COCI: Gino Perez


“Back in like the mid or late 1990s, I was painting a lot and I was struggling… Looking at paintings like Goya or Francis Bacon or Basquiat… And trying to paint to express, it’s not easy. In America we have so much white sometimes, so much that it’s hard to take notice of the colors.

Gino invited me into his house and I saw probably one of his earliest paintings. Immediately I was impressed. I couldn’t believe how much darkness there was. The other colors in various places popped out. It was like a jazz painting that would be on the cover of a record. I was working very hard at trying to do this and he had done it immediately. And it seemed to come natural.”

—Mark Gonzales on Gino Perez (April, 2017)

Our fourth Check Out/Check In installment comes in the form of Gonz prodigy— 60/40 & Kools Clothing staple Gino Perez. Having notched his Check Out in our Nov. 1994 issue, Gino was front and center to some of the most obscure Gonz years and companies and his opening part in 60/40’s Glasses For Your Feet (’96)—skating to the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus” also contained some of the best/least known footage of Mark to date.

Renowned for his unique style, niche tech arsenal, and clean flow, Gino was easily one of the most high profile ams/rookie pros via 411 clips, print ads, and the aforementioned video part through ’94-’96. However, Gino would all but disappear after short pro stints on Sugar Sports and Puma around the early ’00s only to fittingly reappear as a bona-fide, self-supporting, and bearded fine artist almost a decade back. The following (loooooong read) interview sought to cover his journey. Big shouts out to my foes.

Gino’s Check Out. Portrait: Morris, Skate Photo (Switch heel front nose): Lance Mountain. TWS Nov. 1994, Vol. 12, No. 11.

ME: Hey Gino.
Gino Perez:
Hey man.

I don’t think we ever met in person but right when I moved to LA in like ’94, you were always around West LA and UCLA with Mark (Gonzales). So we would see you guys and trip out. Then last I remember you being around skating, I think you were on Sugar Sports with Marko (Jazbinsek). And I knew Marko really well just from the Hot Rod/West LA skate crew too.
Yeah. Marko and Sugar was right down the street from Courthouse. I would always be like, “Can we skate anywhere else except Courthouse?” (Laughs.) I used to skate with Mark (Gonzales) in West LA constantly because he lived right there by the Mormon Temple on Overland.

Yeah, we would see him on campus randomly when I was a student at UCLA. We were always tripping like, “Whoa, it’s the Gonz having coffee.”
Yeah. He had a little apartment there with his girl Lauren. I would be over there all the time.

I’ll just run through my set of questions. Can you remember the emotions you felt the first time you saw this Check Out? Was it a big deal?
It was a real big deal to me. I think Lance (Mountain) took the skate photo. I used to just hang out with my little crew of skate rats from Highland Park. I would see Lance around and we knew like, “Oh, that’s Lance Mountain!” This was like ’92 – ’93 maybe. Lance was just a super nice guy. So he was the only pro that really felt approachable. He had The Firm then too so we knew that. We thought those guys were so sick.

The Gruber brothers.
Yeah, Joe and Keith Gruber, Pat Brennan, Ray Barbee. I used to skate Glendale High a lot. We would skate Eagle Rock, Highland Park, then go to Glendale High. Glendale was pretty much the furthest we would go.

Are those the Glendale High benches in the photo?
Yeah. Exactly.

On the Check Out I think they credit Jody Morris with both photos but I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a mistake.
Yeah. Jody shot the portrait. But I’m almost 100-percent sure that Lance shot the skate photo. It was a switch heel switch front nose. I had met Lance through skating at Glendale years before. He would hook me up with boards and shoot photos of us. I used to buy boards off him at first. Like five bucks or ten bucks for a used board, then eventually he just started giving me boards. I kind of started hanging out with them a little bit. He would ask me like, “Hey, you want to come filming with us?” After a while, I’d go skate Lance’s ramp at his house, we would go skate the Sears building in Alhambra—all the early The Firm spots from the first videos. I was there for that whole second video (Dedicated to Skateboarding [1994]). I thought I was gonna ride for The Firm. I thought like, “Oh hell yeah, it’s on.” But I was really still just getting flowed boards.

