I remember learning about the laws of gravity in grade school. My gray-haired teacher dropped a bowling ball and golf ball at the same time, and to the awe of the class they hit the ground simultaneously. How is this possible everyone wondered, myself included? Then a video of Issac Newton came on and I fell asleep.
I felt the same childlike wonder when I watched Joey Walder skate for the first time, and I found myself, at the crisp age of 24, pondering. Does gravity act on him the same as it does me? Well, yeah, it does, even if he tips the scale at over 400lbs. However true these scientific laws may be, at the end of the day the bowling ball doesn’t have to get back up after falling. Joey does.
It’s for this exact reason he has been blowing up all over social media, and while some come for the slams the majority stay because of his persistence, charm, and love of skateboarding. Turns out, skating runs deep in Joey’s family, and the fact that he was built for stopping a train wasn’t going to keep him off a board.
Intrigued by his dedication to skateboarding I hit him up, and found myself laughing through a conversation about his famous younger brother, concrete shaking slams, and Joey’s power to inspire.
What’s the official weight-in?
I’m 440lbs, 6 foot 3 inches.
Damn, have you ever been tempted to get into security?
I was security at Best Buy, but I basically couldn’t do anything. I was just a presence up there at the front. I’m like, “Why am I up here if I can’t touch anybody or do anything?” I guess they just wanted me there as an intimidating force.
So tell me about this monumental blow-up on social media. How’d it start?
My boy Marshall hit me up asking to film skateboarding like we did as kids. He was like “Come! I’ll start filming you.” I didn’t even have a board or shoes. We ended up having to go to Ross and we found some old Supra’s.
We Frankensteined a board and he took me to this spot. We ended up filming this video of a boardslide and manual in a run and I’m just eating shit, like dying on it. I finally got it and he chopped it up and put it on TikTok and it went super viral. He was like “I told you people would fuck with this. They love this shit,” so I kept going from there.
“I always say that Snoop Dogg got me to where I’m at.”
Damn, so your first post went viral?
Oh yeah, right off the bat. Then in the next video I ended up bombing a hill in Redondo Beach and Snoop Dogg reposted it. I woke up to everyone hitting me up like “Yo! Snoop Dogg reposted your video,” and that’s when my follower count started going crazy. I always say that Snoop Dogg got me to where I’m at.
Have you had any other big-name celebrities repost you?
So many, dog. I want to say the highlight was when Tony Hawk followed me. That was cool. I couldn’t believe the Birdman followed me.
How’d you get into skating?
I want to say I started skating around the 2000s. I’m from the Bay Area so I started skating there, just dorking around. I’ve always been a big dude so I’d been playing football, but I’ve always loved to skate. I kind of shied away from it for a while, and when football was over for me I was thinking I should start skateboarding again.
I played football from middle school up until my Sophomore year of college. I was a nose tackle. Right on the line. I would literally ditch school to go skateboard. The only reason I was playing football was because I was big, you know?
What’s worse, an intense tackle or a shitty fall in the streets?
Definitely skateboarding, man. Concrete is not forgiving. I know a bunch of footballers like “Yeah, I could not do what you guys do. You are insane,” but I’m never going to put myself in a situation where I feel like I’m going to be in harm’s way.
You have that one bowl clip where you slam your head. Have you hurt your head more skating or in football?
That’s a good question. I want to say skateboarding. I know football is constant headbanging but skateboarding is the first time I’ve ever gotten a concussion and had to go to the hospital.
That fall I was concussed badly. I want to say that’s the first time I’ve ever been to the hospital because of skateboarding. I wasn’t gonna go to the hospital at first, but then I got home and started doing weird shit. I went to the fridge to get a drink and I couldn’t remember what I went to get.
Do you have a day job other than skating?
No, but I used to be a junk haulier. I had a truck and a trailer and I would go to people’s houses and clear out their backyards or whatever they needed cleared out. I had a whole little company, but once the social media stuff started popping off I stopped. I’m not really hurting for money right now. I still have my truck, and if I need some cash I have so many old clients that I could reach out to.
What’s your main source of income?
Yeah, TikTok, and then I’m trying to get my YouTube going. TikTok pays as competitive as YouTube. It’s super surreal getting paid. A lot of people ask me how it works, and I really can’t give a set number. Some days are good and some days are bad. It just depends on how your videos do, but as far as getting paid to post my skateboarding is insane. I’m super blessed to be in this situation.
“People see me slam and get back up and keep going and keep going and they find it inspiring.”
Were you surprised when people found your skating inspirational?
Yes. Genuinely surprised. Some people will send me messages saying “Man, you’re a real inspiration doing what you do,” and I’m like, “I’m just skating. I’m just doing what I’ve been doing since I was a kid,” but when you go and look there really aren’t a lot of bigger people doing what I’m doing. People see me slam and get back up and keep going and keep going and they find it inspiring.
