Some skaters define the companies they ride for and some skaters are defined by their sponsors. Chris Haslam, however, is a bit of both. Chris was on Almost skateboards from its beginning, and his selection of goof-tech-gnar tricks in Round 3 and Cheese and Crackers became a defining signature for both himself and Almost. The brand solidified this image with its never too serious graphics and absurd skating from guys like Daewon Song and Rodney Mullen, but Chris was at the heart of it.
So when Chris left his two primary sponsors, Almost and Globe, earlier this year, I wondered where he could be headed. He was such a part of those brands it was hard to picture him anywhere else. I would see his occasional Instagram posts in Barcelona, but no updates on sponsors. After a few months with no news, I reached out to find out what he’s really doing with his career. As far as skateboarding goes, Chris’ future is as fuzzy as his beard.
You kind of dropped a bomb with that Instagram post saying you were leaving your two biggest sponsors, Almost and Globe. Why did you do it like that?
Yeah, [laughs] it wasn’t purposely done that way. Financially it was a shit move but mentally and for my skating, it has been way better. Almost was going in a different direction than I wanted it to. Not that I had a management position there but I was closely tied to the brand because me, Daewon, Rodney, and Coop had been there since the start. I felt like it was our creation but I couldn’t do anything to help push it the way I wanted it to go.
In all fairness, I never had a real plan. I would just go in there like, “We should use the time more wisely,” and they would be like, “OK well what do we do?” I’m sure if I had a fully laid out idea they would’ve listened but I couldn’t think of anything. I got tired of the situation so I thought it was best if I went. With Globe, they were cutting skaters’ pay and when they cut mine I was in between contracts so I bounced.
Where the hell have you been otherwise?
I’ve been living in Spain for the last year just skating. I wanted to skate and film with no major obligations and I figured the best place to do that is Barcelona.
Have you picked up another board sponsor since leaving Almost?
When I left I texted maybe two or three people and let them marinate on it. They did not marinate on it long [Laughs]. They said they wanted to concentrate on some of the younger dudes coming up. Since then I haven’t done anything except skate and film. I want to enjoy my time this year instead of worrying about the future. Obviously, I have to think about that soon but this year has been just filming and being free of board and shoe obligations. I’ve been affiliated with the same brands for so long that trying to rebrand my name might be hard for companies.
Since you’re unsponsored now, do you think Instagram has changed the way unsponsored skaters get recognition?
Social media really drains the life out of my own motivation and inspiration to do stuff for a video part because any second of the day I’ll look on Instagram and see ridiculous moves. I knew that would change the way we do things, but I didn’t realize it would happen so quick. There are dudes that do flatground in front of their house and they have like 5 digit amount of followers. Then it’s like, what the hell am I doing? I’m stressing over this trick that I can’t get and nobody is going to care about. Somebody is going to see it for two seconds on Instagram and then it’s gone. Where is the value in that? It’s been a struggle to find any real concrete motivation and inspiration to get more footage because I want to work toward something with value.
Do girls ever say anything about your beard when you eat them out?
[laughs] No. At this stage girls aren’t usually into me for me, they’re into me because they have some weird beard fetish. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to pick up a girl while having a big beard or mustache, but if they’re into beards, it’s usually in the bag before you open your mouth. Or they’re not into you at all because of the beard, which is like 90% of the time. The other 10% of girls don’t give a shit if you have tits or something. If you have a nice beard it’s good [laughs].
What’s the longest you’ve gone without shaving your beard?
Probably two years. I usually shave once a year just to see that I don’t have a butthole chin [laughs]. My buddy Jesse will shave his beard once a year and his shit will be three feet long. How fast it grows all depends on what you eat and how stressed you are, I guess he’s not stressed at all. Mine is growing pretty quick this year, maybe because I haven’t had any deadlines or ads. I’ve just been hibernating in the streets of Barcelona.
Have you ever tried to hide something in your beard to get over the border?
No, I haven’t but my friend used to hide joints in his beard and to get through the airport security. He would hide them in the back of his beard, and he would totally get away with that. That’s the only time I’ve heard of someone doing that, but I haven’t had to do that. I don’t have anything to hide from anybody, I don’t smoke weed or do drugs.
