We continue on with our Awards Week via a Vice Versa interview from our January issue with Readers’ Choice nominee Sean Malto. Find the rest of the nominees HERE, and remember, all the winners will be officially announced at the awards on June 15th and right here on skateboarding.com, so stay tuned.
Words and Photography by Oliver Barton
The list of outstanding skate cities that Sean Malto has visited since his meteoric rise in skateboarding is probably greater than your average airline company can claim they provide service to. Yet, Sean will give the same response whenever questioned where his favorite place in the world to skate is: Kansas City. Home to around two-million people and more fountains than any other city in the world behind Rome, KC is the only place Sean wants to be. We caught up with him a week after visiting him at his skate palace in his beloved hometown for insight on Purple Joose, the death of Splinter, and Sean's future plans of flipping burgers at McDonald's.
So what are you up to?
Ahh, just on a little Heath Mo Starbucks sesh in Austin, Texas right now.
Are you still a chai tea man?
No, not today. I'm getting a regular coffee. I don't deserve it right now, I need to make a trick and then I can reward myself. I'm keeping it basic, because so far I haven't done anything worth a chai, but we're heading out skating right now, so maybe later.
Does it get boring being on continual trips all the time?
No, not really. Sometimes there might be a slow time on a trip and you start to think, "Man, what the f—k am I doing here?" But trips are fun to me.
What do you look forward to the most about getting home to KC?
Mainly that skating is not so serious. All my friends come out and skate, all the homeys, and we just have fun, you know how that is. Going back to a six-bedroom house where at least six people are living and they all want to skate. I swear, that's what I look forward to he most, that house and everyone that lives in it.
Yeah, it struck me as strange that you own a pinnacle house, but chose a rented room in a skate house as the place to lay your head.
Yeah, I think I prefer my friend's house a little better.
There must be perks to living in the nice house, though?
Yeah, it's great too. My mom knows what's up, so if I'm having friends over she'll go and stay at my grandma's house. It's always nice coming back to a clean home. It's not all blown out—my mom regulates it.
What's the grimiest experience you have had in the skate house?
I didn't take a shower in that house for the first year I lived there, I swear! I'd just kick it for three days, then go home and have a shower and come back and kick it for another three days. Just recently we've been having some rat problems.
Oh yeah, I forgot to ask. How is Splinter?
Dude, I forgot to tell you. Splinter the house rat got his ass whooped recently, he went down. I saw some photos and he was out dead cold in the kitchen. We had a little burial session for him, though. We set fire to him in the back yard.
Because of your lifestyles, the neighbors used to think that you were drug dealers. Now they will think that you are Satanists! What happened to him?
I don't know. I just saw a photo of Splinter and someone with a knife and Splinter was dead. That's all I know. I've tried to talk to people about it, but no one is giving me an explanation. They're just happy he's gone.
Maybe he killed himself?
I don't know about that. Splinter lived a pretty good life. He ate a lot of good food—a lot of money's worth of food. He used to help himself to everyone's Ramen.
If someone were to come out and stay in Kansas City today, what three things would they need to do in order to have the complete experience?
Well, first of all, I'd obviously have to take them to stay at the house, it's an amazing place. Then they'd have to get their barbecue in, either Gates, Arthur Bryant's, or Oklahoma Joe's. Arthur Bryant's is amazing if you're hungry. They label them as sandwiches, but there's no possible way to eat what they give you as a sandwich. It's just two pieces of wonder bread with five pounds of meat lumped on top of it.
Malto in etnies’ 2009 Skate & Create, The Legend Of Boxton Square
I didn't go to Oklahoma Joe's, what's the vibe there?
Well, it's at a gas station, which sounds kind of weird, but it's actually really good. I feel like the food portions are easier to eat, they're on buns and you can actually eat them as a sandwich. They also have the best fries in the world. Gates is really good too.
The third thing they have to do?
The third thing, they're going to have to hit a Big Bear and a Joose whilst bombing hills. A Big Bear is a forty of malt liquor, I think the Big Bear is seven-percent alcohol or thereabouts. Joose goes from nine-percent to 12.2-percent alcohol depending on if you want to do Grape Joose or Jungle Joose. Go to drinkjoose.com to learn more about The New Legacy). I personally like the grape one, but I haven't got around to trying the Jungle Joose yet because it's the new flavor. We've been searching, but it's taking people so long to get them in. One of these days.
Does it still feel weird to be pro?
I never really think about it too much. Being pro or not being pro never really changed anything for me. I trip out on being on Girl sometimes when I'm on trips and I see those dudes skating around or even just being around them. For me, they're the best skaters in the world.
What are the Beauty And The Beast tours like?
Those trips are so fun. Well, I didn't actually get to experience the second one because I dislocated my elbow the first day of the trip. The first trip was sick, though. I had never really seen skating like that in real life before. It's definitely a lot crazier when you're there than it is when seeing it in videos. You try to re-enact it a little, but they're on a different level. It would be really nice to be able to skate tranny like those guys, but it will probably never happen to me.
Who was your favorite?
I never knew how gnarly it was to see him skate, but Peter Hewitt is one of my favorites. I've never really watched him skate before, but when I was on that trip, he'd do the most insane shit.
Do you ever think of what life would be like without skating, or what you might do afterwards?
I have no clue what I would be doing if I didn't skate—seriously. As for after skating? That's a really scary thought. I don't know what I am going to do? Mike Mo and I have been talking about getting jobs at McDonald's for a week just to see what it would be like. I haven't talked to him about it for a while, but I'm thinking that I will just go and stay at his house for a few weeks and get a job there. I think I'd like to do the shittiest job there since it's only going to be for a week. Maybe cooking the burgers or something? Now that I think about it, I don't know if McDonald's would even hire me. I didn't graduate high school, I've got no work experience—I think that they might turn me down, which would be even more depressing. I guess I'm going to have to stick with skateboarding.