TransWorld SKATEboardingFile: Stüssy LondonVolume 19, Number 4

London CallingThe Stüssy team goes on a London hotel tour.by R.B. Umali

My journey to London began at JFK airport, where I met up with Chad Timtim for the red-eye flight to London’s Heathrow Airport via Virgin Atlantic Airlines. I usually hate flying, especially when the flight is long and overseas, although I have to say Virgin made this trip enjoyable for me. They spoil you with goodie bags, decent food selections, movies, and video games, all of which make the time pass smoothly. We landed at Heathrow Airport and met up with Stüssy’s Team Manager “Brethren” Robbie Jeffers, Scott Johnston, Richard Mulder, Justin Reynolds, and Chris Ortiz. We left the baggage claim and went outside, where we hailed two cabs that took us to central London to check into our hotel.

Keith Hufnagel had already been in London for two weeks with the Real team, and he had plenty of skate spots to take us to. The hotel didn’t have enough vacancies to accommodate all of us, though, despite our having reservations. So Scott and Huf decided to duke it out, while the rest of us went down the street to another hotel where we met Danny Montoya, who had just gotten back from a trip to Spain and Paris.

I took an hour-long power nap, ate a good meal, and had a drink with Seth from Slam City Skates at a local pub, where we met up with photographer Wig Worland from Sidewalk Surfer magazine. Then we did some night shredding at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Montoya got a line, and Huf ollied off a bump over the entire sidewalk into the street while a drunk businessman was taking the piss, refusing to remove himself from in front of Wig’s flash. It was 2:00 a.m. and everybody was tired, but we managed to get some footage logged in. Nobody complained when we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel for some well-deserved rest.

The next day the team got up early for a photo shoot with Stüssy designer Paul Mittleman, a photographer named Reggie, and a crew of Stüssy employees, including a cool guy named James who was famous for directing the unforgettable Right Said Fred video for “I’m Too Sexy.” James is also a close personal friend of Boy George. There wasn’t enough room in the van for everybody, so Robbie, Timtim, and Justin stayed behind. The rest of us headed to a public skatepark in Brixton, which is an old-school cement park near the projects. It reminded me of the Bro Bowl in Tampa, except there weren’t so many little ghetto kids trying to ride your board.

Scott was feeling the effects of the early morning before we even made it to our next spot¿the infamous South Bank. We rolled up and ate some food at a cafe next to a theater while the photo crew got busy on the new ad campaign. We made one more stop in a residential area to model the new winter jackets in the dead heat of summer, and then we headed back to the hotel to rejoin the guys we’d left behind.

We went into the gay area of Soho and ate some Thai food for dinner at this cute little pink restaurant on a street where mad dudes hold hands and looked at us funny, especially Richie. Everybody was feeling uncomfortable, standing outside the restaurant looking like a bunch of lonely guys from out of town, so we headed to an arcade to resume an ongoing game of video soccer that had initially begun during the first Stüssy trip to Japan. Huf was crowned champion during the Asian leg; however, this tour Robbie took the title and will remain the champ until the next tour.

We woke up early the next day to check into another hotel, but we couldn’t check in until the team got back from the day’s photo shoot. So we put all our luggage into a storage room that seemed kind of sketchy, but we gave in and trusted the hotel concierge with our lives. The team got in the van and took off to continue working on the new ads while Timtim, Reynolds, and I¿three of the four Filipinos on the trip, t including Richard Mulder¿went on a filming mission.

First we went to warm up on a small marble ledge down the road at Trafalgar Square. It was early on a hot and muggy day, so we were off to a slow start. A couple of minutes into our warm-up, the rest of the team showed up in chill mode and kept us company for a little while. After they took off again, we skated toward Parliament, where Timtim got a line by 11:00 a.m. We soon ran into a bunch of little kids trying to learn backside flips before they could ollie. They led us through the most congested street in London, on a Saturday of all days, just to warm up at a spot with ledges and big cracks. The experience can be described in just one word: wack.

We took off to Southbank, which is in the shade, but it was so hot and humid that it felt like skating in a dungeon. Timtim threw down a switch crooks transfer, and we were on our way. We wanted to skate at St. Paul’s, but we were hungry and tired, and we needed to eat first. We got to the St. Paul’s area but found nowhere to eat except a sketchy-looking Burger King. Apparently, everything in that area closes on Saturdays. I was getting heated because it was like a hundred degrees in the shade, I had my heavy bag on, and the streets in London are no picnic. Thank god for big, soft Kryptos.

By the time we made it back to the area around our hotel for a wholesome lunch at the best noodle shop in London (which you can read about later), I was drenched in backpack sweat. Our skating was done for the day, and we went back to the hotel with a couple hours to kill before the rest of the team came back from the photo shoot.

By the time we got back, everybody had already taken off to the new hotel that was right in the middle of Leicester Square¿a busy tourist section, surrounded by theaters and nightclubs, that’s jumpin’ until 5:00 a.m. We were all psyched to go out to Club Fabric after dinner, but the rental van was locked up in a garage behind the Stüssy store. We contemplated breaking the single-link chain that held the garage doors together by ramming the van through it like Heath Kirchart and Jeremy Klein would have done, but we ended up scrapping the idea because it looked like the chain might break the back window.