Some dude hit me up one time telling me he was ready to end his life and watching my videos helped him get through it. That just blows my mind. People find joy in what I am doing. He had written me a whole message about all the problems going on in his life and I kept it just to remind myself to keep going. Outside of all the people who make jokes and judge me, it’s all worth it for the enjoyment of a dude like that.
Do you feel like that adds stress on your shoulders to keep posting and staying active?
Yes, for sure. Sometimes I film some stuff and I don’t know if it’s good enough, especially when people aren’t liking your stuff you start to worry if what you’re putting out is lame. It does mess with your mental.
Do you call yourself an influencer now?
I hate that word. I would love to call myself a skateboarder but obviously, there are tons of people out there that are way better than me. I’m a skateboarder but when it comes to the social media stuff I guess I would call it a skate influencer. I really hate saying influencer because it sounds corny to me, but I guess I do and I guess that I am. I’ll leave it up to the people to decide.
Are you actively trying to get better at skateboarding or are you trying stuff for the slams?
People love seeing the slams. Sometimes people ask if I’m slamming on purpose and I’m not. I’m not trying to fall or be funny. I’m really trying to progress and learn new tricks.
I want to say I’ve gotten a lot better from the first video, but I’d like to put this on the record: I’m not out here trying to fall. I’m just trying to skate.
Does it ever worry you that people are more intrigued by the slams than they are the makes?
Yeah, all the time. The people who want to see the slams need to realize that shit takes a toll. I’m honestly super blessed to not have dealt with that many injuries. I’m very elastic and I bounce back. I don’t know where it comes from, maybe football, but I’m honestly really healthy when it comes to that.
Sometimes I think about whether I’ll be able to walk properly as I get older, and I wonder if all the falls are doing damage to my spine. Being a bigger guy in general you worry about your joints and bones. My friends always say eventually it’s going to catch up with me, but the way I see it is I’ve made my bed, so when I have to I’ll lay in it. I’m cool with crutching around when I’m sixty. I had my fun.
Tell me about the lipslide saga.
It started because Santa Cruz did a promo where they were running boards over with cars claiming nothing could break their boards. I felt like I could break the board, but if they claim the board could hold me, I was like, I want to get lipslides back. I used to love that trick. I ended up going to the park and did a YouTube video about Santa Cruz’s VX decks and I almost did it. I tried it and snapped it.
After, Santa Cruz hit me up saying they had a prototype that they wanted me to try and lipslide on, so they sent me another deck. I tried it again, and I broke it again. Don’t get me wrong, those boards are super strong, and I do really want to land the lipslide. I have to find a board that will really hold me.
What’s it like to have companies like Santa Cruz sending you boards to test out?
It’s crazy, but I grew up with that because my brother, Jacob Walder, was on Ice Cream and Baker at one point, so there were always boxes coming to the house because of him, so it wasn’t foreign to me seeing that type of stuff. Honestly, back when we were kids I used to steal all his product [laughs]. Having it come for me is what was insane.
When you were growing up did you see pro skaters around because of your brother?
Yeah, I mean growing up in San Diego he would roll with Keelen James, Moroque Grey, and all those Sk8Mafia dudes, so I would meet those dudes in passing. When he started getting flow from Baker he’d be around Reynolds and Terry Kennedy. Pharrell owned Ice Cream so he’d be hanging with Pharrell and shit which was crazy.
Did you hold envy towards your younger brother?
Not envy, but going to a skatepark and having people look at you like, “Look at this big dude on a skateboard,” does weigh on you. I don’t like skating in crowded parks because sometimes I feel like a bear balancing on a ball in a circus.
I guess you can say I’m envious of those dudes who don’t stand out like a sore thumb all the time, but that’s why people hit me up about me being an inspiration to them because I go out and do it. They say they don’t have the self-confidence to go out there and skate, and I struggle with that too, but I’m lucky to have a support group of friends around me who help me go out and skate every day.
“I don’t like skating in crowded parks because sometimes I feel like a bear balancing on a ball in a circus.”
Did your confidence get better when you started to film clips?
It’s always hard filming something and wondering whether people are going to rock with it or think it’s whack. When I first started we’d film stuff and I didn’t want to put it out. I would see my buttcrack out or my gut out and I wouldn’t want to put it out. Over time I stopped caring about what people thought of me or what I was doing.
What’s the hardest aspect of skating for you?
Stamina. A lot of people will skate and bail out, bail out, bail out a trick. I don’t have that many bails in me, like I’m fighting my weight to get up. I’m fighting my stamina, so I don’t like to bail things. I think that’s why I fall a lot, because I’m trying to actively land it. I know I tire quicker than the average skater, and I’m either going to break a board or something else, so I have to try and land it as quickly as I can.
