LONDON AUDIENCE Q&A

How can we combat the "Supremeification" of skateboarding? The emphasis on capitalism, hypebeastiality and "cool guy" ness are all so prevalant in skateboarding today. How do we overcome these abominations and return to the open/welcoming atmosphere that skating once held?

S.Koneko: If you deconstruct previous behavior and compare with current behavior, it's sort of the same but in reverse. If you really want to break down skating, it hid behind this welcoming facade but was also naturally selective. This natural selection process is not at all an open door invitation. "Losers" were welcomed because the jocks were the popular kids in school. It was a bit of a safe haven. Now that skateboarding is cool again, skaters aren't innocent little outcasts anymore. They are the cool kids and I've seen a lot of anger directed towards non skaters. Humans evolve or degenerate is a better word. We don't overcome them. We just get worse. It's human nature.

K.Duarte: The supreme-ification mentioned is just one struggle of our humanity vs zombie consumerism to resist if one chooses. It’s up to individual persons or skaters to be whatever ideal they imagine. I think, like art, the real soul of a skater shines as a beacon of authenticity when one embodies all the artful ways of skateboarding culture in daily living - as opposed to just buying into a look or role or mould. there will always be skateboarding purists that shine w style no matter how they appear to others. And skaters that love skateboarding will never be blind to this appreciation of legit realness in other skateboarders. You can see it by watching someone simply push around on their board.

A.Sablone: I don’t know if there is a clear way to combat it. Not everyone is a cool guy and skating has always been made up of a wide spectrum of people and I think true style and individualism outlasts everything else. The things that really should matter, that sets skateboarding apart, that has more to do with real personalities from all different kinds of walks of life that skate and bring something to skating and give it it’s authentic cool factor. That’s what makes it cool.

J.Reyes: Skateboarding is definitely way cooler now than it was when I first started skating. It’s changed a lot but it all depends on the skateboarder’s mind. But now it’s cool to other people ( non-skateboarders ). Contests I think is one of the reasons why it’s so cool now, why it’s in every commercial, and why it’s in the Olympics. People don’t think skateboarders as a menace anymore. Non-skateboarders look at it as a money making market and it’s more accepting now than ever. Before it was cool when you could do tricks, now you can just push mongo down the street or hold your skateboard and you’re in a commercial. Being different separates from being a cool guy. But being different is hard now. Everybody wants to be whatever’s different, which is now in.

Do you feel that the gender separation in competitive skateboard events is necessary? How do you think different disciplines of skating affects this?

S.Konekeo: It is necessary. However, maybe you can make a case for a game of skate. But if we are talking about vert and other contests, guys can generally pop higher so much of the scoring comes down to execution and pop so that may def be a disadvantage.

K.Duarte: I think of it as categorical specificity, the gender split. As a competitive sport-like organization, i think skateboarding actually underserves it’s audience by not investing it’s riches in diversifying the competition structures. And also, i don’t really care for competitive skateboard events - they are soul-less and seem to shamelessly peddle the “sport” of skateboarding to a consumer motivated audience.

A.Sablone: There’s always a part for me, that for regular skating, everyone skates together there should be no separation. For competition, it’s helped me make a living and put me through school. I think it is necessary- that whole side of skateboarding- competition. I’ve never considered skateboarding a sport, you’re scoring tricks and you’re turning it into a sport for viewers. If you look at most other sports, other sports are separated. To be able to reward the best woman and the best man I guess properly to make a living off of it.

J.Reyes: In my opinion, I don’t care. When I was skating contests back in the day I was skating in Tampa AM and it was all men. Me and Elissa, Tampa Pro, Tampa AM. Women’s contests didn’t really explode until the last 15 years, probably since the X Games in 2003. They had Slam City.. they had women’s contests but it wasn’t like the male contests. It was short and sweet. Nevermind, it wasn’t sweet because there is nothing sweet about waking up at 6am to practice for a 7am contest and nobody was even there to watch. Sometimes your team manager showed up, sometimes your teammates showed up, but the one person who was always there was the money man which whoever your sponsor was, making sure you were representing and skating the shit.

When encouraging women to skate and ending stereotypes, is it more effective to integrate teams (men/women) or segregate teams (all men or all women )?

S.Konekeo: Depends on the person. I didn't need to see females skating to want to do it. There was just something visual about the gadget that made me want to try it. Kinda like when you go shopping before a camping trip and you pass by a machete in the marshmallow isle. You start thinking about how you're going to have so much fun clearing a brush to make way for your camping zone. I've never done that but that's kind of the idea.

K.Duarte: Defeating any stereotype starts within oneself. My encouragement for women and girls to skate is this: “Go skate.” a simple decision made by anyone who ever did something new, scary or taboo was to do that thing. I don’t think team compositions matter yet. They will integrate or segregate according to the quality of skater relationships.