Early 60/40 ad. Switch hardflip photo: Lance Mountain. Artwork: Gonz. TWS Dec. 1994, Vol. 12, No. 12.

When did you meet Gonz? First impressions?
That’s what this is leading to. So I hung out with Lance all the time and his team was so tight. After my little group of friends I pretty much only skated with The Firm guys. By then it was just myself, James Qua, and Weston (Correa). The Grubers lived out in Upland or somewhere. So they weren’t around as much. And Ray was in Corona. But Lance was in Alhambra so that was like all in the neighborhood. Anyways, this one day I had been waiting to ride for The Firm. In a way, I already thought I did in my weird childish mind (laughs). I was in High School. I was going to Franklin High and in my head I thought like, “I just want to quit school so I can skate.”

But Lance hits me up one day and is like, “Hey, I really don’t have the money right now to put you on my team.” I was heart-broken at the time hearing it. But then he went on… “But, I showed all your footage and photos to Mark Gonzales. He needs riders for his new company.” I was just like, “What? Mark Gonzales? Like the Mark Gonzales?” He’s like, “Yeah, Mark. He’s going to give you a call I gave him your number.” I was like, “Dude, this is like the president calling me.”

You knew who he was even then right? Did you start back in the late ‘80s?
Yeah. Probably around ’88. With the jump ramp and all that. But I knew who Mark was then and all the older legends.

Plus you had seen Video Days (’91) obviously.
Exactly. For that alone it felt like God was going to be calling me. So this was before cell phones and all that. So I waited for him to call my house for like days. I would go to school, come home and ask my mom like, “Anyone call me? Anyone call me?” My mom was just like, “What are you talking about?” So that went on for like a week and a half and by then I just figured it was over. I gave up on it. Then one day I came home and she was like, “Some guy called you. He sounded like an older man. Who is this guy?” “That’s MARK mom!” I just started freaking out. She was wondering what was wrong with me. I had to explain like, “You don’t understand. This is the dude! What did you say? What did he say?” “He said he’ll call back.”

So another week goes by and now I’m stressing even more like, “Man, I missed it. That was my chance. He’s gone on to the next dude now. This sucks!” And then a few days later he called again and I answered. (Gonz voice) “Hey, is Gino there?” I go (deep voice) “Yeah, this is Gino.” And he just jumps right into it, “Lance told me about you. Do you need any boards?” I was pretty shell-shocked. He wanted me to meet him at that school Daewon skates in Love Child. With the two-stair curb and the manny pad.

McKinley School in Santa Monica?
Yeah. Exactly. Right off Santa Monica Blvd. he wanted us to meet him there. I had no idea where it was since I never left my little area. So I ditched school one day, me and my homey took the bus out. He told us to meet him at noon. I don’t know what he was thinking, like I didn’t have school or something. So we go meet him and I thought we would spend the whole day skating. Like he would check out my stuff or whatever (laughs). But we see him real quick. He looked pretty mellow. Some Simples, a white shirt and some corduroys. He takes us to his car and in the trunk he has all these ATM Click boards. It was already kind of phasing out. It was during the end of him being there. The dude that ran ATM was ripping them off so it was going to switch to 60/40.

Another 60/40 ad with Gino’s board (Half-Cab flip photo) and list of recent ledge tricks learned. No Photo Credit. Sept. 1994. Scan: Vert is Dead.

So you came up on a bunch of ATM Click boards?
Yeah. We talked really quick and he’s like “I gotta go somewhere. Call me. Here’s my number. Let’s go skate this weekend.” So my homey and I are just stuck in Santa Monica with all these boards, wheels, shirts and I don’t even know how to carry everything (laughs). We went to the super market and got plastic bags, filled them up with all the gear then took the two-hour bus ride back home. Then the next weekend I skated with him and we just clicked from then on.

