For the Gen X’ers and Millennials who see the newer generation of skaters changing a lot of the “rules” of skating, it’s fair to say the rules aren’t changing but they’re growing. Yes, there are younger kids following a cult of cringy Youtube vloggers, but that doesn’t mean we’re not getting entertaining full-length videos, hijinx, and creativity like we’ve seen in the past.
Lil Tubsy aka Una Farrar is a 21-year-old Canadian living in Vancouver. She had the opening part in Vans’ newest video Credits, has been making her own homie videos, and she’s currently flow for Krooked, Spitfire, and Thunder.
Una is just one part of a huge shift in acceptance in skateboarding, but through her ability, intellect and warm personality she shows that the future of skating is in trustworthy hands.
You’re in the early stages of your career, have your parents been supportive of you pursuing skating so far?
Yeah, they supported me, but they knew if this didn’t work out then like, ouuf. But they made me put money away for education and stuff. I was traveling and getting hurt a lot and I would just stress them out. I went on a bunch of trips before anything was ever organized, like when I was working at a skate shop or working at Domino’s.
You worked at a Domino’s?
Yeah, I was delivering pizza on a fucking bike. I didn’t even have a car. It was an electric bike [laughs]. The electric bikes were speedy and it was fun. It was one of the most interesting jobs because people who work there always have some crazy shit stories. If you’re 45 and work at Domino’s you probably have a good story.
Were you biking and delivering pizzas in the snow?
It doesn’t snow that much in Victoria, but it rains so much. I was this little soggy wet dog for like seven months. It was so brutal. The managers would feel bad for me and try to give me the keys to their car. I was the only delivery driver to make it through the winter without a car.
It would be pissing rain, I couldn’t see anything, my glasses were wet, and I got my little helmet on and a rain poncho in my Domino’s outfit. I would be delivering to my stoned friends or my teacher or some people I knew and they always took photos of me.
Did you ever have any weirdos you had to deliver to?
Dude, I had so many. One time I delivered to this kid, and you know how sometimes a kid has their parents’ credit card? He tipped me $60 for like a $15 order. I didn’t notice until I was cashing out and my manager said we should call because the parents might get bummed on us. So we called them and the kid answered and he was like, “Nope, that’s my card, I meant to tip that much.” So I had like $100 something dollars night. We even played the honest card. It was so weird.
I actually ordered Domino’s last night. They came to the door and I had like PTSD [laughs].
Any other funny delivery stories?
A lot of people would order and pass out because they were drunk or stoned at like 1am. I worked until like 3am and in my town, there was nothing open after 10pm so everyone would order from Dominos late.
So this kid orders and passes out, his parents answer the door and they’re like, “He must have fallen asleep,” and it was raining of course. The parents were like, now we have this pizza, and they paid me and tipped me but they weren’t going to eat it.
They were like, “Do you want it?” And I was like, “Yeah sure, can I eat a bit here?” because I don’t want to eat it on a bike in the rain, and they were like, “Do you want to come in?” I went in and watched TV and ate pizza with this random customer’s parents for like a half-hour. I think we watched the snowboarding halfpipe.
Now that you’re not working at Domino’s are you getting paid to skate full-time?
At this current moment, I am fortunate enough to be making enough from skating to pay the bills. Vans just over a year ago contacted us and set us up. I say “us” as in me and Breana [Geering] because we got on at the same time.
I used to live on Vancouver Island, and we started getting paid and I was like, “Okay, I’m moving to Vancouver.” I wouldn’t have been able to do that with whatever job I was doing. Nothing is permanent so I’m just appreciating every day that I don’t have to work, skating doesn’t feel like work to me.
And you’re living in a skate house now too, right?
Yeah, I live with four other skaters. One of them is Shari [White], and another one is Norma [Ibarra] and she’s a skater and photographer. So we’re all very like-minded and it’s been super productive being surrounded by these people who know so much and do so much skating every day.
If one of us has an idea for a photo or a clip we can just plan it or go out on our bikes and get it that day. Or at least try to get it, there are no guarantees. Like, it’s not like I have to meet up with my filmer across town, or if they haven’t sent me shit in like four days. Now, I could just walk over to Shari’s room and be like, “Yo, gimme the clip.”
Can you tell me a little bit about you growing up in Canada?
