March 11, 2024/ / INTERVIEWS/ Comments: 7

The allure of Antonio Durao is hard to describe, yet widely understood. His talent of injecting a seemingly impossible amount of switch pop or fringe trick into a homie video has made him a cult favorite over the years.

He’s bounced around board brands for most of his career, but as a result of affiliating with talented filmmakers and niche brands, his checkered sponsor history has only added to his allure. And finally, to the collective rejoice of skateboarders everywhere, Antonio turned pro for newly established board company Hardbody along with pal Hjalte Halberg just a couple of weeks ago.

Intrigued at the prospect of what Hardbody will become and the future of one of our elusive favorites, we dragged Antonio out of his beloved BMW and got the goods on his funky bag of tricks, Portuguese upbringing, and how he has become a different person over the last couple of years.

I saw some comments on Slap saying you’re the best skater in the world. What do you think of that?
I think they’re buggin’ [laughs]. I think they’re out of their mind, but hey, thanks. I feel like picking the best skater is kind of like picking the best trick.

I don’t know if anyone is the best skater in the world. There might be the best soccer player in the world because there are statistics. Where are the statistics in street skating? It’s an opinionated thing, but dude I appreciate the love for sure. Shoutout to Slap Magazine.

Let’s talk about the big news, getting on Hardbody. What was the process like?
I was on another board company at the time but was filming for The Hardbody video, and all the while E.J. [Emilio Cuilan, Hardbody brand owner and filmer] was trying to make it a board company, so I was like “I want to stay doing this and filming with you, can you just make Hardbody a clothing brand?” He wasn’t sure where he wanted to take it, but then became pretty set on a board brand. At the time the board company I was riding for was kind of stangant so I was like, “Fuck it.”

It was all up in the air for a bit, and starting something from the beginning can be hard and unpredictable. Numbers [one of the previous brands Antonio rode for] for example, you just never know what can happen, so I had second guessed it all at first. When I heard Hjalte [Halberg] might join, it gave me more assurance to be a part of it. I’m stoked about how it’s something new and I feel like E.J.’s taking a different approach to branding. Nothing feels forced, and he’s not doing things for the wrong reasons.

Some people write that they love Hardbody but the art direction is lazy. What do you think?
E.J. is starting from scratch. The fact that he started with simple graphics is better because now if he wants to go off track it will be something you’ll notice more. The brand isn’t predictable, maybe graphics look simple, but he’s establishing some classic graphics that he’ll always have. I think he wants to do a lot more and has a cool vision.

E.J. has a crazy amount of old records, he loves music, and knows a lot about the arts. I like the way he films and the way he edits, and I think he can really make a dope skate video and brand. Dude, I’m thankful we became good friends and I was able to join Hardbody.

Were you surprised by the move from Hjalte, leaving Polar, one of the biggest brands in the world, to join a newer brand?
Yeah, Hjalte told me he’d been with Polar for twelve years. That’s a long, long time. He was up there on that team, like the main guy. I think he was just after more freedom. Sometimes brands can get structured and they’re following everyone else, and then they aren’t following what the riders are doing. I guess that’s always been the case, from what I’ve observed. I feel like a brand starts to die when they start caring more about sales than the essence of skating or making a skate video and going on trips. When they start moving towards quick money and no content, a lot of times that’s the end.

For people who don’t know, what does Hardbody mean?
Hardbody? [laughs] I feel like Hardbody is kind of like when people say “That’s hard.” It’s just a synonym. “That shit is hardbody” like “That’s tufff” or “That’s dopeeee” [laughs].

“I could let go and enjoy a moment with no weird pressure to start playing a role.”

How was the pro board surprise? It was funny seeing two pros become pro again at a new brand.
Yeah, I thought it was kind of funny too. I was just hyped all the homies were around on a random night, even Karim [Callender] pulled up. Also, CONGRATS KARIM! We were playing checkers and chess, listening to music, having a good time, and then they brought me outside. The surprise was awesome. I had no idea I was turning pro again.

It felt like I could let go and enjoy a moment with no weird pressure to start playing a role or whatever. I could just enjoy the time with the homies.

You mentioned to me before that you are more sober these days? No more drinking but some mushrooms? What led to that?
I got alcohol sober last winter. I’ve been doing mushrooms for some time. I realized that drinking heavily every day was fucking up my health. When I was going out, I would just keep drinking. It’s easy to do, and it feeds off that “I don’t want one beer, I want ten.” I’ve never had a problem with anything else, but with drinking, I was like “Damn, this is hard to stop.”

