We’ve interviewed a number of influential female skateboarders, like Vanessa Torres, Alexis Sablone, Marisa Dal Santo and Beatrice Domond. But except for the women who blow up on the mainstream skateboarding radar or pop up virally online, most men in skateboarding (Jenkem included) are oblivious to younger female skateboarders diligently working their way through the ranks.
Case in point: You know who Nora Vasconcellos is, but do you know her roommate, Nicole Hause? Like Nora, Nicole skates a lot of bowls and rides for well-known sponsors, Anti Hero and Nike. Nicole was also in the recent all-female “Please Don’t Grab My Boob” video, but among many male skateboarders she’s relatively unknown.
With skate media’s lack of coverage on emerging female skaters, we were curious to hear her take on the industry compared to previous generations and her insights on what could be done to continue evolving from the old days as a strict boy’s club.
Now that legacy companies like Enjoi and Anti Hero are adding more women to their teams, are they (kind of ironically) putting female-centered brands like Hoopla out of business?
I wouldn’t say that’s what’s happening, because Hoopla and brands like that had their own time. Maybe it will happen again, but right now I think we’re all just into the fact that we can skate on a “dude’s” brand.
I also think you narrow your market when you go for an all-girl brand. Not that a guy couldn’t skate on a team like Hoopla, but it cuts off half your market and it doesn’t seem financially possible right now. But you never know what’s going to happen, maybe women will need another Hoopla. There are a lot of opportunities for girls right now and I think it’s incredible. I almost can’t keep up with it.
Since Hoopla was your first board sponsor, how do you feel about them shutting their doors and you now riding for Anti Hero?
Hoopla had its time and place. It was meant to help women like me move up. It was a stepping stone for all of us because there was nothing around at the time. The founders, Mimi [Knoop] and CB didn’t think that it had a place in skateboarding anymore and said if you have an opportunity feel free to move on.
Then, shortly after Mimi told me that Hoopla was closing down, [Jeff] Grosso hit me up and told me that he was going to try to get me some boards from Anti Hero. Now, I think I am the first girl to get boards from them ever. But whether I am or not, either way, they think I’m good enough to be riding Anti Hero boards.
When you go to skateparks, do all the younger girls there recognize you?
Once in a while, on Instagram, I’ll see comments like, “I saw you at the skatepark, you’re inspirational,” but it doesn’t happen in person that much. I was talking with Mike Gilbert [Thrasher filmer] about how you’ll see little girls at the skatepark and they’re really intimidated by an older woman skater more than a pro dude. I feel like I should engage more, but I can tell they’re super nervous. I have to break the ice, I guess. The little boys are so comfortable with coming to talk to an older woman skater, and they’ll ask you a million questions.
I was at Prince Park and this little boy talking to me had like 200 questions, and then there were a bunch of little girls that didn’t say much. It’s crazy to see that these girls have girl gangs of skaters though. 1 out of every 50 people at the skatepark were girls even just a year ago. Now it’s like five or six in a crew. Imagine being nine years old and having three other girls to skate with. It’s so sick.
Would you prefer if contests integrated men and women?
I don’t think it would work as well for the women. If you watch a guy and a girl skate, there’s a clear difference. That’s not a bad thing, we just skate differently. I think if you separate the two it makes both of us look better. Everything is moving in the right direction, they’re adding more girls contests, and we practice with the dudes and stuff, which helps in a way. It’s cool if we have our own stuff going on so we can be seen. If Tampa would do a separate contest for women, it would be sick.
“One out of every 50 people at the skatepark were girls even just a year ago.
Now it’s like 5 or 6 in a crew”
What different advantages do men have and women have in skating?
Our bodies are just different. They can go higher and faster and grind longer, but it’s just a different type of skateboarding. I like when the girls’ contests are first because you don’t want to watch the dudes go 14 feet and cruise over 7 ft. hips, then watch the girls and it’s like 4 feet.
Girls have their style. That’s kind of where women have progressed a lot. Tricks just have to look easy on the eye, they don’t all have to be kickflip 270 lipslides. Sometimes there is just so much going on that it’s hard to imagine it in your own world and you can’t relate to it as much. But when a girl does something more basic with a ton a style and a cool outfit, it looks sick and you remember and relate to it.
When I was looking for some footage of you I came across a Subway commercial you were in. How did that come about?
