Circa In South America-Armed Bodyguards Included
by Dave Chami

On any tour there has to be balance and focus. Although you might be in a foreign country replete with exotic beers and wide-eyed local women, you’re there for a job: to skate. Demos, filming, photographs, a good square meal and eight hours sleep, that’s how to get it done. For the record, though, this is not how Circa does it. The closest analogy I can come up with is “spring break with a couple of skateboards,” but somehow it all works. We spent two weeks traveling through Venezuela, Colombia, and Chile, sampling both the finer and grimier sides of life, managed to avoid getting thrown in jail and left Circa’s marketing manager attached to a drip in a Colombian hospital.

Colt Cannon
Due to the generosity of the local distributors in each country we visited, it became virtually impossible for the guys to spend their per diem. On our last night in Chile, the local distributor Christian threw us a party of epic proportions where we were treated like pseudo rock stars, never being allowed to reach into our own pockets to buy a drink. By the time we got back to our hotel, Christian was hardly leading by example and managed to punch a hole in a ceiling panel and pelt the walls with overripe fruit. In the carnage of the morning, Tony woke to find that the area in his bag where he’d stashed the last of his per diem was now empty. Colt’s wallet was also a good deal thinner, we put it down to the cleaning staff who had come up on nearly 2,000 dollars U.S., probably equivalent to a couple of months’ wages. With nothing in his pockets to weigh him down, Colt pops a kickflip over this beefy hubba.

Tony Tave
Autograph signings on this tour were some of the most out-of-control affairs I’ve ever witnessed-apparently the locals don’t see too many tours go through these parts. In Venezuela we were nearly three hours late to a shop signing and arrived to a couple thousand kids screaming for blood-or at least a poster and a handshake. We piled into the store to find that there was no rear exit and the sea of kids closed in. The security guards for the mall had gone home and the floor-to-ceiling glass windows began to buckle. Shop employees had to press up against the windows to prevent them from popping. After a nervous couple of hours we made a police-assisted run for it, and on the way out a local snatched Circa Marketing Manager Steve Luther’s fedora right off his head. I guess Steve has a pretty strong bond with that hat ’cause he straight chased the perpetrator through the mall, tackling the dude like he was Shawne Merriman. Just goes to show, never mess with another man’s hat, or it’s “lights out.” At every signing Tony Tave was the people’s favorite, and he was often the last man standing for photos and autographs. When the camera phones had been satisfied, Tony wasn’t afraid to get the real work done-switch backside 180 in Venezuela.

Windsor James
In Bogota, Colombia there’s a buttery smooth set of fifteen stairs, unfortunately it’s situated right outside a large banking complex and is patrolled by armed security guards who don bulletproof vests. It took only one attempt at a trick by Windsor to bring the guards out and we decided that it was never going to happen and headed back to our van. Just as we were about to pull out, two police officers approached, screaming and waving their AKs. Our tour guide pleaded with them for a bit while we showed our passports and did our best to look innocent. After examining our credentials they seemed satisfied and let us leave. Apparently there are regular attempts to rob the bank and the guards had told the police that we had been trying to film and photograph the interior of the building disguised as skateboarders. The first thing they had said when they approached us was that we were all going to jail (I’m glad I hadn’t understood that one). In Chile, things did seem a little mellower, buJulian’s board was still stolen as we watched Windsor lay down this back Smith with his trademark anthem ringing through the trees, “I’m a G, cuz!”

Danilo Cerezini
Our accommodations on the trip teetered from five-star hotel to undercover brothel, to hostel-style apartments that shock/horror had no Internet connection. No matter where we were though, Danilo would set up his area of the room like a DJ booth. He carries with him a huge boombox that barely squeezes into the overhead compartments on aeroplanes, and from what I observed over a two-week period, is only able to play one song by The Game. Waking every morning to this same anthem became more than a little torturous but probably explains to a great extent why he ends every sentence with the word “dog.” Danilo’s superior command of Spanish made him our interpreter and the ladies’ man of the trip-he even managed to pull a Colombian TV star who promptly fell in love with him. I do have to commend Circa filmer Josh Alemanza here, though, who held hour-long telephone conversations with a local lass using only a Spanish dictionary. At this spot in the ghetto I used the bathroom and was handed a bucket of water to flush with. Upon returning I found our bus driver had disappeared to get gas leaving us stranded while Danilo nailed this switch backside flip amidst a scene complete with thirteen-year-old glue sniffers and AK-47-toting policemen.

Julian Davidson
At fifteen years of age, Julian Davidson is being thrown in the deep end. It’s a far cry from hanging with your homeys in Long Beach to traveling the world with some of skateboarding’s heavyweights, but Julian treats it all like another day in the LBC. His golden locks were a drawcard with the giggling teenage girls who thronged for his autograph while the 21-plus sector were more than happy to bump and grind with him on the dance floor (when we could sneak him into the clubs). He told me of an offer made to him by an another shoe company, but in his own words, “Once you go on a Circa tour, you never go back!” At the end of the day, though, it’s Julian’s skating that holds him up with the big boys, and this frontside five-0 on the edge of a moat is a prime example.

