Little rad skate artist Rachel tells us about West Coast skate culture, painting boards and her trip to Maryhill.Hey Bru, getting up to much this weekend?
Not as much skating as I’d like. I have had a bunch of work and my grandparents 60th ann. tonight. But I’m throwing a little session in there at some point.
Did you have a fun Christmas?
It was pretty alright. I actually celebrate Hannukah, so the jewish way in my family is to have a Hannukah party on Christmas. It was pretty nice, although I got a stomach ache from all the food.
How did you get into skating?
Haha well I tried it once, when I was about 8 years old. I tried skating down my walkway and immediately gave up. Then about a year ago, I was with a few friends and they decided to go skate. I said “Okay, I’ll watch”. But they did not let that happen. They kind of forced me to learn. And I am so happy about that.
What would your life be without skating?
Omg! Haha, I would be sitting in my house all day, watching anime and nomming. Maybe with an occasional hike thrown in.
Haha no, I have a friend who is obsessed and I did promise her that I would watch it… eventually. Whenever I get the time to watch all 500+ episodes.
Where did you skate in the beginning?
Well I started at this hill near my house called Superbad. It was the local meeting spot of the CSUN longboarding crew (which I instantly became apart of). It is an amazing hill, but sadly it’s on school property and we can’t skate there anymore. Well I still skate it a lot, hopefully I just won’t be caught!
What is the CSUN crew?
It was originally the longboarding club from CSUN. It started out small and the numbers kept growing as I started going out. Sadly though, because Superbad got burned, our numbers have severely dropped. The group has been changed though, since CSUN no longer considers us a legitimate club. Now we’re the SFV longboarders.
Are there any other crews over there?
Yes. There are a few… according to Facebook. But just mostly for getting sessions together. Otherwise there is the Gel Lab crew which I skate with (or try to) on a weekly basis.
What is the Gel Lab?
It’s a group of 6 guys, headed by Ari Chamasmany, that does a whole bunch of shenanigans. They all have their niches which they bring to the table from biking, to djing, and of course, skating.
What are your favourite type of skate shenanigans?
Oh, I do love downhill shenanigans. Having huge packs, close calls, random bumps, and just being around my homies while going fast is probably my most favorite type of shenanigans.
That is the community like where you live?
It is perfect. I honestly couldn’t ask for anything better. I am right near the mountains, so I can get out and sesh whenever I want. I am also only about 30 mins to 1 hour away from most spots in Malibu, so I try to go there all the time. And it’s a great hub because people from all over come to skate. The homies in calabasas, santa monica, glendora, and other close cities, come out just to skate; it’s awesome!
Where is your favourite place to ride?
Definitely Malibu. It has everything. From beginner runs, to fast bombs, to technical courses, and even some rad, and secret freehide hills.
What makes the West Coast homies special?
They are all awesome. Most of them just love skating for skating. Everyone is super chill, mellow, down to earth, and are so much fun to be around. I have the best conversations and times with some of my local homies and I love every minute with them.
When did you first get comfortable on your board?
Haha it took a while. Probably 2 months? I was so scared going down a baby hill on superbad but after taking it many times, it became nothing and I started bombing the bigger side.
My friend David Seemiller is my #1 on everything in the beginning. He is the one that got me, and kept me into the sport. I am so thankful for that.
Who is David?
He’s a friend that I met through a friend a couple years ago. We instantly realized that we are so much alike so we became tight immediately; going on hikes, playing frisbee, super smash bros, etc. We became bestest buds. And then he started skating, and of course I followed along.
What do you like about going fast?
The thrill. The feeling of the wind in my face (when I’m not wearing my fullface). The instant realization that I’m kinda- sorta flying. And just the speed. Eep, I love speed!
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened while you’ve been flying?
Oh yikes, uhmm.. I’ve almost been hit by cars a few times (all in the same weekend too) because of course California drivers don’t really know what ‘stop’ means. And well, of course going reallllllllly fast! That’s super crazy!
How sketchy is it to skate in Cali now?
It’s not that bad. The weather is definitely changing and making things different but I haven’t come across too much sketchiness. Most Cali peeps are just stoked to see people skating, especially girls, so it’s not too bad.
What’s your role in the community?
