INTERVIEW WITH ERIC BRITTON
INTERVIEW BY AARON MURRAY
INTRODUCTION BY AARON MURRAY
PHOTO BY TED TERREBONNE
My friend, Eric B., ‘Tuma’ as they call him. My little homie, who is now a grown-ass man. He may look young, but then again so do I. We have watched each other go through a lot of struggles in life but one thing is for sure – nothing ever took the place of skateboarding. No drug, no chick… It’s our relief, maybe from the above and anything else that gets thrown down the line at us. It only seems natural to skate harder and faster until it all goes away. Nothing less could provide any satisfaction, worth being about; that’s so positive. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like ‘Tuma’. He’s an easy-going guy with a real smooth, creative style. He’s always got something positive to say. You know he’s got fans, and a lot of good friends and another thing- he can skate!
We’re in here in sunny Venice Beach, the ghetto by the sea, the wild, wild West. I’m here with my buddy, ‘Tuma’, the best of the worst, Eric Britton. How did you get the name ‘Tuma’?
From my friend Shags – Morgan Weisser. We were over at Joey Tran’s house. Joey and Morgan were trying to get me to clean up my room one day and they blurted out ‘Tuma’ and it stuck.
“THE WHOLE RESURGENCE OF POOL SKATING AND BEING ACCEPTED AS PART OF THE SPORT, INSPIRES ME TO GO OUT THERE AND BREAK MY BONES AND DO WHATEVER I HAVE TO DO. INSPIRATION IS ALL AROUND ME.”
What is a ‘Tuma’?
Being from the neighborhood, we all have our little nicknames and with me being the only brother rolling around, I got branded ‘Tuma’. I got the slave name but I don’t look at it like that. My roommate got ‘Bagel’ and he’s Jewish. Go figure.
You’d think they’d call me ‘No Fingers’ but if you have fingers missing, they call you ‘Fingers’.
Yeah, it’s like they call the biggest guy, ‘Tiny’.
Is Venice paradise?
I think it was paradise when I was younger. It’s changed a lot. It’s still beautiful. We’re lucky to have grown up around the ocean. You just wake up every morning and go to the beach. It’s a really great place, actually.
How do you deal with all the tourists?
I don’t really deal with them too much. When we were younger we always had a big crowd of tourists watching us skate on the beach and we didn’t even ask for money. If we would have, we would have come up faster.
The tourists were basically like our play toys?
Yeah, just like our skateboards were toys that we just played with. It got me pumped up though. I liked skating in front of a crowd.
Life is good. Life is fun. You go from playing the tourists to robbing them. Welcome to Venice, Now go home. So, you think a skateboard is a toy? Do you really mean that?
Well, it’s a toy when you’re younger but then for me it became a business toy.
Is it paying the rent or what?
No, it’s not paying my rent, but it’s buying a lot of people big homes and nice lifestyles.
When do you plan to make your first million?
I’m hoping, by the time I’m 35.
Wow. I’m already 35. Did I miss the train?
No, there’s one more line. There’s one line left dog, but it’s the last line.
I’ve heard that before. Do you still surf?
I go out occasionally, but the water is too cold.
What are your favorite things in life?
Venice Beach, skateboarding and living, being alive. I love women too.
What are some of your favorite things to do?
I like hiking and rock climbing as well as skateboarding. I like listening to good music. I live a pretty simple life.
What kind of music do you like?
I like a little bit of everything. I had a lot of different influences growing up. Skateboarding, I listened to a lot of punk. My parents listened to R AND B and my dad was into classic rock. I even listened to a little bit of country. I think you get something from every type of music.
Who were you with when you first started skateboarding?
Well, actually I was by myself. My dad bought me an orange plastic skateboard. I remember pushing down this driveway beside my house. I’d go down the driveway and grab my rails and do little turns on the ground. Those are my first memories of skateboarding.
How big was the board?
It was about two feet long and five inches wide. It was a good starter kit for a five-year-old. I’m really thankful my dad got me that board.
You’re not from the clay or metal wheel or open bearing era?
No, the late 80s was my era. I’m third or fourth generation.
When you were this little ‘Tuma’, what were some of the dope spots that you liked to skate?
I spent a lot of time in LA skating at Laurel Elementary School, right off of Fairfax. I met these guys Dace and Dax. They were older. They were brothers. Then I met Eric Gorman who owned a skate company at the time. He used to make us boards. Then I moved to Santa Monica. That’s when I started to come to Venice to skate. I’d see you guys ripping. There was so much activity going on at the old pavilion and there was hip hop, and the drum circle. I thought I was in Disneyland. I came down on my unicycle the first day and I came back with my skateboard the next day and I’ve never left.
Venice influenced your skateboarding?
Yes, sir. It was seeing all the activity and the crowd that skateboarding drew. That definitely inspired me.
When was this?
Mid to late 80s.
Who were some of the skaters who inspired you?
You, Eric D, Christian, Jesse Martinez… There are so many. My friends, Joey, Shags, Oster, and the whole DogTown team. I wanted to be a part of that so much. It eventually happened. There was Cooksie, Hartsel. Everyone made up a piece of who I am. J-Boy took me around to pools and taught me how to ride them. You and Block were always taking me places. Sometimes I got left behind because I was a grom.
You weren’t moving fast enough yet.
Yeah, but I finally got it down.