Referring to someone as a “true street skater” is a cliché we normally try to avoid at all costs. But in the case of Fabiana Delfino, it’s actually fitting.
Although women’s skateboarding is growing rapidly and impressively, it’s still rare to find women who go all in on street skating. Many prefer skateparks and bowls, or find their niche as crossover fashion influencers, or focus on training for big contests.
Fabiana has pretty much zero interest in those spheres. Instead, she wants to keep filming full-parts, the way women like Alexis Sablone and Elissa Steamer did before her. She also has strong opinions and doesn’t hold back, which can be hard to come by in young skaters who are “just going with the flow” or can’t get their heads out of the comments section.
Fabiana has been exciting to watch up to this point, and after talking with her, I’m even more curious to see what the 22 year old does next.
I saw you were in a Macy’s commercial a while back. What do you think about companies like that using skateboarding to sell shit?
I personally think it’s really wack but at the same time they flew me out to New York for six days and I got a pretty decent check. I was able to re-invest into my skateboarding and fund the next few trips I went on, so I had to push my pride aside. If I didn’t have to do it I would not be doing it. But unfortunately, I have to put myself first and if bills have to be paid, then bills have to be paid. Until I see some contracts coming in or something, I’m going to have to do what I have to do to pay those bills.
A number of women skaters are getting attention and sponsors through Instagram nowadays, but their skating isn’t always at a level that would seem to garner that attention. Does that ever frustrate you?
It definitely has frustrated me in the past, and I guess that was more of a jealousy thing, but I’m sort of past that. The attention that some of them are getting is attention that I wouldn’t even want. I’m more of someone who wants to keep my head down and do my thing, so right now I think I couldn’t care less. But I see how a lot of girls can get frustrated. You see these girls that could maybe do a shove-it and they have 75k followers and people are hitting them up and paying for posts. But if that’s the way they want to carry their name, that doesn’t really affect me.
It’s almost like there are two factions in women’s skating right now. There’s the fashion-centric circle and then there are skaters like you, Nora, Nicole, and Lacey, who have strong footage, ride for bigger brands, and get photos in magazines.
A lot of it has to do with those followers being a reflection of the skate industry. These people — [the “fashion” skaters] — aren’t paying for followers, people are actually going to their page and watching the videos and then they’re making that choice to hit “follow” or “like” the videos. So as much as many people find it frustrating and are getting mad at the girls, I think the real attention should be on why so many people are drawn to a girl in short shorts that can shove-it rather than someone like Nora or Nicole. That’s where you could see the true reflection of where we stand.
“The real attention should be on why so many people are drawn to a girl in short shorts that can shove-it…”
I also feel like the girls who aren’t as good at skating but “look cool” speak to girls who are just curious about skateboarding.
Yeah for sure, and for me I think things would’ve been different had I grown up today with Instagram being so influential. I probably would’ve been a totally different skateboarder, or maybe I would’ve stopped skating. You have access to everything right in your hand so it’s really just what you choose to pay attention to.
Have you seen The Skate Kitchen?
I have not. I’ve been trying to stay away from that. I just don’t wanna cringe. I heard it’s really wack, but I’m just gonna give it the benefit of the doubt and choose not to watch it. It seems like a weird representation, but who knows. I don’t think it was scripted by skateboarders so I don’t think I would relate too much to it. But who knows! Maybe it’s a hit. I’m not really on top of watching skate movies. I’d rather just watch a skate part or video.
When you were growing up did you have other girls to skate with?
I mostly skated with guys, and if not, I was like my own lone wolf pack. I kind of just skated by myself because there weren’t really girls. But sometimes the guys sucked so I just did my own thing. And even now, there are no girls around to skate with. It’s kind of crazy, I have to travel to other places to meet up and skate with other girls.
When you go on Santa Cruz trips now, do you get your own room?
Yeah, I get my own room [laughs].
Do you ask for it or do they just hook you up?
They usually plan on getting the extra room for me, but I really don’t care, I’d take one for the team. If I have to sleep on the floor, it’s whatever. I’ve made it clear that I appreciate it, but if I can’t get a room it’s not a big deal.
I always get the impression that when you throw just one girl into a skate trip everyone tries to clean up their act. Is that true?
