I’m not gonna lie, when I first heard that Gino Iannucci was leaving Chocolate skateboards, I thought it was strange. Why would Gino, at 41, leave his longtime sponsor of 15+ years? Should we expect more footage or photos of him as a result of the move? Why leave his family at Chocolate so late in his career? These were just some of the questions I had the honor to ask him, as he turns a new chapter in his life and takes the path less traveled.
You are the newest rider for Fucking Awesome. When did you decide you wanted to join the company and approach Jason?
When I first heard that Jason [Dill] and Anthony [Van Engelen] broke out of Alien Workshop and started a board company, or expanded Fucking Awesome into a board company, I was immediately super psyched. There was something about it, just a feeling I can’t describe… just like, the industry needed this… It was gonna stir things up a little bit. The industry has been rolling the same way for a while now, and for something small to come out with these guys that are so well respected… I was just really happy for them.
But it was just one day, I was filming something, and we went to Supreme and Jason [Dill] was there. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, but you know how it is with Jason. Every time I see him it’s like we’re right back to square one, how it used to be, so we just sat down and shot the shit. In the back of my mind, from the day that I heard about Fucking Awesome, I immediately thought, I’d be down for it. It’s tight, it’s small, it’s new, it’s different. So yeah, it just got brought up while we were sitting in front of Supreme and I was like, “Yeah, I’m down.” I knew in my heart that that’s where I’d rather be, and when you feel it in your heart, and it’s a true gut feeling, then I had to go for it.
To be a part of something with Jason and Anthony is awesome. Especially being back with Jason after starting my professional skateboarding life with him. The first time I went to California and stayed in Huntington Beach with John Lucero, the first person I met was Jason Dill. Immediately we just became friends. We skated every day, we went from Black Label to 101, we spent so much time together skating and it just felt good to be back together with him. If it wasn’t for Jason I wouldn’t have left Chocolate, bottom line. At this point in my career, why not just change things up a little bit?
Do you think the name Fucking Awesome is gonna be a problem eventually because it has the word, Fucking, in it?
It’s obvious, yeah. I already spoke to Jason about that and there’s some shops that I’m sure won’t want to carry Fucking Awesome boards because of parents coming in, and they won’t wanna see that kind of stuff. But I guess the way I see it is, that kind of company is good. I’m glad actually. Fuck those shops. No offense, but that’s the kind of company it is to me. And you know, maybe in the long run you’d rather see more profit, but I’m kind of psyched that it’s not gonna be a Zumiez type board company or something like that. It’s as simple as that.
Jason Dill & Fucking Awesome announced that they are going to be starting a new sister company called “Hockey” too.
Does this have anything to do with your passion and love for the sport Hockey?
No, not at all. I didn’t know anything about that until Jason told me. I was amazed at the name. It’s those types of names that are interesting and stand out. It’s a trip. People will be like, “What? Hockey? Really?” It makes people think. I love it, I love that name. Nothing to do with my history though. I mean I have a big hockey background, but it’s just a coincidence.
How did you break up with Chocolate and leave the brand after a 15+ year relationship?
Well, that was the hardest thing in the world. I don’t think anyone expected me to leave. There was no signs of me being bummed out or wanting to leave. There’s never been any problems or whatever. I spoke to Rick [Howard], but it kind of sucked cause I ended up having to speak to him over the phone cause I was in Florida at the time. It was coming to the point where Jason [Dill] was just like, “Yo, have you spoken to them yet?” He was giving me advice, cause he quit Alien and was telling me how hard it was for them to leave and that tears were flowing.
I just had to sit down, get in the car, give Rick a call and tell him that’s where my heart was at and that’s what I wanted to do, and that I don’t think there’s anything I could do about it. What sucked was that it happened to be the 20th anniversary of Chocolate, so it came at the worst time. There’s so much stuff going on with Chocolate this year, and for me to be feeling this way at this time, it really sucked and it was really hard for me.
Did you purposely wait to release the news until the Chocolate 20 year anniversary events were over?