Adrian Lopez
This backside flip was performed in typical Lopez fashion, solo mission while the rest of the crew were still tucked in bed nursing their hangovers. We had armed security guards with us 24/7 in Venezuela, and Lopez was one of their favorites, bringing him icy beverages while he battled the heat. The guards tour with all the big bands that visit South America, and we did our best to make them feel like part of our crew as they pottered around all day watching us skate and guarding the camera bags. By the time we had to leave, they proclaimed that we were the best group they’d ever had to babysit, even insisting on getting photos taken with us all. Unfortunately, Adrian had to cut out early on the tour but not before stomping this backside flip for his new amigos.

David Reyes
This was David’s first Circa tour outside of the States, and I proudly observed his appreciation for the finer things in life. While he wasn’t grinding everything in sight, he was digging out any items that can’t be found in the USA. We thought he had hit the jackpot when he came up on cannabis, garden apple, and mother and baby scented incense, but the major discovery was all his own when, at a restaurant in Colombia, he began mixing a delicious concoction: Jack and Coke spiders. He skated a rail one night with perhaps the jankiest generator setup, which puffed blue smoke and gave us all three-day headaches and wasn’t afraid to sign boobies or perform an impromptu television interview. Basically, the kid just lapped it all up. In Colombia we found a lot of spots ourselves including this kinker outside an apartment complex that David promptly grinded despite the residents best attempts to shoo him off.

Sheldon Melshinski
Sheldon went into this tour guns blazing and tore up the demos. Unfortunately, one of the last demos in Chile got its revenge and tore his ACL. Get better quick, mate! The guys skated an arena in Colombia with 3,000 kids and only seven security guards-as soon as they hit the course the kids rushed them and wouldn’t be moved. When one local was asked, “Don’t you just want to see them skate?” he replied, “I can see them skate on video, I want to get a photo with them.” After twenty minutes of battling the kids for space on the course, a fight broke out in the bleachers and things started getting a little sketchy. We made haste, Sheldon having his hair pulled in an attempted took snatch and Tony narrowly being missed by a flying chair. A demo of sorts was held again at this spot in Venezuela, our tour guide obviously calling all his buddies who began arriving, some even in taxis to see Sheldon nail this lengthy frontside boardslide.

Conclusion
I gotta say, this trip was nothing but fun and games. We were treated like kings and took full advantage. The hospitality of the South American people is unrivaled and the skate spots equally impressive. Our only hiccup was that Steve copped the gnarliest case of food poisoning I’ve ever witnessed (we’re talking vomiting blood here), forcing us to leave him to recover in Colombia before returning home (I guess you might want to pack your own lunch). Circa TM and self-confessed party animal Ryan Reiss then took over the reins. “Baby Ice,” as most know him, will be going ’til the sun comes up and still somehow manage to rouse the troops to get out skating by midday. With the pressure of demos, ad deadlines, and video-release dates these days, it’s easy to see how things can become a lot serious. For the Circa team, though, success is measured by how much fun you had. The skateboarding, well that just happens.

don went into this tour guns blazing and tore up the demos. Unfortunately, one of the last demos in Chile got its revenge and tore his ACL. Get better quick, mate! The guys skated an arena in Colombia with 3,000 kids and only seven security guards-as soon as they hit the course the kids rushed them and wouldn’t be moved. When one local was asked, “Don’t you just want to see them skate?” he replied, “I can see them skate on video, I want to get a photo with them.” After twenty minutes of battling the kids for space on the course, a fight broke out in the bleachers and things started getting a little sketchy. We made haste, Sheldon having his hair pulled in an attempted took snatch and Tony narrowly being missed by a flying chair. A demo of sorts was held again at this spot in Venezuela, our tour guide obviously calling all his buddies who began arriving, some even in taxis to see Sheldon nail this lengthy frontside boardslide.

Conclusion
I gotta say, this trip was nothing but fun and games. We were treated like kings and took full advantage. The hospitality of the South American people is unrivaled and the skate spots equally impressive. Our only hiccup was that Steve copped the gnarliest case of food poisoning I’ve ever witnessed (we’re talking vomiting blood here), forcing us to leave him to recover in Colombia before returning home (I guess you might want to pack your own lunch). Circa TM and self-confessed party animal Ryan Reiss then took over the reins. “Baby Ice,” as most know him, will be going ’til the sun comes up and still somehow manage to rouse the troops to get out skating by midday. With the pressure of demos, ad deadlines, and video-release dates these days, it’s easy to see how things can become a lot serious. For the Circa team, though, success is measured by how much fun you had. The skateboarding, well that just happens.