Well I really try to get people to skate more; especially the chickies, wherever I can find them. I always have my car open and ready for sessions. I love to drive up and down the roads just as much as I love to skate them. Ilike to make sure my car is somewhat filled. Oh and I provide awkward conversations, yummy cupcakes, and fun- sized shenanigans.
Mhmm, originally that was the life goal for me. I wanted to open up a vegan bakery and just make cupcakes and specialty cakes. But once I started skating, everything changed. I realized that I wanted to spend my free time on my board, not in the kitchen. I still bake occasionally, for birthdays, events, and whenever I feel like it.
What is your new goal?
Haha idk. To have fun. I just really want to be able to do artwork, make designs, travel, and skate, skate, skate.
Which girls do you ride with?
Mostly, the lovely, Daisy Johannes. She is pretty much the girl that got me really into things because she believed I could do more than I ever thought possible. And of course, Amanda Powell. She is just too stoked at the thought of any girl skating, so she instantly helped me out. Also, my local girls: Sammi Leon, Claudia Arce, and Jackie Pinky Lum. I don’t see or skate with them as much as I would want to, but damn, they rock! Sammi can dance for days, Claudia has such amazing balance/bravery on her boards and Jackie kills in a pool and with her style!
You and little DJ must look like twins.
Haha well we are both very small and do absolutely love to wear long socks and baggy sweaters. But we have some subtle differences. I am a whole 2 inches taller!
Do you compete?
Not yet! I was supposed to do a race a couple weeks ago, but the rain shyed me away. I was also planning on going all the way out to Florida for a race, but circumstances had it so the race was moved to a skatepark. I’ll get out there someday soon.
Have you skated outside Cali?
Yes. I have skated in a few spots in Oregon; which are absolutely gorgeous! I have skated in Washington; the famous Maryhill- definitely a favorite. And I have skated in New Jersey and New York.
How different is East Coast skating?
Omg, it’s completely different. There was so much more pushing! I’ve never pushed so much in my life! They simply just push to get around! Here we just drive because everything is so spaced out, but it’s the opposite there, which is why pushing is so much bigger on the east coast. We had to push if we wanted to go somewhere! My little legs died! I also entered into a push race, which didn’t help at all. I definitely came home with sore legs that lasted for weeks.
The scene there is much more hardcore. Everyone is in a hurry and seems so competitive. It was also very different because most of the scene there is with hard wheel sliding. We went to a jam put on by Earthwing and it was mostly hard wheels! What I saw was awesome! West coasters definitely dominated the soft wheel competition, though. Ari and Ethan Cochard destroyed with their slides. As well as Cindy Zhou, repping the ladies! She made everyone’s jaws drop with her super flowy, relaxed style. They seem to lack the relaxed style there, it’s more about going all out and being competitive.
What is Oregon like?
Oregon is beautiful. I had the privilege of having locals show me and the west roastin’ crew around on our roadtrip up to Maryhill. The spots they took us too were amazing. One had just a forest on the side of it, and being a sucker for trees, I absolutely loved it.
When did you get to ride Maryhill?
For the Tour De Feminim! The first ever girls sheride!
What was the weekend like?
It was probably the best week of the year! I got to roadtrip with awesome people, who were mostly all strangers! I had never met Paige Marsicano, Caitlin Yong, or Nancy Luu before the trip and I was stoked to adventure with them, and the always fun Arian Chamasmany, who was hitching a ride to write an article and share in the stoke. We traveled throughout the state of California, Oregon, and then Maryhill was just the cherry on top. Maryhill Loops road is amazing and I got to skate it with gnarly chicks from all over the world! I got to take at least 15 runs down the hill each day with just girls… for a certain time. They started letting guys skate BUT they had to do it in bikinis, and then the guys decided to just go down naked! Eeep! Talk about ballsy.
I got to skate with pretty much all the girls I have met in the sport too, and I met even more girls! And I only fell once! haha damn Cowzers! At night almost everyone stayed at this one campsite that was literally miles out along the Columbia River. It was a free for all, set up your tent, cars, and start partying. Some of the guys even started shooting skies with a gun. The cops got called by a local, but when he showed up all he had to say was “This is America” and just said that we needed to put the fire out. Some of the Canadians were so shocked! Haha. It was an absolute blast! And to finish it up, on our road trip home, we hit up Oregon again, and San Fran for more skating and exploring.