A.Sablone: Teams are totally different than contests. That’s where I think there absolutely should be integration. I think skateboarding is about way more than like when you like someone’s skating you like their style and something about them, not something you’re trying to boil down to numbers to score a competition. So just because someone can score the best in a competition doesn’t make them the best, so for a team it’s like you just want a team that makes sense. You want styles and personalities that go together or compliment each other or go against each other in an interesting way.

J Reyes: I’m not going to exclude anybody because I don’t like them. Integrate. I’m a team player.

In the town you grew up sk8ing in, were you met with any douchebaggery? For A. being a Sk8er and B. For being a female Sk8er?

S:Konekeo: Yup. All the time. But I started in college so I suppose it was more from regular people when skating street spots. Still do. Last year I was on the L train and I heard a girl who had a Bronx accent say to her boyfriend, " See that girl. she has a skateboard. Girls shouldn't be skating." Humans are inadvertently programmed to think in a certain why and they don't realize that they've been brainwashed. It's sad. It reminds me of when I keep hearing people say if someone is a doctor or a lawyer, then they must be smart. It saddens me because you never hear that about teachers and social workers. People are brainwashed to think that doctors and lawyers are smarter. This means kids in STEM programs are smarter than kids doing general liberal arts. And you know that the majority of kids in STEM programs are boys... girls are secretly brainwashed to "choose" the latter.

K.Duarte: Yes but it was not a big deal - just seemed like a tired echo of ignorance i learned to expect from narrow minded people in life. I was more comfortable with myself maybe than other kids and knew to brush off such judgement. That was supposed to be the proud armor of skaters anyway-expect to be f'kd with but being a skateboarder made one impervious to insult - the rad were better than the bullies.

A:Sablone: I was one of the only skaters growing up in my town and pretty much skated alone. There was a few incidences that stick in your mind like one time someone called me a poser from across the movie theatre parking lot. And my skateboard and my big JNCO’s on and I was like 10 and never forgot it. Other than I was solo and doing my thing.

J Reyes: It depends how you look at it. There was always douchebags and I was always a tomboy. I played sports. I liked sports more than paying with dolls. Not my fault every girl was jealous I could throw a spiral football or make the net swoosh. But it was also that I wasn’t try to fuck every dude at the park, I was actually falling, learning how to skate. So the guys were more accepting of me I guess. I got small tits and they thought I was a dude anyways. They thought I was a dude with long hair.

If skateboarding didn't exist in this world, what do you think you'd be doing today? What are projects/hobbies you work on outside of skating?

S.Konekeo: I'd have perfectly good knees. I'd probably do more kickboxing.

K.Duarte: If skateboarding didn’t exist I may have been sucked into other culture cults like choir, drama club, collegiate sports, modern dance, orchestra or church. And I would have been better at graffiti. But probs not as well travelled. I loved skate trips!

A. Sablone : It’s hard to say because I feel I have things other than skateboarding, design stuff and creative stuff that’s equally important to me and always has been. At the same time, I don’t know if I would just be doing more of that and no skating. I’m sure they have influenced each other and made me who I am. In those formative years when I was spending time before skateboarding, I was obsessed with anatomy and building robots. In a way it makes sense, with the design stuff I got into afterwards and my personality but I probably would have gone way more in that direction. I’m sure more into coding and more into, I don’t want to say nerdy stuff, but consumed by that.

J Reyes: I’d probably be in Hawaii with 10 kids, 10 baby daddies, maybe 10 different baby mamas. I’m a team lover. I’m an equal opportunity ho. Because if it wasn’t for skateboarding I would have never travelled the world or left Hawaii.

How much does representation play a role in your practice?

S.Konekeo: It doesn't. I try to avoid the crowds and the cool guy scene. The less people the better.

K.Duarte: I only know myself in skateboarding and life, generally, as a representative of “the Other” - it’s not a role I play, just a fact of existence. Eternal brown girl/woman/tomboy/lone loba. I love to skate - the passion feeds all aspects of who I am where I care for the self I project over the way I’m perceived.

A. Sablone: I think it’s an important thing that women in skateboarding are becoming more visible. The right people need to be putting money into that whether it’s to kind of help build awareness and of course that will inspire young people that it’s a possibility. I think for any young person, any young girl growing up, you don’t only have female role models, but to be able to see these older women making a living off this thing knowing that possibility is there; whether it’s subconscious or not I think it’s important.

J Reyes: It’s cool it’s visible.

What are some aspects of the art community or skate community that DO NOT feel as inclusive? Where can progress be made?

S.Konekeo: It's expensive. I guess kids can ride blank decks these days but skate shoes and a deck will probably set a kid back around $100 every 2 months if they skate a lot. Skate community is pretty white but it's awesome to see more POC doing it. Despite many lgbqt coming out, the homophobic skaters will be out there full force. Everyone's skating now, even the jocks and the cheerleaders. You got Blain from Pretty and Pink and Becky out there playing skate at Tompkins so ...