100%. Adding a girl to a situation is always a whole new element. But the guys are super respectful. I think that may just be how the guys on the [Santa Cruz] team are, they’re just super good dudes. I might add an element of…I guess…tidiness? I don’t know. Like they’re not gonna leave their fucking boxers in the bathroom, you know, ’cause they know I’m gonna come in. But if they do, whatever [laughs].
How was your trip to the Middle East with Vans? Did you get to ride a camel?
Nah, I wish! We saw wild camels, but we didn’t get to ride any.
So no white tigers in the hotel rooms either?
I was hoping there would be a shark tank in the lobby, but there wasn’t. Pretty disappointed about that [laughs]. But I had such high expectations for Dubai and it fucking surpassed everything. It was a culture shock for sure. The last day of the trip, they took us dune buggying and that was insane. We for sure flipped a few times.
I know the Middle East has different attitudes toward women than The States. Did you notice any of that?
I didn’t bring any shorts because I thought that might be scandalous [laughs]. But I think they get so much tourism in Dubai that they’re more accepting than surrounding cities and countries. I did see a lot of women with their faces fully covered, but I know that’s just their religion.
I did notice we were being stared at a lot. People were just so interested in us. First of all, because there was a girl out there dressed in normal clothes and then I had a skateboard. They weren’t used to skateboarders and especially female skateboarders for that matter. It was a bit much, but I understand that they were probably just curious.
Isn’t it illegal to drink there too?
You can drink at the hotel bars and maybe in a few restaurants, but there are no liquor stores and it’s definitely really hard to find. You have to go out of your way. A lot of the people on the trip just stocked up at the airport when we landed.
What about weed? You guys try to cop any out there?
Dude, not at all! We did not even wanna touch that topic [laughs]. I heard people get like seven years for a gram or something crazy like that, so when I heard that I wasn’t even curious anymore. I heard they even tap into phones and shit, so we had to be super careful about what we were saying over the phone. It’s fucked.
Since you interact with young skaters when you teach skate camps, how would you describe their views on skating today?
The kids I work with are heavily influenced by these vloggers and YouTube skaters. I think they recognize them more than top pros. They’re so influenced by fucking YouTube. Every single kid I come across at camp is into Revive or like, Garrett Ginner and shit. Like, who the fuck is that?! They follow Funbox Monthly, they’re so into these subscription things and it’s weird because I don’t follow skateboarding that way. I have to be like, have you heard of this person, or have you seen this video part? Do you guys even know Rodney Mullen? And they look at me like, what the fuck are you talking about?
What about bullying? Are kids still giving out wedgies in 2019?
Fuck, man, they probably just take an unflattering picture of someone and post it online. No wedgies, but that’d be sick.
“I’m just hoping that skateboarding gets steered away from doing things for the validation from others and doing it more for yourself.”
Do you ever try to instill ideas in them about the “old ways” of skateboarding?
They’re so into social media and posting online and I always try to tell them that none of that shit matters because once you dwell on that, you forget what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. I try to distract them from social media and everything that comes with it because it’s not pure and it’s not the roots of skateboarding and that’s not what’s important. That’s just me showing them that they’re not really doing these things for themselves, but for the attention and acceptance of other people. That transcends skateboarding, that’s life.
I try to reassure them that it’s not all about who follows you, how many likes you get, and that fucking garbage. I think that’s really important. I’m just hoping that skateboarding gets steered away from doing things for the validation from others and doing it more for yourself.
I do think there will always be someone acting as the contrarian in skating, so there will always be an underground.
Yeah, and I think there will always be an underground as long as women continue to skateboard. Women’s skateboarding is the most punk rock thing around right now because nobody gives a fuck. It’s really pure. More women are doing it because they love it. I’m doing this for myself, and I hope that trend continues and I hope it doesn’t get as washed out as skateboarding has in general. I’m stoked on the women being underground even if they’re not being noticed because their intentions are right.
I saw a b-sides/bails edit you posted with a lot of footage of you dealing with security guards. Do guards ever get physically aggressive with you?
Every time I’ve come across a security guard who’s kicking me out, they’re pretty calm about it. They’re not as intimidated by me versus if I was a dude with four other dude skaters, so they’ve always been really respectful.
