Johnny wants it. You can tell right away. From that first casual push to the pre-pop cold concentration and his light-footed stomp of urethane and concrete–it's totally obvious. He's the taker of opportunities and then some. Offer an inch and he runs off with a mile–or more appropriately, suggest a boardslide and end up with a back Smith. Equal amounts jaw-dropping skill and painful determination, Johnny goes buck gnar everywhere, every time.
How's the transition from normal skateboarder to sponsored am going?
It's kind of weird meeting my favorite pros and skating with them. Seeing myself in a magazine is strange. I see myself outside of it all, just a little skate rat, still just a fan. It's cool to see myself next to those guys, though.
What's something you know now that you didn't know as an average kid outside the skateboard industry?
Well, as an average kid you just see skateboarders in the mags–like your favorite pros–but you don't understand how much effort someone may put into just getting a single trick. I've been back to the same spot three or four times to get just a single trick, but in the end it's totally worth the while. What I'm saying is, there's more effort put into skateboarding than most people think, the business side at least.
Is skateboarding too serious on this “business side”?
I try not to take it too seriously, but sometimes you have to get things done.
Is skateboarding as an amateur the same as you thought it would be growing up dreaming about it?
I didn't really think about it to that point. I always wanted to be sponsored but never thought about the actual process of it. I was just skating. I guess I was in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
Have you had any demo experience, yet? Do you feel pressured to live up to the rip-titude of Toy Machine demos?
I've skated demos here and there, but I'm kinda scared because all the Toy Machine guys kill every demo–they're amazing. I'm just planning on skating every demo to my best ability, have fun, not stress. I just watched that Hot Chocolate tour, video, and (Richard) Mulder says it himself, “Most of the kids who come out for the demo just want to see the skater.” I feel if a kid sees that I'm having fun, it should show that's what it's all about.
Name your favorites from each of the following categories.
Am: Ernie Torres.
Video part: Arto Saari, Sorry. Brian Anderson, Yeah Right!
Style: AVE and Brian Anderson.
Vert guy: Danny Way.
Toy teammate: The Butcher.
Board graphic: Toy Machine Monster.
Grab: Tuck knee.
Flip trick: Frontside flips.
What gets you motivated to do the things you do?
I feel like if I'm not doing my best, then why am I even trying? If I don't go to the fullest, it's like cheating. Also, thinking about a trick on a certain thing like, “This would be cool on this.” So maybe just go for it and see what happens.
You stand to have a future full of fame, money, and world travel. Have you thought about that? Most kids your age are stressing on which college to go to–you're stressing over getting your passport to go to Spain for skateboarding.
I'm freaking out that I'm going to go to different countries just to skateboard–it's insane. It's always something I've dreamed about, and now that it's actually happening, it's nuts. There's no way in hell I'd be able to live having to deal with a nine-to-five job.
What types of skating do you appreciate?
All types–anyone skatting what they like to skate.
What's in the future for J-Lay?
Just filming for this video, Good And Evil, the next Toy Machine video. Every Toy Machine video has been really gnarly, Good And Evil will be that and more. After that, I just want to keep going–push myself more, keep it all moving forward.
When all is said and done for you in the skateboarding arena, what do you want to be said?
I'm just a skate nerd trying to do my best and have fun doing it. I'm always down for skating no matter what time it is, or if it's just a curb or a sidewalk hip. If I'm skateboarding, I'm psyched.
Are you having fun?
Yeah, definitely. I'm skateboarding and loving it. It's a dream come true. I don't think I could ask for a better lifestyle.