I remember even early on he was singing your praises pretty hard. He seemed really down for you.
I guess from what Lance (Mountain) had showed him was all switch stuff. So they were into that. I was doing my switch hardflips and switch inward heel stuff. I guess not too many people were really doing clean hardflips yet. I think Mark just dug my style too. He always talked about the way people pushed. How they got on their board. How natural they looked doing it. I didn’t know or understand any of this back then but I guess he liked the way I skated. I was just some ghetto kid though. Literally coming from nothing. I didn’t know about style or anything.

He might have seen a little of himself in you too. Since he came up the same way to a degree.
Oh yeah. He would tell us about his early days. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade. He told us he would get pulled over by the cops almost every day. He was divorced from his parents at that age. He would tell the cops that he was making more money than his parents. He would tell them like, “I have an apartment. I have a pad.” But they would still drive him back to school every day.

He was already one of the top pros on Vision by then.
Yeah. Probably making huge checks.

Throwback Gonz photo from the Vision days in ’87 (No photo credit) for a 60/40 ad. Nov. 1995. Scan: Vert Is Dead.

So basically you got on right when 60/40 started?
Pretty much. I got flowed the ATM Click boards for maybe four months. But Mark was waiting to settle everything before he left to start 60/40. So we were sort of in limbo for a while.

Did he tell you what 60/40 stood for?
Yeah. That was one of the first questions I had. We used to watch old movies together all the time. Old VHS tapes or even skate to the movie theater. Just make a day of going to Tower Records to buy Morrissey CDs, stuff them in our pockets then skate to the movies. Anyways, he was like, “You know the movie Bad Boys (The 1983 version with Sean Penn, not the 1995 film with Will Smith)?” Bad Boys was actually my dad’s favorite movie. So I was like, “Hell yeah, with Sean Penn.” You know that part when he’s like, “How much time you have?” And the guy answers like “Sixty forty man. Sixty forty” So it came from Bad Boys.

I always thought it was the weed mix.
Yeah. I think a lot of people thought that. Then later they turned it into like a “sixty percent mental, forty percent ability” or something. But that was when Mark left.

So back to the Check Out, what was going on by then?
I think Jody (Morris) told me about it. Like, “They want to give you a Check Out man.” At the time, I wasn’t really versed in the whole skateboard media thing. I think I might have had like five magazines total growing up—all random hand me downs. But he explained that it was like the up and comers. So that sounded cool. They already had the photos. I just skated. I remember finally buying it at the supermarket with Mark and being stoked on what he wrote about me.


The 60/40 411 Industry Section. Hosted by Skatelyposse. 411 Issue 7, 1994.

What was the 60/40 crew once it got rolling? Who did you kick it with?
I really only hung around with Mark most of the time. In the beginning we were together all the time. Later, when Doug Diaz got on, Doug was sick. I hung out with that dude a lot. Me, Mark, and Doug probably got along the most. Later too when Jay (Stephens aka SAD) and George Morales got on too—those dudes were sick too but they were more South Central/USC skaters. And Ron (Chatman) was all the way in Long Beach. Lauren, Mark’s girlfriend had family in Long Beach so sometimes we’d make trips down to skate with Ron. But other than that we just skated Courthouse. He would come pick me up in his Volvo in Highland Park, I’d go stay with him for the weekend in West LA and we would just go film. I’d film him and he would film me. There was no filmer or anything. He would park his car and we’d just take the bus or skate to spots with the camera bag. Down Wilshire, all across UCLA. We filmed each other so much.

I remember you had a fair amount of footage in the 411s at the time.
Yeah. That was all me and Mark just skating around filming. We had a bunch of commercials and then we also had the 411 Industry Section. 60/40 was so low-key though. It was nothing huge or anything.

To me though I’m really interested in those years because it was a time when the industry kind of didn’t appreciate Mark.
Right but that’s when he was at his most artistic. That’s when he was at his rawest.

Yeah, I think 60/40 and even Kools was just super under-appreciated at the time. It’s all just so creative and grassroots.
Yeah. And that was us just coming up with these kind of ghetto, grimy ideas. That was all Mark’s genius.