I know popping high is a challenge, so what spots are you looking for?
I kind of hate when people ask me what I want to skate. I don’t like to call out stuff because then I know I have to get out and try something. I’d rather go along for the ride and hopefully get sparked on wherever we are.
Honestly, I like bombing hills. I find it fun even though it’s kind of scary for me. I like stuff that is going to get your heart racing, especially something that I don’t have to ollie up.
Have you ever seen skateboarding as a means to lose weight, or do you have a goal of losing weight?
People don’t realize how good cardio is with skateboarding. People will be like, “You should go to the gym or something,” but skateboarding is such good cardio. Go to a pump track and skate around a pump track for thirty minutes, you will be dead tired.
Skateboarding is an exercise. It’s not just a hobby people do. It’s a legit exercise. I lost like fifty pounds just skateboarding. I don’t do much else other than skateboarding as a physical activity.
“I like stuff that is going to get your heart racing, especially something that I don’t have to ollie up.”
Have you ever considered getting into Jackass-style stunts?
I always used to joke with my boys like “I’m down to be a stunt double,” like a big body stunt double. I would be down to do some Jackass shit and fuck around. I feel like I have a pretty high pain tolerance. I’ve broken arms. I think I can handle what they do. I’ll get tazed [laughs].
Is there some stunt or thing that you’d never do?
I am fucking terrified of snakes. Honestly, Bam handled it way better than I would have handled it. If they locked me in somewhere with a snake, you might as well keep me in there, because by the time I get out I’m bashing something. I’m not playing. I’d rather break my leg than hold a snake.
Is it hard to find inspiration in skateboarding because no one looks like you?
I’ve always found inspiration through bigger guys who are skateboarding. I know there’s nobody MY size, but skaters like James Hardy inspire me. I heard they had to give him 8-ply boards because he used to snap so many boards. He was a huge dude, and he went through some of the same struggles I do skateboarding. Jamie Foy’s another one, even though he’s not that big anymore.
Have you ever gotten any type of custom big man gear, like Shaq and his massive bed?
A surf company wanted to build me a custom big man board because I wanted to learn how to surf, and I posted a video of me on a longboard and that shit sank the moment I stood up on it [laughs]. It didn’t even get close to holding my weight. A jumbo-sized surfboard would be pretty sick.
Are there any other things that people take for granted that don’t work for you?
I’ve broken a board dropping in before. The tail snapped right off. I’ve literally set up a board one day, did one trick and it snapped, and I’m like man I just bought this thing.
I had to learn how to do things a certain way so my board doesn’t break. I have to be on bolts pretty much the whole time. You gotta be perfect. I don’t know if you saw the video of me ollieing over a cone where my board snapped right in two, but I remember we went to this shop and bought some shitty blank deck and I was like, I don’t know about this board, it feels like paper mache, so I use it to ollie this cone and it snaps in two. I facepant on the floor, like I knew this board was cheap. My boy was like, the board wasn’t cheap, you’re just double the size it’s made for [laughs].
“I’ve broken a board dropping in before. The tail snapped right off.”
Do you feel like you’re in a unique position because losing weight might make you lose your following?
I think about that all the time. I think about when Jonah Hill lost all that weight and then people didn’t find him funny anymore, but I remind myself that if I lose weight my skating will get better and at the end of the day I want to be a better skater so what does it matter.
Why do you think bigger people are funnier?
I mean, I really couldn’t pinpoint it but I just feel like bigger people are more jovial, and as a bigger dude you just don’t take yourself as seriously. You can joke about yourself or be the butt of jokes. I’m not worried about people joking about my weight. I know I’m big.
Is there a post-clip celebration, like some all-out shit you celebrate with?
If I land a good trick, I’ll probably go splurge on a massive burrito and pig out. I don’t drink or smoke, so food is my vice you could say. I just love to eat. Some people might have a celebratory beer but I go out for a celebratory burrito.
The other day I went to some flatbar spot and my boy said if I get the boardslide he’d take me to the buffet, and I was like “HELL YEAH,” and I got the clip [laughs]. Honestly, stupid stuff like that gets me motivated.
Do you have a dream trick you hope to learn one day?
I almost lazy boardslid Clipper. I tried it a couple of years ago and got really close. I didn’t get it, and Marbie ended up landing it, and I was like “Ahhh, she got it. Hats off to her.” I want to get a big lazy boardslide, and I really want to try and do the Staples Center. I’ve looked at it and it’s pretty damn big, but I want to get a lazy board on a proper-sized hubba.
This might end up in the interview on the site, so now the pressures on I guess [laughs].
I want the pressure. I WANT IT, something legit!
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