It’s not what ya know, it’s who ya know. Or, more appropriately in the case of Brett Margaritas, it’s not what ya can do, it’s where ya live.
Like Morgan Campbell and a few others, Brett grew up on the other side of the world-the side without many (or, at times, any) skateboarding magazines, photographers, and filmers. Like most motivated Perth locals, Brett spent the better part of the late 90s saving up to take three-month trips (the longest a travel visa will allow) to skateboarding’s mecca-the United States-where it’s completely possible for an unknown Australian with the right amount of talent and drive to become a star.
This time Brett came accompanied by rumors he’s been on fire lately, skating amazingly, and impressing Aussies and Americans alike. He and I played phone tag for a couple weeks before connecting on the phone to talk about living out of a backpack in order to be nearer to the show … even if only for three months at a time.
How old are you?
Where were you born?
Perth, Western Australia.
Where do you currently live?
In a backpack, at the moment.
Technically you’re still living in Perth, but you’ve been here for a while, right?
Yeah, I live there, but at the moment I’m not there, and I don’t know when I’m going to be back there.
How many times have you been to the States?
This is my third time. I came before in ’95 and ’96. The first two times I stayed on the East Coast for a few months, skated a few parks and a lot of ramps. The only time I spent in California was in the airport.
And this time you’re getting to spend some California time?
Yeah, which has been fun.
Did you save up to come to the U.S., or did a sponsor pay to send you out?
I pretty much got here by myself. It was kind of a last-minute thing. I was just at home skating the same kind of stuff every day, and it had been a few years since I traveled overseas, so I saved my money and got out of there as quick as I could.
How long does it take to save for a trip like that?
I did it in like six months. The credit card keeps me going, too.
What’s your current sponsorship situation? Are you sponsored by American companies?
Yeah. I ride for Think, Emerica, and Split, but I also ride for a skate shop back home called Momentum.
While you’re out here, is Think helping you with stuff?
Yeah, they’ve been helping me out with product and stuff like that, and they’ve helped me a little bit with money here and there, which comes in handy. Emerica’s been super good as well, flowing me plenty of shoes.
What are your plans with skateboarding? Is your goal to be a pro?
I wouldn’t say it’s my goal … but it would definitely be nice-obviously, because of the travel and the full deal. I mean, my goal in skating is to skate, and keep skating, and whatever comes along, I’m stoked on.
To be a pro, is it mandatory to spend time in the States?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, in Australia there’re obviously a lot of pros, but it’s not on the same scale as the United States. You can make a living skateboarding in Australia, but to make any kind of impact worldwide … yeah, it’s all California.
What are the major differences between Perth and Los Angeles?
Back home there’s a small population and an even smaller skating population, everyone knows everyone else, and everyone is friendly. Whereas, L.A. is so big and most people don’t ever get to meet each other, and that causes everyone to be a bit standoffish to each other.
So it’s harder to meet people here than at home?
It’s probably not harder to meet people, but you meet somebody, you hang out with them for a few days, and then you never see them again. Back home you kind of see your friends constantly, and you get to know them really well.
What are your plans for the next few months? Are you just going to try to stay here and keep it going?
I want to stick around here as long as I can, because there’s so much more stuff to skate than back home. After thaat, I’m going to head to Japan for a while and check that place out.
Japan is really expensive, how do people hook that up?
I’ve been fortunate. My girlfriend’s godmother lives there, so we’ve got a place to stay. And I know friends of friends who skate over there as well, so I can definitely hook up with people when I get there. The place is definitely super expensive, so having accommodations is the best possible way. I’ve never been there before, so I don’t know what to expect.
I’ve heard in Japan you can get almost anything out of vending machines.
Yeah, I heard that, too. I heard you can get beer in vending machines. I’m pretty stoked on it. Japan’s the place I wanted to go the most in the world, because it just seems like the craziest place to be. Like beer and girls’ underwear in vending machines-what’s up with that?