60/40 411 ad. From Headclean. 411 Issue 4, 1994.

When did Kools enter the picture?
We were skating one day and Mark asked me, “Gino, do you think I should start a clothing company?” I was like “Fuck yeah.” We used to go into Army Surplus stores all the time and just buy the craziest random stuff—camo shirts—whatever and wear it out skating. Just funky ass shit. And that shit wasn’t cool then.

Yeah, no you had to wear the uniform in ‘94—blue jeans, white tee, maybe a grey sweatshirt. But it was strictly enforced.
(Laughs) And I was down with that too. I was a product of that time for sure. But hanging out with Mark, he just changed me every which way—artistically, clothing wise, as a skateboarder. I realized that I didn’t only have to do hard tricks or follow what others did. I could do it with my own style and maybe even simplify it more. But back to Kools, I remember him asking us what he should call it. He named off some names and Kool was one of them. He was like, “You know the cigarettes, the menthol ones?” At first he was thinking just Kool, then we settled on Kools Incorporated just because it sounded cool. It sounded big but was really little. He added the “s” so they couldn’t sue us.

Where was Kools run out of?
Just all out of his apartment in Westwood. He already had some sketches. I guess sort of like he does now with Krooked, he would just sit down and draw it all out. He asked me too “Do you want to be my first rider?” I was like “Yeah!”

I remember the ad with you and the girl on the scooter.
That was one of the first ones. That was me and my girlfriend at the time. And that Vespa was Spike Jonze’s Vespa. It was this silver Vepsa that Spike gave to Mark. Mark’s always been into old cars, old gangster cars and Italian bikes and stuff like that. I was always into that stuff too. I had the old Karmann Ghia and Mark would always be like, “Let’s take the Ghia!” I had to tell him like, “This thing’s going to break down Mark. We can’t drive it everywhere.”

Gino’s Kools ad on Spike’s Vespa. April, 1995. Photo: unknown.

That car was in a 60/40 411 ad right? Do you still have it? I saw you driving one on your Facebook page.
No. I just bought a new one actually. But you know who has it to this day? Doug Diaz. I sold it to him.

That’s crazy.
Yeah. That ad was shot right in front of Glendale High. So same spot as the Check Out photo. I also remember going to Courthouse with Mark right around that time when Kools started and Koston and all the Girl guys were skating inside. I really wanted to go in and skate but Mark wanted to hang back. He just wanted to skate in front. Finally I pestered him enough and we went in and they all came up to him.

He didn’t want the attention?
Exactly, he didn’t want it at all. We stayed for a second then he just wanted off on our own mission. But he did get Koston to do a Kools ad. He would ask me like, “Do you think Koston will ride for us?” And at that time I mean Koston was considered the best. In every street skater’s eyes. But he ended up just doing an ad.


More Gonz with Gino’s teammates Doug Diaz and George Morales. 60/40 411 ad. From AveandDill. 411 Issue 13, 1995.

How were the clothes themselves? Were you into it?
Yeah, we had cool striped shirts. Big polka dotted shirts. But most of it was pretty basic.

Do you still have any articles of Kools Clothing tucked away at home?
I do. Somewhere. One of the best things when I look at it now were just the tags. All the tags are so hilarious.

Craziest Mark stories from those days?
So many. Every time we went skating and he would have these odd little things he would do. We would go into cigar shops—he liked smoking cigars and then also these high-end stores. Mark likes really nice things. Sometimes people would think he looked like a bum but then he would be wearing some thousand-dollar Ferragamo shoes or something. We both went into the Ferragamo store on Rodeo Drive one day. Just skating around. He takes me in there and is like, “Gino, let’s get some shoes.” I’m like, “These are dress shoes Mark.” He goes, “No, no, no Gino.” Because we would do things like skate long boards all day so that when we skated our regular boards we would be even better. That was Mark’s theory with everything.

Kools ad, TWS Feb. 1995. Layout: Mark Gonzales.