Some friends and I were skating in Downtown LA the other day and the security guard came out but he was pretty stoked on seeing me skate. I did that whole thing where I ask for one more try and he was so down for it. He let me get more than one try, actually. I ultimately feel like they’re less threatened by the female presence and they’re pretty reasonable, but either way, I like to be respectful because they’re just doing their job and I can come back if I ever need to.
Has someone ever drawn a gun on you for skating? I know in Florida you have the stand-your-ground law.
No way! Not personally, fuckin’ thank god.
I don’t know, Florida gets crazy… You guys got dudes who eat people’s faces off and shit.
No definitely, but if I’m getting kicked out, I’m getting kicked out. I really don’t like to argue, no clip is worth getting arrested or getting fucked up.
Why do you think Florida has so many fucked up people, anyway?
Dude, I don’t even know! People ask me that all the time. Maybe it’s just how big of a melting pot it is. How everyone is from a different place and nationality. I’m wondering myself. Like, am I gonna do that shit? Maybe there’s something in the water.
Are you interested in joining the Olympics race?
Uhm… I know there’s a point system, but I also know from talking to my friends who are most likely going to be in there that there’s not an organized team already. The US doesn’t have an official roster but [other countries like] Australia and Brazil already have theirs figured out.
I just feel like the US is behind. I don’t know why. There are so many people who are potential Olympians. I would think by now there would be a structure to get that ball rolling, but I don’t know if I’m all that interested about being in there either. If I’m invited to a qualifier I’m totally down because that’s an awesome opportunity, but I won’t be bummed if I don’t go.
Who are some of the people you think will be competing for the US?
I think the street team will be Mariah Duran, Jenn Soto, and other girls who have been on top of X Games or Street League. For the bowl, Nicole Hause, Nora [Vasconcellos], and Grace Marhoefer, who I’m fully rooting for because she’s from Florida.
How stoked are people that you’ve spoken to about possibly representing for the US? Are they hyped or just meh about it?
A lot of my friends who are doing qualifying are stoked to be representing themselves, their country, and also female skateboarding. I think a lot of it has to do with this being the first time the females will be on the biggest stage in the world and that skateboarding will be up there with all those other sports, so in that sense, I can relate. It’s a special thing for women to be up there.
I think things are actually progressing. The girls who are out there right now, especially in contests, are being really well represented. Before there were just 20 girls who could maybe touch coping on the ramp, and now it’s becoming a bit more exclusive and everyone that’s there deserves to be there, so I’m kind of content with how it is.
What are the next steps in progressing female skateboarding in your opinion?
I think the contest circuit will continue to flourish, but I’m hopeful and I’m already noticing that women are being pushed toward the actual streets and filming video parts and doing things outside the box even if they’re uncomfortable with it. I’m finally seeing people actually stoked to go out and film. Like on Instagram, I see a whole bunch of my homies like, “Who films?! I wanna come out with a street part!” I think that is so rad.
Personally, I didn’t come across a filmer until pretty recently. Unless you’re really skating with the dudes out in the streets, they’re the ones with the cameras. If you’re skating by yourself or just girls, they’re just less likely to have that equipment. I think it is changing. My homie Shari White up in Canada has a VX, she’s been doing projects with the Skate Witches and they’re working on an all-female video now. At this time it’s hard for anyone to make a living off skateboarding, let alone as a woman, but progress is definitely achievable.
“I don’t think too many guy skaters wanna see girls skate”
Do you see women’s skating becoming just as or more popular than men’s, kind of like with tennis?
Hm… Nah… I don’t think too many guy skaters wanna see girls skate. I don’t see it reaching that popularity. My parents play tennis and I grew up playing as well, and I never categorized women’s tennis and men’s tennis, it was just professional tennis. I think tennis organizers want to put themselves in a position where they can make a lot of money, so they create these superstars and the audience just gravitates toward what they see. I think there’s a lot more of that—plus more money—in tennis and I don’t think skateboarding resembles it closely in that sense.
Have you ever dated someone who skates, or would you be down?
I never have, but I’d be down. As long as they don’t fuck around during my session and don’t snake me. Or smack their board on the ground when I do a trick or something, that would be really annoying. It could be chaotic, but I’m not saying no.
So is it a turn on or turn off?
Oh, it’s a turn on for sure. A little skate date? That’s cute.