Before I was into skateboarding I was into acting. I would come out to California when I was like 12 through 14 and I would stay in LA for part of the year. I had an acting agent in LA and I still have an agent. He got me the audition for a Subway commercial and I ended up getting it. I was 16 in that commercial. I liked acting but I never pursued it super hard. I still audition for stuff, though.
Did you get to meet the old Subway mascot Jared Fogle?
I did not get to meet him. He wasn’t there, thankfully. My commercial ran for a solid year, then when all that bad press about him came out my commercial got cut because of him and his bad press. He wasn’t in my commercial but he was on the menu and they zoom in on him. Shout out to Jared for ruining my residuals for god’s sake.
Recently Thrasher released the all-girls skate video, “Please Don’t Grab My Boob!” Did someone at Thrasher come up with this terrible title?
It was Nora [laughs]. She thought it was funny. It’s just a Nora idiom, basically. Some people were giving her shit about it but she was like, “It’s supposed to be funny!”
That was the best trip of my life. We went to Arizona for eight or nine days. It was the most yuppie trip ever. We ate Whole Foods every night. The dudes on it were saying how they usually just stop at fast food places and eat shit, and I don’t know if we stopped at one fast food place. We even got manicures and pedicures. I think Gavin [NHS brand / Team Manager] got both a mani and pedi, but Rhino and all the other dudes got pedicures. NHS balled out and Gavin was like, “This is going to be a weird meeting with a $600 manicure bill.” We had to get the manicures though, for sure.
With more and more female crews popping up, do you think we’ll ever see a female Piss Drunx crew?
I think it’s going to happen. We’re all human and no matter if you’re a boy or a girl there’s something about being part of this culture that could play into whoever you want to be in skateboarding. If you’re a girl and you want to rage on tours and go wild then that could totally happen. If a chick wants to go nuts, let’s see it! Some people don’t give a fuck about anything else and just want to be crazy and ride a skateboard and that’s their duty in life. I want that crazy.
The dudes have different types of skateboarders, and I think the women will start branching into their own separate pockets and we’ll see all different kinds of skaters, male and female. We need all the different groups because some people that are skaters are so far away from what I think of skaters but they still have their own thing.
Do you feel less pressure shooting with a girl photographer or filmer than a guy?
Not so much. I’ll feel pressure if I’m shooting with Burnett or a guy that’s a big deal in the skate world. That’s not because they’re guys, I don’t think. I don’t know if I feel less pressure because Zorah [Olivia] is a girl, but she’s my homie so we can talk with each other and I can say stuff about positioning and where the photo would look best from and all that.
I would never suggest where to shoot a photo to Burnett or anyone of those dudes, but if I say something to Zorah about where to go, she’d be down. But she’s still learning and a guy like Burnett has been doing this forever. Like, imagine me being like, “Yo, Mike, you mind shooting this from over there? I think that angle works better.” [Laughs] That would be insane.
“Everything happens so fast these days that there are always going to be illegitimate people getting coverage over legit people.”
How can skate media cover women better and what have we been doing wrong?
For a while, everything has been lacking, but it’s starting to get on the right course. I just feel like it’s about the right girls getting the right media coverage. Media people will find someone who says they know a girl skater, and she doesn’t really skateboard or she’s been skating for two years and she could probably do a treflip. Then she gets the media coverage over someone that has been skating for a long time who actually cares about progressing skateboarding.
There are girls that are getting media attention and I’m like, “But you’re not what is actually portraying a woman in skateboarding for me.” That bums me out, but at the same time, everything happens so fast these days that there are always going to be illegitimate people getting coverage over legit people.
I think it’s about who’s more marketable when it comes down to it. Especially in areas where skateboarding is not as core, those girls get looked over. People will pick a random girl because they like her look and she can stand up straight on a skateboard so they send her product because she has this many followers on Instagram.
At the end of the day, it’s a business decision. It’s a bummer for us to see some of the girls getting coverage and not progressing anything in any way. Like she skates, but she skates for a different reason than all of us.
Would you say New York girl skaters get more coverage because of their image?
[Laughs] I didn’t mention New York, but I was thinking it. It happens there for sure, but that’s what happens on the East Coast. Sometimes it doesn’t translate the same way to the West Coast so we see it differently.
New York is also trendy so whoever has the most trendy fashion Instagram will get some type of media coverage. How long they’ve skated, how much work they put in, what they did or what they’re doing doesn’t even matter if they can sell stuff for some marketing people. It sucks for people who know, and the people who are getting all the coverage don’t know what’s going on. They’re just hyped because someone told them to skate and they’re getting big because of that.