We would spend all day on long boards and I would just be struggling with this heavy ass board. But of course he’s killing it. Doing tricks on it and everything. But basically he applied his same theory to the shoes. So we go into Ferragamo and he gets us both these slip-on leather dress shoes. They were like 600 dollars each. And he just pulls out the cash of course. I’m like “Mark, can you just give me that money instead?” He’s like, “No Gino. It’s going to work.” So we skate all day in these dress shoes. We skate all the way to sand gaps. Destroy these things in a single day. The shoes honestly probably lasted like seven ollies. But he’s like, “See, you’re getting better right?”

That’s amazing.
But we would do shit like that all the time. He would spend thousands of dollars sometimes on a single day like that. We went to Musso & Frank’s one time in Hollywood. He calls me up like, “Hey G, I’m in town. Meet me at Musso and Franks.” I’m like, “That expensive restaurant?” He’s like, “Yeah, meet me there.” So I skate over there, I’m waiting in the parking lot, sweating and all dirty—just disgusting you know—and I thought we were meeting up to skate but he shows up and is like, “Let’s eat dinner.” I told him I probably smelled like a homeless man. He’s like, “No. Come on. Let’s go.” He had his little V-neck on and looks all good. We go in and sit down and at the table next to us is Nancy Reagan. No joke. We had the corner table and it’s like a small steakhouse in there. But he tells me like, “Gino look at that old lady. That’s Nancy Reagan. Should I do a drawing for her?”


Ad for the upcoming video with some sped up footage. Check the Gonz double-kinker. 411 Issue 14, 1995.

Did he give Nancy Reagan a personalized Gonz doodle?
So he draws this drawing on his napkin and is about to get up and go over but she had all the secret service agents around her so I think he got nervous. Then right then she got up and we thought she had left. He was like, “Shit, I should have given it to her.” So I go to the bathroom, but actually Nancy Reagan had just gotten up to go to the bathroom. So when we both came back out I bumped into her. I held the door for her when she came out of the bathroom and Mark was just watching me shocked. She looked at me and said something like, “Oh thank you, you kind young man.” But that was pretty much what every day with Mark seemed like.

Glasses For Your Feet—the 60/40 video came out in ’96. Had Mark left by the time the video came out?
He probably left a few months before the video. That was why he just had his few tricks in my part. He was talking to Tommy (Guerrero) and Jim (Thiebaud) at Deluxe and had actually done a few trips up there when we were still on 60/40. We went to Deluxe and I had even gotten a couple of Deluxe decks up there. I did think it was kind of weird that we were there but you know, Mark knows everybody so I just figured they were his friends.

We stayed at Max (Schaff)’s house where he had the big vert ramp in his living space. That’s when we made that big mural. Max had asked Mark, like, “You have to do something here that will stay forever.” So Mark drew it out, I outlined it on the wall, and then filled it in. If you notice in footage or photos, we couldn’t reach the very top so the blue guy wasn’t filled in all the way (Laughs.) Anyways, while we were up there I think that was when it got talked about.


Gino and Mark’s part from Glasses For Your Feet (1996). Tragically deprived of the Beatles track. For best results, please play “I Am The Walrus” during viewing.

Did Mark ever ask you to come along to Real?
He offered… I was bummed when I found out. Like, “You’re leaving dude?” He was like, “Yeah, it’s not working out. But I want you to be taken care of. I want you and Ron (Chatman) to run 60/40. I want you guys to make all the decisions.” So that’s kind of what happened. He told me I could use his footage, so I used that in my part.

Who chose the Beatles song (“I Am The Walrus”)?
I did. There was a lot of hip hop going on at the time. And I loved all that stuff too—Wu-tang, Mobb Deep, Nas—all that East Coast stuff was huge then. That was how you rolled then. That’s just how it was. But I had always loved The Beatles and I loved oldies. Being Mexican and from the ghetto—that’s what our parents listened to. Mark always listened to The Smiths and Morrissey and just this eclectic mix so that probably played into it too. I was going to use another Beatles song but it was too slow. I wanted “Happiness is a Warm Gun” but ended up going with “I Am The Walrus.”