A lot of your Almost boards had female superheroes on the bottom. Is that a fetish of yours?
[laughs] I had a close working relationship with the Almost art director, Eric Wollam, so he knew I would like those. Once I got Wonder Woman I wanted to stick to that theme, so then I had Catwoman and Cheetah and all that. I don’t read superhero books but I like the movies. I try to read books but they have to be something I’m really interested in.
What kind of books are you into?
There’s an era of WWF wrestling, probably from 88’-96’, that golden era. All those wrestlers have autobiographies and I have all of those. I pretty much threw out all my other books to make room for these wrestling autobiographies. To an extent, I can relate to a lot of their stuff. Not that I have any of those stories about partying and pills, but the stresses they had are similar.
Who’s your favorite wrestler?
Macho Man Randy Savage. I don’t care for wrestling today. If you grew up on the earlier stuff, wrestling today is more like a reality TV show. It’s fucking terrible. The characters back then were sick but now they have terrible aliases. Although there were some bad things, like The Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase, the whole thing with Virgil his driver was pretty racist. And Ultimate Warrior. The more I’ve watched and read about him the more I think he was terrible. It’s a bummer because he had one of the best personas. It’s like meeting your favorite pro and finding out he’s a dickhead. Like, “Goddammit. I bought all this dude’s boards and now he’s a dick to me.” Never meet your idol because you’ll just be disappointed. I try not to act like that. If somebody likes my skating, being a dickhead is so much more work than just being nice to them.
I’ve seen you interact well with younger skaters, it seems easy for you.
It’s not hard to not be a dickhead to kids. We’re put in a position where kids will look up to you, if you like it or not. Sometimes it’s just waving and not even saying anything. I read that when musicians start getting paid and don’t have to worry about anything, their mental age stays fairly close to the age they were when they started getting hooked up. So they could be 38 and their mindset is still like a 17 or 14-year-old. There have been pros I know that cannot even buy a train ticket on their own, which is absurd to me, but they rely so heavily on team managers that they never mature.
I’m sure you hear this a lot, but it’s crazy that one of the most memorable tricks in Almost Round 3 is your bluntslide on another skateboard.
You know what’s crazy about that? I didn’t even want that in my part. When the video came out I didn’t get why people liked that. But then I realized it’s because it’s reachable for everybody. You can do that in your driveway and you don’t have to die trying to have fun. That changed the way I thought about how I film and what I want in a video part, just from that realization that it doesn’t have to be a death-defying stunt for people to like it. The trick just has to be something they’re stoked on. Maybe they haven’t seen it or you just need to open the door for them to see they could skate on someone else’s board or do something that easy.
What will you do if you don’t pick up any sponsors?
I put a lot of thought into this, especially being in a profession that usually gives people five years. I had 17 years as a pro skater and that’s more than I could ever ask for. It’s made me who I am today. I have friends who were pro but now work in the industry so I could maybe work with them to weasel my way into a position with a brand. Or I could go left field and get into gardening. Doesn’t Brandon Westgate have a cranberry farm? I think that is so sick! I don’t know Brandon very well but just knowing that makes me like him a lot. I wouldn’t be opposed to something like that if the opportunity came about, or I’ll make ice cream like Ben & Jerry’s.
17 years of skating then right into the ice cream industry?
Yeah, I mean, skating is in a weird place for me right now. I’m not one of the young kids anymore and I’ve been affiliated with the same brands for so long. Trying to rebrand my name might be hard for some companies. I have no idea what the hell my next move is. I still have some juice left but I also need money coming in.
I’m not bummed on it, 17 or 18 years of being basically jobless. To get anything out of skating is impressive but being able to say I’ve done that is more fulfilling than not being able to get sponsors now. I’ve done everything I thought I could do in skating and more, so I’m stoked this year to just be cruising. I would be stoked to get some new sponsors and shit, but if the industry feels like that’s not in my cards I’m not bummed to start the next phase.