I had a best friend who lived down the street who skated. I kind of did anything he did and was stoked on whatever he was into. Same with my older brother. He’s three years older than me and he skated. The first time I tried it I was like eight years old, and I really didn’t like it because it was way too hard. Skating was actually the first thing to make me consciously swear.
I only really hung out with guys growing up. I had a few close female friends, but there was one year that my grade had like 10 skaters in it. I was from a small town, so it was pretty rare. We went through middle school and high school skating together and they were all better than me.
Two of them had mini ramps that they built them with their parents. I begged my dad for one for so long. He’s down to build stuff and we were trying to find ways to build it cheaply, you know? Then I set a note about it as his computer screensaver, so whenever it came up it was “Work on the ramp with Una.”
“I think people just got bored of seeing California”
Historically why do you think Canada never got that much shine in skating? Why are you guys getting much more hype now?
Maybe the change had to do with social media platforms and stuff like that. Once it wasn’t just how far your print mag reached like you could upload videos from anywhere and watch videos anywhere, maybe that had something to do with people staying where they were rather than having to be at the contests in California. Like you could stay in Europe now. I think people just want to watch something different. Like different styles or even skating at spots that we haven’t seen.
There’s this guy, bobtapes, who makes skate videos in Halifax, which is far east coast Canada. Like fishing villages and it’s pretty rural. I’m interested in those because I’ve never seen skateboarding there before. So I think people just got bored of seeing California.
Now that you’ve moved out on your own, are there any beliefs that you held tight that have changed?
I don’t know. I’ve never been asked that before.
I definitely was privileged growing up. My parents aren’t rich, but we lived in a suburban white area. But with skating especially and the chances to visit places like Indonesia, or Brazil, or different parts of Spain seeing poverty, racism, and drugs, there’s a lot of drugs and alcoholism in the skate scene that I wasn’t as exposed through. Seeing slums in Bali, or the open sewers in Jakarta and babies hanging around them, drugs, and death changed my ideas of addiction and poverty. Like, seeing that more people live in poverty than live like me. But sometimes I still feel like I’m fucking 10 years old.
Also the queer mentality too. Being a girl who was into tomboy stuff, I hated being called a tomboy because I thought people were saying that I wanted to be a boy, which I never did. I just wanted to do these things that coincidentally all these boys were doing.
Now I could give less of a shit what people call me. And as a woman in a male-dominated setting, I was trying so hard to not be the “gay one” or a stereotype. It never was the case because I had boyfriends who were super amazing, but then I met Poppy [Starr Olsen] and started seeing her and that was a whole new part of my life. I was like, shit I fell right into it [laughs]. Breana [Geering] is my best friend and she’s so gay, so there was always a side of acceptance and I knew I wasn’t going to get judged in that scene.
“Sexuality doesn’t really have any relevance to your skateboarding.”
Were you bummed that you ended up being “the gay one”?
No, I wasn’t bummed. I never had that big coming out story because I’ve always liked guys and girls so it was never like a big thing where I’m going to post some rainbow shit. But it was a weight off my shoulders when I realized that people around me don’t really care about stuff like that. At first, I was terrified to tell anyone that I was thinking about anything, but once I realized that we’re in a time where it’s acceptable to talk about things like this it was a huge weight off my shoulders.
In my high school, there were 12,000 students, so there were probably like 600 gays kids, but there was only one out kid. We weren’t open bullies about it but it just wasn’t common. I didn’t have any trans or queer friends then, but in skating half of my friends are queer and trans.
Sexuality doesn’t really have any relevance to your skateboarding. I don’t post too much about my social life online but I have felt like I can post about whatever I want now that I’ve come to terms with myself.
Before I would be like, “Oh I don’t know if I want to post this photo with a girl.” Even when I was dating a guy I didn’t want to post that because a lot of women who are content curators or have a following lose half their followers when they get in a relationship.
A lot of that attraction is because dudes think they’re single and once they’re dating someone it’s like, “Oh, she’s out of the question.” But now I’m like, fuck that, I’m stoked.
So you hold a position with Canada Skateboard, what does it entail?
I’ve been doing work with Canada Skateboard [representing Canada in the Olympics for skating] as their gender equity lead. Basically, whenever Canada Skateboard makes a decision on something, they have to consult everyone on the board to see if it passes and checks all the boxes. So I learned a lot about women’s development in sports and the difference between men and women and what equity in sports looks like.