K.Duarte: Exclusive/inclusive is everywhere, not just in the arts or skating. Relationships like team/tribe/crew friendships or generous democratic communities of ppl that join in shared love for a common thing melt boundaries and destroy walls. I sense the most progress happening on community levels where skateboarding is stripped of it’s branding down to it’s pure physical and psychological joys.

A. Sablone: I think that definitely when it comes to women, maybe you see you go to the skate park and you see guys basically cheering on other guys that might suck. It’s about personal bests, you see someone battling a trick for a long time even though it’s a trick someone else can do first try. Someone battling that trick finally lands it everyone rejoices. When you witness those moments you’re always invigorated, you think “wow skateboarding is a pretty special thing.” At the same time, from what I’ve seen, (I haven’t necessarily experienced it first hand, directed at me) if there’s a girl at a skate park and she really sucks, she’s more likely to get comments or be dismissed. It’s skateboarding- everyone sucked at one point, it’s the name of the game it’s how it goes. Brian Anderson coming out publically, just from what I’ve seen and experienced.. as far as girl skaters there’s a big proportion of lesbian skaters but it’s still rare to see a gay man, a gay guy. If you were to figure out the visible percentages it feels less than what the actual population is. So I feel there might be something still discouraging about it. I don’t know if it’s such a boy’s club in a way sometimes, I don’t know exactly what it is, but I hope in the future it’s more inclusive.

J Reyes: It’s definitely an expensive sport. Definitely more expensive than when I was growing up. This is why you have Boards for Bros and the Harold Hunter Foundation because not every inner city kid can afford it. It’s like snowboarding, it’s a rich sport now. It’s cool now so every kid is going to want buy a brand new board every week and it adds up. When I was riding for Real I felt like I was riding a board every other day because I had the privilege to have a sponsor. We need to support and create more foundations for different kinds of communities to skate. I see kids everywhere I’ve skated at, asking to ride and keep my board because their moms can’t afford one. We need to work on that shit, I think. More foundations definitely for everybody. And Wal-Mart needs to stop selling those shitty boards.

Sorry so long-- but I think it's important. As Barbara Kruger's art, renowned as a contemporary female artist whose visual art form has always been identified by the iconic, graphic aesthetic of the white within red statements of her ideals, how do each of you as women ( in predominately male "worlds" just as in the "art world," how do each of you feel regarding Supreme appropriating her work therefore establishing her work therefore establishing their branding specially as kids of today aren't aware about Barbara Kruger's art?

S.Konekeo: I don't really feel one way or another. I'm not a fan of Supreme. I never owned a single Supreme item and I'd only gone to the store once. When I went into the store, I couldn't get a single person to help me and they seemed too cool to even care that I wanted to see something. I never liked that cool guy attitude so it's they are not something I pay attention to. It's sad that many young people need that but as long as it gets them through life, that's ok, I guess. I see giant companies rip off and take advantage of small artists all too often to even be phased by it. It's sad that it happens so much that we feel numb to it. Kids will be kids. They are human and humans have become the AI they so much wanted to create, probably more artificial than intelligence so maybe just Ai.

K.Duarte: I understand this as equal parts irony, hip hop and pop brain washing. again, a personal choice to flex responsibility and investigate or seek truth/history of the influences in one’s life. Branding and material glamour have strengthened in religiosity, it seems, and some people are less curious to question or even look for the differences between culture and commerce. Ppl really buy who/what they want to be. Ppl shop for identity. It’s Barbara’s art come to life. Advertising enslavery acheived.

A. Sablone: On the one hand I think especially in digital culture, I think things get stolen and people don’t get credited all the time. Give credit where credit’s due. People can be inspired by stuff, what’s the line between borrowing and stealing? When there’s this billion dollar company, I’m sure there’s a way to acknowledge it and set things right I guess. Supreme what it is now it wasn’t always that way. Maybe at the time, it was an inspiration and at the time they didn’t realize it would become as massive as it’s become. Give credit, celebrate. Or I could just say yup, it’s fucked up, give credit where credit’s due.

J. Reyes: No comment. I can see both points. But I know my answers will clash so I’m just going to sound like a complete fucking idiot.

Other panelists had Jaime and Elissa to look upto, but Elissa riffing of your comment earlier- how did you and Jaime look upto as you got into skating?

J.Reyes: To the boys. All from Hawaii. Because there weren’t any females in Hawaii skating at the time (1993) – Rene Matthyssen, Rob Carlyon, Mark Oblow, Lars AKA Larry Warneken , Kai Maioho, Kenny Brimer, Darin Lee, and Ryan Kingman, etc can’t name everybody. They were all the key players I skated with and who I looked up to because they were good and I wasn’t. I didn’t know Jamie AKA Kea until years later because she was on the other side of the island and we never crossed paths.