One winter I was drinking one or two bottles of wine a day, it was easy to fall into that during winter in New York.

Mushrooms helped. I would go up to my dad’s house and sit in the grass and meditate on mushrooms, and that helped me get off drinking. It also helped me clear out all of these insecurities that getting wasted was letting me put off to the side. If anyone needs a cleanse, that will do it. Meditating on a high dose of mushrooms will do it.

Do you think you took skateboarding for granted during this time when you were partying hard?
There were years where I fucked off. I fell in love with cars, and I did skateboarding in between. Some years I was just getting stoned and trying to build a race car, but fuck it, that’s what made me happy.

I think everyone needs a break, and that was my break. Yeah, I could have put out a couple of parts a year, advertised myself more and tried to be a more commercialized skater, but I don’t want to look at skateboarding as a job.

So the break you took building cars ultimately helped you in skateboarding?
Yeah, it’s cool to have a different hobby outside of skating. Most people won’t be skating 100% of the time or maybe they need a break to stay hyped. Also, if you get hurt and can’t skate, having another hobby really really helps. For me, I go build an engine and throw it in a car or whatever.

Skating had become less interesting for me at the time after doing it for so long. I keep bringing up mushrooms, but skating on mushrooms has made me feel like a kid again. I don’t always like to do it, because I don’t want to be dependent on anything to have a good day skating, but it gave me a different perspective like “Hey, you don’t have to do the same tricks as everyone else.” It’s good to open up and try different things in skateboarding.

Is that where the cancel flips and late one-foots are coming from?
Yeah, pretty much. I started to want to try new tricks! It gives me more of a high. I was so tired of doing the same shit over and over

One of the skaters I’ve been really into, and I think this dude brings the most fun out of skateboarding, is Louie Barletta. He makes skating look fun. I feel like that’s the message that needs to be put out. It’s cool when a skater can film a whole part and it looks like they are just fucking around.

“I don’t think street skating is supposed to be a sport where you can win the World Cup.”

I agree. I feel like you almost had a personal rebrand [laughs], with the new tricks and whatnot.
Yeah, I like where it’s going. Before it felt like I had to do these hard tricks, and I wasn’t having much fun. It felt like a chore almost, and I was like man, skating shouldn’t feel like that, skateboarding should feel like when you were a kid. If you can’t reinvent it and make it fun for you and you become stagnant, you should go do something else that makes you happy.

Also, I don’t think street skating is supposed to be a sport where you can win the World Cup. I’m not saying that it’s not dope, I just don’t think skateboarding should be a competitive sport.

Do you think certain accolades, like magazine covers, are important to pro skate careers?
It’s super nice to get them and it helps out careers in skateboarding, but for me personally, once you get one you’re like “Ok, that’s dope,” and then the second one comes and you don’t get as much of a high from it. Everyone’s stoked for you, but landing the trick is more of a rewarding feeling. Maybe that’s because you had to put in the hard work, like Chris Cole’s 360 flip at Wallenberg. How would he feel after he landed the trick vs. when he got a huge ad spread?

Nowadays I feel like you’re more underground, and when you were a kid you were way more “traditional.”
Dude, when I was younger I wanted to be a famous professional skateboarder so I feel like I was just doing the hardest tricks I could trying to achieve that. At some points I wasn’t having much fun, but because it was something hard to get, I really wanted it. Everything hard to get or expensive isn’t necessarily any more fulfilling. If caviar was $1 a pound, I don’t think anybody would want it.

“If caviar was $1 a pound, I don’t think anybody would want it.”

You’re originally from Portugal, right?
Yeah, I was born in Portugal and I came to the US in 2006, which was when I started skating too. I skated in Portugal, but I couldn’t ollie or anything. When I got to the US I just remember typing “Skateboarding.” into YouTube and Rodney Mullen came up. It blew my mind.

I got a Walmart board for Christmas months after moving to the US. The very first ollie I tried to do on that board the truck snapped in half. Then my birthday came around, and I got another board, and this time it didn’t break. I couldn’t speak a word of English at this point.

Why did your parents move to Long Island from Portugal?
I think my mom wanted a fresh start. I guess the economy was also shitty in Portugal. To give you an idea, the minimum wage is to this day, about $1000 a month. That means roughly $250 a week, and gas is $8 a gallon, so you can spend your paycheck just driving around. That’s why everyone has these tiny little cars.

