels right to be down there. There’s a ramp Encinitas YMCA, and I can go surfing. I like the atmosphere, I like the people; there’s more of a sense of community down there. It seems like people are more aware, more spiritual, and more conscious of what’s going on. San Francisco is a hip city, but it’s a pretty freaky place. I feel all kinds of crazy energies when I walk around. It’s cool, I can skate down hills and all that, but I need more than just skateboarding in my life.

I’ve reached the point where I’m like “Okay, what else? What’s next?” There’s gonna come a time when I’m not gonna be a professional skateboarder, and I’ll have to take it somewhere. I’m trying to plant a seed right now, so if anything happens in the future I’ll be ready. I try to save my money, and not spend it on stupid things.

I’ve come to realize I have to make a move and look into the future. Right now I feel like moving down to San Diego, so I’m moving down to San Diego. And if I ever feel like moving to Idaho, I’ll move there. I’m not saying I’m going to Idaho. I’ve actually never been to Idaho.

What are some things you’ve discovered you enjoy besides skating?

I really like reading a lot. I like getting on the Internet and talking to my friends in Brazil. I like playing chess. I like riding my bicycle. I like being active. I like traveling with my mom and going to Brazil with Rebecca Bob’s younger sister. I like the freedom of being mobile.

I love playing music, too. Music is a really fun thing.

Have long have you played music? I’ve played the flute since I was a kid. My brother-in-law plays classical guitar; he’s been teaching me a lot. It’s really fun. So I’ve been traveling with my guitar, which is a really good thing to have when you’re waiting for an airplane.

What’s up with the NorCal versus So Cal rivalry? Which side are you on? NorCal, So Cal, you know what, I’m from Brazil. I say burn all the flags.

al skateboarder, and I’ll have to take it somewhere. I’m trying to plant a seed right now, so if anything happens in the future I’ll be ready. I try to save my money, and not spend it on stupid things.

I’ve come to realize I have to make a move and look into the future. Right now I feel like moving down to San Diego, so I’m moving down to San Diego. And if I ever feel like moving to Idaho, I’ll move there. I’m not saying I’m going to Idaho. I’ve actually never been to Idaho.

What are some things you’ve discovered you enjoy besides skating?

I really like reading a lot. I like getting on the Internet and talking to my friends in Brazil. I like playing chess. I like riding my bicycle. I like being active. I like traveling with my mom and going to Brazil with Rebecca Bob’s younger sister. I like the freedom of being mobile.

I love playing music, too. Music is a really fun thing.

Have long have you played music? I’ve played the flute since I was a kid. My brother-in-law plays classical guitar; he’s been teaching me a lot. It’s really fun. So I’ve been traveling with my guitar, which is a really good thing to have when you’re waiting for an airplane.

What’s up with the NorCal versus So Cal rivalry? Which side are you on? NorCal, So Cal, you know what, I’m from Brazil. I say burn all the flags.