What was special about skating with just girls?
Oh, it’s something so rare! I mean, about 90% of the time that I skate with my homies, I am the only girl. Daisy definitely helps with that ratio a lot, but still! There have been sessions where it’s just me among at least 20 other guys. Skating down a famous road with 50+ girls is a dream come true.
What was the highlight of the weekend?
Probably how I skated the road. At first I didn’t know what to expect. I heard it was a chiller GMR (which I had skated only a few times) and of course, I’m always super nervous before hitting any new run, but the progression came instantly. The road really just throws things at you and I really got into it and improved so much in the first few runs!
How did it change you?
It really got me into the turns. It made me get low, grab rail, and tuck hard. It was also the first time I crossed lanes so freely! I took such sick lines! I was stoked just at that. But seriously, it helped me progress in turns a lot. Just within the first few runs I could feel myself getting more comfortable at taking lefts (which unlike most people were more difficult for me than rights). And just taking constant turns! It really got me into the groove of a full road that had so many things to offer.
Get goofy or die trying.
I ride regular but I am very, very goofy!
I am very energetic. I can literally have no fuel within me and still go crazy for hours. I have natural ADHD energy. I also like to spontaneously do random quirky and short little dances and I will turn any conversation into either something random and crazy or awkward depending on who I’m talking to.
What was the highlight of your season?
Besides Maryhill, it was probably this one day that I went out solo to meet up with some guys to go skate Malibu. We hit a bunch of runs and concluded with one of my favorites. It’s a rad road that is pretty much straight, but you can go really fast, and you have to go fast because the speed limit is 40! Anyway, that day, without even knowing it, I hit 50 mph! At the end of the run, my friend Ethan Galaif came over to me and gave me a big hug and just said “You went 50!” I was so stoked!
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Besides work, I’m either hanging out with my boyfriend or doing something artistic. I am really trying to get more of the artistic flow out lately!
Is he your favourite person to skate with?
Definitely. He is just so much fun and I love watching him work. He takes everything into account on his board. He really will skate everything that a road has to offer from banks, to sidewalks, kickers, everything he can. I love watching his mind work when the terrain has so much to offer.
How is skating different when you love someone who loves it just as much as you do?
It is absolutely amazing and yet has it’s bad moments. When I get frustrated, I can let it out with him there, which is not always the best thing, but he helps me work through it and gives me advice to get me better. It also really really sucks when he falls. Omg we were downhilling one day and he was taking this gnarly run and a turn threw off his footing as he was going into another turn and he just slid off his board, all the way across the road and into the bushes. My heart sank. It’s terrible to see him fall, and I know he’s felt the same because he has definitely witnessed me endure some rough falls.
What’s the worst crash you’ve had?
One happened 4 or 5 months ago. I was hitting a road that has a pretty gnarly, big left in it that likes to eat up a bunch of people. I was taking that left and at the end of it there is a very slight bump. I tried to get my board to go around it, but my board gripped up on it so I, just ended up going into it and my left thigh just hit the ground. I was going about 30 so all the impact was taken straight into my thigh. It hurt so much. It became numb and bruised automatically! And to this day, it is still numb. I went to the doctor and he told me I have some nerve damage and a contusion and I need to lay off it and rest or it will stay. I’ve gotten so used to it and laying off it is just not an option, so I guess I’ll just be numb there for a good, long time. It also doesn’t help that it’s pretty much the spot that I fall on the most. But as long as it doesn’t get worse – I’m happy!
How do you express yourself artistically?
Painting. I love to paint! Currently I have just been painting skateboards too, most specifically my own. My DH board is definitely my favorite piece so far and I love having my artwork around at all times when I skate.
Does painting mix with skating?
Well, when I’m painting my boards yes. It also helps me vision things differently. I really take in the sights when I skating. I also really really pay attention to the colours around me. I love scenery and it’s something I know I’m going to include in my painting a lot.
Do you find it easier to express yourself with a brush or a board?