Well of course, yeah. I mean, it was asked, and I was more than obliged, you know? It was just like “Take it easy for a second, we got a lot of things going on,” and of course, with all due respect. I would not break out when you have all these nostalgic events for Chocolate’s 20 years. And I was a part of it, so I had to be there for it and there was no question that I’d be there for them. I wanna thank Rick, Megan and Mike, everyone at Girl Chocolate, Chico, everyone that is is involved. I spent a long time with them and I really care about them and I appreciate being a part of their family for that long.
You haven’t really talked about it but you spent some time in Jail in the mid 00s. Can you explain what went down?
Shit really hit the fan after Yeah Right. I caught a charge that got me 1 month in county jail and not too long after I caught another charge which upped the time to 4 months and sent me upstate. No more county jail. With all this going on, I was out on bail all while going through the court process, and with the stress of programming and awaiting sentencing I was completely uninterested in everything, especially skating.
During Nothing But The Truth, things weren’t going too good. I was living way out on Long Island with my girlfriend at the time. We both were in and out of sobriety while I was on probation after the 4 month stint and it was a mess. No skating whatsoever. One thing led to another and bang, another charge. Now I was really ghost and I knew it. Once it was fact I was headed upstate, my lawyer made it clear I’d most likely do 2 years in all. This is when I said to myself, I guess skating is a wrap! I figured while in jail for that long, what would I do, learn a trade or some shit?! Playing spades and casino or whatever other card game all day for two years would be craze!
But once I got sent upstate, I found out that there was a Shock program. It’s like a marines military bootcamp style jail and you can qualify for it if it’s your first time going upstate and you’re there for a non-violent crime. If you qualify and take it, you’re home in 6 months rather than whatever time I would have served in regular prison. I qualified and of course I hopped on it. After joining, they sent me way upstate near Niagara falls. You’re in barracks with like 40 guys and they’re really strict, punishing you for any little fuck up or mistake. Fucking up always meant them putting you on the ground and making you do some sort of exercise. Don’t get it twisted, not to get in shape but to get under your skin. There was one morning some shit happened during morning physical training. We all got sent to the field, 40 of us – and had to lay on the frosty geese shit covered field from left to right, top to bottom, and we had to roll back and forth for about a half hour. Pretty fun!
The one thing I did get out of the program was dealing with humility, self realization, and of course appreciation. Another thing I did get out of the program was having structure during those 6 months. It was like, wake up 5 in the morning, exercise for 2 hours, eat breakfast, then everybody has a job. You work till 3 or 4. My job was maintaining the store room where they stack pretty much all the food and cleaning material for the facilities. We just basically had to take care of the warehouse. When shipments of food came in, we’d unload the truck, stack the food in the refrigerators, clean out the warehouse… little things like that. Just the structure I kind of miss, because I never had in that in my life, and it kind of felt good. You just knew what you were doing, you had to do it, and you got used to the routine. It was different, it was something I never experienced.
Before you went to jail or rehab, were you skating a lot drunk?
No, I could never skate and drink. Maybe a long time ago in my early 20s or so, a few beers and a sesh was fine, but never hardcore. As I got older, if I was on the sauce I wouldn’t touch the board and it was really hard man. I’d stay straight for a while, feel fine, then tap the bottle again. Doing this would push me back a few steps after moving forward a few steps. After a while, you find yourself going forward then backward, forward then backward. It’s a nightmare. You’re not progressing, just staying stagnant. You feel good on the board, you feel bad on the board, mentally you’re strong, then mentally you’ve weakened. Its a shit way to live and feel – it’s some bipolar type crap. These days, my main concern is staying straight, staying healthy and staying on the board. I won’t front and say it doesn’t creep up on me sometimes, but being through all the bullshit I’ve been through, it’s impossible to ever enjoy it or have some sort of repercussion or self hatred.
Are you sitting on any photos or video of yourself? Got anything in the vault?
I might have some stuff… Yeah… I’m sure people will expect a Fucking Awesome video to come out, and the question might be, will I have a full part? I’d love to come through with a thick part. I just hope people will stop and think and be realistic about the question. I’m going to contribute as much as I can, that’s worthy in my eyes and Jason and Anthony’s eyes in representing them.
