Lucas Puig broke the mold. In the early ’00s when European skaters were relocating to California to make it big within the American skate industry, Lucas stuck around Europe. He never conformed and moved to the states but still carved out a global household name like a Reynolds or Rowley, all from his home turf.
But despite his years of influence, Lucas is very humble. He’s not too fussy, easy to get in touch with (unlike many pro skaters), and like any young father, obsessed with the adventure of his kid. I gave him a ring and was pleasantly surprised with his easygoingness and distanced perspective that feels like a breath of fresh air in these overwhelming times.
***Pro tip: Mix up an aperol spritz and read Lucas’ answers in a French accent for an enhanced reading experience.***
Your lifestyle looks very designer these days. Surfing, beaches, nice furniture… you got it made.
Oh, I mean [laughs] I just have a small apartment. Where I live, it’s cheaper than in Paris. It’s still expensive for a city in France. But it’s not all about money, it’s about taste. You can have a couch that costs $10,000 but if you choose the red one everyone might hate it. I mean I just like wood and plants and oceans so it’s really simple. Honestly, since I moved to the beach, I spend way less money because I just want to surf and spend time with my family. I have no time for other stuff. But it’s funny how you think it’s a rich lifestyle.
I also see pictures of you at the Bahamas though too, with your tan, you look like a rich Italian beach guy now.
[Laughs] I mean yeah, sure if I’m going to spend a lot of time at the beach surfing obviously you’re going to get tan. If you want to go to the Bahamas, it’s not that expensive compared to a trip to New York. In France, everyone wants to visit New York because they just want to visit and.. I don’t know, visit amazing monuments. It’s a choice.
But for me, if I go on a trip, I go to the Bahamas, I buy a cheap flight to Miami, then a cheap boat to Nassau, then another cheap boat to another amazing island. From there, I’m going to rent a cheap Airbnb, not a big hotel.
You never lived in the USA? Do you think if you lived here at some point your career would have been more successful?
No, the maximum I lived in the USA is two months. Honestly, I feel like if I really wanted to change where I lived, people would not like me as much. I think they liked me more because I’m from France and I have my own steeze and I represent the French skateboarding scene. But if I lived in California and skated the sand gaps nobody would know me. It would be more like, like a lot of people doing the same thing. Just trying to fucking make it to the US instead of me just passing by. I was lucky to skate for Lakai and I would do a trip in the US and then at the same time I would skate with Europeans on Cliche. I feel like it was a good balance for my career.
Do you think that the European skate industry could just support itself independently without any American brands or riders? Could you have a DLX of Europe or the same size of an industry just in Europe?
I think it’s about numbers. We have fewer skaters here, fewer people, you know? So we’ll never be as big as the American scene. And way more people have skated in the US because they invented it in the ’60s. In France people older than 50 don’t understand skating at all. They’re like, “How do you make money? I don’t understand.”
I think that the generation above me struggled way more than us to have everything. Like my grandparents, you can’t fucking complain around them about not being able to go Cancun or something. They just fucking worked so hard to make a family after WWII, then worked hard for the family, that’s it. There was no place for, “Ugh I’m kind of over it, I want to start my own business.” They got one job when they were 16 and they had that same job for the rest of their life.
I heard you’ve always taken care of your mom ever since you made some money skating, is that right?
Yeah, it became normal after I got my first check. They were never rich but they had some ups and downs, so I learned what it’s like to have and not to have. And then after that, it became normal to give to them. We are all lucky to get paid for what we love.
That’s less common in America I think, and really amazing.
They helped me all my life, and I’ll help them. I think if any kid saw their parents struggling, and they were making money, they would do the same. So for me, it was normal to do that.
What’s the biggest check you’ve ever gotten in skateboarding?
I think when I appeared in EA Skate I got a $20k check for the video game. It was like 10 years ago, so that was like the biggest amount of money I had gotten at one moment in one check. In the beginning, I was just super stoked to be in the game, I didn’t think about how much money I was going to make. [EA] was like, “Yeah it’s $20k,” I was like “What? In one check?” [laughs] So yeah, I had to bring that to my bank. But in France, you have to pay tax so I had to give like $7k to the government. But when I found out what some people make in one year, I was like, “Oh, this is pretty good for one check [laughs].”
You haven’t gotten bigger than $20k since then?
Yeah, but the EA Skate one was the one that motivated me the most. it wasn’t even about the number. It gave me confidence. I stopped school at 16, I stopped everything, and that was the first time I got paid and I was like, “Oh my god,” I was more than I would ever think.
Were there any other board brands that offered you more money than Palace when you got on in 2018?
Honestly, no. By far they’re the fucking best, it’s true. What they say, “We da best man!” [laughs]. I’m not going to lie, I wanted to skate for the best company and they offered me the best. I didn’t ask any other companies, but they gave me what I wanted.
Have you ever filmed a trick and been unhappy with your outfit so went to back to re-film it more swaggy?
No, not at all. Some people say, “Oh, these shoes look weird in this clip,” and like yeah, I mean, I don’t watch the clothes I just want to watch how I do my trick. If I’m happy with it, and I’m happy with my style and the filming, that’s good.
Have you ever filmed a trick with short shorts and had your dick fall out?
No, because I never go above a point you know [laughs]. It can’t get too short. Even me, when I watch someone in really short shorts skating I’m like, “Whoa, too much. This guy wants to show me his legs.” But all my shorts are just over my kneecaps so I can bend easily but my dick doesn’t fall out.