The thing that stuck out the most to me was learning about the mental approach to risk and activity. “Social acceptance creates comfort, which is good for training, which then creates a positive outcome.” So let’s say you [as a woman] go to the park and people treat you fine and you’re around people who like you, then you’ll skate more and you’ll get better, and then by the end of it, you’re a really good skateboarder. But for the guys, it’s more like “I’m going to put in a hard effort at the start, show that I could get better, look good, and then I can get that social acceptance in the end.” It’s not like everyone’s stories are the same, but in my experience, that seems to be the case.
“Every skater has mental battles, but it’s different when you’re trying a trick and all you could see is the worst possible scenarios.”
How did you get that role?
It was when I was still trying to do the contest thing. Every country that was trying to be a part of the Olympics had to make a national federation. Canada Skateboard was thrown together, just a pile of shit [laughs]. It’s now been like two years and it’s gotten way better, but they were around when I was trying the contest stuff.
We were at Street League in Brazil. I wasn’t even skating in it, I was just an alternate. [Street League] had a riders, coaches, and officials meeting and they were going over all the rules, and they were like, “Does anyone have any questions?” And in front of the whole crew, which was like random people from other countries but also like Chris Cole, Sean Malto, Ryan Decenzo, I asked, “Why are there no female judges?” They had just announced equal pay, equal opportunity, and equal practice time, and I was like, that’s sick, but can’t there be like one out of five judges that’s a woman? I was like, “Do you feel like you can’t find someone who would suit it? Because I know people who could do it.”
It was really awkward because there were like 200 people in the room just like, “Ohhh.” Then by the next season, Vanessa Torres was a judge. I think they were already taking steps to do that, but Canada Skateboard noticed me doing shit like that and they were like, “We have an opportunity to get money from the government for this job to represent gender equity, do you want a job?” I wasn’t skating as an athlete for Canada anymore, but they wanted the money to go to a skateboarder, so I respected that. They knew I saw the contest side and the street side and I was a woman [laughs]. Everyone cares about this shit but I showed interest in it.
In an interview Nora [Vasconcellos] had brought up that it’s more challenging for women to skate because it feels unnatural to put your body in harm’s way. What do you think about that?
I think it’s 100% true. I thought it was a personal thing for a while, and everyone is different, but I think it’s science-based, like more about the hormones in people. I mean every skater has mental battles, but it’s different when you’re trying a trick and all you could see is the worst possible scenarios.
There’s one friend of mine, I won’t say their name, but she’s trans and those are the only people who are ever going to know if there’s a difference. They said that they noticed a huge difference from before their transition and after in terms of their mental approach to skating. They can’t go for the same shit they used to. I think when you’re younger you don’t have that little voice in your head to tell you to stop what you’re doing, but as you grow older as a woman I think it’s fully there. I think some people are better at controlling it.
Candy [Jacobs] mentioned educated risk, and women will do that more, like hit a rail, then go one stair bigger, then another stair, then another, then master that before they move on to something else. Whereas a guy might go from a five stair to a fifteen but it’s [in bro voice] rad.
There’s a really funny picture of you from last year’s Wheels of Fortune where you’re fingerboarding and the crowd behind you seems so stoked.
That was during the fingerboard contest. I was so nervous. My hand was shaking and stuff, but it was me versus like four 12-year-old girls. I think Jenn [Soto] and Mariah [Duran] entered it as a joke, but it was all these 12-year-olds and then me. Every time someone would land something, the crowd was like, “FUCK YEAH!” Someone had a megaphone and stuff. There were all these little trophies with fingerboards on them. I got a ramp and these five tech deck sets for winning. It was my most proud contest moment ever.
Oh, you won!?
Yeah, I fucking won! I have the trophy in my room. It’s literally the only trophy I have.
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May 5, 2020 12:50 pm
Damn such a rad interview. This is the content we NEED, Jenkem. Thoughful and timely to issues that matter in skateboarding. Do more of this!!
May 5, 2020 1:00 pm
so glad una’s talking about trans and queer skaters. this kind of visibility’s what we need to get fully supported by the skateboarding establishment.
May 5, 2020 1:04 pm
interview Candy puhleez
May 5, 2020 1:10 pm
May 5, 2020 5:52 pm
oops sorry Jenk, i meant, interview Cher Strauberry! i accidently said Candy
May 5, 2020 1:49 pm
Such a good interview. Thoughtful questions and great answers. Thanks Una + Jenkem.