People expect a full part, and it baffles me that people still ask that when they know where a person is in their career. It’s just a question that I hear and it just puts me in a negative zone. I don’t know why people expect so much… It’s just that sometimes you get the feeling that you’re disappointing people. When you reach 40 years old, there’s only a few people out there that are still able to put out amazing video parts in their 30s, and they’re special skaters, you know? It’s not like just anyone can do that. Just leave that alone and let’s just enjoy skating. It doesn’t have to be about a 10 minute video part, let’s have fun and let the best things come out of that.
You’re not on social media, and I was told you aren’t on the internet or skate sites too much either. Why not?
I’m on the net of course, but I can’t be checking out too much skate shit. There’s just too much, which doesn’t get me psyched to skate, it makes me want to throw the board in the shed. I can go on about this, but I’ll leave it at that. Too much of it and I’m jaded. I’d rather be a bit ignorant to what’s going on so I can just do me. I do still love mags. I miss Tower Records, buying a few flicks and checking out all the skate mags. Now it’s sit on your ass in front of a computer and scroll! I get finger spasms!
”I don’t know why people expect so much… It’s just that sometimes you get the feeling that you’re disappointing people.”
Did any of your sponsors ever try and force you to get on Instagram or Twitter?
I have had a sponsor do that at one point. They were pretty adamant about me getting an account with all the Twitter, the Facebook and all that. It kind of bummed me out a lot, and I didn’t do it and it didn’t work out. I was actually kind of taken aback that that’s where we’re at now, that people actually need you to do that. I didn’t see that coming, you know? Like I said, sometimes I feel like ignorance is bliss and like not being all up in that stuff. I know how it helps people, but to me personally, this overload, I can’t deal with it. I like to just do my thing. And like I said, your site is one of the sites I check sometimes, and there’s only a few things I like to check out that are interesting to me and are real to me. If I see too much, then I won’t be on the board. It’s like that.
After riding for Nike for over 10 years, are you financially set for life?
Set for life? That’s a funny one. If I had to take a wild guess, skateboarders haven’t reached baseball, football or basketball salary status, especially myself! There’s a lot more money in skating these days, but this question is better suited for guys like Paul [Rodriguez] or Stefan [Janoski], not me. I do OK though. Nike has always been good to me, no question about it!
Anything you still want to accomplish in skateboarding or in your skateboard career?
There’s always something or tricks in the back of my mind that I’m interested in trying to do, like ideas for tricks that I think will look good and relevant to film too. But as far as accomplishing stuff in skateboarding still…. I feel like I had my prime a long time ago. And I’m happy I had the opportunity to do that, to be out in California, skating for great companies like Chocolate, 101, Black Label and now Fucking Awesome. I’m getting to a point where I’m kind of content – where the past is the past, and the past was my prime. Now I’m older and I just want to enjoy skating.
I kind of got twisted with skateboarding when it got really gnarly with the kids being really good, being very technical and landing tricks really quickly. It just got kinda scary, like “Alright, do I still fit in? Am I relevant?” But as time goes on, you start to see that that’s not the way it is. Everybody is an individual and everybody has something to bring to the table, whether they are 40 or 19. A 14 year old might not be interested in watching a part of mine, but maybe an older guy would be interested. There’s something for everybody.
”Everybody is an individual and everybody has something to bring to the table, whether they are 40 or 19″
That’s kinda what I like to see in skating nowadays. I’d like to think that anything can look good. Anything goes. I used to think it was just because I was older and I couldn’t hang. But I think it’s the truth, that anything can go. A friend of mine just showed me footage of the House of Vans Bones Brigade reunion in Brooklyn a while ago. There’s footage of Kevin Stabb, Tony Hawk, Hosoi, Lance Mountain… they are looking amazing on the vert ramp. I’m kinda learning from watching these guys continue to push it and do their own thing. Impress people, impress themselves and be involved in skateboarding and be happy. People respect that. I think I can go on with street skating as well, as long as the body holds up. If the skating looks good, it’s always gonna be good, no matter what it is. If it’s an ollie, as long as it looks good, people will appreciate it. And that’s it. That’s the best thing about it.