It’s sort of like men’s cleavage. If you got it, show it.
Yeah, that’s the reason. You have to find the right position [laughs]
“All my shorts are just over my kneecaps so I can bend easily but my dick doesn’t fall out.”
Do you do any maintenance to your skating, like working out or eating certain things or doing certain stretches?
I surf a lot, so I’m at the beach and walking in the sand and I’m in the ocean and it really helps my knee and all my muscles. I think you have to keep your body busy every day. No matter what you do, you have to do something or your body will get sore a lot. If I don’t skate for a while, or don’t skate or surf for like two weeks, it’s going to be really hard to get back to it. It’s muscle memory, you see Jeremie Daclin [founder of Cliche], he’s 50 years old and he skates every single day. He has no problems.
Are there days when Lucas Puig cannot land a kickflip?
[laughs] Maybe not first try, or second go, but definitely I’ll get one eventually. There are some days where it doesn’t really work. I can land it but I can tell I have no control. And then some days where I can’t miss. It’s really weird. Sometimes it’s your mind. When you think too much, that’s when you start to complicate it and start thinking, “I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, what the fuck?” It’s hard some days to get into it.
What video part do you think you peaked at?
Emotionally, I think it’s Bon Appetit. It was all-natural, and it came out and it was my first video part and there’s just a lot of good memories from then. But now, physically I know I have more control over some tricks.
Back then I would just try, try, try. But now I feel like I have more control at this age for sure. They say if you keep working you’re going to get better no matter the age. Like if I just do switch front heels, I’m going to be perfect at switch front heels and they will just get better. But if I stop then I’m going to lose it.
It’s cool when you look at footage of when you’re younger. There’s a certain naivete and a flow to it, it’s really pure and it doesn’t look like they’re overthinking.
I mean it makes sense. When you do your first tricks ever – you do a kickflip then a kickflip back tail then you film a kickflip back nosegrind, the first time you do it, it’s going to be natural. And luckily most of that was on film, it was the first time we were doing those tricks and it looks natural because I was learning it.
You were sort of a prodigy though growing up skating, no? It came easy to you?
Yeah but it takes me time too. This wasn’t my first sport. Before this I did some football, I tried rugby, I tried ice hockey and even rollerblades. Then I tried to skate and I was like, “Okay this is the most fun, I’m going to try to learn a kickflip.” then I realized there was more stuff to learn. I’m so lucky to have found this sport and I would never leave it. I think it’s the best thing that could happen to a fucking super active kid.
When you tried to rollerblade could you grind a handrail?
Not a rail but I could grind a curb. But we were under 10 years old, then I started skating at 10 and I never rode them again.
Any younger skaters today that you get really hyped?
Zach and then Dre, those two kids. Zach Saraceno. So young and already so much confidence and control of the board. His flip tricks, his switch flip, I was like what the fuck? And he’s got amazing steeze. I also really like Vincent Touz. I think he’s really special. He’s got a banging trick selection.
What’s something you like about America?
What I like in The States is that everyone is super nice to each other, how positive it is, even if it’s fake. If I go to buy some bread and someone smiles at me, I don’t care if it’s real or fake, it’s nice. When I’m in LA or New York, people are generally more open to talking and stuff. People are really closed here. Sometimes I greet friends like and they’re like, “What do you want?” It’s kind of annoying.
What do you think America could do better?
I think they could help everybody more, like insurance, school, and help for old people. They need to take more care of the citizens. I think what would be really good is if the poor people would get basic help so they’re not dying poorly and really sadly. It’s not because you’re poor that you have to struggle. Here in France even if it’s harder to make a lot of money at least everybody is being taken care of. It’s more equal. We aren’t gonna let someone die because they don’t have insurance. Same for getting hurt, if they need to get surgery and don’t have money, you’re not fucked for the rest of your life. You don’t have to have rich parents you can still get surgery and still have a chance to be a pro skater.
Now that you’ve been a father for a year, how have your views changed in life?
The biggest realization that I had is just the time that we have in life. When you don’t have a kid you don’t really see how the time goes. I mean you could have a month that will really suck and be really long, but the next months are fun and you’re going to forget that month.
Kids grow super fast, and when you see one year, they go from a little nugget to a little dude calling me daddy and being like “Skate!” and I’m like “Whoa.” I can’t ever live that period again. It’s just right now, and then it’s gone. That’s why you have to enjoy each moment.
You’re recently married, how do you know when you’ve found the one?
I don’t know. It’s like when you want to be with her all the time. Even when she’s annoying and you go away, and then you’re like fuck, I miss her. Then you go on trips and you’re like, fuck I miss her. Then you’re stoked to see her again.
It’s hard but you have to find someone that completes you, that doesn’t bring you down, but that is different from you. It’s a balance. When you’re two people who are the same type I think it can give a type of monotony. It’s good to have some arguments. Not all day but sometimes. You need to have different points of view so you have something to talk about.
When you’re on the road do you still hook up with other chicks?
[laughs] Fuck. No. I don’t even know what that’s like.
I thought the French were cool with that.
I mean there are different types of relationships. To be like that I gotta respect her first.
So you’re saying no banging on the road?
No, no. If you want to have a family and a baby, no, that’s not the way. Just don’t do it. Bad karma.
Thanks for the advice Lucas, I’ll keep looking for the one.
I think you really got to listen to your feeling. Don’t go for the show. Go for your heart. There are a lot of single women and single men in the world. If you just go out and smile someone is going to end up smiling back at you.