Then of course, those Gonz tricks are low-key some of his gnarliest ever.
Yeah, the UCLA stuff.

My friend Jake, another UCLA student knew Mark a little and had seen him do the propped up table—gap to rail thing that day. He told me about it that night and for months we would go look at the rail—imagining how it was possible.
I mean the table completely moved when he did it. And then that rail was seriously chest high at least. And the roll up was all bricks. It barely rolled too.

A recent #skatenerdstarmaps post for the UCLA rail in question. Gonz from Gino’s part in Glasses For Yout Feet (1996).

The other marble gap thing too where he ollies it across.
He told me right after that like, “Gino, why don’t you switch inward heel over the gap that way?” I’m just like, “You’re out of your damn mind!” He’s like (high-pitched Gonz voice) “Lean into it like that. That’s how you go sideways.” I was just like, “I’m not you man. You’re amazing. This is crazy.”

To have that part with your skating and Mark’s skating plus the Beatles song is a pretty rad one for the grandkids.
Yeah. Then 60/40 lasted another few years after Mark left.

Yeah, what happened after that. So the video came out, Mark’s gone. Did Ron leave too?
No Ron was still holding it down. He stayed around until it ended. But I was just too young, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Eventually 60/40 just phased out and skating was changing too.

The rail stuff and big stair jumping came in right around then too.
For sure. Nobody wanted to see the old shit any more.

I think I didn’t see you in the mags or videos for a while then you came back with some Puma stuff and Sugar Sports.
Exactly. Basically 60/40 phased out and I was just going to stop skating. At least as a serious job or whatever. I was still getting boards from Mark by then. He would send me Real and Krooked boards, and I was happy with just that. I liked just skating free boards. He would send Spitfires and Thunders too from Deluxe. But I was down at sand gaps one day and Marko was there. We skated a bit that day and then he asked me if I wanted to ride for Sugar. I was hesitant to get back into it all at that point. I had started painting a ton by then. I told him I would think about it and then actually what made me agree to it was that it was so small and grassroots that it reminded me of everything I liked about 60/40. That was the way skateboarding was supposed to be to me. You didn’t get rich maybe but you were taken care of. And you were rich in just the pure skateboarding experience. It reminded me of that.

Video grab sequence of Gino’s nollie pop over a table from LA County (2000). Filming by: Fernando Garcia. Don’t think I saw anyone do this before Gino. Can’t think of too many since.

I remember you had the 411 ad for Sugar of the nollie pop over the picnic table. Even at that time, I remember thinking like, “Wow, Sugar got Gino Perez.” Like you were still a bigger name than they were. How did Puma happen from there?
Once I got on Sugar I got some ads and I was kind of back in the scene. Low-key ads here and there. Then a buddy of mine told me that Puma was starting up a skate division and were looking for riders. He knew one of the head designers there and told me I should try to get on. They were right here near Universal Studios off of Barham (Blvd). I actually live right around the block from there so it was funny. I went in to meet them, my friend had talked to them already. Dylan Garder was already on and I thought he was dope. Then they had Donger (Kien Lieu) too of course.

Did you travel with Puma?
Yeah. Funnily enough I got on and that was kind of my one little taste of the big time. Puma was a huge international company of course. They sent us all over the world for that.

By 2002 the industry had a little bit more money than in ’96.
Exactly. And it was Puma too so they didn’t even really need the skate thing. It was like a luxury for them. We would go on trips to Thailand and Eastern Asia tagging along with the soccer teams they sponsored. Joe Brook shot a whole tour for Slap that we did to Malaysia around then.

I always like that switch pop over the picnic table ad for Puma. Is there a tiny bump on that or is that from flat?
That’s actually at Garvanza Elementary. Across the street from the house I grew up in at Highland Park. It’s a tiny little bump. By the bungalows they put out by the handicap ramp. It just has a little slope in the cement.

Switch pop shove a table for a Puma ad. Photo: Hart. TWS Photo Annual 2002.