Half the crew went back to the hotel, while a Stüssy employee named Matt decided to join Timtim, Reynolds, Montoya, Ortiz, and I as we made our way to Fabric to get our rave on. Fabric’s four dance floors were smoky and crowded, so when we got inside we made our way to the VIP room. Highlights of the evening include Justin’s mullet-petting and Montoya being put into a half nelson by the bouncer for trying to exit through the wrong door.

I was beat tired from the night before, but we had to wake up early to check into yet another hotel. Our new hotel on St. Martin’s Lane was extremely posh. The first couple of hotels we’d stayed in were plush, but they were plush in an old English kind of way. Our new place was futuristic and abstract.

During our stay, the front of the hotel was constantly surrounded by paparazzi hoping to get a shot of any of the celebrities who were staying there, including Jackie Chan, Matt Groening and the entire Simpsons cast, the cast from the new X-Men movie, David Schwimmer from the show Friends, and of course Richard Mulder, but I think the paparazzi slept on him. Everything at the hotel was priced ridiculously high, although the wide-screen TVs and fully equipped minibars in every room were a real treat. That was our hotel for the rest of the trip, and I found it really hard to leave when my stay was over.

After we checked into our rooms and peeped some footy to get psyched, we went to a spot next to a police station that has some good ledges, and Richard, Timtim, and Montoya threw down some tech lines. Then we skated across town to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was exhausted from filming lines back and forth at the previous spot, I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and I was sweatin’ up a storm. We got to the cathedral and everybody got their skate on, while Huf and I went on a solo mission around the corner and got a couple of really smooth lines you’ll see in the 411 article.

Huf and I came back to the cathedral and discovered we’d missed out on Montoya’s kickflip noseslide, which Ortiz got a sequence of. We tried filming it, but the rain started falling, so we went back to our plush hotel and kicked it for a few. The hotel was so comfy we didn’t even want to go out. The restaurant downstairs was packed with models and movie stars, and you could even put the tab on the room bill. Why go out for chicken when there’s steak at home?

The next day we woke up and met in the lobby where Dimitry Elyashkevich showed up from an exhausting skatepark tour with the Osiris team. We piled into the van and an extra cab and headed to the Brixton skatepark, where Dimitry and I worked on our tre-flips and Timtim kickflipped the wall in the rain. Then we went to a spot by London Bridge and got kicked out, so we went cruising the streets, found some random spots, and got some footy.

The article was starting to take shape, and I was no longer worried about filming. I was there strictly to enjoy my stay and the good company of the friends I was with. For dinner we ate at a fancy Cuban-Asian fusion restaurant in the lobby of our hotel next to the table where the female cast members of the X-Men movie, minus Halle Berry, were celebrating their movie’s London premiere.

We had been eating at fancy restaurants for dinner every night, but that changed the following night when the crew discovered Wagamama’s noodle shop. My girlfriend had told me about this place, and the first time I’d eaten there was earlier in the summer of 2000 with the Zoo York crew. I fell in love with Wagamama’s because it was the best food we ate during the three-week Euro Zoo tour, where the diet was strictly beer and sandwiches. I don’t know if it was the best food we ate during the Stüssy trip, but it was definitely my favorite. Good, fast, inexpensive, not too filling, and the great atmosphere brought us back for the next three nights of our stay. I think I’d tried a little bit of everything on the menu by the time we left London.

ything all day, and I was sweatin’ up a storm. We got to the cathedral and everybody got their skate on, while Huf and I went on a solo mission around the corner and got a couple of really smooth lines you’ll see in the 411 article.

Huf and I came back to the cathedral and discovered we’d missed out on Montoya’s kickflip noseslide, which Ortiz got a sequence of. We tried filming it, but the rain started falling, so we went back to our plush hotel and kicked it for a few. The hotel was so comfy we didn’t even want to go out. The restaurant downstairs was packed with models and movie stars, and you could even put the tab on the room bill. Why go out for chicken when there’s steak at home?

The next day we woke up and met in the lobby where Dimitry Elyashkevich showed up from an exhausting skatepark tour with the Osiris team. We piled into the van and an extra cab and headed to the Brixton skatepark, where Dimitry and I worked on our tre-flips and Timtim kickflipped the wall in the rain. Then we went to a spot by London Bridge and got kicked out, so we went cruising the streets, found some random spots, and got some footy.

The article was starting to take shape, and I was no longer worried about filming. I was there strictly to enjoy my stay and the good company of the friends I was with. For dinner we ate at a fancy Cuban-Asian fusion restaurant in the lobby of our hotel next to the table where the female cast members of the X-Men movie, minus Halle Berry, were celebrating their movie’s London premiere.

We had been eating at fancy restaurants for dinner every night, but that changed the following night when the crew discovered Wagamama’s noodle shop. My girlfriend had told me about this place, and the first time I’d eaten there was earlier in the summer of 2000 with the Zoo York crew. I fell in love with Wagamama’s because it was the best food we ate during the three-week Euro Zoo tour, where the diet was strictly beer and sandwiches. I don’t know if it was the best food we ate during the Stüssy trip, but it was definitely my favorite. Good, fast, inexpensive, not too filling, and the great atmosphere brought us back for the next three nights of our stay. I think I’d tried a little bit of everything on the menu by the time we left London.