Did your parents pressure you to finish high school or go to college?
I finished high school. My mom would definitely look at my report card when it came in, so I had to try a little bit. She always kept that immigrant mindset of like “Hey, you better fucking perform. I didn’t come out here for nothing.” After high school my mom was pretty bummed I didn’t go to college. I was working at this car wash from ages 16 up until I was probably 19 or 20. I would just save up money to go to California and stay with Joeface [Joe Monteleone] and live there until I couldn’t afford it anymore and then go back to Long Island like “Fun is over, back to the carwash,” [laughs].

Eventually, I got my first magazine cover, which I was hyped to have at the time, and then my mom started seeing that maybe this could be a thing. Then I got a contract with Nike and I think that’s when she was like, “Okay, this is cool,” and started becoming more supportive about it. Classic [laughs], but funny enough now they’re both pretty hyped that I chose to pursue skateboarding and not just do what they said.

I heard PJ Williams Horrible Life was one of your first videos you had footage in?
Yeah. That’s funny you bring it up. I wouldn’t have thought you knew about that one.

That’s super random. I’m like, What the fuck? I thought the upload just mislabeled PJ Ladd.
Yeah. PJ Williams taught me a lot- He’s the one that was like, “Yo, all this shit you’re watching, it’s not cool.” [laughs] He was the older guy when I started skating in Long Island.

We would skate this Walgreens Ledge, which is probably the only ledge in the area I grew up. He was like, “You know Gino?” I’m like, “Gino who?” I only knew about the mainstream skaters at that point because I had only been skating for like two years. PJ contributed to a lot of my tastes, like Gino [Iannucci] is still one of my favorite skaters to this day.

How do you feel about riding for a lot of brands that have come and gone? Do you think it fucked with your career?
I guess so, but I wouldn’t take it back. I like the way it went. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an upside to riding for a board company that’s sustainable but it’s also been cool hopping around and meeting different people and seeing the process of starting a board company from the beginning.

I always want whatever board brand I’m on to feel like a family. Back in the day, it seemed like the teams were all close homies that started something up. A lot of companies are losing that nowadays, like teams just feel more disconnected from each other now. Back in the day it looked more natural and not forced like “Oh, team picture, even though we haven’t seen each other in two years. Everyone smile.” Ah, social media is a gift and a curse.

“I used to be so worried about how people viewed me and I was forgetting to live for myself.”

What have mushrooms helped you with most? Living more in the present?
Yeah, I was always in my head too much, and that really took away from the pure enjoyment of the moment. I used to be so worried about how people viewed me and I was forgetting to live for myself. The time we have here on this floating ball in space is very temporary. Why would I waste time worrying so much?

The main thing they do for you is help you realize things about yourself in life that you were maybe oblivious to. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s things you don’t like, but while you’re in that state of being, realizing something you don’t like about yourself is much more valuable. It’s like if your best friend told you your flaws, then was cheering for you to change. A bad trip is like tough love.

A lot of skaters seem to be in their heads these days, scared of being themselves publicly.
I don’t know where these pressures come from, maybe societal expectations, but people are so tense now, and people aren’t being their true selves so they can fit into this structure that we’ve created. The ability to not give a shit about what anyone else thinks is missing.

And the rebellion and individuality. We’re too stiff as a culture these days.
Yeah, I think that comes from being scared. You finally got your dream “job” and you’re finally making a living off of skating after all those flamingos you had to do. All the blood, sweat and tears to get here and now you don’t want to fuck it up. You want to stay in the guidelines, and that can suck.

Ending on a lighter note, I heard you’ve used Gatorade as bearing lube once. Do you remember that?
Yeah, I remember that. That might have been at Flushing or some shit [laughs].

Did it work?
I think so. I’ve done so much random shit. It’s not going to work long term, right, but short term, if your bearings are stuck, it’s liquid. I’ve even poured water on Blubba, just trying to get things moving.

Yeah, if it works it works, right?
The world’s your oyster, go for it.

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  1. bob

    March 11, 2024 4:16 pm

    Antonio da man

  2. al

    March 11, 2024 5:13 pm

    slap is right

  3. I said it

    March 11, 2024 6:54 pm

    Skateboarding’s new gen penny
    Good to hear him speak too!

  4. ny

    March 11, 2024 7:10 pm

    dude rips. pop for days

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