I usually try to come into interviews open minded and unbiased, but I kind of expected Kevin to be a dick. I’ve seen him a couple of times around the city and got that cool guy vibe which you can find in some skateboarders in NY. It took a minute but after a couple of rounds of soft questions, and both of us getting more comfortable with each other, he started to open up.
Discussing his independent upbringing, knee problems and family made me see him in a different light. While many kids have their entire lives planned out for them, Kevin has had to navigate it on his own, learning as he goes. As I heard more about Kevin’s story, I can honestly say I have utmost respect for him and hope he can afford a knee surgery soon so he can show the world his true potential on a skateboard.
You’re a cool guy, what are some cool guy tips you can give me?
I’m cool? In a bad way? Huh, I don’t know how I feel about that, but… cool guy tips? If you come to New York, make sure to ignore every person you see. Don’t say hi. Uhm… Maybe do a no comply, those are pretty cool. I learned fakie ones! Like straight fakie no complies, I felt pretty cool. I don’t know, maybe try to model somewhere. I wish I could do that. [laughs] I had a couple gigs! Skate modeling, yeah!
Some people on the internet have said you have bad style, does that bother you?
Oh, really? [laughs] That sucks. I don’t know, I like the feeling of skating. Yeah fuck it, if you don’t like my style, you don’t like my style. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I’m like, damn, my style is kinda cray. Whatever, I’m just gonna skate as long as I can skateboard. Love it or hate it!
They mostly talk about your arms. Have you ever considered wearing a straight jacket to keep your arms from dangling around?
Damn! [laughs] I got some wild arms, huh?! God damn! Yeah, sometimes I don’t though! You talking about the Stuy Town boardslide? That’s a long fucking boardslide! I’m supposed to look comfortable on a fucking long boardslide?!
Being from New York, have you ever seen or skated with Mark Gonzales?
I’ve seen him a couple times. I caught him at a milkshake place with Steve Brandi and he was making me do all these drawing games. It was like, draw this in one try, you can’t mess up. It was a square with a triangle on top and an X in the middle. You have to draw it in one movement, you can’t overlap lines or anything. It was pretty random. He’s fuckin’ crazy. I don’t think he even knows who I am, but he was just testing me on my drawing. I got it first try to be honest!
Afterwards he tried to break a fire hydrant with his board outside. It was like a tall hydrant up to my neck. He was just smashing it with his skateboard as hard as possible from the bottom. Like holy shit! [laughs] What are you doin’!? I backed up. It was by the New Museum. He was trying to wall ride the glass at the New Museum and he got kicked out and got yelled at. He’s just like *Gonz voice* “Oh yeah, I’ll break the hydrant in half!” It was pretty sick.
Tell me about your art, why is it all just trains?
I’ve spent so much of my life riding trains. Because I live in Queens, it’s 45 minutes to the city and I think a lot on them. Since I was 13 I’ve been going to the city by myself and trains are just everyday life. I always admired trains. Drinking and using the train and going back to Queens, it’s kinda cray. I’ve definitely fallen asleep and woken up like in Coney Island or in random places like, without a hat.
Have you tried to branch out artistically past trains yet?
I think I tried out a garbage can but I didn’t really like it. I like the train. It means a lot to me.
Your knee is fucked up, right? Most people might not know that you’ve been skating on a bad knee for a while now.
Yeah.. I’ve pretty much been skating on a fucked up knee for the last 5 years. I need a surgery, I’d like to swap it out. It’s really loose and weak. It’s never really 100%. I just skate and try not to think about it. At a skate spot, it takes like 3 hours to like feel OK. I can’t jump off of stuff right away. Even when I get to the spot, I might just feel like I overused it, or it gets stiff. It’s really random when I can film stuff, I never know when I’m gonna feel good. I started doing some exercises with those rubber bands, trying to build it up. But I can’t work it out or do exercises for too long because then it gets upset. Some days I feel really good. I just learned back 360s, I was pretty psyched. Then some days I can’t even ollie.
Have you ever considered quitting skateboarding as a career?
Yeah [laughs] I’ve considered it. My knee is really annoying and I fucking hate doctors. We don’t have like “skate doctors” out here, you know what I’m saying? Cali has skate trainers, skate surgeons, skate doctors. I have some random old dude that doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.
The doctors I want and that I know are good don’t accept my insurance. And I already pay like $300 a month for insurance. I feel like the doctor that did my knee before wasn’t that good. He was like 90 years old. I feel like that’s why it was fucked up from the get go. I think if I was fully able to skate and was healthy, it would be a wrap. I wouldn’t have to fucking settle for less. Like when I watch my Static 4 part, I’m just like “Fuck, I could have done so much better,” you know?
Do you get red in the face when you drink alcohol?
Dude, I get red in the face when I do anything. I don’t know why. I skate, I get red. I drink, I get red. I fuck a girl, I get red. I put a Bronze tee on, I get red. I don’t know, man.