Well I feel that I really express myself in completely different ways through both. On my board, I’m free, brave, and can just do whatever I set out to do. With a brush I am very particular. I am a perfectionist. I really have a set plan with my work. Even with my freehanding. My brain is constantly in motion with ideas. And while skating, I am just really free in the moment on my board.
What is your ideal spot?
Something that would be very similar to Malibu. It’s the perfect place for everything. I would probably like some more runs, but then again, I have yet to hit every single road that Malibu has to offer. Oh and I would love a hill like GMR to be within closer reach to me. Throw that all together into a legal longboard park and Bam!
What kind of stuff do you paint on skateboards?
Whatever I feel the board looks like. Seriously. Every board gives me it’s own inspiration. Right now I have a board that has black and white grip and it immediately read panda, so that’s my next project.
Have you painted boards for others?
Only my bf’s. It is one of my greatest yet too. It seems to be everyone’s favorite and it took me so long. A minimum of 24 hours (not straight) to do. It is very detailed.
I’m also in the works of painting a couple of boards for friends and I’m super stoked about it. I hope to be able get my paintings on a bunch of boards eventually!
Do you dabble in any other skate art?
Actually, yes. I am in the works of making some fancy stuff. But it’s mostly underwraps and secretive for the moment so I can’t spill too much. All I have to say is skate stickers and T Shirts.
Give us a hint!
Uhmmmm. Fine. Homie inspired and chick inspired!
What are your plans for this year?
To skate as much as I can. Paint at least 10 boards. Be able to full tuck a bunch of my local runs, hit 50mph more times, tuck GMR more, skate Maryhill again, and start racing! I also want to travel to a bunch of places and hopefully get some people on my back.
What do you ride?
Haha well my main ride for DH is my Vugenhausen 35 set up on 46/44 Calibros with Cannibals. ← my baby and favorite setup!
I also rock a S9 Sprocket on paris with raceforms and a lifelong seeker with indie169s and beat up baluts for freeeehide.
Then there is my first ever board: My Tan tien for cruising and fancy stuff.
I also have an Earthwing Executioner for tech sliding fun!
Are any of those your sponsors?
Haha! the only sponsor I have at the moment is me! My parents/bf support me as well.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-40.
hrmmm. 3, 18, 34.
3 – What impact has longboarding had on your life?
It has changed everything. I remember being at a friend’s house and he was really into it and was watching a video of someone downhilling and I said “Wow, I would never do that”. Remembering that makes me giggle because I AM doing that and loving it! I love the sport so much and there is so much to offer within it! I have met such amazing people! I have seen so many places! It is something that makes me so happy! I always have a smile on my face when I’m skating. It’s one of the best things that has happened to me.
18- What is/was your favourite Cartoon?
Omg. okay. Anime: Samurai Champloo. All time favorite. It’s painted on my Tan Tien. Mugen is my husband. American cartoon: Futurama / Regular show. hoo hoo I love me some cartoons that are just so out there you just really don’t know what’s going on, but it makes me laugh and I love it. And Rugrats. I will always love Rugrats.
34 – luca coleman asks: Whats the weirdest thing you ever put in your mouth?
AHAHAHA. hmmmmmmm. probably the bottom of my shoe? I used to get dared to do that, a lot! xD
It has been really fun talking to you. Shame you don’t eat bacon. Take care and skate fast. And paint my board maybe? (to the tune of that pop song).
Haha same to you! It’s been a ton of fun! hahah maybe someday in the future.
Any thank yous?
A huge thanks to David Seemiller for everything. Daisy Johannes for helping me not be the only girl at sessions. Amanda Powell for shaking her butt and helping me take the turns at GMR and for filling everything full of stoke! Joe Gutkowski for always helping and giving advice and safety. Rafael Bondoc for being my Yoda. To Sammi Leon for learning with me. Ari Chasmasmany for giving me many adventures and opening up my world. Kyle Chin for giving me some of the best conversations and awkward moments. The West Roastin’ crew for an amazing roadtrip! Steven Nash, Hugo Limon, Ethan Galaif, Andre Harris, John Baelly, and everyone else in SFV/ Gel Labs! My parents who have supported me even though they don’t understand the sport or that I’m okay with falling and getting hurt all the time. And of course, Matthew Peckson, my biggest fan, the best skater I know, and the best boyfriend! Yay!