It looks like the same one Chris Franzen did the switch tre off? Although that might have been another school.
That dude was so good. I used to skate with Franzen all the time at Lockwood. I love that dude. My god. He would destroy tables. Back when nobody was doing anything like that. He’s one guy that never got the credit. I dug all those dudes. In the Lockwood hey day.

When did you fully transition from the skating side to the art side?
I started focusing on my art heavily during the mid-2000s. I think the time Mark came by my house that he’s talking about was around 2004. He did an interview for Juxtapoz at my house then. But I was fully into it by then.

Do you apply some of your life lessons and style from skateboarding to it?
A hundred percent. My dad was a painter and my mom was an artist too. My dad was a heavy painter but also a self-destructive dude. He was kind of a bad guy. He used heroin. He died in prison. Mark got to meet my dad while he was still alive. Mark’s from Southgate and my mom and dad both grew up in the same area. It was a rough area back then. But as far as art I had always done it because of my parents. Then when I got to travel around with Mark, I knew there were other artists, but I didn’t know you could make a real living off of it until I saw how Mark was doing it. When I saw him do it, I was like, “That’s what I’ve always wanted. That’s who I am.” If we went to Frisco, he would take me to the museums. Wherever we went, we would always hit a museum and art gallery.

New painting from Gino Perez in 2017. Title: AUXilary.

Mark was basically your art school.
Exactly. And it was just a raw school. Sometimes we would go to Natas’ house in Santa Monica. I just met so many cool people through Mark, and they were all artists. So finally, I felt confidant enough to be like, “I’m one of you guys. This is who I am. You guys are on a whole other level, but this is me.”

This was your calling.
Exactly. And Mark really was the one who showed me you could do it.

Are you able to support yourself through your art?
That’s all I do. I’m maybe not getting rich, but I get to live the life that I want. It’s a hustle, but I’ve done it since right after skating. Since around the mid-2000s I’ve been lucky enough to support myself solely as an artist.

That alone is an accomplishment for sure. I saw that you had done some Pat Brennen (RIP) tribute drawings recently. Do you do more skate related art or is it pretty separate?
I always throw some skateboarding references in. I try to even if it’s just subliminal.

Ode to Pat Brennen. By Gino Perez circa 2016. Title: “Before his time”.

Were you a Pat Brennan fan or friend?
I was just more of a fan. I would see him around here and there in the early days and skate with him. The dude was just a natural. So pure. So good. Just watching him skate was amazing. And he was from Pasadena so pretty much from the neighborhood. He was a local hero. I tried to pay some homage with my drawing.

Where can we check out more art?
I have an Instagram (@ginoooooooo) and you can also check #ginoperezart. I used to have a website and all that but mostly now I just sell to private collectors.

Ever get the urge to jump on your board these days?
Actually yes. I have a thirteen-year-old stepson—my girl’s son, so I got him a board and we have a rail we set up. I’ll skate for a couple of hours now though and just be destroyed (laughs.) I’m so sore the next day. I still think I can do all the stuff that I used to do. So I’ll just go for it (laughs).

You’re probably close to my age, I just turned 40.
Yeah. I’m 39. So right there. Oh God it hurts (laughs.) But I’ll hang in there and try to skate. I’m still stuck in the ‘90s though. I think I still skate more switch than regular.

Trying to huck a switch inward heel tailslide in the twilight years
(Laughs) Yeah. Pretty much. But skating is still pure fun for me. Even now.

Last talk with Mark?
Actually I talked to him a couple of months ago when he was down for that adidas thing with Snoop. At the Randy’s Donuts by LAX. I miss the guy though.

He got back to me really quick when I asked him about you.
Yeah. We have different worlds going on now. But I still feel connected to him. My life was really changed by just meeting him. I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Gino and his lady, Angie King at a recent opening of his. 2017. Photo: ronysphotobooth.com.

Big thanks to Gino for doing this and salute to Mark and all the 60/40 alumni.

Follow Gino on Instagram: @ginoooooooo
See more of Gino’s artwork: #ginoperezart
Follow all things Gonz: @krooked

More COCI’s:
Ron Chatman
Tony Cox
Simon Woodstock