There are two categories of viral skateboarding clips: good “good” clips, and good “bad” clips. “Good” clips go viral for being video game-ly difficult or stupidly dangerous, while “bad” clips go viral for being funny or gut-wrenching. Many might consider the handrail belly boarder video as “bad” viral, since he neither landed the trick nor slammed his nuts or face. But it’s actually “good,” and here’s why.
Trying to grind a 30+ stair round handrail on your stomach, as impossible as it may seem (and be), is the ultimate show of blind self-affirmation, which is skateboarding’s most magical gift.
Marc Johnson once said “skateboarding is ideas that are put into action,” and that’s exactly what the belly boarder is. Whether it’s a “good” or “bad” idea is besides the point. It’s having the willpower to test our most improbable ideas that makes skateboarders great.
Wanting to know more about this captivating character, we tracked him down and called him up to find out why he grinds handrails on his belly and what he hopes to get from his moment of virality. Remember, no dream is too big, and no trick is too fucked up.
You recently had your video go viral for trying to grind this massive rail on your belly. What were you thinking? Do you really think you could have landed it?
Oh, I studied it. I walked up the stairs, down the stairs, I looked at every aspect of it. If I saw a trick that wouldn’t be possible, I wouldn’t try it. But once that possibility is there, no matter how risky, I’m going for it.
So why didn’t you land the 30-something-stair belly grind?
It was very first T. I had never tried it before. Those couple of attempts, they were my first attempts.
So if you went back again you could get it?
Are you planning to go back?
I want to, yeah.
Why did you ride down the stairs on your stomach at the end?
I wanted to come through for the people. They’re sitting there ready to watch a gnarly trick go down, and I couldn’t land it. So I said I gotta come through with something. I heard people saying that my knuckles must be really messed up, but if you grab a skateboard by the sides your knuckles won’t reach the floor. They said I hit my face too but if you look closely I never hit my face.
When you do a belly grind down a handrail, how do you approach it?
I peep out the spot, I check the ups and the downs, the variables, the physics involved. I study it out. And then once I figure out how to accomplish it, I fill myself with courage and I incorporate the ballsy aspect, the extreme aspect, and that propels me past any doubt and I nail it.
Do you ever drink a beer or smoke weed to amp yourself up?
No. For the most part, no. It’s all natural. Weed helps for the zone out. You get into the groove and you start to zone out. A good bowl and you’d be ready to go.
How did you get into doing tricks where you ride on your stomach?
That goes back to California culture. I always saw skating as being like surfing on the concrete. So it was the logical step like, I’m gonna do some boogie board type stuff. And of course the coffin. I’m not a one trick pony, it’s not my only trick, but it is my signature move. I started that about five years ago, did my first coffin on the ground, and it escalated into doing those Tony Hawk video game type tricks.
How do other skateboarders react to seeing you do belly grinds?
I get mad props. And they’re in disbelief. I don’t wish to toot my own horn but there’s people out there saying I’m a legend. On the social media in the comments section, many people said, “That’s legend shit.” Back in the day there was this Nintendo game called Skate or Die, and I took it to heart. Skate, or die.
“If I apply the proper amount of extremism, I’m landing it.”
“Skate or Die” is a motivational phrase for you?
Yeah, big time. I’m 32 years old, I’m not a weirdo, some old ass dude on a skateboard. Nah, I’m keeping it alive, and I really hope others will too. Older dudes got the car and family and all that but they’re still skating, and I back it up.
It sounds like you really take to heart the mental aspect of skateboarding. Do you ever apply that to other aspects of your life?
No, but it makes sense. You know it’s possible, so you do it. It’s textbook success. If I apply the proper amount of extremism, I’m landing it. My method is a tactical extreme. It’s extreme, but it’s within one’s potential.
How long have you been skating?
Since I was 5-6 years old.
You’re 32 now, so you’ve been skating for more than 20 years. Do you do any tricks other than old school ones?
I do nothing but cavemans and the ollie. I can’t do a kickflip. Everybody would tell me, “Try to kickflip like this!” And I tried. I gave it a 100% and I was like, man I can’t do it like the guys on TV. I’m not like them. I tried it, I didn’t get any results, but what stayed with me was, you still need to skate. Even if I can’t do the radical McTwist or 900s, I’m still skating. And what remains is that old school stuff. Old school kickflips, ollies, old school pop shove-its. Manuals. It’s in the word itself, manual. It’s manual transmission, it’s not automatic.
Have you ever been bothered by the cops for street skating the way you do?
Nope. I haven’t gotten caught. But I did a year for for socking a police officer in the face.
Why did you punch a cop in the face?
‘Cause he was sitting right across from my mother and me’s apartment. He was just sitting there for hours. Right in front of our house. Plus before that there were a bunch of cops swarming around, more than the usual. So I see the cop car right there, his window was down, he’s in the driver seat, and it looked like he was asleep. I went up to the window and socked him right in the face.
What happened after you punched the cop?
He called for backup and they all got on me.
Did you feel bad about punching him?
Not really, but at the same time I learned my lesson. Can’t be going around like that.
So were you worried that the cop was spying on you or something?
Yeah. Letting his presence be known? Like, come on.
“I did a year for for socking a police officer in the face.”
So what was jail like?
It’s rough. You have to be on your P’s and Q’s. If you’re caught slippin’, then you gon’ get it.
Did anyone try to fight you?
Yeah. I had a cell fight. It was my own roommate. He was let out to do something and when he comes back, he comes in swinging. The guards broke it up eventually, and yeah he did get me. I mean not in like I got got, or I got faded. He landed a couple on me, I was swinging back, and that was it.
Did you ever worry about getting raped in jail?
Nah. It’s not like how Hollywood portrays it. That stuff doesn’t happen because everybody’s minding their own business.
So it’s not like, someone drops the soap in the shower and he gets jumped?
Nah. It’s not like that. It’s like they say, it’s realer in the streets.
What’s it like making friends in jail, is it hard?
Nah, everybody in jail kind of just hangs out. Even though it’s divided ethnicity wise, it’s pretty cool. Everybody’s doing their part so there won’t be no ruckus erupting, and thus people are cool. Nobody wants a prison riot or to catch another case, so you look out for yours, make sure you’re not messing up.
Do people sneak stuff into jail by sticking it up their butts?
Nah. That’s a sheer myth. The way it’s really done is you get a string, you tie the end of it around the drugs or what not and swallow it, then the other end you put in between your teeth. Once you’re in you rip out the string from between your teeth and cough up that baggie. That’s how it’s done. All this Blood In, Blood Out type stuff, “Oh, he had to act like he was gonna suck dick to get ‘em,” that’s just a bunch of lies.
So back to skating, do you want to get sponsored?
Yeah. That’s the skater’s dream.
Would you try the Mega Ramp or the loop on your belly?
Heck yeah I would try it. I would not only try it, I would try to really land it.
Have you sent your footage to anyone?
No. I always wanted to do a video of all the old school tricks that I know.
So your plan is to get noticed by doing a viral trick, then hope that a company will send you stuff?
Yeah. I had always envisioned there being an old school event in the X-Games. I think there would be the support for that. Still minding the ballsy and the extreme. I was thinking the whole course being old school friendly.
What would an old school X-Games course look like?
It would pretty much be the same, just somebody would have to be really courageous to land it all. But I think it’s a very attainable possibility.
But I don’t really see anyone else doing old school skating.
Yeah. I know, but there’s true school risk involved. There’s true school pain involved, and there’s true glory if you land the trick.