I went to a health foods store, and was like, “Yo, listen dude. My face is really red, what should I do?” He was like, “You should buy this aloe and put it on your face every night, for at least a month.” So I started that last week and it seriously feels like spit. Like a fuckin’ dinosaur loogie. It’s disgusting. It’s so gross, holy shit. I put it on my face every night, it seems like it’s helping. I’ve been putting it on my cuts, my bruises too. It’s dope.
Are you a health freak? I see you drinking probiotic and Kombucha drinks…
Kind of. I recently gave up a lot of the stuff just to see how I felt and see if it made a difference, and I kinda just feel the same. I was doing that green vitamin drink every day, fish oil, glucosamine, fresh coconuts. And then I was broke for a little bit so I stopped, and realized I felt exactly the same. I think those things are more mental than anything. If you’re taking vitamins and thinking you’re being healthy then you’re gonna feel healthy. But if you’re eating McDonalds and you’re happy, not thinking about the negative things and you’re feeling positive, I think you’re gonna feel exactly the same way.
For a while I would freak out. Like, if I forgot to take fish oil, that would fuck up my whole day. But then I didn’t take it for a month, and realized I didn’t even need it. I’ve been practicing mental things like that with my knee. I try not to think about it, I tell myself it’s fine and throughout the day it usually is. But once I tweak it or feel a little pain or something, that’s when I freak out and worry that I’m not going to be able to walk in a couple years. It’s so up and down.
What do your parents do?
I mean my parents’ situation is just kinda crazy. I honestly don’t like talking about it. My mom is schizophrenic and my dad is a Vietnam veteran. He has diabetes and he has had like 13 knee surgeries, but he wakes up everyday and does his whole routine. Overall he was a good parent. He didn’t really care, he never really told me, “Don’t do this,” and I turned out pretty alright I think… I don’t do fucked up shit… My mom goes to a hospital once a month and gets electric shock therapy… it’s pretty gnarly. It’s one of the reasons I’m never home, I’m always out skating. I learned everything by myself. I’m pretty independent. I have an older brother, he’s 33, he plays video games all day. We are cool though. He just chills. I’m never home and I try not to think about that stuff, but it’s difficult.
Do you help your mom a lot?
My dad drives her to the hospital once a month for her therapy. I don’t know… She’s chill, she’s on a lot of medication. Sometimes she seems like she’s kinda there. She seems happy, but sometimes you can’t really have a conversation with her. Of course she knows I’m her son, and I love her and shit.
Do you think you started skating because it was an outlet for your challenging home life?
I don’t know if that was the reason at the time, but looking back I could see it being that way. I used to go into the city everyday when I was young by myself, like 12 or 13. You get trapped in Queens. I basically grew up in the city, living in Queens. I just felt like if you stay in Queens it’s just not that productive.
Even though you have had a lot of freedom growing up, it seems like you haven’t gotten yourself in too much trouble…
Yeah, that’s what weirds me out. I never really got punished for anything or was told not to do something. To be honest, I never did homework really…cause there was no one there to tell me to do homework. I didn’t really have any guidance in school, so I did terrible. I didn’t have to do it. But I still graduated with like a 75, C+ or something…I failed a lot of my tests [laughs], but I still came to class everyday. Teachers liked me, I wasn’t like a dick.
My favorite teacher in school actually was supposed to goto jail. He was cool with all the kids, he was the most down to earth guy. But he got caught having a 3 way with two students. One was a chick, one was a guy, and they were both 17. I think he was bisexual. I’m not sure if he went to jail but got fired for sure. But he was the best teacher. I learned a lot from him.
It is weird to me that I didn’t do drugs or become a fuck up.. I know a lot of kids that have parents who try to guide them as much as possible that fuck up… I was always a good kid, I don’t know why. I was kinda a pussy growing up to be honest. I didn’t wanna do anything bad, I just wanted to skate and do my thing.
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June 12, 2014 1:34 pm
June 12, 2014 1:38 pm
rad – thanks jenkem!!
the last questions are heavy… that electro shock therapy didn’t even know that was still in practice…
thanks for pushing the real shit out there.
good luck kevin on everything.
someone help this guy get a new knee.
June 12, 2014 1:44 pm
I’m sure he’s considered an independent contractor by Zoo York, but for real, they should suck it up and fix the dude’s knee, or they should be further considered the bullshit company I’m already pretty sure they are, anyway.
June 12, 2014 3:01 pm
June 12, 2014 2:02 pm
For his knee, Kevin should try using a T.EN.S. unit. It’s a beeper sized machine, a little bigger, that comes with electrodes (sticky patches with wires). He can attach the electrodes near where his knee gets stiff and hurts and crank up the T.E.N.S unit. It shoots electricity. It basically massages your muscles and tendons and joints electrically. I have been using it for years, and it helps with my tendinitis on my knee. Loosens you up. It can be purchased at most Medical & Surgical Supply stores for about $100 dollars.